How to Quit AlcoholJul 13, 2022
Today I want to share some thoughts about breaking bad habits.
The kind of terrible habits that destroy families and make people sad.
In fact, if left unchecked, these awful habits that can potentially end your life.
Like drinking alcohol to excess. Or smoking cigarettes.
This is still a worthwhile lesson, and can be applied to other negative habits (think mindless eating), even if you aren't a smoker or a big drinker.
You see, after 25+ years of coaching, I've worked with many folks who have struggled with tobacco use or a binge-drinking habit.
When a new client begins the coaching program, I ask many questions about habits, both good and bad.
Not because I'm nosy, but rather because losing bodyfat, boosting strength, and slowing the aging process is about following simple habits, like being mindful of food-portion sizes.
Creating your "Ideal Body" is also about respecting yourself and leading by example.
If you are overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, you are disrespecting your body.
My goal is not to offend.
Just straightforward talk here, with no candy-coating.
How to Quit Alcohol
If you have a daily habit that is known to cause cancer, like excessive alcohol use, you are disrespecting your body.
You are not creating generational health.
You are letting your family down.
According to the American Cancer Society, alcohol use is one of the most important preventable risk factors for cancer, along with tobacco use and excess body weight. Alcohol use accounts for about 6% of all cancers and 4% of all cancer deaths in the United States.
Crazy thing is that many people don’t know about the link between alcohol use and cancer.
The sad truth about alcohol use is there are several factors that make quitting very tough.
When cracking open that first beer or sipping that first mixed drink or enjoying that first bottle of wine, you are opening Pandora's box.
Enjoying your introductory alcoholic beverages may seem fun and innocent.
It's mostly pleasure with very little pain. Maybe a small hangover the next day.
However, like most bad habits, things eventually turn out to have far-reaching negative consequences.
As you continue to drink more, the pleasure part decreases and the pain increases until it's mostly pain.
Most drinkers try to quit many times and fail, namely because they underestimate the choke-hold alcohol has on them.
Folks who are addicted think they can "quit at anytime."
But when I ask many "former drinkers" how things are going, I discover they are drinking again.
According to the American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention, it is best not to drink alcohol.
In other words, a zero-tolerance policy.
So no beer, wine, or spirits ever.
I agree with this abstaining-from-drinking philosophy, especially if you've ever struggled with alcohol in the past.
People who choose to drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink a day for women, according to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.
I’d like to share the top 10 things that help lifelong drinkers quit for good, when the others failed.
1. Commit Yourself 100%. Not 90%
In the quits that failed, you probably were only half into it.
You told yourself you wanted to quit, but always felt (in the back of your mind) that you’d fail.
You didn’t write anything down and you didn’t tell everybody (maybe your spouse, but just him/her).
This time, you wrote it down. You wrote down a plan.
You shared your plan on social media.
You made a vow to your kids.
You told family and friends you were quitting.
You went online and joined a quit forum.
You had rewards.
Many of these will be in the following tips, but the point is that you fully committed, and there was no turning back.
You didn’t make it easy to fail.
2. Make a Realistic Plan
Some people, like physicist Richard Feynman, have the ability to quit cold turkey.
But most people can’t just wake up and say, “I’m gonna quit today.”
You have to prepare yourself.
Plan it out.
Have a system of rewards, a support system, a person to call if you’re in trouble.
Write down what you’ll do when you get an urge.
Print it out. Post it up on your wall, at home and at work.
If you wait until you get the urge to figure out what you’re going to do, you’ve already lost.
You have to be ready when those urges come.
3. Know Your Motivation
When the urge comes, your mind will rationalize: “What’s the harm?”
And you’ll forget why you’re doing this.
Know why you’re doing this before that urge comes.
Is it for your kids?
For your husband/wife?
For you health?
Because the girl/guy you like doesn’t like drinkers?
Have one very good reason for quitting. Perrhaps you have multiple reasons for quitting.
List them out. Print them out. Put it on a wall.
And remind yourself of those reasons every day, every urge.
4. Not One Drink Ever (N.O.D.E.)
The mind is a tricky thing.
It will tell you that one drink won’t hurt.
And it’s hard to argue with that logic, especially when you’re in the middle of an urge.
And those urges are super hard to argue with.
Don’t give in.
Tell yourself, before the urges come, that you will not drink a single drink of alcohol, ever again.
Because the truth is, that one drink WILL hurt.
One drink leads to a second, and a third, and soon you’re not quitting, you’re drinking.
Don’t fool yourself.
A single drink will almost always lead to a relapse. Don't take a single drink.
5. Join a Support Group
You can get support online or in-person.
One of the things that helps in your quit is a community of quitters so you don’t feel so alone when you’re miserable.
Misery loves company, after all.
Go online, introduce yourself, get to know the others who are going through the exact same thing, post about your crappy experience, and read about others who are even worse than you.
Best rule: Post Before You Drink.
If you set this rule and stick to it, you will make it through your urge.
Others will talk you through it.
And they’ll celebrate with you when you make it through your first day, day 2, 3, 4 and beyond
I also recommend you join a local group, that meets in person, which you can find through your hospital.
Another surefire method is to get the one-on-one help of an addiction specialist, which is also available through your hospital.
Or just ask your family doctor for a referral.
6. Reward Yourself, But Not with a Drink
I joke here but, in reality, this is a sinister way many "quitters" start up again.
They reward themselves with the exact thing that is destroying them.
So set up a plan for your rewards.
Definitely reward yourself after the first day, and the second, and the third.
You can do the fourth if you want, but definitely after Week 1 and Week 2.
And month 1, and month 2.
And 6 months and a year.
Make them good rewards, that you’ll look forward to: books, a massage, a new bike, a dinner out at your favorite restaurant, a hotel stay or whatever you classify as a good reward.
Even better, take whatever you would have spent on drinking each day, and put it in a jar.
This is your Celebration Jar.
Celebrate every success because you deserve it.
Maybe donate the money in your Celebration Jar to the local food bank.
Or invest it on flowers for the terminal cancer unit of your local hospital.
Deliver the flowers yourself.
7. Delay. Delay. Delay.
If you have an urge, wait.
Do the following things, in this order:
- Take 10 deep breaths (inhale for four seconds, hold for two seconds, exhale for four seconds).
- Do 10 pushups.
- Do 10 bodyweight squats.
- Drink one cup of water.
- Call your support person.
- Post on your smoking cessation forum.
And then repeat.
The key is to do whatever it takes but delay, delay, delay.
You will make it through it, and the urge will go away.
When it does, celebrate.
Take it one urge at a time.
You can do it knowing that better days are ahead.
Remember you can follow these same strategies if you have the desire to binge eat or smoke a cigarette.
8. Replace Negative Habits with Positive Ones
What do you do when you’re stressed?
If you currently react to stress with a beer, or a shot of whisky, you’ll need to find something else to do.
Deep breathing, muscle massage with a foam roller, or a challenging exercise session have worked wonders for many clients.
Other habits, such as what you do first thing in the morning, or what you do in the car, or wherever you usually drink, should be replaced with better, more positive habits.
If the "friends" you hang around with encourage your bad habits, maybe you should stop making friends.
I hear that resistance training is one of the best positive habits you can follow.
9. Make It Through Heck Week, Then Hell Week, and You’re Golden
First week is Heck Week, and is difficult, but not nearly as hellish as the second.
For the extreme binge drinkers, the hardest part of quitting is the second week.
If you can get past that, you’ve passed the alcohol withdrawal stage, and the rest is mostly mental.
But all of the second week is hell, which is why it’s called Hell Week.
After that, things begin to get simpler.
Not suggesting that your life becomes easy.
It's more like things become simplified because you aren't making the same foolish alcohol-induced decisions anymore.
Of course you just have to deal with the occasional strong urge, but the rest of the urges may be light, and clients tell me they were confident they could make it through anything.
10. If You Fall, Get Up
And learn from your mistakes.
Yes, we all fail.
That does not mean we are failures, or that we can never succeed.
If you fall, it’s not the end of the world.
Get up, brush yourself off, and try again.
You may fail numerous times before succeeding.
But you know what? Each of those failures will teach you something.
Sometimes you'll repeat the same mistakes several times, but eventually you'll learn.
Figure out what your obstacles to success are, and plan to overcome them in your next quit.
Don’t wait a few months until your next quit.
Give yourself a few days to plan and prepare, commit fully to it, and go for it.
If you found this helpful, forward this to someone you care about.
If nothing else, just focus on being positive.
This is probably the most important tip of all.
If you have a positive, can-do attitude, as corny as it may sound, you will succeed.
Tell yourself that you can do it, and you will.
Tell yourself that you can't do it, and you definitely won’t.
When things get rough, think positive.
You can make it through the struggle.
To your success,
Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online personal trainer, or you want to visit the best personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.