To quit alcohol or not to quit. Though all of us at some point do think to quit alcohol, yet we find it hard enough. A little over four months ago, I made the decision to give up alcohol.
It had been a near-constant, choking up time and money, and straining my relationships with family, friends, and other loved ones. I always tell people I’ve suffered a lot, but almost all of it was my own doing.
It has not been easy. That goes without saying; any major life decision is bound to be hard. The road ahead is paved with trouble. But I will say it has gotten easier the farther along I go. The first couple of months were the hardest, at least so far.
I’ve learned a lot about myself and the inner workings of my psyche. Things that were once so simple to remedy have become complicated and gruelling. I’ve had to deal with a lot of deep-seated issues without the aid of liquid courage.
Here are 3 remarkable lessons that I learned after I quit alcohol.
To quit alcohol is easy
Let’s get this one out of the way: the easy part is the actual quitting. In fact, it’s as simple as that. You just don’t drink. Everything else is a bit harder. Alcohol is an addictive drug, and all addicts use and abuse drugs to avoid problems.
My biggest contributing factor is mental illness. Suffering from a lot of anxiety leads one to self-medicate. You’ll do whatever it takes to avoid overwhelming feelings of dread and unease. If a few beers or shots take care of the situation (however fleeting and temporary it may be), then so be it.
When circumstances frustrate you, you have to adapt. You don’t have the luxury of going to the bar and ordering a drink to handle a short-term situation. You have to take them as they come, and work around them to come to a more sober way to overcome personal obstacles.
Quit alcohol and free up a lot of time.
This was one I was told about by most recovering alcoholics, and I knew there would be. Naturally, you won’t be at a bar wasting time. So I expected to have a lot of extra hours.
But I didn’t realize how much time would be freed up. This is actually considered one of the easiest ways to relapse (a relapse is falling back into old habits for a period of time, whether short or long term).
To occupy your time, find a hobby. I took up learning another language, which has been fun. You might as well learn something useful, you know?
You find out who your real friends are
This might be the darkest realization I have come to. Thankfully, I expected it this time around – as it has happened the other times I’ve attempted to stop feeding my habit. I’m glad I expected it, because, the truth is, some friends just aren’t going to stick around.
It makes total sense when you think about it. Most people become friends through having a shared interest. Many times it’s a hobby. Perhaps you play in a band together. It could also be a quality you share. Maybe you were in the same grade level in high school.
When friends congregate based on something else (in this case the consumption or overconsumption of alcohol), it’s easy to see why people would generally abandon one person in the group. The entire reason for hanging out has been erased. If one person isn’t drinking, it’s a bit foolish to hang out with that person, tempting them. In a way, they’re actually doing you a favour. Still sad, though. Oh, well.
These are three things I learned through kicking alcohol. It’s been a hard journey, but it’s worth it. If you’re struggling and want to quit, don’t be afraid. Reach out.
There are various quitlines and organizations dedicated to helping people quit alcohol. If you want to do it, trust me. You can!
Stephanie Knarr recently moved to Pittsburgh, PA from the Harrisburg, PA area. Her writing appears in Harrisburg’s local magazine, The Burg, and her work will soon appear in Unwinnable and Five:2: One. Her favourite drink is RC Cola, and her favourite band is probably Animal Collective.