As a cognitive behavioral therapist, I am always working with clients on changing their thoughts and their beliefs. Beliefs affect your thoughts, thoughts affect your behaviors. So changing your thoughts and your beliefs changes your behavior. This is especially true when you are changing your thinking around your alcohol use.
When you are drinking, there is a constant barrage of thoughts and decisions that you have to make around your drinking. And if you are struggling with alcohol (or drug) abuse, these are the thoughts that go through your head.
Every. Single. Day.
If you are on the fence about whether or not to stop drinking alcohol, you may have arguments in your head. Not thoughts that have changed your mind about your drinking, but ones that sure take up additional space in your head.
Am I going to drink today? (Maybe I shouldn’t have a drink today)
Who am I going to drink with today? (Maybe I should just drink by myself)
Where am I going to drink today? (Maybe I should go to a different place so no one knows how much I am drinking)
How much am I going to drink today? (Today will be different. I will just have one…or two…)
How soon do I get to drink today? (I could have one drink at lunch….no one will know…)
How many times am I going to drink this week? (Maybe I should only drink once this week)
How much should I drink each day? (I will only drink one or two drinks…)
What do I say when someone asks me if I want to drink today? (I could just say no…or I could go have one…)
Why did I drink last night? (Maybe I shouldn’t have had anything to drink last night….I can’t remember….what did I do?)
How much did I drink last night? (Maybe I should have only had three drinks last night)
What did I do while I was drinking last night? (Maybe I should have not had so much to drink last night…who can tell me what happened?)
How much time and energy does that take?
What if you were to make a decision to stop drinking alcohol? If you were to get off the fence and make a clear decision, you don’t have to struggle with those questions anymore. You don’t have to have that conversation in your head every day. Because the answer every time is:
I DON’T DRINK.
This one decision is freeing. It takes you down a totally new path. It gives you a lot of space in your mind and in your life. And it makes those questions above a non-issue.
Is it an easy decision to make? NO.
Is it difficult to follow through? YES. (at least initially)
Will you miss the drinking activities…the “friends”…the intoxication?
OF COURSE! (at least initially)
How would this decision affect your life? There will be activities, people, and places that do not fit into your new lifestyle. You may have to change some friends. You may have to change what you do in your free time. You may have to change the way you view yourself (drinker –vs- non-drinker). Deciding to have an alcohol or drug free lifestyle will change your choices over time without a doubt. But ask yourself this: “Are there are things that I am missing out on now because my drinking gets in the way?” I would venture to guess that your drinking interferes with your free time activities, your relationships, your peace, and perhaps even your finances and your job. Imagine the freedom you would have if you change that one belief and those thoughts were not clogging up your system every day.
Although this post is specifically about making a decision regarding your alcohol abuse, you can think about it in the same way for your drug abuse, gambling, shopping, or whatever issue you are struggling with in your life. To keep it simple, I wrote about the alcohol, but feel free to substitute whatever abuse or addiction issue fits for you personally.
Making a decision to stop drinking alcohol (or using drugs) is difficult. It often feels lonely and isolating. But the changes that can happen from this decision will open up your life. Eventually your thoughts will take a lot less daily energy. And you will be able to use that energy elsewhere: for more constructive or creative tasks or activities that you used to like to do.
Now that is freeing.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction or secondhand addiction issues, Contact me today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation to talk about how we can work together or find the right person for you.