Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Easy Way

One year ago today, I quit drinking for good and it was one of the easiest things I've ever done.

Since this is a leap year, it's actually been 366 days instead of 365, for which I feel I deserve some kind of brownie points. 

I keep starting and stopping writing this post. To be honest, I don't really want to share this part of my life with the world (because the entire population of planet Earth is sure to read this). It's private, it's personal, it's embarrassing, and, well, it's MINE.

In the 10 years or so that I went without a diagnosis, I self-medicated with alcohol like crazy. I drank to feel better, to have energy, to be able to socialize, to sleep, to lick the hair of yesterday's hangover. I drank too much, too often. There were many times that I attempted to stop and found it oh so hard.

Possibly because I was surrounded by people whose social lives revolved around drinking. That's just what we did:

Let's go to a club!

Meet you for a drink?

Happy hour's on me!

Anyone up for champagne brunch?

I knew for a long time that I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and tried to cut back or quit often. I remember sitting in bars and being like, but I'm trying to quit drinking! And finding it so difficult and miserable.

I believe that is called setting yourself up for failure. 

When I was very ill pre-diagnosis, drinking was out of the question. I could hardly stomach food, let alone alcohol. I went for about a year without drinking then, and because even the smell of alcohol was enough to turn my stomach, I found giving up drinking very natural to do. I remember when my fiance and I broke up, I thought "If I were ever to have a drink, now would be the time". But I was still so sick, it held no appeal to me. I truly thought at that time that if I could get through that awful break-up without alcohol, I would never drink again.

Fast forward a few months and I've been diagnosed and on bed rest for weeks. I'm bored to my bones and I am finally feeling well for the first time in years. I have recently switched to Dexamethasone, aka the demon drug, which floods my body with a manic, careless, wild, sometimes angry energy. I start hanging out with the local drinkers. I try to keep up. It's ugly.

I don't remember where I heard it, or saw it, but the quote will ring in my mind forever.

"You will become like the 5 people you spend the most time with"

I looked at the people I was hanging out with. All older than me. All clearly struggling with alcohol. All with other addictions as well. None with a clear purpose in life besides drinking. None who had accomplished anything of note. I don't want to disparage these people anymore than they do to themselves, so suffice it to say, I knew instantly that I needed to make a change.

For me, quitting drinking started by quitting my drinking "friends". Considering we could not find a thing in common besides drinking, "friends" seems a bit of an exaggeration.

Having received a diagnosis and receiving medication, while entirely too much of it, was also a huge factor.

The next step for me was starting to practice yoga regularly. They say yoga brings you back to your true self. Or, as I once read, "smoking [substitute for drinking or any other self-harming behavior] won't interfere with your yoga, but yoga will interfere with your smoking [or drinking, etc]". I learned that many yogis and yoginis do not drink, as alcohol is a form of poison, and many yogis and yoginis follow the teaching to not put poison in their bodies. Wow, I thought, there are tons of people out there who don't drink and don't consider themselves alcoholics. How interesting!

The seed was planted but I still relied on booze in social situations and to sleep.

The final step was hearing about the book "The Easy Way to Control Drinking" by Allen Carr (ironically enough, at the yoga studio).

At this point you might be thinking - why not just go to AA?

I find there is a lot of judgement tied up in certain titles, like alcoholic. It's not one I care to carry. Mostly because it doesn't make any sense to me. Dr. Carr explains it best when he writes:

How will they know they have quit for good if they have to use willpower to resist temptation? Don't alcoholics talk about how long they have been dry? Don't they make statements like 'I'm just one drink away from being drunk!' and recommendations such as 'take each day as it comes'  or 'take one day at a time'? Don't they say there is no cure for alcoholism and that they are still alcoholics, even when no alcohol has touched their lips for twenty years? How will they know if they have indeed kicked it, until they die? And how will they know, once dead?

Make no mistake, I have nothing but admiration for their willpower, but do you really want to go through that misery? Perhaps you still believe there is no alternative."

That's where I was. I truly thought that I would feel deprived and uneasy without alcohol. I didn't imagine that feeling would ever go away (it does). Like you, I had so often heard a member of AA go on and on about how hard it is, how close they are to picking up the bottle again, how it is a lifelong struggle.

Like Dr. Carr says, who would want to be a part of that misery? Certainly not me.

But he also says there is another way.

You might be surprised to learn that his alternative essentially states that there is no such thing as an alcoholic. He thoroughly explains his reasons behind this in his book, taking apart each alcohol myth one at a time and removing the "brainwashing" or beliefs we are taught behind it. I found a good summary in the article, "Hi. My Name Is Holly. And I'm Not An Alcoholic (Because There Is No Such Thing)". Holly writes:

"Don't get me wrong - like all drugs, I believe that alcohol is addictive, that addiction is a progressive disease, that some people are wired a bit differently and more vulnerable to addiction, etc. I'm not refusing scientific fact or what isI just firmly believe that we've created a separate disease called alcoholism and forced it upon the minority of the population willing to admit they cannot control their drinking. That instead of looking at how insane it is to consume the amounts of alcohol we do in this country on any level, we've instead systematically labeled anyone who can't hang in that insanity as having the problem...
It asserts that it's normal to consume an addictive substance with ease, and abnormal to not be able to. Hi, backwards thinking. The other night, a dear friend who stopped drinking some 90 days ago posted that "she has a body that cannot handle alcohol" to which I replied "NObody has a body that is meant to handle alcohol." And that is 100% true. Alcohol is a drug, an intoxicant, and no human body is designed to tolerate it with ease. Just because we as a society have come to believe that tying one on or relaxing with a glass of wine or drinking to such excess that we puke is normal doesn't mean that it's what we are supposed to do or designed to do. Doctors smoked in the 1950s and suggested it to patients, even appeared in cigarette ads endorsing their favorite brand. Just because they did that doesn't mean they were right. It just means that we accepted it as being right. It just means we didn't question."

I know that there are probably millions of people for whom the AA method works. And I think that's great! For them. But it's not for me.

I don't need to use the willpower method praised in AA because I no longer have a desire to drink. It no longer interests me. I spend hours a day sitting in an office where we sell beer, wine, and tequila. I used to be tempted to have a drink as the day wound to a close. Now, I still see the alcohol every day but I have no desire to drink any. It doesn't take an ounce of willpower and I certainly don't feel like I am missing out.

I don't need to go to a meeting each day and receive encouragement to make it through Day XX of no drinking because I rarely think of drinking, and when I do, it's only a smidge of sadness that I didn't stop sooner.

Most of the time, I have no idea how many days I have gone without drinking. There is an app on my phone that keeps track of it. I check it from time to time out of curiosity. That's how I knew my one year "anniversary" was approaching. Otherwise, I would have had no clue.

Seeing others drink doesn't make me want to drink. If anything, it reinforces why I don't want to touch alcohol ever again.

I don't feel like being the non-drinker should make me the unicorn in the room. Not drinking is our natural state. To drink, to deliberately poison one's body, is abnormal.

So yeah, I don't drink anymore. And stopping was one of the easiest thing I've ever done. Because it was simply returning to who I have been, deep down, all along.


an Addison alien

who looks forward to many more hangover-free years to come


  1. Congratulations for finding a solution!
    A year of sobriety is a big deal... whatever works, I say!

    A footnote on AA:
    1. LACK of power is our dilemma.
    2. AAs continue to reach out to help others because freely giving away the solution they have found is the best insurance against the insanity of taking the next drink.
    3) A RECOVERED alcoholic in AA has found a new way to live, and is not fighting anyone or anything, even alcohol.

    I hope we all make it!❤
    -Jeannette d,SD 9.30.12

    1. I love what you wrote! That's beautiful. I guess I don't feel any fear of relapse is perhaps the difference? I feel as though I have already made it! Congrats on almost 4 years, that's awesome!

  2. Thanks, Tina, for sharing this powerful information. I applaud you for your willingness to seek more information and ultimately find what works for you. You are clearly much more healthy without it than with it. I'm proud of you, little one.

    1. Thank you for reading and being such a cheerleader to me! I am proud of me too 😀👽😀

  3. Wow! That’s huge. I love story ….. I’m sure there are so many people out there who feel the same as you did and who would love to feel the way that you do now. Congrats! And thanks again for an awesome blog.

    1. Julie, you are such a kind and supportive soul. I love hearing from you! Your encouragement keeps me writing!