“Why can’t I figure out how to quit drinking?”
I must have asked myself that question so many times.
In every other area of life, I was pretty good at making things happen.
I wasn’t afraid of hard work and I considered myself to be a fairly resourceful person.
But I just couldn’t make sobriety stick.
I couldn’t figure out why I kept breaking promises to myself.
If you’re starting to wonder whether you’ll ever get this, this video is for you:
When quitting drinking is the one thing you just can’t seem to figure out, it can be tempting to make up stories about it, such as:
“Maybe I’ll never get this.” “Maybe I’ve got an addictive personality.” “Maybe I’m just not strong enough.” None of that is true.
Success is like an iceberg
You know all those other things in your life that you’re really good at, or proud of? Well, there was a point when you weren’t so good at them. Whether it’s parenting, exams, running, driving, whatever – you had to figure out all of them.
The brain loves to look back at the past through rose tinted glasses. We forget just how much work went into an achievement. If you’re struggling with your drinking right now, all it means is that this is the next thing to work on.
It’s ok to struggle with alcohol
When you can’t figure out how to quit, part of the pain comes from feeling that it’s wrong to struggle in the first place. We’re conditioned to think that we should be able to control alcohol and that you’re ‘weak’ if you can’t. (I shared more about this ridiculous idea here.)
Alcohol is addictive. It’s portrayed as fun, sophisticated and exciting. As adults we’re told that we need alcohol in order to survive work, parenting, the pandemic… So is it really a surprise that you’ve come to rely on drinking?
Choosing short term discomfort
When you drink, you choose the short term comfort of saying yes, but get the long term discomfort of being hungover and feeling bad. In sobriety, you’ve got to be willing to choose short term discomfort, in return for long term well being and satisfaction in your life.
If you’re someone who’s experienced success, reached goals and done things you’re proud of elsewhere in your life, then guess what? You’re used to choosing short term discomfort for long term gains. You can figure out how to do this with alcohol too.
It’s not about ‘being stronger’ or ‘trying harder’. It always comes back to the thoughts you have about you and alcohol. If you want some help to change your beliefs about booze, my stop drinking course will show you how to quit and feel good about it. You can find out more here.
It’s tough especially when you tell yourself you are using wine to get you past the loneliness of losing your spouse only it just gets worse not better. Broken promises and hurt relationships. You say things under the influence of alcohol you would normally never do. Then you have to face the embarrassment of your actions. The long term effects are mot good.
Hi Debbie, it’s tough losing someone you love. But I think you’ve nailed it in your comment here – drinking isn’t helping you ‘get past’ anything. It’s actually keeping you stuck in those feelings, not processing the grief fully, and making you feel worse in the long run.
Amazingly it was relatively easy for me to stop drinking. Day 54 today. What I find difficult is to deal with all the things I used to ignore and that are coming up now. All the things I did while drinking and even when I wasn’t drinking. I want to look at myself very honestly and without falling in the blame and depreciation game. Not easy. I know that I’m a great coach (lots of clients), a great spouse, a great mum and a great grandmother. What I experienced in the past made me who i am now. It’s sometimes difficult to be lucid about my past and accepting that it contributed to make me the way I am now. Emotionally, it’s difficult to see clearly and honestly who I was and still loving myself. Not drinking is making me more honest, and it’s not easy.
This definitely resonates with me!
I have become a closet drinker and will drink wine 1-3 nights weekly.
I say I will just have one glass, but always wind up drinking the whole bottle.
Last week, I bought 2 bottles of a wine that I like and wound up drinking both of them!
Need to redefine (and end) my relationship with alcohol!
Hi Jeanne, I think this blog might help you with your next steps: https://thesoberschool.com/quit-drinking-forever/
Messaging you after drinking two bottles of wine I know I’m going to have an awful hangover tomorrow and I’m dreading it. I know I need help I’ve been through so much and it’s so difficult to control my alcohol intake although I want to, because I feel awful after I have got drunk I admit I do need help
I buy a bottle of wine and say I will have one. Then I drink almost the entire bottle, feel awful the next day and then pour it down the drain. My hubby is looking at me like I am crazy. I just want to be free.
I went 2 days without drinking and husband came home from work and we went out for dinner and drinks.
Paying for it today- as are my 2 year old and 2 month old because I don’t have the energy and am hurting.
I was feeling great for 2 days and sleeping better. Last night I was up self loathing with a headache.
Hi Whitney, I know it can be hard to try and do this alone. If you’re looking for help and support to stay on track (and get past these tough first few weeks) here’s how I can help you: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
I definitely resonate with this post. You are so right. Short term discomfort leads to long term gains and I never thought of giving up as something that I’d have to work hard on. I’m just starting my journey and I’m so glad to have found this website.
Enjoyed your video. Yes your right. I can’t understand why I desire alcohol when I’ve a list of such badness is does to me. I go through the week fine, come Saturday I think about nothing else. Bloody poison.
Did you see my blog last week Cath? I think it might help you prepare for this weekend: https://thesoberschool.com/i-deserve-a-glass-of-wine-tonight/
I have a weird relationship with alcohol and have tried many times to stop —- fail always. Managed to go a couple of months once but it didn’t last. Part of me thinks I’m in control just because I limit my consumption to x2 very small reds a night. Delusional thinking on my part if I had more there I would drink it —just because! I like you said have survived many things but this one thing is my nemesis a demon that has haunted me throughout my life. Unfortunately I was a child of alcoholic parents and although my behaviour isn’t quite the same as their’s a part of me will justify my experience just by saying I am nothing like. Big lie —— yes I am, they couldn’t stop and neither can I. 60yrs now and my wish is not to take this shit to the grave.
Hi Theresa, I’m wondering what approaches to quitting drinking you’ve tried so far? I often work with people who’ve been trying to quit for a long time… but they’ve been repeating the same (flawed) strategies over and over. If you want to try something different, here’s how I can help: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Just signed up —- nothing to lose
You will not regret it. I just graduated 2/14/21, Best course ever!
Positive feedback thank you
You won’t regret it….just finished the Jan course and can honestly say it’s the best thing I have ever done for myself….Best of luck Theresa.
Yes! This is so me. I drink wine everyday. It’s not ok and I know it. But I’m working on breaking this terrible habit. I’m doing for my children, my family and of course myself. Thank you for this. It’s the start of a step in the right direction!
Go for it Jacqueline! You and your family will thank you for it. If you need any help to figure this out, I can show you the best way to go about this here: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
Thank you , I enjoyed listening. I don’t drink in the week, but come weekend I so look forward to a drink , I’ve managed to stop drinking on Friday’s so it’s Saturday and Sunday. My doctor says I binge drink once I have a bottle ( I drink coor’s light) I then carry on drinking fast! And sneak a couple of bottles down me extra .I start in the day and will be in bed for 7.30. In the morning I don’t remember the last few hours of the day before! I’m married and my husband drinks as well, but he’s in control and I like being his drinking buddy as well as my parents at the weekend, I have elder children and two of the youngest still live with a 20 year old , my youngest is only 6 with DS. I have made a conscience effort to cut it down even drinking one day at the weekend or less , but Can not seem to cut it out completely, I just want to be in more control of my drinking .
Hi Amanda, I recommend taking a complete break rather than stopping 5 days at a time. Right now, you’re repeating the hardest bit over and over, and not teaching yourself much in the process. I explain more about this here: https://thesoberschool.com/being-good-monday-thursday/
Thank you . Drinking helps with a lot , boredom, and mostly confidence when in company , I have borderline personality disorder, bipolar and add , also find it so hard to not drink when people around me are .
I have got a lot from reading the ‘Monday to Thursday’ to make me think why start drinking on Saturday?
I have been on a trial error basis for the last two years. I am at the stage now where I give myself two nights per week, of wine, I had half a magnum last Saturday and next Friday, leave in then drink the second half the next Friday evening, I also have the hard seltzer cans, I have got down to one can now and go back to soft drinks.. I only have wine now with a nice dinner, We still tend to open another bottle afterwards with my husband and drink it front of the tv, this is down to only once a month not every weekend anymore. I am dieting but I am not exercising as much as I should be doing under the current situation…
Hi Amanda, it sounds like you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to experience sobriety properly yet? That is a bit of a shame, because what you’re doing sounds like hard work and I know you’re missing out on so much! Here’s why that approach doesn’t tend to work in the long term: https://thesoberschool.com/being-good-monday-thursday/
Thank-you for such clear and insightful words. Love thinking about this “not drinking alcohol” as a skill that requires practise. I was just telling my husband last week that my “thought-reframing” muscle is much stronger today than it was a year ago. There was a time I would tell myself I was depriving myself if I passed by the wine aisle at the store. Now I pass by without even noticing. It took work, but I found when I checked in with myself in the very moment of that random thought of deprivation, I was able to reframe the narrative and play it forward to the inevitable hangover and all the suffering that would ensue. It takes a-lot of work but so did playing the piano! I love how I feel today. I don’t ever want to go back and so I never let my guard down…just saying
Love this – learning the piano is a good comparison! And actually, sobriety doesn’t take as long to learn as that, not when you’re doing it the right way and relying on more than just willpower. Well done Imogen, keep going!
Kate, yours is the voice I substitute in my head when my own negative voice threatens to drown me in wine! Thank you, thank you for your inspiration, encouragement and comforting positive cheering on.
No problem Linda! Keep going! 🙂
I enjoy a glass or two or three of red wine. I especially enjoy when I’m eating or cooking something nice. But I’ve put so much weight on and finding it hard to lose so I know I need to quit I don’t enjoy it as much especially.not the next morning. Plus it doesn’t do anything for my mental health can’t wait to see your guide x
Hi Jayne! Your post reminded me of this blog of mine: https://thesoberschool.com/really-love-drinking-wine/
Absolutely resonates with me. I’ve been at this for too many years and ask myself daily why I can’t get this behind me? I’m good for a few days and then my brain starts to nag me about the possibilities of having a glass of wine and I cave later to drinking more than an entire bottle. What I need is for your words, my words, to empower me during wine-o’clock hour and throughout the evening.
Hi Karina, it sounds as if you’re doing the hardest bit of sobriety over and over again. I explained a bit more about that trap here: https://thesoberschool.com/being-good-monday-thursday/
If you need any help to get past the first few weeks and on to the good stuff, I’d be happy to help. Here’s how we can work together: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
I love listening to you Kate when you started talking it was like listening to myself! Bit that was last year thank god I’m nearly 8 months af and it definitely does get easier but it does take work yes at first you think about it everyday and as a mum of 3 kids one with special needs I had to find new ways of destressing now I really look forward to my reading time, going for a run, taking a bath with candles and my kindle heaven! But I had to work at that it took a few months to change but now it’s second nature it’s so worth it, I will never drink at home again to relax and I feel proud I’m setting my kids a good example x
I love this – congratulations on your 8 months! Sobriety really does take work at first, but as you point out – that’s not how it stays forever. Alcohol free living is a much easier (and happier!) way of life in the long run. I’m so glad you’re experiencing it for yourself. Well done 🙂
This was my first video as I have started my journey to a healthier days! It really resonates that its better to have short term discomfort to gain long term comfort. Each time I have stopped having my nightly wine, I feel AMAZING and swear I wont start back up. BUT that mindset that I “need” it to feel relaxed is what I really need to change. I have to change that dialogue in my head and I am so happy to have you hear cheering me on 🙂
Keep going Arlene! I think this blog post of mine will be helpful for you: https://thesoberschool.com/manage-stress-without-alcohol/
Kate B keep on encouraging…..I’ve been following you for a long time. I’m trying to get there. Loved this clip. Thank you.
Instead of saying, “One day at a time,” I have started saying, “Tomorrow will NOT be another day one.” I’ve had enough day one’s to last the rest of my life. No drink is worth it. I’ve got a big college reunion coming up in October and I am so excited to attend this and stay sober regardless of what the other women are doing. I have changed my mindset from, “I have to be sober”, to “I get to be sober!”. Thanks for all your words of wisdom, Kate. You help so many people.
Thanks. Your weekly videos are so inspirational.
I enjoyed this talk as it made me think about what i have done in the past and that I had been strong in other areas of my life even if it was years ago.
For some reason i just feel such a failure and can’t get past more than a few days without and I really do want to stop totally.
Off to give myself a good taking to.
This was brilliant, thanks Kate, I’m hoping to get on the April course. Anything to keep me going till then is greatly appreciated x
I needed to hear this tonight.
I am struggling….
Hi Nancy, I know it’s hard to figure this out alone. If you’re looking for help, here’s how I can help you: https://thesoberschool.com/course/
All of what you said resonated with me and has helped me realise I need a different approach to kerb my drinking. Love the short term discomfort for long term gain idea. Thank you for sharing.
Kate I feel like you know exactly what I need to hear when these messages come in my mailbox!
You give me the help and hope to keep moving forward with the process!
Thank you for all you do.
No problem Jennifer, I’m glad they resonate with you! 🙂
I am so tired of trying to do this on my own. I am looking forward to April and undoing the alcohol trap that’s been in my head long enough.
Everything that you have said has registered with me. Listening to your video has made me think of alcohol in a totally different way. I am looking forward to April
I’ve not had a drink since New Year’s Eve so 3 months sober my life has improved so much I have support from my family an partner surprising they think it’s a good idea !! . Drinking for me became very dark was such a bad place to be hungover and feeling awful for days I’m so much better now life feels better , I have started running as I’m doing a 10 k so this keeps me on track !! . Love watching your videos Kate !! PS I love being sober xx