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When you picture someone quitting drinking, there’s almost a formula you think they need to follow.
It’s either a check into rehab, go through withdrawals and therapy scenario, or walking into a basement and announcing to all in the room that they are an alcoholic while nervously clutching a cup of poorly made coffee.
Sorry, that just wasn’t going to work for me.
For one thing, church basements really aren’t my thing, and I like my coffee well-made. For another, I’m not an alcoholic.
I couldn’t subscribe to being powerless over alcohol or stating I had moral failings. There was nothing wrong with my morals; I drank an addictive substance and got addicted to it. That’s not a moral failing, it’s science and chemistry at work.
So if rehab or 12 steps wasn’t going to be my jam, what else was there?
Well, I did what everyone is doing nowadays—I life-hacked my way out of drinking.
It’s funny how we think nothing of using all of the knowledge available at our fingertips in order to fix our homes, cook gourmet meals, repair a vehicle, or (as I did during COVID-19 lockdown) learn how to cut our children’s hair. But, when it comes to something like quitting drinking, people assume we need credentials and fancy letters after our names in order to do it.
Nope, not buying it. If the past few months have proven anything, it is that people are incredibly resilient and can do amazing things on their own. With or without the fancy letters after their name.
I had to spend a year researching, reading, and journaling to piece together why I was drinking too much, and how I could change my thinking so I didn’t want to drink. Alcohol had become my duct tape and it wasn’t sticking anymore. I scoured the internet and ordered every study I could find about alcohol use, our brains, and addiction. I studied psychology, read about Dr. John Sarno’s Mind-Body Connection, and dove into liminal thinking from Dave Gray. As I read, journaled, and examined not only why I drank, but also why I thought alcohol was fixing things, I uncovered just how wrong I’d been.
Since then, there’s been an explosion of so many others just like me and you that say, “I’m not saying I’m an alcoholic, but I am saying alcohol just isn’t working for me right now.” All these people have created spaces where they are sharing their knowledge and wisdom to help you without ever stepping in a church basement or admitting to being something you’re not.
So how does one life-hack their way out of an alcohol use disorder? Is it really possible? (Spoiler alert—it totally is!)
I think it’s important to figure out how you like to get your information. Are you a reader, listener, or a watcher? Getting the information you need in the right format can make a huge difference in your success at changing your thinking and relationship with alcohol.
Once you figure that out, dive in. Readers can hit all of the quit-lit out there now. My books take a science-based approach to why we drink and how to stop. There are also countless memoirs, guides, and handbooks out there that can help you. Written by all sorts of people—men, women, single, married, etc. Find who you connect with and go with it. I’d also suggest not just reading about alcohol. After all, we aren’t just drinking too much because we really love wine. There’s other stuff going on there. So dive into books about the issues that start to pop up as you quit pouring alcohol on your internal wounds. I will also encourage you to check with your local libraries to see if they carry the titles you’re looking for. If they don’t, submit a purchase request!
If you’re a listener, stock up on audiobooks and podcasts! I’m a reader myself, but I love to listen to audiobooks and podcasts when in the car or out on a run. These resources weren’t as accessible when I started my journey, but I know so many people who have completely changed their drinking solely by listening.
If you’re a visual person and need to see people to feel connected, go scour YouTube! From TED Talks to Q&As and webinars—there’s amazing content at your fingertips. There’s also video courses available, video meetings, and so much more.
I can say that I’m completely unapologetic about the fact that I didn’t stop drinking the “right way.” In fact, I encourage everyone to hack their way out of alcohol use disorders as well. That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to the traditional routes—if that works for you, by all means, do it. Use it, or use it along with the other options I mentioned above. Or create what works for you in changing your life. Maybe it doesn’t exist yet and you’re the one that needs to design it.
The thing is, there isn’t a right way or a single way to do this. So read, watch, listen, talk, run, swim, knit, or bake your way out of it. Do what works for you even if it seems crazy, unorthodox, or it’s never been done before. AA meetings were revolutionary in 1935. You can be a revolutionary now!
If you are curious about your drinking, and want to take this time to evaluate it rather than diving deeper into it, join me for The Alcohol Experiment. You will receive encouraging and mindset shifting daily videos and emails and an incredible community of 130,000 people also experimenting with their alcohol intake. It is completely free (and always will be) at The Alcohol Experiment.