I want to share my story of how I stopped overdrinking. What was I overdrinking, you may ask? Well, it was mostly sweet red wine initially, but then I moved to some different alcoholic products which I will tell you more about in just a bit.
So, I want to start out by saying this is my story. I do want to sound like my path is the only path for someone to get a better handle on their drinking or any addiction they may have. I also don’t want to make it sound like what worked for me will work for everyone. I know there are different severities of habits and addictions. I want to share my story and how I changed my relationship with alcohol in case anyone finds themselves in a place like where I was and maybe they don’t know there is another way for them to work on this. I just want to offer the option and possibility. This happens to be the path that worked for me and transformed my life. I am so grateful that I did this work for myself. I mean really, why would I not share it with others if it could potentially help someone??
So, I recognize that going pretty far back, I enjoyed alcohol purely because of the way it would make me feel. Lighter, less stressed, more carefree. The taste of alcohol never really appealed to me, so it was definitely more about the results than the taste. In fact, my choices in alcohol would end up being purely focused on how sweet they could be. I can remember asking bartenders what is a sweet and fruity drink they’d recommend? That was my requirement. No beer…ever!
So, my addiction sort of started out slow right? It was like I would drink mostly on the weekends and in social settings. Out with friends or at parties. Then I noticed over the years that I had taken a strong liking to sweet red wine. Coincidently this is around the time that our kids were younger. I was always very aware of my consumption and that it was increasing. As our son entered his teenage years my consumption would increase even more. I would look forward to a glass in the evenings to better handle the discomforts of life. When our son started driving, I did it to calm my nerves. I recall, my husband would think ahead about not drinking so that if something would ever happen he would be fine to jump in the car and drive. Nope, not me. Calming myself down felt like a higher priority to me.
I can recall a realization that happened at some point. I was driving home and recognized that I was literally thinking about opening that bottle of wine and pouring it into my glass. It was almost like I could taste it and would be salivating at the thought of it right? It was more predominant at those times when I had a long day at the office and then would be driving home and sort of dreading my facing whatever latest teenage challenge may come up when I get there. I used to have one glass, then two, then three, to finishing off a bottle in one evening.
So I had this awareness that my over-desire was increasing. But it didn’t stop me. I remember multiple times stopping at the grocery store on the way home and staring at all the wine bottles trying to find something new. We went on our family vacation to the lake, and I remember bringing this cooler and keeping it in our bedroom with my wine stash. I remember getting a larger container to drink it in because that meant fewer trips to refill. So clearly, a big part of my life had begun to rely on alcohol to be happy and calm.
So things like this escalate right? You start at one place and you just break down those limits you once had and it just becomes more and more of a focus. So much of it just happens subconsciously right? I am going to be very real & vulnerable in sharing this story but I think it is important to illustrate how fixated my brain was on getting that next hit of dopamine. I recall another time at the office I had a brilliant thought….if I would just bring in some alcohol and keep it in my office I could just have a sip to take the edge off before meetings. I would be more relaxed. I remember thinking it and saying to myself…” Wow Carisa, that is pretty bad you are even having that thought.” I never did that thankfully, but just the fact that these urges were happening was really starting to concern me. I had seen alcoholism present in my family history and I knew what that could look like. Of course, I would also always have the thought, that’s not me, I have it all under control.
But I continued doing what I was doing. Having those moments of pause but then went right back to what I was used to. My habitual behaviors.
Intelligently I knew all this sweet red wine was not good for me. So my primitive brain, the genius that it is, decided that instead of wine, maybe I could switch to a harder drink and I could have the same effects but have to drink less. So that is what I did and it worked for a while but then guess what happened? One of those glasses was no longer enough so now I am increasing the intake of the harder stuff.
So fast forward to 2020 when Covid arrived and my world was forced to slow down, this is when I had the big life changing realization that I did not like the life I was living or how I felt mentally and physically. I began working with a functional medicine dr and my health was starting to not look so great based on blood tests and lab work that we were doing. I knew that one of the many areas I was going to need to address was my alcohol consumption. So, through my life coaching certification, I was studying a program called “Stop overdrinking” and that is the protocol that I began to follow.
So I am not going to run through the entire stop overdrinking program with you but I will tell you that the path incorporates things like:
- Understanding what is happening inside my brain with the over-desire for alcohol. How dopamine is at the heart of it and my primitive brain is trying to be in control, but I do have an intelligent brain, my prefrontal cortex that I can use to change my habits.
- I learned how trying to quit from pure willpower won’t work and resisting just leads to anxiety which leads to more consuming.
- I learned to recognize when we are buffering in our lives with alcohol because we don’t want to feel discomfort.
- How to allow urges and have a plan ahead of time, even knowing how to plan for the obstacles that could arise to challenge that plan.
- And I became aware that once you unlearn the desire for alcohol, the lack of desire now becomes automatic. Your new normal.
It is absolutely amazing!
So I stopped drinking on September 1 2020, and I still have the video on my phone, from November 20th, 2020 when I poured all the remaining alcohol I had down the sink. I didn’t touch alcohol for about a year and I went over 2 years before I had a sip of wine again. I think I tried it just to see what would happen. And it was like ok, I don’t need it, I don’t want it anymore.
So where I am now, 2 1/2 years later is that I no longer have the over desire. I can go out with friends and have a drink or two and be completely content. I don’t find myself craving it or thinking about the next time I’ll get it.
In fact, I never sit and think about alcohol anymore. It’s just not a big part of my life now. And I love that. I am so proud of myself for interrupting this pattern of behavior. I am grateful that I pushed through all of the urges to get to the other side of this intentional life I have created. And for any pessimists out there, I assure you I did not replace the over drinking with another unhealthy habit. I would say that I replaced with more healthy self care practices that I love and fuel me in so many other ways.
The bottom line is, I used to think I needed alcohol to survive my everyday life. Through this process, I learned that was completely false and I took all my power back by thinking with my intelligent brain and using deliberate thoughts and planning.
I know from my story that I am living proof that you can stop overdrinking and eliminate over-desire. This process really could also work for any of the various over desires you could have in your life.
I hope sharing my story will prompt you to acknowledge any of the areas where over-desire is ruling your life and you would consider focusing on this so you can get to a much better place with it. Just like I did. There is nothing special about me. I just learned the process, followed it, and embraced the new version of the person I became.
You know, my daughter and I were walking through the grocery store recently and we passed the wine aisle. She said “mom remember when you would stand here forever looking at wine? “I said I sure do Jenna, and I don’t miss it at all!”
Wow, just thinking about that makes me feel so proud of myself! Thank you God for being with me on that journey and the universe for showing me what was possible.
Again, please know if you or someone you know struggles with an addiction to alcohol or other substances I am not saying this is the solution for them. What I want to convey is that I had an over-desire for alcohol that was not serving me well in my life and I believe I was definitely heading toward a much bigger addiction. This process allowed me to press the stop button and do a hard reset. I took all my control back. You can do this too!
“I decided to stop drinking while it was still my idea”Billy Connolly
One response to “How I stopped overdrinking.”
Hi Carisa, You’ve done well to control alcohol to the extent that you can still enjoy a glass or two, without going back to your previous drinking levels. I also like the Billy Connolly quote, whcih is so true! I found it easier to give up entirely, having tried for years to unlearn the desire to drink, and in the end was just easier to stop. It took many attempts though, but finally it happened with a serious amount of will power. Those few days, weeks and months, were hard, but i knew i was doing the right thing. It’s been nearly 20 years now. I remember thinking in lock down that i was so happy i didn’t drink anymore, as it would have been too stressful to deal with. But, now sober, you learn new tools to help things like this, and that for me has been one of the best things about becoming sober, the new me. Thanks for sharing Carisa!