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DRUNKEN SOCIETY: How you can stop drinking alcohol or control your consumption i

 

Introduction

Today’s society portrays drinking as a fun, sexy and relaxing way of living, just like smoking was once perceived. We see it all around us from TV ads to Facebook posts and the billboards. This dose of daily exposure affects the way we think about the “social drink”. We have become conditioned to the point where we feel that drinking is the only way to have fun. However, that is simply not true.

Let me begin by explaining that from the age of 19 to the age of 25, I drank and partied every weekend. I felt pride in the fact that in all those years I never missed a single weekend. Drinking was common to my friends and I, as indulging in alcohol every weekend is depicted as acceptable social behaviour, especially for young adults, in our society. Sadly, the negative side effects of continued alcohol consumption are just as commonplace as the frequent use of liquor. For most of us who engage in ‘social drinking’, we either choose to ignore the negative side effects of alcohol intake or we are simply unaware of the depth of its impact. This results in millions of people and their loved ones being harmfully impacted by socially acceptable drinking.

Now, I know most people reading this will become defensive and want to protect their weekend fun while also claiming drinking is fine with moderation. Don’t worry, I will not argue with you on that point. However, have you ever asked yourself what is moderation when it comes to drinking? Where do you draw the line? Did you know that per CAMH [+ (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)+] Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines, the majority of our society has a drinking problem? Yes, drinking comes with its fun, feeling less shy to speak with strangers, feeling energized and relaxed. However, I am here to tell you that it is possible to experience all of these positives without the consumption of alcohol.

You should know that I am not a doctor or a health care professional, but there are many amazing professionals who are there to help you if you need additional support. However, I am here to share with you my own personal experience of how I managed to give up drinking completely. Some may wonder how I went 7 years without missing one weekend of drinking to stopping cold turkey just like that? In this book, I will share with you how I accomplished this lasting change. All I need from you is a commitment to allow change into your life by raising your standards and maintaining an open mind throughout this book.

Let’s gets started!

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Why do you drink?

Why do people drink? Why did I title this book the “Drunken Society”? Let’s start by exploring why you drink. Think of four reasons why you consume alcohol and make sure to be honest with yourself. Our society is driven by instantaneous gratification and nobody seems to have time. Therefore we are always looking for quick fix solutions, which is exactly what alcohol offers as an escape from reality. For example, it is a great distraction from the isolation that is often created through the constant presence on social media. In fact, not only does it provide a false sense of reality but social drinking can also bring direct social contact with friends after work over beer, cocktails or grant ‘liquid courage’ to approach otherwise nerve wrecking social situations. Furthermore, the media uses situations such as these examples in the hopes of convincing us that drinking is the only way to have fun. However, alcohol commercials are a lot like used car salesmen: they deliver a great pitch for what is amazing about it but fail to share the risks.

Most countries have different legal drinking ages but growing up in Canada everyone in school couldn’t wait until they were of legal age to drink. Of course we always want what we can’t have and when we have it we over do it. Isn’t that the way it works? Think of problems people often complain about such as: anxiety, depression, back pain, negative past experiences, feeling awkward in social settings, etc. Everyone loves the feeling they get from drinking. They feel relaxed, more talkative and courageous. To top it off, most drinks actually taste delicious. All in all, alcohol gives us instantaneous satisfaction and as previously mentioned, we are as a society addicted to quick fix solutions. Sadly, our short-term solutions more often than not deliver long term complications and alcohol is no exception to this rule.

Why should you stop?

We only live once and everyone always complains that life is too short. Perhaps you should consider not making it even shorter by drinking and living most of your time in a haze. Three things people always want more of are time, money and better health. Well good news! If you give up drinking you get more of all three. I know that you are a smart person and you know the dangers of alcohol use. Some problems don’t accrue until years down the road, but it is only a matter of time. Do you currently smoke? Or have you ever? Either way, I’m sure if you look back at society’s attitude towards cigarette smoking years ago, you’ll notice how it used to be positively perceived and how drastically society’s view has changed (along with the help of proper education of course). Well, I truly believe that the same conclusion with regards to alcohol will one day arrive for the majority of our population.

I want you to do me a favor. Please try remembering and counting how many hours you have spent drinking along with the hours you’ve lost due to feeling unwell because of alcohol consumption. How much money have you spent in total on alcohol? I am willing to bet the numbers will scare you.

Why do we, as a society, drink? And why do so many people try and justify the habit of social drinking? What is social drinking? Really take some time to think about it. Remember, society has through various mediums such as advertisements, normalized alcohol consumption. Our perception is that in order to be seen as an ’alcoholic’ you must drink large quantities of alcohol on a daily basis. But there are many health problems both physical and mental that come from drinking the amount you might see as acceptable and none problematic based on social standards.

Having a drinking problem includes these four symptoms: craving, loss of control, physical dependence and tolerance, per the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). Remember, drinking is not only a problem if you act like an ‘alcoholic’ as depicted in movies or TV shows. I can’t stress this enough. I am sure that you are aware but alcohol effects millions of lives all around the world. These are the same people that drink in the bars we frequent and eat in the restaurants that we enjoy. Many people are affected by drinking even if they don’t seem like they have a drinking problem. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is telling us that 1 in 3 people will become addicted to drinking at some point in their life. That to me is scary, especially since everybody thinks they won’t be that 1 in 3. The drug that we see as legal is also a silent killer, as we see people who die from drinking and driving, people who drink too much and fall or maybe pass out with the stove on and start a house fire. Alcohol is also related to some homicides and suicides, as it impacts people’s decision making abilities.

Before you become defensive stating that alcohol is okay with moderation, you should know that 100,000 people die each year with that same opinion (NCAAD). I don’t want to be the fun police here, and ruin all the fun but I know what difference drinking or staying sober makes in life. That is why I am here to help you. Of course, the decision to change your drinking habits is yours and yours only. Change can only occur when you are willing to accept change in your life. You must keep in mind that alcohol is harmful long before we meet society’s expectations of an ‘alcoholic’, so you don’t have to be drinking a lot of alcohol daily to decide it’s time to quit. Your body will thank you nonetheless! Here is a quick overview of some of the differences between drinking and not drinking.

What drinking offers What being sober offers

Depression More happiness

Liver damage Better health/Less illness

Cancer More money

Depression of the immune system More time

Let’s have a quick look at how drinking targets your brain.


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p<>{color:#212121;}. Cerebral cortex: This is the region of the brain where thought processing and consciousness are centered. Alcohol depresses the behavioral inhibitory centers (that is why it makes a person less inhibited). It will slow down the processing of information from the eyes, ears, even the mouth and other senses; and it inhibits your thought processes, making it very difficult to think clearly.

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p<>{color:#212121;}. Cerebellum: That beautiful drunken stumble that we sometimes see from people stems from alcohol effecting this centre of balance often causing people to fall.

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p<>{color:#212121;}. Hypothalamus and pituitary: When alcohol is in your system it depresses nerve centers in the hypothalamus. Amongst other elements, this area of the brain is in control of sexual arousal. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland work together to coordinate your basic brain functions as well as your hormones.

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p<>{color:#212121;}. Medulla: If you want to be able to breath, be conscious and maintain normal body temperature the medulla is here for you. By having alcohol effect your brain, it can cause sleepiness, slower breathing and even lower body temperature.

Now as stated earlier, I am not a doctor but felt it was essential to provide some brief information on how drinking can affect your brain before we move on. Now, let’s look at some reasons why giving up drinking will actually benefit you enormously.

Positive changes when you stop drinking

The first change is how you will FEEL

Most people I know complain about common problems, one of which happens to be body aches and pains. Well, here is the good news! If you want them gone, stop drinking. What drinking does to the body is actually scary when you look at it. Just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is not dangerous, I mean after all it is still a drug. In fact, alcohol is the drug that affects the most people in the world.

It is funny to me (and I’ve done it myself) but we often say no to things like fast food but will definitely not say no to drinks with friends. When I gave up drinking, I was amazed at all the changes that took place both physically and emotionally. I felt like a new person. I gave up drinking in my mid twenties and already I noticed big changes from stopping drinking. Since I no longer drink, I have more energy and am more productive. In my first year without alcohol I read 40 books and wrote two of my own. I am telling you! You will gain so much more money, time and health when you give up the drug that is alcohol. You will feel better everyday you are off the magic syrup. I always enjoyed working out but once I gave up drinking I made so much progress in healthy muscle growth and fat loss. It is simple: if you want to feel like crap both mentally and physically, continue drinking. If you want to feel like a new, younger, stronger more productive and more energized you, then give up that bad habit.

The second change is how you will THINK

Another thing that amazed me is how my thinking changed once I gave up drinking. Most of us start drinking a little before legal age or right on the dot. However, because the changes happen over time we never even realize them but your mind turns into a fogy haze, even if you simply drink on weekends. It doesn’t take much! Once you give up drinking you will think more clearly, and therefore become more productive. You will quickly notice that your mind has been in a foggy haze and once you stop drinking that brain fog starts to lift away and you will feel like a new you. Instead of thinking about what you will drink, who you will drink with and where you will go on the weekend, you can actually put that energy into positive efforts. These might include thinking about how to expand your income, how to build better relationships with friends and family or even how to help out around the community or new hobbies to start.

Due to the constant foggy haze that used to surround me, I used to do funny things such as put used coffee mugs in the fridge instead of the dishwasher. This was due to my brain being preoccupied with recovering from drinking and my resulting inability to think clearly. This even happened on weekdays when I wasn’t drinking because my body was never getting the chance to fully recover from weekend binges. When this happens, you find yourself in a constant fog, alternating between being tired and having a racing mind. Evidently, when you stop drinking for a certain period of time, this vicious cycle of not thinking clearly ends and you begin to think properly. This comes with multiple benefits such as being able to concentrate on tasks and being more productive.

The third change is what you DO

Do you realize how many days you have in a year? Well, seems like an obvious question but when you stop drinking you actually start living everyday and there is so much more you can do! There is more to life than waiting for the weekend so you can party with your friends and recover from Monday to Friday.

What you do on a daily basis will determine a great deal of who you are and where you go in life. I mention this because so many people want to be successful, they want more money, they want better physical health, they want stronger relationships, etc. Sadly, all those things will not improve with drinking. How often do you hear people say that there are simply not enough hours in the day? I am willing to bet that if they spent only half the time drinking and the rest of the time doing things they enjoy or getting work done, they might not be under a consistent time crunch.

The fourth change you will start having more MONEY

As mentioned earlier, everyone complains about not having enough money. Well, you will be amazed at how much money you will actually have at the end of every month due to the simple fact you don’t drink anymore. Here is a fun fact, in 2012 in the USA alone, the bars and nightclubs industry made over $23.4 BILLION in revenue, and that doesn’t even include what we buy in the stores. Now, that is amazing news for the people in the industry but for the people who buy the drinks that can quickly lead to empty pockets.

People often complain about not having enough money to travel (or whatever else they are passionate about). Well hold on to your hat because this is where it becomes scary. Your average person will spend about $700 to $800 in one month on alcohol. Of course that includes what they buy in bars clubs, and stores. But, if you look at it annually that is simply scary, as it adds up to $8400 – $9600 per year! If you enjoy traveling, for example, think about it. Where do you want to travel? Stop drinking and pick a destination. I have gone to beautiful all inclusive resorts in Cuba (5 star, might I add) and everything together only cost me $800 dollars. Drinking or going to Cuba every single month? You be the judge my friend.

As well, keep in mind that the amount of money you make is not as important as how you manage it. I hope this part will motivate you like it motivated me. It’s time for you to drop the drinking and start enjoying the money you have worked so hard for.

Let’s recap what you gain from giving up drinking


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You will immediately start having more money available

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p<>{color:#000;}. Your brain will begin to heal

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p<>{color:#000;}. Your liver will begin to rejuvenate

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p<>{color:#000;}. All the little aches and pains throughout your body caused by drinking will slowly improve

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p<>{color:#000;}. You feel less sad and anxious

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p<>{color:#000;}. You become more productive

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p<>{color:#000;}. You won’t slowly be destroying your body

The Journey from drinking to sober and the struggle to feeling normal

One thing you need to know when you stop drinking is you will have a hard time feeling normal. For some people, they have relied on liquid courage for so long that they feel awkward when sober in social scenarios. It can take a while before this uneasiness goes away and to rediscover your true self. Some people drink to relive stress while others drink to cope with anxiety, and the list goes on. Whatever your reasons are know this: once you get to feeling normal again you will never want to go back to drinking. I know for me personally I always struggled with being the designated driver before I stopped drinking because I felt out of place in social drinking environments. A common struggle amongst people within our society is the need to fit in. When you give up drinking, it will take some time to adjust in order to feel like you belong while being sober.

Let me tell you the story of what I encountered early on when I decided to stop drinking. One night in January, a couple of friends, two of my brothers and I decided to go get some food at a local restaurant. It was a week after I decided to stop drinking and my first attempt to return to a drinking environment. It may seem like a scary step to take but as I cleaned the snow off my car all I kept thinking was how happy I was to be able to drive. It was after all much better than the usual walking or waiting on cabs in cold winter temperatures. When we finally got to the restaurant, we all sat down to order food. I decided to treat myself to a nice steak with rice and veggies, I couldn’t wait to eat! The waitress asked for our drink orders, when she went around the table and finally got to me I said the evil word “WATER”. I felt like the whole place got quiet. The waitress asked “is that vodka water?”. I kindly said “no, just water will do for me, thank you”. She gave me the look of disappointment and confirmed everyone’s drink orders. Somehow, she forgot to confirm mine and simply said “and you don’t want anything to drink, right?” I kindly said well just the water please. After a while she returned with all the drinks except my water. Now I am a big believer in humour being a part of a happy healthy life, so my brothers, friends and I all had a good laugh at the unspoken expectation that I should have been consuming alcohol like ‘everyone else’ in the restaurant instead of the healthier water.

I hope this little story made you laugh. However, also remember this type of scenario happens often when you don’t drink in a society that expects people to drink. You can expect to run into some interesting scenarios and some will make you feel like an outcast, but it is only because you are not used to it. I can go into a club now, dance completely sober or not even hesitate to ask for a coffee at a local bar. By the way, that is a great way to experience some bad coffee! With all these challenges, you must always keep in mind the strong compelling reasons as to why you no longer drink.

How to handle the awkward sober social scenarios

First things first: stop telling yourself it is awkward. The more you tell yourself something the more you will believe it to be true. “Never say anything about yourself you don’t want to come true” (Brian Tracy) I know it can be scary, I have been there. At the start, it isn’t easy going from drunken super man or woman to sober you. It will seem boring, it will take some adjusting and more patience than one might think. However, when dealing with intoxicated people, you must remember that they are most likely having a great time! They will not overthink the conversation, regardless how awkward you may think it is. Some conversations might even feel like you are talking to a gold fish. Realistically, the only one who feels awkward and perhaps out of place is you because you are not used to being sober.

In the sales industry, we often use the word rapport as a way to relate and connect with others. Being in rapport with someone simply means you have things in common and you feel a connection with this person. One example I often use is being a part of a tribe or wolf pack. You see, you feel comfortable in your tribe and you trust those people just like you trust your family. Now think back to how you felt awkward while sober in a social drunken circus. Will your energy be at the same level? Probably not. Will your excitement be at the same level? Probably not. I am sure you get my point. When you are drunk with everyone else, even though you are strangers you will have something in common and that would be the drinking. It is easy to feel in rapport, just like a drunken family under the same roof. If you are sober however you can feel out of rapport. It is up to you to make different connections since you can’t rely on alcohol to do that for you. When you are sober, it is harder to feel like you belong and that you are connected with a group of people because you are out of rapport. However, let’s also look at the importance of how you view the situation.

How you see things and how you view others is determined by who you are, and what you have experienced in your life. For most people the hardest part of change is how they look at it themselves. The same will go for how you view social get togethers and nights at the bars with your friends. Naturally as people we tend to worry, some of us more than others. When you feel out of place due to being sober in a social drinking scenario, it can be easy for your mind to wander and your worries to build up. Your inner dialogue can then easily impact your experience. However, keep in mind that 85% of what we worry about never happens, it is all just built up in our mind. From how we view things and what meaning we attach to situations shapes our experiences in our lives. For example, if you feel like you are not good in social scenarios while being sober, then you will have a harder time not feeling awkward while trying to connect with others. However, the worst of your worries are unlikely to come true, so you are in fact only limiting yourself and your potential.

If you want to feel normal and not have every social situation feel awkward then it is time to start with you. As with anything else, if you want to be good at something you need a proper strategy. Let’s look at some great tips for social environments and how to connect better with others so that you can be completely sober but still have an awesome social life.

How to connect with others in a social setting while sober

I am sure by this point you understand that it is not the drinking that turns you into a social super star. It may, for example, be the fact that you don’t worry so much. That means if you can manage your worrying by taking control with some social strategies, you can be back to your normal self in no time. What I have learned over the years is that fear comes from not knowing. Every unknown outcome is scary to us as people. Yes, some surprises are pleasant but keep in mind you only enjoy the ones that turn out favorably for you. Let’s look at the FORGE system and other tips to keep in mind while being social, as these will help you win with the small talk.

The FORGE System

The FORGE system is a great way to stop that awkward “I don’t know what to talk about” moment. FORGE simply stands for: Friends, Occupation, Recreation, Goals and Education . These all represent great topics to talk about with acquaintances or strangers. Stop focusing on the fact that you are sober and start focusing on FORGE. When you are sitting in a bar or meet friends of friends at a social gathering, ask them about their friends, their recreation activities or whichever topic you prefer. Find things you have in common and spend 90% of your conversation with that individual on these common interests. One big thing to remember when you try and connect with others is we all like people that are like ourselves or the way we would like to be. Remember the word rapport that we talked about? Connecting with others is all about getting into rapport, so build that connection so you can relate to them.

Make people feel good about themselves and they will enjoy your company

The better you make people feel about themselves the better they will enjoy your company. Now, I am not an expert on dating but here is where many people go wrong on first dates. If you could be a fly on the wall at your local cafe or local wine bar, you would hear that most people put all their time and effort into trying to make themselves look good in front of the other individual. However, charisma does not come from praising yourself, it comes from praising others. Making people feel good is one of the keys to connecting with them. As Maya Angelou insightfully stated, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

People want to be heard, so lend your ears

Another crucial key to connecting with other people is listening. I see it all around when you hear people talking and both parties are anxiously awaiting the chance to voice their opinions. In a world where fast isn’t fast enough, people get less direct social connection with others including family and friends. Everyone has a story and some days they simply want to share a chapter or two but there’s rarely anyone there to listen to them.

If you can give your need to speak a break and simply listen to another individual with the intent to understand rather than reply, then you are on your way to making a true connection.

Don’t focus on your own thoughts while speaking to someone

Now the last bit to the social part here is shifting your focus from you to the other person. As I just stated, it’s important to focus on making people feel good about themselves while also listening to the other person. If you focus on your negative thoughts, you will become anxious. The biggest problem people have who claim they are not good with others is that they focus on their own emotions. They focus more on their worries such as “what is this person thinking about me”, “am I not being funny”, “am I coming off too confident” or “am I sounding fake”. If you want to be good in social settings stop building up a tower of anxiety through focusing on your negative emotions and instead focus on getting to know the other person.

Pick who you spend your time with

One big thing I noticed when I gave up drinking was changes to my social circle. Some friends started dragging me down by calling me a ‘buzz kill’, while others lifted me up by praising my will power. If you give up drinking you will find out who your close friends are and who simply didn’t want to drink alone. I mention this because the people we surround ourselves with have a big impact on how we feel and what we do. As Tony Robbins stated “Who we spend most of our time with is who we become”. Take some time to think about your social circle. Are people supporting your decision or are they not a fan of it?

One night, a group of friends and I went to a bar, and of course I was Mr. Sober. One friend I hadn’t seen for a while asked me about my decision to give up drinking. While I was explaining my choice, another one of my friends spoke up and said “Just for your information, you are making us all feel miserable about ourselves, and now I don’t feel like drinking. I feel guilty for drinking, but I want to party! So, quit being a buzzkill.” That is just an example of scenarios that you may run into. I am not saying leave behind all your friends because a close group of friends to support you along the way is a crucial part to this journey. I am simply saying you should be aware of who is helping you and who might make this change harder while also prioritizing with who you spend most your time.

For the most part people do not mean to be harsh, they just want you to have a good time, and some friends might even fear that they will lose you once you stop drinking. When I was 20 years old I used to host many house parties and my worst fear was someone not having a good time. If you showed up to my party sober I would always try and offer you drinks. I didn’t mean it in a bad way, and same goes for most people. I strongly believe that for the most part people simply try to do the right thing but sometimes what they think you need doesn’t line up with what you do need. Bottom line, don’t take things personally and spend more time with people who support your decision in order to make this transition easier. The people who support you will help you remain inspired to maintain your change, they will praise you for the decision you have made and they can help you when you’re feeling down or feel like you can’t do it. The people close to us affect who we are and how we view things, so choose those people wisely.

As previously stated, remaining social while sober is a vital part to overcoming the urge to drink even though it might feel awkward at first. I want to share with you a quick but powerful insight on why it is important to be social and to not isolate yourself.

A study (Rat Park) conducted by Bruce. K. Alexander is a new interesting and growingly popular way of understanding addiction. It provides some insight into how you can potentially leave your drinking days behind. A common way of looking at addiction has historically been to see drugs as the cause of addiction. By this rational, if you take a drug for 20 days, at day 21 you will be addicted. Not only do I find this study very interesting but it also rings true when I look at people I know that struggle with substance abuse. I urge you to pay close attention and also do more research on this study. (Should you want more information, you can start by checking out this video.)

When you are in the hospital and you get injected with diamorphine, you are getting a heavy doze of heroin. Diamorphine is heroin, only a much stronger type. Thankfully, you won’t typically end up being addicted to heroin simply because you got injected with diamorphine. Ever wonder why? Based on this study, social support is the missing component to our historical understanding of addiction. In the study, one rat was isolated by itself with two drinking options, one filled with water and the second water laced with heroin.

They found that the isolated rat would keep drinking the laced water and eventually die as a result of overdose. They continued to expand this experience with Rat Park. As opposed to the previous isolative cages, this one was a fun playful environment for rats filled with lots of rat friends. Drinking options were the same as previously (normal water and water laced with heroin). The outcome was shocking. The rats in Rat Park for the most part never touched the laced water and for sure didn’t go to the point of overdosing. The results of this study suggest that the isolated rats became addicted because they were isolated. Now I know we are humans and not rats but the same holds true for us because people who get injected by the drug in hospitals for the most part don’t become addicted to it. Another example are the soldiers of the Vietnam war. It’s known that many used heroin while in Vietnam but upon return home to their families most stopped using.

I wanted to mention this study because it shows that a healthy social life filled with hobbies is important as opposed to living in isolation. Since becoming addicted to substances like alcohol is much more likely when isolated, if you are struggling with drinking take a look at your life. Are you isolated? What areas could use improvement? Maybe get closer to family or friends, take up hobbies that get you outside or make new friends with positive habits to leave the negative environment behind.

Don’t place yourself in high risk situations

If you are really hungry and tired when you walk into a store filled with snacks you will be more likely to eat unhealthy foods versus when you’re energized and not hungry. The same goes for being tired, thirsty or experiencing any negative emotion when in a bar. This increases the likelihood of resorting to alcohol for a quick fix to avoid the uncomfortable feeling. I know for myself when I am thirsty I crave things like pop but when I am properly hydrated that feeling is way less intense. The same used to be true when I first stopped drinking. I would crave alcohol less when I was properly hydrated, energized and in a good mood. The other thing is make sure not to be empty handed if you are in a bar. People will always want to make sure you have a drink and the more they ask, the harder it is to say no. So, keep that glass of water, juice, pop or coffee in your hand.

One thing that is very hard for many smokers I have spoken with when they first quit is the fact that they have an empty hand. They are so used to holding a cigarette in their hand in certain social settings that when they are surrounded by strangers they never know what to do with their hands. This often raises their anxiety, makes them feel more uncomfortable and can potentially be the tipping point to drinking alcohol or smoking a cigarette. Perhaps that is another reason why some people enjoy having a drink in hand while out with friends, but it doesn’t have to be alcohol. I remember one of my first sales jobs I was given the task of coaching an entry level sales representative. We did door to door sales and when you are new to it well, it is nerve racking. He asked me what do you do with your hands, so I gave him my pen and every door we went to he was more relaxed because he was not worried about his hand. This is a great example of how you might have formed habits from your drinking through the years and how addressing these habits directly can make the transition easier.

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Needing alcohol to have fun is a myth

For the longest time I thought it was true. After all, everyone kept saying it but how many people actually go long enough without drinking to know how it feels to be sober in a social setting? I say this because at first it took some getting used to but once you pass that stage you quickly realize that being drunk in a bar is a lot like watching a movie through a fuzzy TV with muffled audio. Let me tell you once you are in a bar sober that is where every hour becomes comedy hour. The things you see and hear are out of this world and it really makes you laugh while also questioning why people drink! The biggest problem people face when sober in a drunk social setting is feeling out of place. When feeling out of place, people tend to focus on the negative feelings and completely shut out what is actually hilarious in their surroundings. Look, if you strongly believe that being sober is no fun well then you will never have fun, but on the flip side if you can open your mind to having fun sober then you are already halfway there. You decide what is fun to you, as it all depends on how you view things and the attitude you choose to adopt. Let me say this again, being sober in a bar is entertaining.

You are not missing out if you stop drinking

I really used to struggle thinking that I was missing out when I heard people talking about their drunk weekends but I quickly realized I was not missing out. I know I said don’t expose yourself to high risk situations, so if you feel like you are not ready to be around people who drink that is fine, take as long as you need. However, we are all aware that fun drinking nights come with the good and the bad, so what I did was I put myself into all the situations where I was mediating arguments, taking care of the people who got sick at night, chasing all the drunken angry sheep to return them to the herd and being the driver for every arguing couple and person who puked in the back seat of my car. I put myself in all those situations so I would never forget the bad that comes with drinking. I consider myself to be a patient person but seeing what alcohol does to smart and friendly people while sober was enough for me to completely dissociate with drinking. By attending the drunken circus sober I decided I didn’t want to be an act anymore. Once you feel disgust towards something it is easy to stay away. Remember, we do things to gain pleasure or avoid pain, so link pain to drinking and forget all the pleasure you once felt towards it. Take it from me when you make a decision to stop drinking you are not missing out on much but you will gain more than you ever expected.

How to break a habit and have lasting change

I want to share with you some life changing steps to breaking a habit. I must give credit to Tony Robbins for this amazing lesson that I gained from reading his book [+ (Awaken the Giant Within).+]

1 – Find your why

Find a strong and compelling reason as to why you must stop. Not should, but must. As the saying goes “If the student is ready the teacher will appear”. In other words, if you are ready for change you will find the way. Now I want you to find personal reasons why you should stop drinking because that often makes the biggest difference. If you want something bad enough you will find a way. Really take time to build a strong compelling reason as to why you should stop drinking.

Let’s take a quick glimpse at some eye-opening statistics that surround drinking. Out of 3.9 million Americans who got treatment for substance abuse, 2.5 million of them were treated for alcohol use (Drug Free World). Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 young people every year which is more than all illegal drugs combined (MADD). Now even if you don’t take away a single thing from this book for some reason, please take away the importance of finding “your why”. This alone can bring lasting change because no matter what you are looking to change everything in life comes with obstacles. But if you have a strong enough reason for making the change there will never be a big enough obstacle that can hold you back.

I would say that 9 times out of 10, if we want to make a change but can’t seem to stay true to our commitment it is as simple as a weak “why”, as in why you must stop. Remember not should but must! Sadly, many people don’t learn until they are hit with pain. Please don’t be the person that waits for alcohol to become a big problem. I had no run ins with the law, I didn’t have relationship problems and I didn’t even have a doctor tell me I had to stop. Find your why so you can stop before it becomes a problem that delivers massive amounts of pain for you and your loved ones.

2 – Raise your standards

What will you stand for from now on? Be careful, because we all get what we tolerate. Even if we can’t control what happens in life we can control how we respond and when you respond by accepting certain things like falling back to drinking, eating unhealthy foods or living a bad lifestyle you will have to live with the consequences. You and you alone have control to make a change.

I was once handing out papers and had to make the decision to raise my standards as I was unhappy and lacking purpose with this situation. That is what motivated me to raise my standards to make the necessary changes to transition into my sales career. As is commonly known, the sales industry encourages drinking and sales people love to party. That is probably why coworkers and I included drinking in most games, from badminton to cards and even agreeing that whoever sold less was buying the rounds. I made it my mission early on in my sales career to learn everything there is to learn about selling. I became really passionate about sales, so I started reading many books. I found it interesting that every company big or small always depends on their sales. As I was reading a great book by the sales legend Brian Tracy, it slowly got me thinking about my decisions and drinking habits. In the one book, he talked about seeing yourself as being a winning horse who takes part in racing and how you would never dare feed yourself (the horse) garbage. It got me thinking, ‘I place so much time and effort on being a great sales person but what part of getting drunk is helpful toward my goal?’ I wondered why are we focused on what type of gas we pour into our cars and why do we focus so much on our pets and kids diets if when it comes to us we have no problem taking the drug “alcohol” every weekend, and sometimes during the week? I worked with a person who was always quick to say a glass a day keeps the doctor away. Although it might be a funny saying, what happened to just the glass? Because when I would look over more than half the bottle would usually be gone. So how big of a glass was it? Yes, working in the sales industry we were really great at justifying our drinking, selling ourselves on why it’s ok even when we may have felt a little guilty.

Think about a harsh Canadian winter -30C, wind chills and snowstorms for months on end. As a door to door sales person you are sent away to other provinces to sell, sharing hotel rooms with coworkers. What else could we do? Well, I didn't realize until later there is lots to do, we just wanted an excuse to drink. It was my decision to raise my standards by giving up drinking, in the hopes of improving my daily experience. The decisions you make on a daily basis will make you or break you, so make a decision today to up your standards. Want more for your life then commit to change.

3 – Let go of limiting beliefs

One vital thing to master is your beliefs, as Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” You see, a basic yet effective step to making a change in life is the changing beliefs toward what you want to change. Before you achieve you must first believe. When I was 13 years old, I got my first guitar and loved every minute I could play the instrument. I put a lot of time and effort learning to play this new instrument. I enjoyed how I felt while playing and how others enjoyed the music. By the time, I was 19 I played my first show in a bar. I may have been a little nervous. I drank because I thought that was what guitarist/singer did. I had a limiting belief by which I was convinced I could never do this sober and if I wanted to fit in with everyone else I would have to drink like all the rest. I guess you always feel better about your performance if you can’t hear your mistakes. One show lead to another and one drink lead to more. I played many shows. Finally, when I decided to stop drinking I thought I could never play sober in front of a drunk crowd. But you know what? It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. It only took some getting used to and that is all. Drinking is a habit for most of us, just something we do when we hang out with friends. Any habit you pick up can be laid to rest by replacing it with alternative good habits.

If you have a strong belief that you are addicted to drinking and that you are a victim that can’t be helped, then guess what! You will probably always have a problem. If you strongly believe that you can’t have fun without drinking, you will never have fun without drinking. If you feel you are awkward in social settings when you don’t drink, then that will always be the case. If you want to make a lasting change you have to stop holding on to limiting beliefs. Some sayings like “where there is a will there is a way” may sound cliché and over used but why on earth are we not applying these sayings to our everyday lives? As Stephen Covey says “common knowledge isn’t always common practice”. You have to ask yourself do you really want to make a change or is it just something that you ‘should’ do eventually. If you want change then make a commitment to yourself. Write down all your limiting beliefs you have towards not drinking and conquer your limiting beliefs. You can’t challenge what you don’t see in front of you, so make these beliefs visual by writing them out so it’ll be easier for you to challenge them.

4 – Change your strategy

Become a hero not a victim. Getting the victim label in anything in life will only offer one thing and that is lack of power. If you are a victim, then you have no power and therefore you will never be able to make a change because things are happening to you. You are not in control because remember, you are a victim. However, taking responsibility for who you are and where you are no matter what your circumstances may be, strong ownership of yourself will give you power and put you in a position of control. If what you have tried didn’t work and you’re still maintaining your bad habit, then change your strategy. As Albert Einstein stated “if you try the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, that is insanity”. Right? It’s time to change your approach to giving up drinking and time to live the life you deserve.

5 – Change your focus

Everything we do in life is motivated by the potential to either gain pleasure or avoid pain.

If you have a hard time working through the temptations remember, what you focus on is what you will feel emotionally. “Where focus goes energy flows” (Tony Robbins) That is why you must start focusing on all the pain associated with alcohol and completely dismiss all the pleasure you once felt from drinking it. If you focus on how hard you find it to stop drinking it will always be hard to stop drinking. Instead focus on everything you gain from finally allowing yourself to live without that drug.

A lot of times people are discouraged by the thought that change takes a long time. However, change doesn’t have to take years and it doesn’t have to be hard. Long lasting change always happens instantaneous. The moment you decide to cut all positive associations and fully commit to never accepting to fall back into that habit is life changing. This is because you have raised your standards and you have a strong ‘why’ for not continuing with the habit. That is where you get not just change, but lasting change. As the saying goes “if the student is ready the master will appear”. The same can be said that if the person is ready for change the cure will eventually appear. You must be fully willing and ready to make the change. Only you can make that decision as you are in control of your life. No matter where you are, you always have the power and control to make the most important decisions.

Strengthen your willpower

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

There are two kinds of people in the world those with purpose that don’t always hit the snooze button and those with no purpose that always hit the snooze button. Think about it, are you more willing to hit the snooze button when you hear it Monday morning compared to the timer for your flight to leave on vacation? I can’t stress this enough! Find your purpose and you will make changes no matter how hard they seem. I hear people complain about wishing they were able to eat healthier or go to the gym. There are many reasons why people wish they could have more willpower to make those life changes. However, most people that struggle with willpower struggle because they ignore the basics. Here is what I mean by the basics: mental activity (meditation), sleep, physical activity and proper diet. The better you feel about yourself the more likely you will be able to make changes because change requires you to step out of your comfort zone and that can be scary so you need to feel good about yourself. The better you feel the more confidence you must take on the world. Let’s look at all these basics individually and how they can help you boost your willpower.

1 – Meditate

Meditation is cheap and yet very powerful when it comes to improving your willpower to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to things you want to change in your life. I would say it is one of the most effective ways to increase your willpower because when you meditate you train your brain to focus which helps you resist the urge to give in to your wandering thoughts. That willpower is also what will give you the strength to resist the urge to drink or any other bad habit. Another great reason why you should start meditation is because for many people stress is something that can sabotage their decision making. Hence, since so many people drink to lower stress it is vital to destress so you’re less tempted to resort to drinking. One common misconception people have towards meditating is that it takes a lifetime before you notice change. That is simply not the case as many studies show multiple benefits after only 8 weeks of meditating.

2 – Get sleep

How many hours do you sleep at night? For many years, I would always try and run on 5 to 6 hours of sleep because I felt like I was missing out. Ironically, the only thing I was missing out on was quality sleep. I know life is short and we all have things to do but if you choose not to get the rest your body needs and deserves then you will run into all kinds of problems. Now, there are so many side effects from not sleeping enough I won’t get into it. Just know that if you lack sleep you are damaging yourself physically and mentally. I will leave it up to you to research more on sleep deprivation but the big thing I wanted to mention about lack of sleep is that sleep loss impairs your judgment. This means if you want to change bad habits you will always put yourself at risk of making bad decisions if you don’t get the rest you need. People take care of their cars, their pets, their homes, even their shoes but sadly many of us don’t pay close attention to our own well being. Make it a commitment to take care of yourself.

3 – Exercise

Exercise is another powerful tool you can use to strengthen your willpower but sadly also one of the most overlooked. Remember, the stronger your willpower the easier it is to say ‘no’. I have mentioned this in other books I have written [+ (The Pain of Comfort)+]. For example, when you workout, regardless if it is lifting weights, running or something else, you will always have that inner voice saying ‘give up’. The more you defeat that little voice by doing another repetition by running a few extra steps, by pushing yourself past what that inner voice believes to be your maximum, you will always strengthen your willpower. Another great advantage you gain from working out is increased confidence. The more confidence you have the more likely you are to take on challenges and confront your fears and that all helps when it comes to wanting to change habits.

4 – Feed your mind and body a proper diet

I am sure you have heard the saying “you are what you eat”, right? Well that saying is very true when it comes to both what you feed your mind and your body. If you eat fast food, and watch negative news channels all the time, I am sorry but you will see the outcomes of that diet. I don’t mean to offend anyone and I am guilty of having treats just like anyone else but it is vital to understand that if you eat a proper diet, read and watch uplifting inspiring things, you will transform into a different you. If you eat a high sugar and fat diet you will not have the same level of energy or motivation as someone who eats healthy. If you watch overly dramatic and negative TV shows you will not find the same level of inspiration as if you watch an uplifting documentary about someone who overcame challenges like Nelson Mandela. Remember, I am not the fun police and I’m not saying to give up all the things you enjoy watching and eating. Just be aware of what you do because what you do on a daily basis will determine who you are as a person. After all, our daily routines shape our future. So, if you want to change your future change what you do in the present moment.

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Bonus steps

Step 1 – Replace the habit of drinking with a positive habit

One thing I started to notice early on after giving up drinking is that I had lots of spare time on my hands. Of course, as we all know being bored is never a good thing. I knew I had to replace the habit of drinking with a new habit as the best way to break a habit is to replace it. I did take some time to really get to know myself. For about 2 months, every time I would normally go drinking, I sat down and started reading. Two things happened once I started reading instead of drinking. First, I started to really enjoy how productive I was, and second, I never felt like I was missing out because I kept busy. I took all the time, energy and positive associations I used to feel towards drinking, and replaced them with reading. It is like a snowball effect, the more I was reading, the more I enjoyed it. You wouldn’t believe it but after a while I had so many positive feelings from reading, not only was I not missing the bar scene but I was happy that I made the change. You need to think about it. What are some things that consume you in the run of the day? Drinking is something that consumes many of us, such as during the weekend but all you have to do is replace what consumes you. I’m not saying it is the healthiest habit but I really enjoy drinking coffee. I used to learn a lot about wine and really enjoyed it, so I started learning about coffee and consuming coffee instead of wine as a way of replacing that habit. I truly believe that if you replace a habit you’re set up for change. If you try and break a habit, you are making the journey harder than it needs to be.

Step 2 – Share your journey

What I mean by sharing your journey is making a commitment not just to yourself but to others as well. As people, we generally don’t like to back out on our word and I know for a fact that for me, at the start of giving up drinking it helped me so much because I kept in mind the commitment I made to other people. Pick some people to whom you’re very close and that you don’t want to disappoint. Tell them your new goal and it will make you feel more accountable to the change you have promised.

Step 3 – Reshape your identity

Who you are now might not be the person who can get you where you want to be. Now I am not saying to be a fake version of yourself but raise your standards and become the person you want to be. Finding your purpose is another one of those key ingredients for change.

I read a book once, it was called [+ “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff”+]. In that book, you are asked to visualize your very own funeral. It is a bit tough to do at first but once you really visualize who might be there and what they might say you will begin to rethink your life. What exactly is it that you want to leave behind when your time on this beautiful planet is up? It is an exercise well worth your time, so take a moment to think about what you want to offer the world, not what you want from the world. What are you willing to leave behind as a legacy? When I gave up drinking, it was easier for me because I realised that drinking simply didn’t fit what I wanted to leave behind or how I wanted to be remembered.

Step 4 – Change what drinking means to you

You see, the human brain is a powerful thing and we have more power over things than we realize. We have the power of decision which means we can decide what things mean to use. For example, I want you to think of having a great night, enjoying some drinks and laughing the night away with some of your close friends. Often, we have positive associations to drinking but if you want that to change you must use the power of decision to decide that you will attach a new meaning to drinking. Instead of thinking about good times, you might think about intoxicated people getting into fights or vomiting, or a family grieving their son’s death which was caused by a drunk driver. Now that is an extreme example, I know, but I just want to make a point of what we can get our mind to believe by what meaning we attach to things and situations. If you want lasting change you must stop focusing on all the positive things that come from drinking and choose only to focus on what is bad about drinking. The fact that you are slowly killing your stomach and liver is a start, or the fact that alcohol is a depressant which will leave you feeling more depressed after every time you drink are great starting points to building a negative association to alcohol.

Step 5 – Make your life exciting

How many people do you hear responding the same way to the question “what’s new”? Common replies are “not much” or “same old, same old”. Well perhaps if we wouldn’t drink as much of our time off we would have something new. People fear giving up drinking for different reasons, such as because it is the only source of fun they have in their lives.

I know that I was guilty of it; I would work and I would be very excited to go drinking with my friends on the weekends. In a world that has so much to offer, why are we holding onto something so meaningless as sitting down, getting drunk and making memories that can hardly be remembered?

Drinking can be an escape from reality, whether it be boring, stressful, fear inducing or any other negative experience. I remember my first sober weekend, it hit me like a brick. I had no idea what I could do with all this free time; what a long night! Finally, I resorted to watching a movie. That is not just the reality that I had to wake up to, it is the reality for many people that love social drinking.

I am telling you the more activities you have that you enjoy doing the less you will feel the need to drink. These can also act as great distractions should you get the urge to drink. Now, ask yourself, what are you doing with your time? What do you do that makes you feel alive? What makes you feel happy? If you are having a hard time coming up with answers just like I was struggling with when I first stopped going to bars every weekend, try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. If you never try something how can you know if you enjoy it? The more new things you try the more you will find things you like. Life is not about working Monday to Friday and drinking Friday to Sunday. Life is about enjoying the journey while making memories. It is not something that you should pass through, you should experience it and all it has to offer. Maybe take the money you save from not drinking and start new hobbies such as traveling, cooking or dancing lessons. This is your life, enjoy! Have fun! Yes, drinking may have stolen countless days of your life up to now but you have so many more years to live, so make them count.

Final words from the author

Now that you have read this book I know a part of you is ready for change; a healthier more productive you is waiting with a lot to offer the world. This book was not written to make you feel bad about the drinks you have had in the past, it was written to motivate you to give your future self a chance to live up to your highest potential. Think of all the time you will have, the money you will save and how your body and mind will rejuvenate as the mental fog lifts away. The commitment you make to yourself to not only understand the theory of this book but also to apply it is a commitment that your future self will appreciate. Remember it is not who you’ve been and where you’ve been that matters; who you become and where you go is what matters. Make sure to never live in the past and never let life push you into accepting that you are a victim. No matter what happens you are always and will always be in control of the decisions you make, what you focus on, what meaning you give to situations, and what you decide to tolerate. All those elements will shape your future self.

I used to be overwhelmed with many things in my life, until I learned a great lesson from an amazing quote. “Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated” (Confucius) Life is simple because we control our decisions but we make it complicated by believing we are victims of circumstances. I mentioned earlier in this book that if you want to achieve anything in life you must believe you can, so believe that you are ready for change and you are halfway there. Only you can decide if you want a better and healthier life by choosing to give up drinking, and raising your standards. After all, you decide what you tolerate or you can choose to suffer.

On a final note, please keep in mind how different resources can assist you in varying ways. I am not a doctor, or health care professional. Remember that there is professional help available out there. These people are wonderful, knowledgeable and caring individuals who are there to help get you on the right path. They can offer you different medical help than my book. For example, you might need to access services for alcohol withdrawals (please research this online for more information as it can be life threatening) or help diagnose and treat concurrent mental health disorders. On the other hand, my book was inspired by my story and how I was able to maintain this healthy change despite the many challenges faced in our drunken society. The helpful ideas and techniques I shared with you represent the most impactful elements to my successful journey. They can also help you in your individual path towards change should you apply the theory of this book.

“Life is not about reaching the end of a journey it is about living everyday to the fullest potential along the journey.” (Raphael Huwiler)

Be great!

 


DRUNKEN SOCIETY: How you can stop drinking alcohol or control your consumption i

Today’s society portrays drinking as a fun, sexy and relaxing way of living, just like smoking was once perceived. We see it all around us from TV ads to Facebook posts and billboards. This dose of daily exposure affects the way we think about “social drink”. We have become conditioned to the point where we feel that drinking is the only way to have fun. However, that is simply not true. I went 7 years without missing one weekend of drinking to stopping cold turkey. In this book, I will share with you how I accomplished this lasting change and how you can too. Let me help you live a healthy, productive and sober life. Let's get started!

  • ISBN: 9781370322510
  • Author: Raphael Huwiler
  • Published: 2017-02-19 06:35:20
  • Words: 11351
DRUNKEN SOCIETY: How you can stop drinking alcohol or control your consumption i DRUNKEN SOCIETY: How you can stop drinking alcohol or control your consumption i