Why I quit drinking alcohol – its simply really
People often tell their story about giving up alcohol but even though it is documented quite well on my blog I was asked “why I quit drinking alcohol?”
Good question as it made me think!
So I spent some time just writing the reasons down and I hope they will be useful to you. Bear in mind that as a coach I do believe that everyone is unique and not everyone’s story is the same.
Someone once told me that everyone has a backstory and I agree but in the hundred of clients I have worked with over the years there is one caveat and that is that everyone’s back story is different.
Where alcohol is concerned people are obsessed by branding others as “an alcoholic” even when the people next to them drink the same or even a bit less.
There are people on the street as a result of alcohol and there are some people who just seem to carry on as fine.
There are a few people like me who used to have a few wines after work and end up with liver disease. Who know what causes the different reactions!
Certainly for me genetics and stress played a part.
What I have learned however is that most people are somewhere in the middle when it comes to alcohol.
They don’t think they have a problem even though they may say they do or they just think they drink too much.
In the UK one standard drink equals 1 unit. Its a useful stat to know.
I laughed once with a colleague who came back from the doctors after being honest on the medical questionnaire and they had worked out her unit consumption per week was 15.
The doctor called her an alcoholic even though she would often see him down the pub knocking back quite a few, Did he have a point though, probably!
We laughed about it but the reality is people are very hypocritical about alcohol and like to point the finger and yet it is a broad area even though the weekly amount is out there for us to read.
The weekly amount of alcohol units is not a goal to for by way as I often get asked that on the blog!
People judge me more for not drinking that they did for just being a social wine drinker. I think that is just weird.
Even though one more drink could kill me, people still say “one won’t matter!”. When I explain I have liver disease they of course whisper “ he must have a problem”
What do they call it? Hobson’s choice, damned if you do and damned it you don’t. Talk about a no win scenario.
Why I quit drinking in digestible facts, I hope it may help you is some way, do let me know! Leave a comment.
It happened in a flash?
I was in the process of being made redundant from my job and to complicated matters I had just come back from Spain so I looked very tanned. However, people that I spent the least time with said I looked really ill.
My tan was hiding a life threatening symptom. I was turning yellow and fast. My jaundice level had gone through the roof and yet the one thing I was more concerned about was the size of my stomach.
It started to look very odd.
Of course, I would come to know this has aceites. Yes I was tired but I never thought all these things led to me having advanced liver disease.
I booked into my doctor and she thought it was cancer but regardless she was brilliant and I was in the emergency department within an hour!
I had so many tests as they could not work out what was wrong with me.
At reception, I was treated a bit like an alcoholic but of course when they tested for alcohol they could not find any evidence. I was just an average wine drinker and had not had a drink for a few days.
I was not your normal story as some would see it, or as it turned out maybe I was, you just don’t get to hear about it as much!
They literally tested me for everything but in the end if it turns out it was liver disease with a mix of alcohol, stress and genetics, luck it seemed was not on my side!
I then began to fight for my life with some amazing health care from the NHS ( National Health Service ) in the UK.
So how come I gave up social drinking there and then. Here are some insights!
It was the art of hypnosis when you least expect it and the Doctors don’t even know they are doing it! It was the consultant who said just a few words that make me think “that’s it”.
I only saw this consultant once and I don’t think he probably realized the impact he had on me. It was a very short conversation. I was in an accident and emergency and he seemed like a really nice guy. No judging.
However, he pulled the curtain back and said very calmly and said :
“This is as serious as it gets”.
That was it, I knew I would never drink alcohol again, and whatever the tests would say I knew my social wine drinking had caught up with me.
He went on to say that I would have to go to a specialized ward and then I may have 48 hours to live.
If that is not enough to make you give up drinking alcohol then I don’t know what it is!
I decided to “rate my liver” and said to him if 10 is very bad and 1 is not good where am I on that scale? He said 8 and climbing fast.
Any future alcohol wine drinking stopped in an instant once I heard that! I bet you can understand why!
The consultant gave me the best hypnotic suggestion I think I have had or will ever have in my life. It bypassed my conscious brain and went straight into my unconscious mind. It became a new behaviour in around 5 seconds. Wow!
For more on how to use hypnosis to reduce your alcohol drinking follow my affiliate link below. Mark Tyryll is a great therapist and I have worked and trained with him before.
His course gets 10/10 for me and you can use it on a tablet, mobile or desktop.
If you decide to explore it let me know how you get on and I would love you feedback
Start finding your purpose
I know this sounds a bit naff but when you are given 48 hours to live you start to go through your values including why on earth you here and why don’t you do something you really want to with your life.
There is great very musical called “Avenue Q” and one of the lead characters who is a puppet (but don’t let distract you) spends the whole show trying to find his so called “purpose”.
Its a very funny show!
Actually he is probably right that in that “having a purpose” gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s one of the reasons you are reading this blog.
When alcohol goes from your life it is important to get a hobby.
I write about why it’s important to get a leisure pursuit here but it can also be a new emotional direction or career. I have heard numerous stories of people who were given a life sentence because of alcohol and are now running their own business.
It can be done! They just took action.
I explored the downside of alcohol
Like any good coach I wrote down the pros and cons of my situation especially after realizing that with fantastic care and against the odds I may just live! As my consultant would later say I have dodged a bullet!
I thought he was spot on with his metaphor don’t you think?
The fact is when you start to write out the pros and cons of alcohol you start to realize as many authors have pointed out about alcohol that its really a poison and I have come to realize they were right.
Once you except that it changes your relationship with alcohol massively.
Alcohol sells you a big lie. It’s like when those sales letters for the course to “change your life” pop up on line, so you press buy, get access and then realize you have been duped.
I have certainly read and accessed plenty of those!
From a bad hangover, the cost, your health, relationships, behaviour and all that comes with alcohol, after a while you do say to yourself “ what on earth was I thinking?
Just think how different you would be with the following options of cutting down or cutting out alcohol in your life?
- No more hangovers
- Money towards a holiday
- Better Health
- You get to live
- Unwanted behaviors go including sex
- More social interests that expand your horizons
Once you start making a list you could get to at least over twenty reasons if you really thought about it!
I thought about the money
This may seem bonkers and totally irrelevant but I actually became very practical from my will to what I would leave behind for my partner and my cat.
Now this may seem totally at odds with what lots of people are supposed to think when they are told they might die.
But I think pondering anything that was practical was very rewarding for me.
I am not a religious person although I did have a lovely chat with the ward Chaplin who was very nice and actually very practical. She did not judge me and I did not judge her.
I actually found it very refreshing and spiritual.
So on my ward bed I did what most coaches say you should do (and me included) which is write down a list of objectives.
I actually started to work out how much money I spent on alcohol.
It was actually a lot!
Even though in my mind I was not a big drinker when you started to work out what you would save by not drinking alcohol, it actually mounted up and it is a great strategy even if your life does not depend on it.
A bit of a life audit is helpful although its should not take liver disease to make it happen in the way it did for me!
For example just a few wines after work multiplied by 5 days over a year and you are well into paying for holiday before you even add in the long social lunches.
A money diary is very motivational if that’s your thing. For me it was very practical but it took my mind off the day to day life in the ward.
You then of course need plan to treat yourself ! And no not wine! Now do something meaningful with any money you save.
Alcohol free options really helped
And this was about a social life outside of hospital!
Now if you have a real issue with alcohol triggers which I write about here then alcohol free options may not be an alternative lifestyle for you.
In fact much of the advice goes against it but when you break down the reasons it really centers around the fact that if you are very dependent on alcohol just the thought of it could send you back to drinking .
There is also the concern that it’s easier to get your drink spiked although I had my glass of cola spike a few times and was lucky to spot it so I could deal with that one!
I am not sure I totally buy that one if I am honest.
There are very strict rules around liver transplants so always discuss this with your liver consultant. You can get more from the British Liver Trust and they are very helpful.
At the end of the day play it safe and of course you will know your own mind! It may be cutting back is the option or cutting it out all together.
You have to make that call but always make it with medical advice. The guidelines like at drink aware are there for a reason.
The other one which I have a great deal of sympathy with is that even small amounts of alcohol are not good for you if, like me, you have advanced liver disease.
It is one of the reasons I set up this blog and I am passionate about 0.0 % alcohol. Drinks with no alcohol are out there and we should be clear about asking for them.
And getting them without the funny looks!
I soon realized that the range of options for alcohol free when you are out and about with all that social pressure is still poor and remains so in my view.
It’s gotten better online but I can see the price rising for alcohol free purchases which I personally think it’s unfair.
This is especially true when you think of the cost just in terms of money on social and health impact of alcohol.
Is it right that an alcohol free gin can be more expensive than an alcohol one, although brands like Seedlip are pure quality and really worth it.
People do think you have a problem if you don’t drink regardless of your reasons, even if you are driving! So alcohol FREE options can really help you socially.
The reality is that people don’t drink for lots of reasons including liver disease but also because they just don’t want to !
In fact university research shows that people who were given good non alcoholic good choices that tasted great were more likely to take those options.
This is especially true for people under 25 so there is a real trend developing! Expect to see this market grow and grow!
The most encouraging thing is that even in the last few years the quality of non alcohol beer, wine and gin has improved vastly so choice and quality choice is now out there for us to enjoy.
They have really got their act together!
I just hope the alcohol free industry realizes we will achieve more together and not go down the dog-eat-dog road.
Just my view !
The effort of the people looking after me made me forever grateful!
The one thing that really impressed me about the NHS in the UK is the universal approach to health.
What you did and who you were did not matter. I am lucky to have only ever used their services two or three times in any meaningful way in my life. I think that is why I noticed the equality of the treatment more than ever.
I had not actually been in hospital before certainly overnight or for any length of period. In fact until now I was actually very good value for the NHS.
If you are suffering with liver disease but the way the British Liver Trust were a great help to me in my darkest moments.
Being better educated even as a social drinker is one of the reasons why I quit drinking alcohol
However, the dedication of the medical care I got was outstanding and as one doctor said it’s like a partnership we will do our bit if you do yours.
That kind of stuck with me.
I followed everything they asked me to do and when you see people working really hard to keep you alive and it does really matter.
When people ask me if I miss wine (as they sit there with a glass in hand) I always think back to my time in hospital and just say politely no. I really mean it!
I would love to know your thoughts
Sometimes its the simple thoughts that make you quit no matter what level of drinking alcohol we are talking about. What did you think when you cut down on alcohol?
If you had to write a story on why I quit drinking alcohol, what would be yours? I would love to know your thoughts and write a comment below and I always get back to you.