Stop Drinking Alcohol 74 – Smoking, Dysfunctional Mindset, and Binge Drinking

Stop Drinking Alcohol 74 Transcript

I have three questions this week. The first one was about making the attempt to stop drinking and to stop smoking at the same time. The second was from a student who just really wanted some advice on overcoming his predicament. The third question was whether it was a different process for quitting everyday drinking rather than binge drinking.

Quitting Smoking and Drinking Altogether

The first question is from Dan Bethards on YouTube:

Great vid. It didn’t sound rambling to me. I really enjoy the vids. The wisdom and experience are very helpful. Thanks again for your help.

We are the same age and it sounds like we have much of the same history – smoking, thirty years of drinking, etc. I’m on Day 6 of not drinking and I tried to stop drinking and smoking at the same time. I couldn’t do it. It was too much at once. I feel kind of bad for it. I started smoking again but I’m very proud of my six days of not drinking.

Do you think tackling those two items together is too much and separating them is wise? I’m definitely going to quit smoking soon. With a high stress law enforcement job, quitting drinking and quitting smoking were too much. What is your opinion on my situation? Break the problems down individually or go all in and handle them at once? Thanks!

There’s sort of a divide about which is the best way to go. Some people say that you should handle multiple things at once. Other people say that you should only try to do one thing at once.

Because of this divide and because I haven’t made a connection with any of the arguments, I can only go from my own experience. That is every time I tried to quit doing more than one thing at once, I’ve always failed.

For instance, I’d say, “That’s it. New Year’s coming. Fresh start.” I’d have a long list of stuff that I wanted to do and that was not really good. I think it’s just impossible to make so many changes at once. I think if you have the right tools, if you have a good plan, I think it’s possible to make two to three things at once.

When I stopped drinking for instance, I did lose weight. It wasn’t a goal ultimately to lose weight but the goal was to stop drinking. I just wanted to get that out of my life and then once I’ve done that, I could work on other things.

I was exercising, getting out and trying to fill the void in my life with different things. So just taking all the alcohol out of the equation and adding the exercise in and carrying on with the way I was eating, I did lose some weight.

Which Do You Quit First?

As you said it yourself, doing both together was just too much. What you have to do is to really see which is the thing that you want to get out of your life more.

When I was trying to stop, I was trying to stop smoking first for years. It was only recently, relatively speaking, that I even considered that I had a drinking problem. It was only since I stopped drinking that I can see things as they really are.

Just focus on one thing at a time. That’s from my experience. For now, I can’t see any other way to get past one big thing than to really focus on it.

There are a few different reasons for that. One is if you try to do many things at once and you fail at one of them, then that failure could lead to you doubt yourself and your ability to quit other things.

Another reason is you can learn so much about yourself, about how you implement the changes in your life and how you deal with things. You can learn about your strengths and weaknesses just by doing the one thing.

Once you’ve gone through one thing, that bit of education about yourself can help you with the next habits that you need to deal with. It’s the same thing that can help you to build up good habits as well.

So which would you quit first? I’d say that whichever one is causing you the most grief. Do that one first.

Dysfunctional Mindsets

This one’s from RyOnion on YouTube:

I am drunk writing this. I caught myself craving alcohol, though I was two weeks sober. I thought, “What will a shot or two hurt?” Now I am drunk a few hours later with college classes to attend soon.

I really do appreciate your help towards others. I need to watch these sober. I will not be a lesser man than I admit. I am a very proud sober man. When I am sober, I don’t think drinking is a big deal or that I have a problem.

Sober, I’m terrified of a life without drinking forever. But drunk, I realize I have a problem. I could get into my family background and my past to why I think and act this way. It’s easier to say the excuse.

I need help stopping. I can’t go to my classes now because I’m too drunk. How can I stop this pride and “wake up?” I clearly need help. What is your advice for this hardcore dysfunctional mindsets to help make sense?

To be honest with you, watch these videos while you’re sober. I don’t think you’re going to retain much information if you watch them while you’re drunk. Second reason is the way you perceive the videos.

I remember when I was drunk I used to do the same things. I’d start thinking about my drinking. Towards the end when I really saw my drinking as a problem, I started looking up videos and going to forums when I was drunk. I just made a fool out of myself.

Seeing Things in Perspective

It’s like what you said in your comment. When you’re sober, you don’t really see things as a problem at all. Another reason for not watching these videos while you’re drunk is you’re going to see things from an emotional perspective.

When you’re thinking about quitting, you’re always contemplating doing it as you need to see things as positively as possible. I’m not one of the people who look at life and say that you have to look at everything positively. There are times when you have to see the negatives, but you have to see the positive side of the negativity.

If you’re watching videos like these when you’re drunk and you’re listening to what I’m saying, there’s a chance that you could start beating yourself up. So you need to sit down and think about your problem when you’re sober. You need to get a realistic grip on things.

Making the Right Decisions and Dealing with Situations

It’s only then that you’re going to be able to make the proper decisions that you need to make. It’s only then that your decisions are going to stick.

I’ve been there where you are, thinking about the pain when I am drinking. One the hangovers wear off, I’ll go back to my normal thinking and think the same thing, “What will a pint or two hurt? It’s not going to hurt at all.”

It’s not about the alcohol. It’s about dealing with situations, whether that situation is just pure boredom, whether it’s socializing, whether it’s fitting in with what everyone else is doing, whether it’s anxiety or pressure.

Alcohol is the tool at the end of the day that people use to fix these problems, but it doesn’t fix anything. It just masks.

Controlling the Alcohol for Long Term Benefits

Young people are the hardest to coach because you’re not feeling the big symptoms. The big damage probably hasn’t been done to your body yet.

Even though you see the problems and you understand that you have these problems, once you sober up very quickly afterwards, you don’t see there’s a problem anymore. Then it’s easy to go back and go wild because you think you can go through this and you can cut down and you can control it.

That is just one of the stages that we all go through. It’s that try and attempt to control the alcohol. It’s the nature of the beast.

A lot of people in their 50s and 60s tend to start controlling alcohol because they have to, not because they see that they have a drink problem but because the symptoms of drinking are getting bad that they have no choice.

My dad was in his late 70s when he stopped. He couldn’t drink as much anyway. His hangovers were just getting bad for him. I think when he did stop, quitting was an easier decision.

You have to look at drinking that’s not going to benefit you in the long run. If you’re skipping classes because you’re getting drunk, then it’s not a good thing.

People say, “I’m a functional alcoholic. I’m successful in my life apparent from this,” yet they still drink until they get drunk four to six days a week. It’s not a question of whether you’re successful despite your drinking. Imagine how much more successful you would be if you didn’t drink at all, if you got alcohol out of life.

It has taken me thirty years to realize that the thing that has been holding me back all these years has been the alcohol, dampening my mind and restricting my thoughts, just messing up my brain and body basically.

For what? It’s getting the gratification immediately, getting what you need in the short term in payment for long term pain. You’ll always pay for the stuff that you’re doing to yourself. Like I said, it has taken me thirty years to realize that all the going out and partying are in the head and in the culture.

Turn things around so that you can live life without alcohol. If you’ve turned all these things to revolve around alcohol, you’re going back to where you were before, not literally or physically but in terms of getting alcohol out of your life.

Better Off without Drinking

Whatever aspect of your life you’re looking at, it’s going to be better without drinking. Take for instance dealing with people. One of my biggest fears is how to socialize when I stop drinking. I don’t know any other way than having a few drinks before I go out. That’s the level that I was at.

If anyone wants to come toe to toe with me now and challenge me why I’m not drinking, trying to defend their normal drinking, bring it on because I’m quite capable of putting up my own defense. I like going out and drinking wine. I like going out and enjoying other people’s company. I love remembering things.

Going back to my holiday in Alicante over the weekend, I remember everything. I didn’t wake up every morning with a dirty hangover like I would have in the past. I didn’t need to break the bank to weed out. It cost me half the amount of what I’ve would have paid for a night out.

Life is good without alcohol. We just presume that the alcohol is the thing that makes life interesting. Life without alcohol is only boring because you make it boring.

Drinking Is Only a Quick Fix

One of the reasons why a lot of people drink is it’s so easy to do, like it’s a fix old solution to any problem. You feel anxious, you have a drink. You feel tired, you have a drink. You feel bored, you have a drink. You go out and you feel insecure, you have a drink. It’s an easy way of doing things.

When you stop drinking, you face these things head on and you have to start thinking about them. Once you do start thinking how you can deal with your problems, you will find solutions which are more geared towards yourself, about what you want in life, and what you need in life instead of the “be all, fix all” solution.

When I go out now, I don’t try to interfere with anyone else’s drinking and I don’t expect anyone else to interfere with my not drinking. If that’s a problem to anyone else, shut up about it because I don’t want to hear it.

I don’t have a problem with it anymore. I don’t have a problem with you drinking. If you want to drink, I feel sorry for you because you’re still in that trap and mentality of thinking that this is a normal thing to do.

I’m not saying that to boast or to say I’m cleverer than you. I wish these are the words that I can say to you now that will make you go, “I get what you mean,” and would turn you to a non-drinker. But there are no words that I can say to do that. So what can you do?

Hardcore Dysfunctional Mindset

You said that you have a hardcore dysfunctional mindset. I don’t agree with that. You’re building up your problem with drinking. Period. That’s the way you should look at it. It’s a simple problem with alcohol that you can solve – you stop drinking. Period.

Then you deal with your life. It’s much better to try to deal with these things when you’re sober, when you’re not poisoning your head, when you’re thinking straight than trying to deal with them when you’re drunk.

Binge Drinking

The next question is from James Carmichael on YouTube:

I’m a binge drinker. I only drink once or twice a week, usually on Thursdays because I don’t work on Fridays and usually Friday or Saturday nights.

I can’t go out and have a sensible night, if there is such a thing. I drink until I can’t drink anymore, but I can go through the week without drinking at all apart from those days.

I’m only 27, but I’ve really recognised that drinking is a huge problem in my life and I really want to give it up.

Over the last two years it’s started taking me two or even three days to get over a hangover and feel normal again. Drinking has led on to other things such as cocaine use and smoking which I do full time now.

Is there a different approach for binge drinkers as opposed to people who drink every day?

I think all of us are binge drinkers to a degree or another. I used to drink most days but I used to have the odd day off.

Mostly I couldn’t binge drink. I couldn’t go out and drink my normal twenty pints in one session if I had to get up in the morning and go to work. So I would have to keep it down to five or six pints of whatever it was or a bottle of wine which I did in most nights.

Like I said, I couldn’t really go over the top unless it was on a weekend, unless I didn’t have to get up in the morning. Once I was self-implied, if I am in the mood for it, I can binge drink. I would binge drink and I just wouldn’t get up and do any work in the morning.

Perceiving the Consequences

I think it all boils down to that – if there hadn’t been consequences. When I talk about consequences, I’m talking about the feeling that there’s something wrong, that you’re getting damaged.

Regardless of what damage is being done, if you don’t perceive or feel it, then it’s not really a consequence. If you don’t perceive somebody is talking about you or that there is any real issues with your work, regardless of what other people think about it, then it’s not really a consequence because you do don’t perceive it.

It’s the same with me when I was working. So long as I could pay the bills, pay the rent, pay the food, give my son money, buy him clothes, as long as those things were done, there was really no negative consequences because I didn’t feel them.

Although I might have always thought about what I could do if I didn’t drink, that didn’t matter. It’s not really a consequence. It’s only a quick thought that goes through your head.

So the whole philosophy is based around what we perceive as being normal.

Cycle of Drink-Drunk-Recover

I was in a place where I would drink and I would have the urge to go out and use alcohol, I would get my fix, I would get into the high. Then I would get down off it, I would recover from that hangover. It would basically be about waiting and anticipating the next fix.

So there was that cycle of drink-drunk-recover. Amongst that cycle, there is an element of anticipation where you’re waiting for the next fix. So you’re going around this circle and that clouds and affects everything else in your life.

If you don’t have that cycle, what are your successes going to be in life? How far can you achieve in life if you get yourself off that horrible cycle?

Filling the Gap

Like I said in the last video, if you’re bored once you stop drinking, then it’s your own fault. There’s no reason to be bored. You’re only making yourself bored by sitting around and thinking about being bored.

Life is full of things to do. We’re just lazy because most of the time we choose to fill that boredom and gap with drinking.

Another thing, you said that when you drink, you started to take cocaine and you started to smoke. How many times have you heard that marijuana is the gateway drug to everything else? The reason why marijuana is illegal is it leads to people taking other drugs.

The gateway drugs are cigarettes and alcohol. It has always been the case that you’re not allowed to buy cigarettes and alcohol before you’re eighteen. The legality of being eighteen doesn’t mean anything. I was smoking properly and full time when I was thirteen. I had my first drink when I was a young lad as well. It was easy to get if you want to get your hands on these.

Turning Off the Tap and Feeling Normal Again

Quitting alcohol is the simple process of stopping putting the alcohol inside your body regardless of what level of alcohol use you’re at. You stop the alcohol, you stop the tap. You cut off the source of the problem then you have to deal with your life without alcohol.

If you don’t put the alcohol in, you cannot get worse at it. You can only get better and you have to deal with stuff. That is basically the problem with most people. They are so afraid to quit because they don’t want to imagine what life is going to be like without that little tap. When they have a problem, they turn on the alcohol tap.

So break the tap, throw it away, smash it up with a hammer, get rid of the tap and don’t turn the tap on anymore. That’s how your alcohol problems are sorted out. To stop them from coming back, to stop you recycling back into that old lifestyle, you deal with the problems in your life that turn you to drink.

You say that over the last two or three years, you started to take two or even three days to get over the hangover and feel normal again. It’s only that I’ve stopped drinking that I’ve really understood what normality is. That normality of in between drinks is never there in the first place. It was just a complete and utter delusion because of that cycle of drink-drunk-recover.

So in answer to your question, there is a different approach for binge drinkers because normal drinkers are long-time drinkers. For every different type of problem drinker, there is a different drinking problem. Everyone’s problem has different elements to it. It basically all boils down to the same thing – turn off the alcohol tap.

Stop drinking the alcohol. That’s your first step. Everything else then is just dealing with the lives that you’ve built up around the alcohol, breaking them down bit by bit.

If you have any questions, leave a comment. If you haven’t joined up to the newsletter, sign up now.
Until next time. Onwards and upwards.

Thanks for visiting the site.
Until next time…
Onwards and Upwards!
Kev

Some Previous Posts From Alcohol Mastery

Stop Drinking Alcohol Week 71
Stop Drinking Alcohol Week 72
Stop Drinking Alcohol Week 73

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Kevin O'Hara

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3 Comments

  • Julie D.

    Reply Reply September 15, 2014

    Good show, Kevin, thanks! I was always a binge drinker and what struck me is that the busier and more accountable I was, I didn’t drink at all. It seemed when there were three days off or whatever, I had convinced myself it was OK It’s not. I have learned to fill up my days with garden projects, house projects, reading, or whatever so there’s not so much time to think about myself which was the trigger. Your broadcasts help me a lot. Thanks

  • Gord C

    Reply Reply September 16, 2014

    Keep up the good work , Kev !!! Clean and sober for 18 days , no relapse nor withdraws, sleeping great eating healthy and exercising. Don’t miss the daily 6 pack. The big challenge this Sunday is my dad and I and my wife will
    be going to an Alaska cruise for 7 days. The issue is they will be pushing the devils brew 24/7. Any suggestions to over come ? Everyone will be having a good time but me.

    Takecare,

    Gord C

    • Kevin O'Hara

      Reply Reply September 16, 2014

      Hey Gord, the Alaska cruise sounds great… just don’t drink the stuff… keep your mind occupied with other stuff and on why you’re quitting in the first place
      Have a great time!
      Kev

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