Today’s video is an answer to a question about having an unfortunate prong in the road four years after quitting drinking. What to do?
How’re you doing? I’m Kevin O’Hara for alcoholmastery.com.
Today, I want to talk about an email I got about someone who had been off the alcohol for 4 years.
I’m going to read it out without too much details.
I don’t want to give away the person’s identity.
So, this person stopped drinking alcohol.
Six months later, they fell into a coma and had to be hospitalized for Diabetes.
They didn’t know they had it.
They couldn’t see clearly for 6 months and had to take insulin 4 times a day for 6 months. Now, for a couple of days over a period, they had a very high stress situation, and they relapsed for 2 nights.
This is after 4 years.
They discovered the videos and listen to them every day, and even after 4 years of being sober, ‘I was starting to think of alcohol but didn’t want to start again. I haven’t’ drunk since, but I’m afraid to fall again. Could you talk about when someone has stopped for 4 years and had a relapse, and regretted it deeply, but can’t put that relapse behind them’.
It’s like anything else in life.
This is not a race to the end.
It’s not a competition.
It’s not something you should be viewing as an all or nothing thing.
If you take any other aspect of your normal life; let’s say you’re learning anything in life.
It’s what it is, quitting alcohol.
You’re learning new ways of doing things.
Whenever you’re learning anything, you take it day by day and step by step.
You learn something and move on to the next thing.
Most of the time when we’re learning, we figure out how to do something.
We make little mistakes, we adjust and figure out how to do it a little better, and so on.
It’s a failure, step forward, step back, and so on.
Over time, you make slow but sure progressions, and you get experience and learn more.
As you gain that experience and learn more, you become more confident in what you’re doing and you don’t make the same mistakes.
If you do, then you have to rethink how you’re doing things.
This is what we’re talking about here.
People use alcohol as a tool.
That’s what we all do, no matter which end you’re approaching this from.
You may use it to relax, de-stress or just get out of your head every night.
A lot of people have emotional pain, and they can’t deal with it, so one of the ways of doing that is to get out of their face.
Once they’re drunk, they don’t think about the pain anymore.
But the pain is still there, the emotions are still there.
So, at the end of the day, even if you’re using alcohol as…when I first started, it was because I wanted to be a man.
I wanted to grow up.
I was in my early teens, 13 or 14, and I thought by drinking alcohol, I would appear to be a man to other people, although not many people drank alcohol.
Another thing was peer pressure from my mate.
I was giving him the peer pressure and he was giving it back to me.
But, gradually as you get older, the reasons for using alcohol evolve.
You start to use it for different things.
I used it for talking to women.
I was so shy that I couldn’t talk to women without alcohol.
Later on in life, I used it to relax, to grieve, and so on.
You get into the habit of doing it, so you just do it because it’s something that you do, and it becomes a part of your core identity.
But when you’re using it for stress relief, and when it has been the tool of stress relief, when something bad has happened, you’ve turned immediately to alcohol without thinking about it, then even after a few years, it can happen.
It can happen that you feel so stressed that you automatically think about going back to alcohol.
You might automatically just start doing it.
You feel it’s easy to get, and you just go on and do it.
But it’s just a blip on the screen.
It’s not anything you need to worry about.
The problem is, if you’ve done this because of a high stress situation, and the situation has disappeared; so you drank for a couple of nights and the situation disappeared or you resolved it, which you will have done.
If you’ve been off alcohol for 4 years, your brain has been on a good wavelength.
You’re going to have your wits about you.
You’re going to be a lot more alert.
Stopping drinking, a lot of people say to me, ‘I’m off alcohol for a month and I took a drink. Now I’m back to square 1’.
Well, you’re not.
Because the amount of stuff you’ve learned in that time about yourself, your life, and what being off alcohol feels like is an education in and of itself.
If you’ve been off alcohol for 4 years, then…I’ve been off alcohol for 4 1/2 years now, and I understand so much about myself and my life now, and about what if feels like not to drink anymore.
It feels natural for me.
So, if something really bad happened to me, and if I subconsciously went and took a drink of alcohol, then you have to look at it like it’s just a blip on the screen.
Because when you wake up and realise you shouldn’t have done this, you’re not back to square one again, because you have these four years in between.
It’s not a timer that you have to reset.
You just have to sweep it under the carpet and just don’t do it again.
If you go another 4 years and have a drink, I’m not saying that you should do this, but you have to look at it realistically, that if you do do it, it’s not the end of the world.
It doesn’t mean you’re an alcoholic.
It means that you were under pressure, and you caved to it.
And you took a drink.
But it’s not going to bring you back to the beginning again.
When you were drinking every day, thinking about drinking all the time, thinking about the taste of the drink all the time, and overcoming the consequences, and the lifestyle of perpetual misery.
That is so far in my past, that if I got pissed tonight, which there’s no chance of, unless something really bad happens to me and it’s the only way that I can think of there and then to get over this.
I’m not saying that’s going to happen.
What I’m saying is that, don’t beat yourself up about it.
It’s not something you should take so seriously.
If it’s two days and you get up the next day, and you have no wish to drink alcohol again, then you’re right back on the path again.
That’s what you should be aiming at.
If you get up the next day and start thinking that maybe you can drink again, then you have to start thinking along a different line.
So, assess where you are first of all.
Assess what your brain is thinking, what your mind is thinking.
Assess what kind of thoughts are coming out.
Do you want to drink more?
How has it made you feel mentally?
What has it changed about you?
Are you just guilty about the whole thing?
Are you thinking that you have to go back to the start again?
You don’t have to go back to the start again.
You’re 4 years into this thing, and one little blip on the screen won’t change that.
Let’s say you’re taking a car journey from Madrid to Barcelona.
You set up the GPS and you’re almost at Barcelona, and you take a wrong turn and go down the wrong street.
Your GPS is not going to send you back to the beginning.
It’s going to take a little detour, and eventually you get back on the road you should be on.
Eventually you get to Barcelona.
Same thing here, when you’re drinking.
It’s other people, it’s people like the AA that have been brainwashing us into thinking that you’re one step away from being an alcoholic. ‘I’m Kevin O’Hara, and I’ve been off the alcohol for 4 years, 6 months, 25 days, 4 hours and 27 seconds.’ It’s simply not true.
You have to look at it realistically.
It’s just a blip.
It’s just a detour.
Get back up on the path again and carry on.
Think about what you’re going to do to deal with this kind of thing if it ever happens again.
Try and think about it from that perspective.
But forget about the alcohol.
You’re just having a little detour, that’s all.
If you have any questions, give us a shout on the website or on YouTube.
We also have the Quit Alcohol starter pack.
It has 3 books and 3 videos, and it’s completely free.
Until next time, take care of yourself, and keep the alcohol out of your mouth.
MAKE MISTAKES. LEARN FROM THEM. MOVE ON.
Until next time…
Onwards and Upwards!