One of the most frequent questions I get is, how long does it take to stop drinking alcohol?
And for me, that’s the easiest question to answer, it can be over in an instant, because stopping drinking alcohol is the simplest thing. Once you don’t put any more into your mouth anymore, the drinking alcohol part of it is gone. But people conflate it with the habit that they’ve built up over the years. And they say, “Well, you know, I’m still trying to stop drinking alcohol”, when I’m breaking the habit, the question should be, “How long does it take to kill the habit that’s been built around alcohol.” And, for me this is the thing that takes time. And it all depends on so many different things.
There’s a lot of hard work involved in changing yourself from a person who sees alcohol as a part of their lives or looks at themselves, part of their core identity as an alcohol drinker, and then changes that person into somebody who has a core identity of a non alcohol drinker, that’s a nothing state, but somebody else who would never even consider stopping drinking alcohol. Think about it from the perspective if you had never drank alcohol in your life, if you lived in a world where there was no such thing as alcohol, if you lived in a country, let’s say, and then you move to a country where there was alcohol, and you somebody said to you, well, this is what this drug does to you. And you made that conscious, rational decision yourself, you would never put that stuff into your mind into your body.
So think about it from that perspective, this is where you want to be, after you’ve stopped, you’ve got like a memory of, “I used to do something”, but you still have a lot of things in your life, and then you stopped doing it. So this is the way that you have to change the way that you think. And slowly but surely dismantle the habit that you have built up over all those years. And a part of this process is actively dismantling all the components that make up that habit. This is what I’m saying to you about difficult work, because it takes a lot of thinking, takes a lot of understanding which parts you’re going to break down, I mean, a lot of the parts are going to be naturally broken down, as you move through into something else, you know, think about it, when you don’t do something. Think yourself outside of the alcohol lab for a minute and think about changing your address or changing something else that is sort of innocuous in your life. And when you make those changes, a lot of the change happens as you’re just not doing it anymore, you’re not taking the same route, you’re not driving the same route to work, you might not be doing the same job, you know there’s so much. So many things that can change.
When you make one decision to change, it’s the same thing here, you have to think about stopping drinking alcohol as you’ve made one significant change in your life. And because of that, there are going to be other, it’s like falling dominoes. You knock one domino over, and the rest of them start to fall on their own. So a lot of the change is going to be like that. Now, where the toughness comes in, and the real mental agility comes in where you know, you have to really do a lot of thinking about is to match the place that you want to go and match the person that you want to be with the skills that you need to get there with the ideas and the attitudes and the thinking processes that you need to get there.
Like I said, my whole philosophy is really based around systematizing as much as we can possibly do, trying to get a process involved so that if you want to get to whatever it is, end goal in 5 years time, 10 years time, that you have a process that you have a built in process that is going to step by step, get you there, that’s the thing that takes a lot of hard work.
And it doesn’t mean that you’re going to change everything. You know, if you want to become a different person, you don’t have to necessarily invent the wheel, you’re tweaking some things in your life, you’re tweaking some of your old systems to create new ones, you know, and that’s just, again, it’s a part of life. And it depends how far you want to go and how much change you want to make. One of the things that you’ll find in this journey is that change is a gradual process, but your ideas of change, your ideas about who you are or your potential will alter. The further you get into this journey because your knowledge is expanded, like we call it the laddering up process is when you’re going through the journey and you’re gradually stepping up the ladder and the higher you climb, the further your perspective becomes about yourself.
When you’re drinking, you narrow your perspective because your life is constricting and constricting around one habit. And when you stop drinking alcohol, that constriction not only stops, but your life starts to expand. And as I said, you know, in this process of laddering up, the more you learn about yourself, the more experience you get about yourself in the new life, the easier it is to build, because you can see more, you understand more. And that’s part of the process. It’s one of the reasons why our transition phase in Habits Unplugged lasts six months, because it often takes six months to get through some of the more embedded parts of the habit.
There’s different phases of transition as well, there’s certain phases where you might be, you’ve got to disengage yourself from, from your old self, but there’s certain phases where you’re going to just feel pissed off, you know, so it does take a lot of time, and energy and hard work, but it’s worth it. And it’s always a step by step process. So if you look at the end result that you want to get, and you start freaking out, because of the amount of work that you’re going to have to put into it, you can’t get there overnight, you know, people expect changes to happen with the click of their fingers. It just doesn’t work like that. It’s why people get pissed off and disillusioned with the whole thing. Because they want the changes to happen now. And it goes back to that drinkers mind that instant gratification mentality just doesn’t happen that way.
You have to give it the time, you have to take it step by step. And when you take it step by step, it’s easy. Or at least it’s less difficult. It’s not as easy as sitting on your arse, but what’s that gonna do for you, the end of the day, you’re gonna get nowhere. You know, if we did a video there a while ago about the luck of stopping drinking alcohol, luck to be in a certain place at a certain time with certain people. You build your own luck in this life, and you’re not going to get any luck thrown at your basic nine years and doing nothing, you’ve got to get out there. And the more you push yourself out there and pursue the things that are important to you to your values, building up your values and living around those values, the more luckk will come your way. But it doesn’t come down to luck then it comes to comes down to, I suppose a bit of serendipity. But it comes down to your hard work. So don’t be afraid of the hard work. You know, and as far as killing the hell, the alcohol habit, it takes as long as it’s gonna take, who cares? You know, so long as you’re not putting any of this stuff into your body anymore, and you’re so long as you’re heading in the right direction. That is the only thing that matters in the long run. And living a healthy, happy life, happiness is is the key, having fun, you know, being able to joke, and able to have a sense of humor yourself all important parts of this journey.