To Never Drink Again (Transcript)
I’m Kevin O’Hara for alcohol mastery.
Today I’m going to be talking a little bit about never drinking again.
I spoke a little bit about this during the Stop Drinking Alcohol Week 48.
Getting Ready To Quit
Basically, your getting ready to quit, you know the health reasons why your quitting, you know all the reasons that you want to stop, and you know what you want to do with your life after you’ve quit and what’s holding you back. But you’ve got this really terrifying thing about never having another alcoholic drink ever again in your life, and it can be pretty bad.
It can be pretty terrifying. But, the fact is that we do this all the time. We stop doing things in our lives that we’re never going to do again. Most of the time, we don’t even notice it.
Making Scary Changes
I used to jump off walls, when I was a young lad. I loved it, you now. And the higher the walls, the more scary it would feel, the more I would love it! I used to eat meat, and now I’m a vegetarian so I don’t eat meat anymore. I used to take regular drives down into the Kerry Mountains, when I was living in Ireland, and I can’t do that anymore. It’s just one of those things.
So, where does the fear come from? What is the fear? It’s a really irrational fear, when you think about it. It wasn’t there before we started drinking. When we were kids, we didn’t get up every morning thinking, the idea of never having a drink again is terrifying. Even when you started drinking at the beginning, it wasn’t there. It’s something that has crept up over the years. It seems to have gotten stronger, and stronger, the older you get, the longer you drink alcohol.
The Right Time To Quit
I think, at the end of the day, that most of us are not ready to quit. There’s never a right time to quit. The problem is with this question, that not having another drink again is just very difficult to contemplate. You’ve got no previous history with it.
With me, for instance, I started drinking when I was very young. I was in my early teens. For me, I couldn’t remember what it was like not to drink alcohol, or to spend my time without having a drink of alcohol. It was really weird!
Making The Change
Alcohol actually plays such a massive part in your life, it becomes so embedded in everything that you do. It’s just as difficult to imagine and to contemplate what life is going to be like without having a drink. Life without going to all those parties and just socializing in general, and using alcohol as a crutch.
It’s just as difficult to imagine that from the perspective after you’ve been drinking for a long time, than it would have been for you to imagine what your situation now is like, before you even started drinking.
To imagine what it’s like to drink every day. What it’s like to need alcohol to that extent, to the extent that you need it now. Could you have seriously sat down, before you touched a drop of drink, and imagined that? It’s exactly the same.
Jumping into the Unknown
I’ve been drinking for over 30 years, and for 15 of those years I was really heavily drinking. It was almost impossible for me to imagine what it was going to be like not to have a drink.
I understood, I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. I understood that I didn’t want to carry on with my body in this poisoned state. I understood that alcohol was stopping me from achieving so much in my life. But, I just didn’t know what the ‘not drinking’ life was going to be like, or what it could be like.
So, I was really, really nervous when I first started out. Not nervous of not having a drink again, I was quite happy about that, and quite assured that it wasn’t going to be such a bad thing, but I was nervous of the unknown. I just didn’t know what was going to happen.
Never Drinking Again
I had given up the alcohol a year before [five years ago – for almost a year!], but always with the intention of going back onto it. This time, I knew I was never going to drink again, and that made me nervous. I didn’t know what that ‘never drinking again’, and facing life as ‘never drinking again’, was going to be like.
After a week, or two weeks, your body starts to adjust itself, and your brain starts to adjust itself. After a month, you have sort of got a bit of a reference point from the before and after. You are close enough to when you were drinking, so that you remember what it was like, and you’ve got a month under your belt, so to speak.
So you have this reference point now to what it is like not to drink and how you are feeling. You are definitely not going to be up to full strength after only a month, but you will notice some big improvements in your life.
Changing Your Mindset
We’re emotionally set up, we’re wired, to mourn the loss of something, much more than we are to celebrate the gain of something. You can see why that has happened over the years, because when we were living in caves, if you were always out, trying to gain something, you would be putting yourself in a lot of danger.
It made more sense, with survival of the fittest, that the people that survived the longest were the one’s who weren’t eaten, who could hold themselves up in the caves, when danger was there and wait it out. The guy that wanted to be the macho hero and went out to fight the tiger didn’t last so long, he couldn’t breed [or do much else if he was dead, but his genes didn’t survive, that’s the end of his line. So, caution – in a genetic sense – equals long term survival.]
But in this context, not drinking forever and ever is a massive emotional loss that you have to deal with. But you’ve also lost all the time that you have spent in drinking. You have lost all of the money you have spent in drinking. You’ve made a loss when all those decisions you have made to go down to the pub, and you’ve had to justify those decisions to yourself, over and over again. That causes a massive rift inside your mind.
It Is Not About Deserving
We all like to think that we are smart people. We don’t like to think that we make dumb decisions. So when you are making these decisions to go down to the pub, you really know you shouldn’t be drinking 10 pints in a night, and you shouldn’t be drinking on weeknights, but you justify them by saying ‘I worked hard today, so I deserve it’, ‘it helps me to relax’ or ‘it helps me to be a better person’. You make all of these reasons inside your head in order to justify the decision to drink.
Once you stop, you still have all of those justifications in your mind. They don’t just disappear overnight. You have to reevaluate those things. You have to go over them again and rejustify yourself. Why you are no longer drinking and why is it that, all of a sudden, alcohol doesn’t relax you.
It is not something about deserving. We have accumulated a lot of this emotional investment, over the years, and it’s just something that we have to get over. You have to understand that there is no benefit from drinking. You have to convince yourself of that. You have to get away from all that brainwashing and, essentially, brainwash yourself in the opposite direction.
It all boils down to the same thing. But no matter how much you have convinced yourself that you are no longer going to drink, how illogical it is for you to drink, to put poison into your body, to ruin your life and to let your life pass you by in a flicker of time, you still are going to have those impulses inside your brain that are trying to push you in a certain direction.
They are only impulses. They will disappear and dissipate over time. They will gradually lose their strength and lose their influence over you, but they will still pop up. They are going to be with you for a time, but their influence becomes less and less.
Time To Adjust
Basically, it is allowing your body time to readjust itself, to get into sync. You’ve got your old mind, and the way you used to be, your justifications and all that kind of stuff, but then you’ve got your new mind and the way you want it to be.
Your new behavior is still going through the old mindset. You gradually adjust the mindset. You are going to adjust it. It is your brain’s way of dealing with life – it cannot not adjust it, if you know what I mean. It has got to do it, for your survival, otherwise you just go mad.
Keep Pushing Forward
The trick is to have the courage, the self control, to keep pushing forward, regardless.
It will get easier, and easier, and easier the more your do this, and you will come out of it the other end, a much, much better, and happier person than you started out with.
If you have any questions about that, at all, let me know. Go up to the website, or leave a comment on YouTube.
It’s a great life, without alcohol, it just takes a bit of time to get there. I am still not sure how long this process goes on for, the impulses and stuff, but it does disappear.
Until next time,
I’m Kevin O’Hara for alcohol mastery.
Onwards and upwards!
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Hi there Kevin,
I really enjoyed this blog-it was food for thought for me. You are a deep thinker and it’s refreshing to hear your reasoning. I especially like the part about things changing/stopping in our lives over the years. You are right,things also SHOULD change as we get older–because , SURELY, we are also getting wiser? If things did not change as we mature,then we would all still be in our Nappies/Diapers as 50 year old Men & Women.
Now if somebody saw a 50yo person,still in a nappy & still crawling around on the ground & STILL HOLDING on to a Baby Bottle-there would be concern. Everyone around would be thinking -“I wonder what is WRONG with that person?? Is it some sort of disability,as they have somehow STOPPED growing?” Its the same if we think about it,with our teen habits that we do not want to LET GO of.
Most of us were very IMMATURE Teens when we STARTED Drinking,Smoking,Drugs,etc. And as we mature,we see the wisdom in NOT doing these things and thus, we change because we are GROWING into adulthood. Now, if we are still doing everything that we were doing in our TEENS-listening to the very same music,wearing the very same clothes, sporting the very same hairstyle,and punishing our bodies with the very same bad habits we did at 15yo,etc & yet we have reached 40s/50s, then we may need to scrutinize as to whether we can really call ourselves MATURE at that supposedly “more sensible” age.
I have been to funerals of people who died because they DID NOT GROW,were still doing the things they did at 15yo & thees habits eventually killed them. While I was at a recent Funeral of one of my Brothers’ friends, I could not help noticing there were many people there who were still doing everything that they did as teenagers, as I had known them. These blokes were all friends/Acquaintances of my 2 Brothers and many looked like they were STUCK IN THE 70s QUICKSAND—-same long hair, long unkempt beards, still “drinking like fish”, “smoking like dragons” & wearing the same clothes from 30something years ago-The sad thing was they looked 10-20 years OLDER than their years & I could not get over how time had stopped for them. It was as if they were in a BACK TO FRONT “TIME-WARP”–young clothes(from 70s),long hairstyles from the 70s & the very Bad habits & lifestyles of the young but,ironically– they had VERY OLD UNHEALTHY looking faces. I had seen these men grow up from little boys & it was so sad:'(
It was a real shock to me as I had been the “older sister”(only by 1-5 years) that these young guys had fancied-we all lived in the same housing Estate, and now after not seeing them for some 20-35 years,they looked much older than me-like from ANOTHER older and WORN generation. One, who shockingly looked the worst & oldest of the lot(biggest drinker/smoker/drug-taker) even approached me & told me how he was secretly in love with me when he was younger-I didn’t know whether to be complimented or really worried & start running,so I just laughed -lol.
Anyhow, that is my observation. I know I am not the same as I was-as I have put on weight:( ,but I am grateful to be a “FAT & HAPPY”, Young looking, Healthy, Ex-Smoking, Ex Dope smoking,Ex-Drinking, 50something woman. At least there is SOME EVIDENCE to outsiders that I have GROWN UP. Regards Jo:)
Hey Jo, thanks for your insights! We all change over the years, that’s inevitable. We do have a certain amount of control over some areas in life. What we put into our mouths has a massive influence, the food we eat, how much water we drink, and there’s a massive impact on our longevity and overall health by the drugs we take and the chemicals we’re exposed to. That last line of yours says it all… You are getting to grips with your bad habits one at a time and it does take a bit of growing up and a lot of introspection to see what we are doing
! Keep it up Jo!
I don’t know what’s going on but I just tried 2x to comment on your last video and then neither one went thru. I am too exhausted to type anymore tonight. I don’t know if it’s on my end or yours becuz I never had a problem on your website before leaving comments.
Anyone else have a problem??
thanks for letting me know. I’m not sure why that happened to your comments. This one seems to have gone through ok>) If anyone else if having problems, give me a shout!
Great post Kevin.. This will be a good reference point and reminder ..
I have been a non drinker for 23 years and I would like to encourage everyone that it continues to get better and better as you become the personality that you really are, free from the control and deceptive “comfort” of alcohol. I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
I made the decision to stop drinking for good after several failures to stop clearly showed me, that for me one drink ALWAYS led to more. This knowledge also helped me to quickly squash temptations and give me a fairly easy stop drinking experience. I have for many, many years been completely free from any desire to drink and although I choose to not drink, I do not feel like an alcoholic, I am simply a non drinker.
Not going to identify myself as an ALCOHOLIC anymore !!! Shiite im a non drinker…very good.
Hi, I am only two months In to this journey after decades of heavy drinking, but also describe myself as a non-drinker, same as I am a non-smoker…that I took me a few attempts too with a slip after two years, not smoked for over 27 yrs…look forward to saying the same about drink…I like the idea that actually we have just grown up and used experience to learn..and grow..onwards and upwards…..THANKYOU Kevin
Great article first and foremost but my story comes with a twist. I am 31 and have thoroughly enjoyed alcohol in my life since I was 16. I am from Ireland and we Irish have a great fondness for a pint and good music in the pub as you well know! I am (or was maybe?) a really outgoing person and a friend to all, especially gathered round a bar with the boys gearing up for a great evening. Music as I mentioned is a passion of mine and there’s nothing I enjoyed more than getting merry and joining in, dancing and singing along. I always was respectful when drinking, never nasty or getting into fights and I was generally well behaved and maintained good and healthy friendships with everyone around me. Yes, alcohol and I were the best of buddies, and I always found time for it. My job as a mental health nurse always seemed to justify its necessity in my life and alcohol relaxed me only on my days off. However in July this year on a visit home to Tyrone I suddenly became unwell, seriously unwell. I went to Dublin by bus to see a band with a friend and on the journey I started to feel an awful pain radiating in my sternum and around my back. As the pain became worse I found myself in an emergency room as opposed to the concert hall but still had no clue what was wrong with me. It took the next day travelling back up north to enniskillen hospital to find out I had pancreatitis-the severe kind. I spent 10 days in hospital and a further 8 receiving IV antibiotics at home. The news the doctor gave me was two fold-that I had just about survived the pancreatic attack and that I could never touch an alcoholic drink again. Two very conflicting pieces of information to be told- you’ve survived and no more drink. As you may be able to conclude yes alcohol was the primary cause of my pancreatitis as gallstones was ruled out. This news hit me like a tonne of bricks. Me? Can’t drink? Ever again? It was ridiculous and hasn’t quite settled into my brain yet. To have the choice removed before deciding to quit is he worst kind of sentence to be given when it comes to alcohol. I miss it terribly. And it’s not the actual alcohol it was how it gelled my life into the society around me and how it passed the time for me and many like me. It never ruled my life but it played a central role in it, and now I feel as if though I am somehow looking through life from the outside in, only partially taking part in others lives and struggling to enjoy myself in other ways. Yes, this all does sound and point towards that alcohol did play a big part of my life, and it did. Many times I often thought, what if I stopped altogether? The money and time I would save, but for what? I was happy in my life, my work/life balance was fine, and one didn’t interfere in the other. So to have it suddenly stopped has turned everything upside down. I am so grateful to be alive and over my illness, and yes alcohol had caused it but…there will always be a but. I can’t seem to hate it or blame it because it all seems so unreal. There is a long road in front because I have to accept that any further intake of alcohol will leave me chronically ill and I won’t let that happen. I am both lucky and unlucky in this case and somewhere in the middle of it all there is myself stuck in an awkward, uncomfortable crevice trying to smile and cry at the same time, reassuring myself that it’ll all be ok. I hope the future is brighter Kevin and that things come into focus soon. Hopefully anyway.