Photo by Tyler Delgado
Originally Posted On: https://www.stopdrinkingexpert.com/cut-back-or-quit/
Cut Back Or Quit?
One of the questions I get most often is, “Should I try to moderate my drinking, or should I quit altogether?”
I understand where that question comes from and can relate from personal experience. As a problem drinker for 20 years, there was a time I had the same question. Not for the first ten years, of course.
For those years, I was actually in denial about my drinking, even feeling proud that I could “handle my drink.” I was the one you wanted at a party. I always brought extra alcohol (after all, I wanted to make sure I didn’t run out), I was funny (or so I thought), and I was the one you would be talking about the next day, recounting whatever embarrassing thing I had done the night before.
And I thought that was working for me – until it wasn’t.
Eventually, things started to fall apart, as they so often do. My health, especially, began to be affected. I developed high blood pressure and sleep apnea. But the symptom that really got my attention was a pain in my lower right abdomen that wouldn’t go away. I managed to ignore it for months before I finally went to the doctor, fully expecting him to tell me that it was nothing serious.
I wouldn’t even consider that the pain could be the result of drinking two bottles of wine a night and another bottle of whiskey on the weekends!
What he told me, however, was that the cause of my pain was possibly quite serious, and sent me to the hospital for more tests. However, even after getting results that showed I had done serious damage to my liver, I STILL wasn’t ready to quit.
My Alcohol Fantasy World
I had a fantasy that I could drink like my friends who could go to the refrigerator, open a bottle of wine, pour a glass and enjoy it slowly, put the cork back in the bottle and return it to the refrigerator to enjoy again another day. How did they do that? I desperately wanted to drink like that. After everything, I still wanted to find a way to moderate. So, you see, I understand that question.
Let me tell you in no uncertain terms that if you drink as I did, hideously abusing alcohol, caught in a routine that you can’t seem to break out of – trying to moderate will be hell on earth.
If you are one of the few who is drinking just a little too much and feel like cutting back a little would be beneficial, yes, there are some strategies that can help you do that. Drinking water between each alcoholic drink and ordering the smaller serving sizes of wine are some tricks that can help.
However, if you are here, reading this, exploring my website and course offerings, and trying to make rules for yourself such as drinking only on the weekends or not drinking at home, it is likely that you are not a moderate drinker in need of a bit of a tune-up, but are a problem drinker hoping that making rules and setting limits on your drinking will allow you to keep taking the drug that you still believe has some benefit.
Why Willpower Won’t Work
I can tell you if you fall into that camp, those rules and limits are gimmicks that won’t bring lasting change and they will make you miserable. They might work for a week or two, but they are destined to fail because they rely on willpower and because your brain has created subconscious, psychological anchors and has become wired to complete the routine it has learned through years of repetition.
Your conscious mind is limited and is no match for the subconscious mind. Trying to moderate is a function of your conscious mind, and that doesn’t stand a chance against the subconscious mind’s deep, repetitive wiring. It’s as futile as trying to move a mountain with a spoon. It’s not even a fair fight.
This is why programs that rely on willpower are destined to fail. They work on the principle that you have to spend the rest of your life avoiding the very thing you want the most!
You still attach alcohol with some of your fondest memories; you still imagine that alcohol offers benefits; you still want the alcohol. If you still believe that alcohol will help you relax after a stressful day of work, if you still believe that alcohol helps you sleep, if you still believe that alcohol makes you more social, or any of the other lies alcohol would have you believe, then trying to moderate is going to make you miserable.
The truth is, alcohol doesn’t provide any of those benefits. Alcohol only takes and never gives.
Here’s What Happens After That First Drink
When it comes to drinking, you only get one choice, and that’s the choice of taking the first drink. Because once you take the first drink, the voice of your addiction and the drug will take over and start to whisper lies. It doesn’t matter what intentions you had. As soon as you’ve had that first drink, the narcissistic drug will turn off that part of the brain that makes logical, sound decisions.
Of course, the drug will manipulate you by suggesting that you only have one. “Just one drink to relax,” it will say. “You deserve one to wind down,” it will whisper. Because of course, the drug is never going to suggest that you go out and get blind drunk until you are flat on your face. It is happy to suggest that you moderate because it knows that you can’t do it!
You believe that first drink will ease that feeling of mild anxiety and discomfort that, in fact, was created when the alcohol from your last drink started to leave your system. So you drink more. You believe alcohol will refresh you when you’re thirsty, even though alcohol is a diuretic, making you more dehydrated and thirsty. So you drink more.
Alcohol is going to lie to you and lead you to believe that it will solve the very problems that it caused in the first place!
Alcohol Industry is Complicit
Alcohol is not alone in wanting you to believe you can moderate while knowing that you can’t. The alcohol industry is complicit in these lies. They know that alcohol kills 3 million people every year and destroys countless other lives. Just like the tobacco industry did years ago, it ignores the dire consequences in the name of profit.
The industry has the money and the power to resist pressure to label its product with warnings of the dangers of drinking. But it is happy to compromise and suggest that you “drink responsibly” and consume in moderation because it knows you can not.
It also knows that alcohol kills and is simply poison in a bottle.
If you think that is an exaggeration, consider what happens when you take pure alcohol and put it on liver cells in a Petri dish — the cells are obliterated from the inside out. It’s like thermonuclear war. Every bit of the cell is destroyed in seconds. Do you think that the same thing is not happening inside your body just because you added some cranberry juice?
So, if you’re asking me whether you should cut down or stop drinking poison, I say: STOP DRINKING POISON!
I can understand why this is a scary concept and why you might think it is too hard. More than 80% of the people around you drink. Alcohol is everywhere. Society has collectively agreed that alcohol has a place at every social occasion. It can seem impossible to quit.
But I promise you, it is infinitely easier to quit than to attempt moderation. In my online course and my live Bootcamps, we deconstruct the beliefs we have about the benefits of alcohol. When you are free of these lies, you will see the real benefits that come from living a life free of alcohol. Individuals who have used my approach can tell you first hand what benefits you can expect.
Your sleep will improve, your health will improve, your relationships will improve, your self-esteem will improve, your confidence will improve, your work performance will improve, your financial outlook will improve. In short, your life will be infinitely better.