If you’re a seasoned drinker, quitting alcohol could be the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself… is a sentence that isn’t likely going to persuade you quit at all if you’re anything like me. You haven’t hit rock bottom – that’s not even remotely on the radar. You haven’t lost your career or business, your family, your home, your pride, your health or anything important to you at all. In fact, you might be thriving in those areas and the envy of those around you.
For most of us considered “high-functioning” drinkers, the ability to drink alcohol excessively while exceling in key parts of our lives can hide the warning signs that may have otherwise slowed us down. If there was a problem developing, you would know, right?
Like many professionals, drinking had been a part of my life since college – often a reward to a job well done, a way to ease into an evening or just loosen up. As I advanced in my career and started a family, my drinking made its way into nearly every occasion. It had also come to represent a form of freedom justified by a mindset of “you deserve this.” I didn’t need to address my drinking, because it wasn’t a problem – I wasn’t heading toward rock bottom – in my opinion, quite the contrary, I was thriving.
By 2016, I had reached the most successful time of my life at that point, and I felt unstoppable. I had a beautiful growing family, moved into a dream home and co-founded a fast-growing, well-respected advertising agency. I was living my dream, in some ways, quite literally. I had never been more successful in my career and more out of control with my drinking.
Over the course of 20 years, very slowly, I had developed a robust, deeply established addiction to alcohol. If you like labels, I was an “alcoholic,” although I didn’t accept this fact until after I ended my relationship with alcohol in April 2016. It was the first time in my life that I thought clearly about my use.
I sought addiction treatment to help me quit and a self-coaching approach to staying sober. There are many ways to get and stay sober – from programs like AA, treatment centers, recovery coaching, self-coaching and more. I believe the best approach to quitting and staying sober is the one that works for you – there’s no such thing as only one way. My approach worked well for me, but it may not be the best approach for everyone.
Here are some key tips that have helped me and other professionals dealing with quitting alcohol without a rock bottom. Like everything else you do well, be strategic, make a plan, and execute it. It is all about the execution.
DO IT NOW.
Pick up the phone after reading this paragraph and call someone who will get you on the path. Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers is a great place to start (651- 646-5590). If you drink regularly, even if not every single day, it is important to seek help from an addiction professional. At a minimum they can help you navigate options and avoid potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
MAKE ALCOHOL YOUR OPPONENT.
Detach from it. Confront it. If it’s your opponent, it’s real. You will become aware of its threats to you and you can study how it exploits your weaknesses. Never underestimate it. Understand that it will undermine you. It’s not part of you. It’s not on your side and doesn’t care about you, your kids or your business. It doesn’t care about anything you care about.
LEARN ABOUT YOUR NATURE.
Spend time becoming more aware of how you deal with joy and conflict. This can be key to understanding your relationship with alcohol.
List and prioritize what’s important to you: Health/fitness, family and friends, business and career, spirituality, romance and sex, mental health, finding purpose, personal development, financial independence. Now, list how you can (or do) see your drinking getting in the way of these goals.
Set aside any inner dialogue and pretend you are observing yourself from another person’s point of view. What will happen if you stay on your current course with alcohol? Next month, in 1, 5, 10, 20 years? List the pros and cons for important areas of your life.
Are you thinking about giving this a shot? Maybe there’s a tiny voice in your head that once questioned your drinking. Maybe a friend or loved one made a comment – even if lighthearted. This could be best thing you’ll ever do for yourself. Chris Aburime