And How to Overcome It.
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” — George Addair
The decision to quit drinking isn’t something that happens overnight.
Numerous individuals think about quitting for years before doing so. This thought usually creeps in after some heated argument with a loved one or an episode that involves possible criminal activity.
However, they eventually push this noise to the background and convince themselves that the situation was isolated, that they have things under control, and that it won’t happen again.
While the psychological and, for some, physical addiction to alcohol can make it very difficult for anyone to quit, there is another underlying emotion that prevents many from even attempting to become alcohol-conscious.
Fear of living what they think will be a boring life without alcohol.
Fear of losing friends that they enjoy hanging out with but think they may not have anything in common other than alcohol.
Fear of forgetting that edgy part of their personality that always seems to shine through when they’re drinking.
And perhaps the biggest and scariest fear of all…
Fear of trying to quit and NOT being able.
The reason I know this is because I experienced all of these during my questioning of whether I should stop drinking. They would constantly loom in the back of my head whenever I would think about giving it up for good.
Having been alcohol-conscious now for over 18 months, I can tell you that all of these fears are something you WILL have to consider, but they are highly exaggerated.
Let me go through each of them to explain why.
Fear of living a boring life — This was the one that always made me cringe. My 19 years of drinking had been pretty good up to that point and I didn’t want to lose that feeling of living a “movie” each time I went out.
As shared in Life is NOT More Exciting Sober, the chances of experiencing some of the things that I did, now that I’m sober, just AREN’T very good.
Due to the decrease in inhibitions of those around me and various situations in which I would find myself, the exciting experiences that alcohol created are hard to duplicate without it.
The flip side of that, however, is that by being described as “exciting,” many of those situations were potentially dangerous and involved illegal activities.
Also, there were many times that I may have done something “fun” but couldn’t remember most of it because I had blacked out during the second half of the night.
While this may have seemed fun and exciting at the moment, my experiences are much better now that I can actually remember them and have no holes in what occurred.
The various memories that I’ve made since I’ve been sober may not be as “exciting” as before, but they are so much more vivid and clearer than anything I can remember previously.
These are memories that will stick with me forever, not some haze of fun that I would have to try to piece together the next day to convince myself that it did actually happen.
Fear of losing friends — Yes this is true. You will lose some “friends” due to not drinking. Some of this will happen because you really just don’t have anything in common with them other than to drink, and when this is removed from the equation, then there isn’t a whole lot to do.
What you will notice, however, is that you will keep a few friends who you will realize had more substance than you recognized before.
Gone will be those ancillary friends who you never really spent any major time with other than to party and have fun.
What you will also gain will be a new group of friends and connections who are more focused on doing things other than drinking, and much of that will be focused on things that will help you build a more successful future.
Please don’t get me wrong. It is no inevitable all your friendships will end.
It is possible to still maintain friendships with those who you’ve known for some time if they respect your decision for a new lifestyle. However, to maintain these friendships, you both will need to step out of your comfort zones and do things you may not have the desire to do to keep it going.
For you, that could mean (once you’re past temptation swaying you) going out to a club or bar every now and then.
For your friend, this will mean being willing to do something earlier in the day that doesn’t involve being around alcohol, especially when you are in your early days of alcohol-consciousness.
Basically, your TRUE friends will be there if you’re both willing to work to keep the friendship going, and you’ll find yourself identifying with an entirely new group of people that will add a different layer to your life completely.
Fear of losing your personality — This was one of my biggest fears. I always felt that when I was drinking I was somehow my true self, as I was overall just more carefree and funny.
I thought that each time I drink I was getting better and better at being funny, witty, and engaging, and if I stopped, then I would risk losing out on the improvement I made in this department.
The REAL me was coming out during these times of inebriation. Where would he be if I stopped drinking and didn’t allow him to shine?
What’s so funny about this way of thinking is that I was really sabotaging the chances of me truly developing the skills that I thought I was gaining during my alcohol-fueled episodes.
As shared in How Alcohol KILLS Your Ability to Learn and How to Fix it, anything that you learn while you’re inebriated is gained under conditions that will make it very challenging to truly EVER master that skill.
For me, I was right in that alcohol brought out what was already inside of me, but I was wrong in thinking that this person would be forever lost when I stopped drinking.
What alcohol did was make me more comfortable to allow this side of my personality to shine.
One of alcohol’s greatest effects is its ability to decrease your inhibitions by slowing the reaction of your neurotransmitters to connect to your prefrontal cortex, as well as increasing your GABA receptors, making you feel way more comfortable and relaxed without overthinking certain situations.
This leads to you not being overly self-conscious and more willing to just say “f*ck it” when you want to do something funny.
When you don’t have alcohol in the system, you WILL naturally overthink and not be as carefree as you would with it in your system. However, what might surprise you is that many of the same zany and funny ideas will come to mind when you’re not drinking.
In the end, it’ll be on you to fight through your overthinking and trying some of these out to make others laugh and get out of your comfort zone.
This will feel awkward at first, but with time, you’ll get better and way more comfortable.
If you continue, eventually you’ll develop the mental capacity to execute on telling stories or doing things in a much funnier nature than you probably would’ve ever done while drinking and rambling…a win-win for all involved.
Fear of not being able to quit — This is the fear that paralyzes so many people for so long. You can’t have a drinking problem if you don’t WANT to stop drinking.
As long as you desire to drink the quantities you’re consuming, then it is not a problem, right?
You can quit whenever you want to, right?
This is the lie many people tell themselves every day and are afraid to see what might become of them if they try to test this and realize they are wrong.
The reality is that this fear is REAL.
Many of us don’t realize today that we have a problem because we haven’t tried to quit. We see alcohol as our friend and partner in crime and, as shared in the article, How to Truly KNOW If You Have a Drinking Problem, there is only ONE way to know.
HOW TO OVERCOME THESE
I had several stints of 90 days or so of not drinking, but whenever I thought about it for the long term, it was always these fears that made me say I couldn’t live this way for the rest of my life.
It was only through ignoring these fears and pushing through that I was able to see the trap that alcohol set for me and I finally realized there was only one way to overcome these fears if I was ever going to know, once and for all, were they real or fake:
I had to just try it to see.
That’s it. There’s really no other way. It’s similar to someone who’s in an emotionally abusive relationship in which the other party tells them they will never be happy without them and will never find anyone to treat them better.
The fear of this being true and people not feeling like they deserve better is what keeps so many people in abusive relationships. The only way to dispel this and see if you can live life outside of this situation is to step out and see.
In the same vein, the only way to truly know if all of the fears you have are true or not is to step out and try it.
If you’re looking for help and guidance on how to do this, start here to come up with a game plan and approach.
And while no one said it’s going to be easy, if you’re willing to fight through that voice in your head and push through to allow yourself to see that these fears are unfounded, then you’ll be amazed at the version of yourself you’ll find on the other side of it.