It’s not been a great time since I last wrote something, but I’m taking positives from the experience. I did have a drink, but I managed to pull myself out pretty quickly which is positive number one. It led to a great discussion with my key worker this week as to why I keep doing this and me be able to concentrate on some tools to help it stop.happening again.
So what are these tools? One is really simple and powerful if I do it honestly and do it quickly enough. And ironically, it’s something I used to do all the time in my role is an IT project manager, a simple cost/benefit exercise. The different sides will have different things on depending on what the current situation is. Last week I was in a good place, I was a little euphoric if anything, and nothing was really causing me stress or issues. So as an example, I ask myself 2 questions, and physically write down the answers.
What good things will happen if I have a drink?
- I’ll feel good for a few hours
What bad things will happen if I have a drink?
- I won’t be able to see my sons
- I’ll get financially in trouble
- I’ll affect my family and friends
- I’ll miss my volunteering, impacting those who need my help
- My flat will become (more) of a mess
- I’ll impact my health in a negative way
- I’ll be incredibly ill for days when I eventually do stop
Thats just in 2 minutes of thinking. On the good side, it literally is just a few hours, because even if I go into a drink with the intention of having a couple and making it last, it never happens. I accelerate and go into blackout. So if you look at this, it’s insane, irrational and downright stupid that I have a drink. The idea of writing it down is forcing my rational self to face the reality of what happens when I have a drink. Because the key point is, my irrational self is making the decision for me based on completely incorrect information.
So what exactly is happening? My brain is connecting drinking with the times when drinking was carefree and fun for me. Which leads to a second exercise.
At what age did I start drinking? Not to excess, just having a drink.
What age am I know?
So that’s 35 years. Now, how many years of that were carefree drinking? So years where I was drinking, having fun, and there were no real consequences, beyond a hangover and some embarrassing situations? And when was the last one?
- 11. The last one was when I was 29 by my reckoning
So, 35 years of drinking, 11 fun ones, 24 problem drinking ones. And if the last one was when I was 29, the chances of adding to the 11 years is non existent at this point.
This exercise helped me to identify when drinking became a problem. So what was the difference? For those 11 years, I drank with friends and colleagues. I saw people and a drink was part of it all, but the main thrust of it was social.
When I was 29, I started drinking alone. And I remember justifying it in my head that lots of people did it, that it was normal, that it wasn’t a problem. And by the time I was in my mid thirties, I was only drinking on my own. People knew I had a problem and kept me safe when I was with them. At work, I had gone from being on client sites with others and drinking socially, to being on my own and drinking on my own. That was definitely the tipping point.
So going back to the original question of why do I drink now. My brain still associates drinking with those fun 11 years.When I drank with friends and it was part of a bigger thing. And it seems mad that those pathways that were built in my brain still dominate but the fact is that they do. So I need to make my rational side push through that and face the truth of what will really happen.
I hope that makes sense to anyone who reads this. I don’t expect people to understand because it goes against all logical thinking. And my key worker pointed out some other things. I used to plan and run multi million pound projects, I could not make a plan to stop my drinking. I have put a lot of effort into losing weight recently, tracking what I’m eating, exercising and doing well with it. Why am I not putting that effort into not drinking?
I reward myself with a drink. Which the above cost benefit analysis points out is not a reward. Why not take some time out to play a game? Build some Lego? Watch a film? Something I would enjoy and would have no negative consequences? And I can stop. I’ve done it for 75 and 25 days recently. So why do I still do it?
Because I give in to my animal brain and let my instincts run my life, go for the path of least resistance and ignore cold logic and reality. So that’s what I need to stop at the moment.