How to Quit Drinking Without AA
If you’re anything like me, you’re starting to hear your intuition speak louder to you. Weekends spent drinking leave you feeling weary, low, and wondering if there is something more than this rollercoaster existence of trying to keep everything “balanced.” You know, where you try to live a healthy life but still drink copious amounts of alcohol.
You’re hearing the grumble, that drinking brings you negative feelings. But what does that mean? Does that mean you have a problem? Does that mean you have to renounce your entire life and become an ascetic? Does it mean that you have to call yourself an “alcoholic” and welcome in judgement from the entire world that you were drinking at 6 a.m. in the morning? (You weren’t). All of this makes you feel incredibly stuck. You’ve never once pictured yourself going to AA and admitting to the world how powerless you are. You keep trying to make it work with alcohol, and the thing is, sometimes you succeed and moderate and are fine.
But that doesn’t stop the negative feelings and your inner voice whispering to you that there is a better way to live your life. That you were made for more than feeling so small and so stuck. And that at the end of the day, drinking isn’t making you ultimately happy.
So now what? Well, now you explore all of this. You open yourself up to get curious about all your feelings. You experiment. You try on a new life for size. And I’m here to tell you that you can succeed and you can thrive without going to AA, without calling yourself the A word, and without feeling deprived.
Honestly, you’re not here just because you can’t moderate. Most people drink above the health guidelines anyway. You are here because your intuition is telling you that you are made for so much more than drinking every weekend and you are ready to see what you are capable of without alcohol weighing you down.
I believe that you will be your own best guide in what comes next, and here are the guide posts to lead you along the way.
Approach this as a challenge
Deciding to quit forever after being a regular drinker for years is setting yourself up for failure. You wake up hungover on a Monday morning, and decide you can’t keep living like this. You are quitting forever. And by Friday night, you feel a lot better, feel like that was crazy talk, and tell yourself you’ll start it later. It also leaves you feeling the most deprived without any of the tools and wisdom you’ll gain later in your journey. I’m not addicted to cookies, but I would be pretty aghast if you told me I could never have one ever again.
Don’t decide to quit forever. But don’t take it one day at a time either. I recommend doing a sober experiment and committing to set number of days that you won’t drink. 100 days is incredible but even 30 is a good start. Come on, anyone can do anything for 30 days and it's a chance for you to see how beautiful life can feel without all the pressure. For more specific tips, get my guide, How to Take a Month Off Drinking and FEEL AMAZING.
Get into Books and Podcasts
Read books and listen to podcasts that will help you learn about your comfort zone behavior and show you the utter delight that comes from taking a risk and leaving your safe zone. Ask yourself how well this drinking habit serves you, and learn way more about your reactions, tendencies and why humans like to mute their inner desires by drinking.
Get yourself some books that will shift your entire mindset about drinking, so it's no longer something you really want to do anymore; my recommendations include This Naked Mind, Alcohol Explained, and the Unexpected Joy of Being Sober. And start listening to podcasts too, like Take a Break, One Year No Beer, and Euphoric the Podcast (shameless plug).
Look for the positive
Here’s a list of things you could experience in just your first thirty days without alcohol: restful sleep, waking up in the morning feeling great, a sense of peace and calm, a reconnection with nature, eating better, moving your body, improved appearance, having new experiences, and recuperated self-esteem. Keep extending the time, and the benefits just keep adding up, like a renowned sense of pride and confidence, uncontrollable laughter, losing weight, finding your true passions, and doing what really makes you happy.
You’re doing something different, and it’s going to feel uncomfortable at first. But you’re also going to gain so many unfathomable benefits. You owe it to yourself to receive them with open arms.
Debunk the myths
We have all been socialized to drink in our society and it’s very rare that alcohol isn’t an accessory to all things in life. We’re taught to drink to celebrate, to socialize, to relax, and to commiserate and formed pretty steady relationships in our own lives by believing that alcohol brings us benefits. Some examples include, It helps me relax after a long day. It helps me feel less awkward socializing. I deserve to let off some steam.
The thing is, none of these beliefs about alcohol are fundamentally true and are holding you back from believing in yourself. Think about it, if you think you need alcohol to socialize, it probably means you are a little insecure in that area. Instead of facing that fear and working through it, we mask over these doubts and reinforce them. Alcohol never really helped me socialize, it actually made me feel more insecure about acting drunk. And with the flux of stress and panic the next day after drinking, it didn’t truly relax me or let off steam either. Take all the myths that you belief about alcohol and debunk them.
Listen to your inner landscape
One of my favorite things about not being a drinker anymore? I’m not on autopilot. I listen to my inner desires and needs and do a lot of reflection and introspection to create the kind of life I don’t want to escape from. I think of drinking as any comfort zone behavior—a thing that we do to distract or numb away our true feelings and emotions. Learning to sit with my feelings and act on them has actually led me to figure out what I really want to do with my life, what drives me, and how I want to show up in this world.
Unblock your inner voice and you could discover your dream life too. Ideas to get you introspecting include writing down daily the ten things you are grateful for, freewriting (like stream of consciousness) for a page or two every day, or working through journal prompts in self-development books. You only have your true soul’s expression and development to discover.
Find a new community
Surround yourself with people going through the same soul-expanding journey as you are. Think of yourselves as rebels who are finally unplugging from the matrix of complacency and mediocrity. When you’re brand new to a sober lifestyle, and not going to AA, it can feel impossible to find like-minded people. Find your tribe online and join private groups on Facebook, like Club Soda Together, Alcohol Experiment, or Euphoric Alcohol-Free. Immersing myself in these communities entirely changed my sense of normal. For one, I finally accepted and forgave myself for my perceived shortcomings. Turns out, a huge proportion of drinkers struggle with drinking more than they want to (also learn this in the books you will read above). There wasn’t in fact something “wrong” with me, I just came to rely on a unhealthy coping mechanism. Secondly, normal wasn’t going out to a bar on a Friday night. Screw that. These people in the groups were running marathons, launching businesses, traveling the world, hitting 100 days, 1000 days—this is what I wanted to aspire to. This is what I wanted to compete with.
And once you’re ready, there’s so many opportunities to meet people in real life too. I look to meetup.com for alcohol-free and sober groups and do so many women’s social events in my area. I’ve made really good friends (including my podcast co-host) this way and it makes me feel so much more connected than flimsy conversation over drinks. To find people IRL, check out my guide, How to Make Sober Friends.
Look to guided programs
If you want more structure and guidance on your incredible journey into an alcohol-free life, there are some really great programs out there that can help. I absolutely love self-development and while investing in myself doesn’t always feel natural, I know that I deserve to learn and grow and express my fullest potential. Many of these programs work like hypnosis and help you build a solid foundation for healthy living and self-discovery. Check out This Naked Mind, The Sober School, or Become Euphoric, and become happier than you’ve ever been.
As Goethe said, “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.”