Destroying Your Desire to Drink
Our goal here is simple: Stop drinking / doing drugs (without struggle) by completely destroying the desire to ingest these harmful substances.
We’ve covered how our thoughts drive our desire and, by extension, determine how we behave. More specifically, the “favorable associations” we’ve tied to drugs / alcohol are what create the impulse / urge to ingest them. So, for lasting and effortless change, these favorable associations that we’ve created need to be corrected and replaced.
There are many different ways this can be done. In this section I will cover some of the angles of attack that I used. Rather than memorize these examples, what’s most important is that you keep the ultimate goal in mind: Correct and replace unhealthy / unwanted “favorable” associations. My insights will help, but look for your own as well. Make sure that you think about your own personal experiences and how to apply the general ideas that follow.
As noted in the last section, I began the work of “changing my life” by challenging my own self-image. I laid the groundwork for change by creating (in my mind) an image of who I felt I should be. I then used that image as my guide...a reference I could look at while I was “chipping away” at what didn’t belong, and adding what did. It took time, trial and error, but as the years passed, huge gains were made. This is a powerful tool, don’t ignore it.
When rebuilding my thoughts on “alcohol,” I was careful to start at the beginning and work my way clear to the end; from the early days when I gagged on my first sips of scotch and beer, to the later years when I was facing major jail time for my fourth DUI. I wanted to revisit things like:
- What were my first experiences with alcohol like? Did I “exaggerate the good” and “minimize the bad?” (Yes) Ok, but why? Figure it out, correct and replace unwanted / counterproductive associations.
- When I started having problems, was I logical about how I reacted? Was I honest in my assessments? Was I ACCURATE in my assessments? (No) Ok, how might I see things differently? Correct and replace.
- Did I understand what “triggered” my impulses to drink? Was I prepared to “PAUSE” my thoughts at the first hint of an “urge” and challenge the image / associations that created it? Was I ready with a more accurate and useful association? Correct and replace.
But enough about me…
Imagine you’re walking through the park and you come across a tree that’s growing strange berries you’ve never seen before. Odds are you’re not likely to tear off a handful and pop them in your mouth, correct?
Under normal circumstance, you wouldn’t. But let’s just say you’re feeling brave today. Instead of passing this opportunity by you say: "Ah, what the hell, they look good enough to me." So you grab a fistful, toss ‘em back, and on the first bite you gag (just as you probably did the first time you did a shot of whiskey.) As you’re gagging, do you force yourself to “choke them down” or do you spit the nasty little buggers out? (Again, unless you’re not too bright, we’ve got to assume you spit them out.) SURELY, you would not grab another handful and repeat the process…
Oh, why not? Let’s say you not only “choke them down,” but you take an even bigger handful and do it again, and again, and again. Before long you’re feeling dizzy and having a hard time with your motor skills. You stand up, but fall over and smack your head against the tree. You try again, stagger and fall face first into a bush. One more attempt (more of a “half crawl” than a “walk”) and this time you’re down for the count. With your head spinning wildly, the last thing you remember (just prior to losing consciousness) are berries leaving your body involuntarily.
There's an excellent chance this incident would be very scary and you have to wonder if anyone, having survived it, would put themselves through it again. Do you suppose that YOU, upon waking the next day in a pool of regurgitated berries with a horrible headache, would EVER consider another “round?” Of course not! And yet, even though many of us had a comparably atrocious experience the first time we “got hammered,” we all wound up deciding we should “try it again.” Why? Probably because we didn’t do it alone. We were surrounded by a group of people we trust and consider friends saying: "Ah, that's O.K., it happens to the best of us. It's perfectly normal, you just had a couple too many. Wasn't it great?”
Sadly, most of us are dumb enough to accept the encouragement and consolation of others as reason enough to do almost anything. Acceptance of others is a very powerful motivator and if everyone we know says it’s OK, then it must be. …For those of us who absolutely SHOULD NOT consume alcohol, so begins an unfortunate (and unnecessary) journey. (A journey of ever-increasing costs, and ever-decreasing “returns.”)
Misconceptions – Misdiagnosis - Misinformation
If you are certain that you’ve identified the cause of a specific problem, you’re unlikely to consider other possibilities. Unfortunately, if you’re wrong, the real cause will remain undetected and the problem will continue to occur. Simple concept, true, but often overlooked.
One of the first things we do following a “negative” drinking experience is we blame ourselves entirely for the way we reacted / behaved. Blaming ourselves for the way alcohol affects us is, quite simply, a mistake. Not only is it a mistake, it’s a mistake that leads to all sorts of other mistakes. It goes something like this:
You act like a complete idiot at a party. You don’t remember much; just the part where you had somebody’s underwear on your head, got into a fight with your “significant other,” and told everyone to go to Hell. Your buddy gives you a ride home, you blow your cookies in his car, and after that it’s all a blur. As you’re sobering up the next day, you can’t believe what you did…you’re embarrassed beyond words. But rather than put the blame where it belongs (the substance that altered your thoughts / behavior and bodily functions) you accept full responsibility – you inaccurately conclude that you are an idiot that needs to learn how to “handle your buzz.”
There are two big problems here: First, you’ve begun the process of associating “who you are” with “what you did when you were drunk.” Over time, the effects of this on that extremely important image (your SELF-image) can be devastating. Repeating from the last section:
“When it comes to what you expect (and will accept) from yourself, self-image is like a master control. It sets the guidelines for your behavior.”
Equate “who you are” with “what you did when you were drunk,” and a downward spiral of continually lowered expectations are sure to follow. The bars you set for yourself and the “lines” you’re willing to cross will move further and further in the wrong direction. A new identity will begin to emerge, and in hours “sober” or “drunk,” that identity will have a negative impact on your life.
The second problem is the solution you’ve come up with: “Learn how to handle your buzz.” I truly believe some of us are genetically incapable of this. Every person reacts differently to the chemicals in alcohol, just as every person reacts differently to the chemicals in a bee sting. Those who are allergic to bees tend to stay the Hell away from them. So what’s our excuse? Are we just plain stupid? ----->Continue to page 2