On February 3rd, 2015, at 44 years old and after drinking for over two thirds of my life, I quit drinking. For a few years I wanted to quit drinking; I knew I needed to, but I didn’t think that I could. My decision to give it a real try was triggered by seeing a friend who told me he was sober. He said he quit drinking because his younger brother had slowly drank himself to death, over many years. He just wasted away and died from internal-organ failure. I though about this the next day as I stayed home from work, hungover and miserable, sitting in my room watching bad movies and eating delivery-pizza.
I called a therapist that day and scheduled an appointment. I drank the two beers in my refrigerator and declared to my friend Jon “This is the last beer I’ll ever drink”. That was two years, eight months and 22 days ago, and so far I have not had another drink of alcohol.
Since becoming sober my life has improved dramatically and in ways that I never expected. I am happier. I have less stress. I sleep better. I don’t get sick anymore. I make a lot more money. I’m better at everything I do. People like me more. I am more responsible, more healthy. I learn more. I could go on forever!
As I was going through the daunting transition of becoming a sober person, I shared my struggles and milestones on social media (Facebook), and here I got a lot of support, much more than I expected.
Soon people started sending me private messages asking for advice on how to quit drinking. Some were friends, and others were strangers. I did my best to put into words what they needed to hear in order to stay sober, and I started messaging them every day with the simple phrase “Still sober?” People who are trying to quit drinking need to have someone checking up on them daily. Otherwise they will feel like nobody cares whether they drink or not, and that nobody will notice if they start drinking again. They need someone with whom to share their daily successes, and someone they can turn to for advice or support.
As they succeeded in staying sober, I began to feel a great sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. When we help somebody quit drinking, we change their lives for the better. But it doesn’t only help them, it also improves the lives of everyone around them, especially if they have a family. And if they go on and help other people get sober, and these others do the same, then we have changed the world for the better. There is no feeling that compares to the realization that we have improved the world and decreased human suffering. I consider helping others get and stay sober to be my life’s greatest accomplishment.
Helping others get sober is also part of the therapy, as it reminds us that our sobriety not only helps us, but it helps others too. If I were to fail in my sobriety, not only would I fail myself, but I would also fail the others who depend on me for support.
Eventually I started to organize all that I had written. Getting and staying sober requires strategy and technique. It is not something that just happens once you decide to do it.
Soon after I realized that I had enough information to write a short book. Since I got so much satisfaction from helping people get sober, I was very motivated to see the book through its completion. Eventually I published it on Amazon. I titled it “Alcoholics Not Anonymous, a Modern Way to Quit Drinking”.
The technique I developed is summarized in the excerpt from my book below:
· Make a conscious decision to give sobriety a chance.
· Don’t drink today, or if this seems to hard, just don’t drink right now… or right now… or right now…
· Pour any alcohol that you have in the house into the toilet and take a picture or video of this.
· Use substitutes, like seltzer, fruit juice, cookies, adventure, and exercise.
· Keep count of your days, months or years sober.
· Get counseling if necessary (your health insurance might cover it).
· Tell someone you are doing this and ask them to check up on you daily.
· After about a week, tell everyone, come out on social media, like Facebook, and let the world know; use it for support.
· Be open, frank and honest when talking to others about your sobriety, don’t hide it.
· Do things that alcohol prevented you from doing.
· Use the money you saved by not drinking for a reward, like a vacation.
· Help others get sober.
· Celebrate every month on your sober anniversary, and celebrate big on your yearly anniversary.
· Don’t go back to drinking, ever. It’s all or nothing. Remember this.
· Don’t preach to others who drink, just lead by example.
· Make your dreams come true, and remind yourself that sobriety led you to your dreams.
· Tell yourself “I don’t drink anymore”.
My premise is that anonymity is outdated, and for most of us, being open about our mission to get sober helps us to achieve sobriety and to stay sober long-term. While Alcoholics Anonymous is a great program and certainly works for a lot of people, it is not the only way to get and stay sober, and their program does not work for everybody.
When we are open about our alcoholism and our sobriety, not only do we get support, but we also serve to show other problem-drinkers that sobriety is an option and can be achieved.
I think society is waking up to the reality of alcohol. It reminds me of cigarettes. When I was young, everybody smoked. But rather quickly, smoking fell out of fashion and came to be seen as a dirty habit. Alcohol is the world’s most destructive drug. It kills us, destroys families, and undercuts worker-productivity. It causes fights, automobile accidents, and all sorts of health problems. It is terribly addictive. It is lethal in an overdose and is also one of the few drugs that can kill you through withdrawal.
Yet our society pushes alcohol on us all the time. It is advertised to the point that we think of it as a perfectly normal thing, as well as a rite of passage, part of adulthood, and part of every celebration. But it is a deadly and addictive drug. I believe that very soon alcohol will be seen the same way heroin is seen. It is poison. It is poison for individuals, and it is poison for society.
While I have very strong opinions about alcohol, I also realize that not everybody has to quit. But those that need to quit know they need to quit. They just don’t think they can do it, or they think that they will not enjoy life without it. I’m here to tell everyone who needs to get sober that it can be done, and life is way better, in every way, sober. Sober is better. Each day, just don’t drink today, or if that seems too difficult, just don’t drink right now, or right now…