Here’s the stuff that worked for me, in no particular order:
1. “Play the tape to the end”
For me, this is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal, and the idea is really simple. Before you open that first drink you need to visualise the way you will feel waking up tomorrow – hungover, nasty headache, skint, paranoid, shaky, eaten lots of shitty food, said inappropriate things, got naked and tried to fight a bus driver, etc.. – all of the things that are likely to happen if you neck that beer. Anyone reading this probably knows that it NEVER stops at one drink (unless you’re on the wrong website. maybe you were looking for Sexypunks or Soberpimps or something?). Being realistic about the outcome is the best motivation for not starting. I’ve used this method countless times over the last 12 months.
2. Avoidance tactics
I needed to use this for the first 6 months or so, but it was a short term thing. If there are places or people that are likely to make you crave a drink then stay away until your resolve is strong. For me it was weekend gigs and sweaty rave clubs. Even now I struggle with drunk people trying to slur words in to my ear at loud clubs – but that’s just because the conversation makes me want to drink myself to death. No mate I don’t care that your best mate Gavin is a legend and you’d take a bullet for him. I found that after the initial pain, going out is okay again. Only difference is that I stick to soft drinks, I drive (no taxi fares – bonus!), and I leave when I’m getting bored. You can gloat at your hungover mates the morning after too (double-bonus!).
3. Read and read and read
There are a TON of great blogs and information websites out there. I’d recommend doing some reading on Soberistas – a website and blog run by the inspirational Lucy Rocca (http://soberistas.com/). It’s great to know you’re not the only one going through this struggle (part of the reason I created Soberpunks) and if you need a bit of motivation just google “benefits of quitting drinking” or similar. There are so many benefits it’s ridiculous. One of the big benefits I noticed was losing weight without even trying. I played a gig with a great band called The Crinn 10 years ago in Minneapolis, and I bought one of their cool t-shirts. When I got home to the UK i realised it was waaay too small for me, but i didn’t want to chuck it away coz it was so cool. Now, 10 years later and after 1 year sober, it suddenly fits. I think the band have split up now though or something…
I’d also highly recommend getting hold of a copy of Jason Vale’s book ‘Kick The Drink… Easily’ (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11503271-kick-the-drink-easily). No god-bothering or weird naked rituals (unfortunately), but a really fresh view of why we drink, and how it’s programmed into us from an early age. Once this makes sense, it helps you re-program the way you look at booze. Can’t recommend it enough.
Start putting the cash you are saving from not drinking in to a savings account or an envelope under your mattress or whatever. In my last few years of drinking I was strictly a weekend-only drinker, but man I was hitting it HARD from Friday night to Sunday night. I estimate I’m saving about £300 a month since quitting – if you include the takeaways, taxis, and fags too (I only ever smoked if I was drunk). Make sure you use at least some of the money you save to treat yourself. If you want instant karma and epic smug-rights then spend it on the people you care about too.
5. Fill up your calendar
This will happen naturally anyway, so you just need to give it a kick-start. Boredom will make you want to drink, and so you need to plan ahead to fill your usual drinking times with cool stuff. The great thing about not drinking is that you naturally become more active and more creative, so you’ll end up with new hobbies. A lot of people who quit drinking seem to start running, and I reckon it’s because we love chasing those good feelings. Beer gives you a warm, safe feeling, and running gives you endorphins which make you feel cool as fuck. I also started climbing twice a week. I’ve always been afraid of heights, so I started climbing as a way of getting over my fear as well as filling my time. I’d say it’s the best decision I could have made; it keeps you fit, it pushes your limits, and it’s a social sport so you meet a lot of cool people. I could bang on about climbing all day so I’ll just shut up.
6. Tell everyone
Okay, don’t take this too literally. Don’t go to work tomorrow and tell your boss that you’re an alcoholic and have decided to finally quit after waking up in a bush outside you ex’s. Tell the people that you’re close to, and make sure they understand why you’ve made this decision. Once they know, they can support you. Also, it’s much harder to fail when you have told a load of people that you’re gunna succeed. Let the potential embarrassment keep you on the straight and narrow. Some people will try and make you drink once they know you’ve quit. Apply tip #2. Also, fuck those guys.
7. Give your mates your booze
Probably the best advice according to your lucky friends, soon to be in possession of a ton of free beer. I’ve tried to quit drinking by pouring away my booze a few times in the past, but those attempts to stop drinking ultimately failed. I genuinely thought that watching a full 25 quid bottle of Jack (only purchased an hour earlier) get unsealed and then poured down the sink would be enough to make me quit due to waste-anger. It wasn’t, so I say give it to your mates. This means that they’re happy, but also it means you’ve TOLD THEM (see tip #6) and that’s a good thing.
I hope this helps anyone currently trying to quit. If you have any other tips then chuck them in the comments, and I’ll add them to an updated version.
This post is dedicated to Seaweed. Stay strong brother!