Seven Crucial Lessons from Quitting Drinking

Moving toward sobriety is a time of harsh realizations and unavoidable lessons. To the inexperienced, quitting drinking can seem like nothing other than avoiding picking up a bottle, but in reality it requires self-searching on a level that most people would prefer to avoid. To really tackle our demons, we have to be willing to face up to some home-truths, and Fix writer Aaron Kuchta shares the lessons he learned from his experience to help others going through similar issues in a recent article. Outside of traditional treatment modalities, he identifies the essential lessons that helped him get back in control of his drinking.
Seven Crucial Lessons from Quitting Drinking

Drinking Is a Crutch, But Not the Only Crutch

Aaron initially points out that it’s a convenient lie to pretend that alcohol is the root of all evil. In reality, there are numerous ways we can avoid our true issues, but it’s easier to focus on alcohol and drugs because they’re the obvious things to try to blame. He argues that it’s really about how we deal with things like stress and depression and the excuses we fabricate to avoid doing something that makes us nervous that lead to us using one of many potential “crutches.”

Your Inner Voice Isn’t Always on Your Side

He likens his internal voice to “poison ivy wrapped in silk,” trying to convince him that responsibility just isn’t worth it. Instead, it told him to get drunk and play video games, with the underlying message that making an effort is a waste of time. Using geeky parlance, he likens his victory (by taking away the easy “solution” of alcohol) to the destruction of the Death Star, but points out that the Emperor still survived. He learned that his inner voice didn’t have his best interests at heart, but only destroyed its main tool of devastation. The underlying “dark side” is still there, and he still has to tackle it every day.

You’re a Work in Progress

We can’t be fixed immediately. It takes a lot of small steps to get where you want to be, but it’s essential to avoid being discouraged because you aren’t quite there yet. It isn’t easy to learn how to put these new coping mechanisms into practice. He says, “difficult things need smaller steps, but every step forward is a victory.”

Being Human Is Hard

Alcohol and other drugs suppress our emotions and make everything seem easier. But it’s a trap. When you recognize the downsides of dealing with the challenges of existence through alcohol outweigh the positives, you have to face the difficulties head-on. We’re afraid of failure, of feeling vulnerable and of letting people see our true selves. He continues, “I have to relearn that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to feel some type of way. It’s okay to let people past the poker face.”

Getting Sober Teaches Valuable Lessons

There’s an inherent inclination to wish that you never abused alcohol or drugs, but Aaron warns that this view fails to appreciate the various things you gain. Confronting your issues forces you to look within, to find out some uncomfortable truths about yourself and learn to accept your shortcomings. Addiction might have a multitude of negative consequences, but when you’ve been through it you’ll know yourself better than the vast majority of people you walk past on the street. Getting to your low-point isn’t pleasant, but the perspective it provides can be invaluable.

It Gets Easier to Be Sober

At first, the compulsion to drink or abuse drugs might be pretty strong, but it gets easier. The benefits come as the cravings subside, and you find yourself with more time and money to spend doing things you really enjoy. You aren’t at the mercy of a hangover when you wake up on your day off, you don’t think about your substance of choice as often and eventually, you learn how to spend your free time without overindulging. It will get easier.

You’re More Adaptable Than You Think

Aaron is an introvert, but since quitting drinking he’s managed to get on a lot more effectively in his sociable job in food service. He’s found that he is considerably more adaptable than he thought, and without relying on alcohol to overcome his issues, he’s faced his nervousness in social situations head-on. Whether it’s introversion, self-doubt or any other issues you masked by using substances, you’re more capable than you think you are to overcome it. Give yourself a chance and you’ll be surprised how well you can do.

Conclusion

Getting sober is not easy, but the path gets easier to travel the more steps you take. As you pick up pieces of hard-won wisdom and begin to understand yourself in a new way, you’ll find that the strength you’ve been looking for has been there all along. You just have to dig down for it, and when you find it, take your next step in the right direction. Every single one is a victory, and every single lesson you learn on the way makes it easier to move toward your next victory. You really can do this.

Posted on August 7th, 2014

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