Today, James Ndubuisi shares his feat on staying alcohol free for the past 126 days, and he is still counting. Be inspired!!!
From the age of 16, I’ve lasted only a few weeks at most without drinking something, and that was only when I was in hospital or in a country where drinking just wasn’t possible. The rest of the time, there’s barely been a day when I hadn’t drank a little, and usually more than a little. Now, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t a lush. I have very rarely appeared drunk. Indeed, I’m one of those people who the more they drink, the tighter rein they keep on their behaviour. And when I say I haven’t had alcohol for months now, even my closest friends reply: ‘But you were never really a big drinker anyway!’
Working in the entertainment environment, drinking wasn’t particularly an issue. And even though I grew out of lunchtime drinking, I still continued to drink in the evenings and could easily knock back a bottle of wine over the course of a day. Now while it is true that I never appeared to be a big drinker, I in fact, nearly always had a few glasses of wine before I went out for an evening. And at the point I gave up, I was starting to have a small something in the day as well; I was pretty obsessed with beer and whiskey. I knew the alcohol content of most bottles of wine, and I’d talk about drinking obsessively with other people my age, who were equally worried about how much they drank.
Enjoying alcohol doesn’t make you an alcoholic any more than enjoying sex makes you a nymphomaniac. Getting drunk can be fun. If you can drink without ruining your life, don’t let me—or anyone else—stop you. For years I’d told myself I wasn’t an alcoholic. I never drank alone. I didn’t wake up with fierce cravings, and sometimes I went for one or two days without drinking. A need to drink all day, every day, was never my problem. But I started to worry, particularly since my friend was a real alcoholic, the sort who had bottles of drink stashed in her bed, the sort who became seriously ill with liver damage. Perhaps, I had a problem too. Not a huge one like hers, but a problem all the same. Suddenly, I thought that I had had enough. Cutting down had never worked for me in the past, so the only thing to do was to give up completely. But how?
I’d like to tell you that it was a struggle. It is almost impossible to stay sober at a social occasion where everyone else is burping bubbles, but I imagined myself as more determined and disciplined than all the rest, and that’s what pulled me through. It has been 126 days, and I haven’t looked back. The truth is that I’m ruthlessly normal. And if you want to end your relationship with alcohol, right here, right now, It’s Not That Hard.
I must say that the long-term effects of bad habits are rarely sufficient to motivate people to change their lives. The near-term benefits of giving up alcohol are much more useful and interesting anyway. Let’s say I have a few drinks around the house, three times a week, and that light touch of drunkenness costs me three hours of productive thinking each time. Within one year, I’ll have cut about one full month off my life. That’s a lot of lost CPU time that could have been put towards reading a book, writing a speech, playing a sport, or even starting a business. And this doesn’t even count the time lost waiting for my brain to re-solidify the morning after a night on the town.
Giving up alcohol is one of the easiest and also hardest changes you can make in your life.
It’s easy once you’ve established the right rules, configured your environment to support you, and set up useful boundaries of pain and pleasure to help direct you towards your goal. The hard parts are the social implications and fighting off the One Man Army that is your ego, with its barrage of self-limiting beliefs and drink requests.
Giving up alcohol must be made priority. A partial commitment is a commitment to failure. Even if you already don’t drink that often, it will be tempting to break your own rules when your friends call you up and invite you out. You’ve got to be willing to prioritize this decision in every situation where it’s relevant, even when that means Just Saying No to bar night. Ever notice how some people act as though the end of their relationship is the end of the world? It’s as if there’s no point in living if they can’t be with that person any longer. Yet other people come along and date that person who left them, eventually break up with them, and see it as hardly more than a blip on the radar.
You may feel that it’s pretty easy to give up drinking. Or you may feel that it’s an addiction with a stranglehold on your life. Either way, there is no inherent magnitude to this task. It’s as big or as small as you make it. No matter how much you want to tell yourself how hard it is, nobody’s ever going to claim that learned helplessness was the secret to their success. The most effective way forward is to not only make quitting drinking a top priority, but to think, talk, and act like it can be done.
In succinct, the biggest step was firing my booze buddies.
Alcohol may be so tightly integrated into your social life that it seems almost impossible to go an entire weekend without drinking. If the only thing you have in common with your friends is that you like the same lagers, you might want to consider finding new friends. I’ve let go off people in my social circle before and I know it’s not easy–but that doesn’t make it unnecessary. This might be the hardest thing you do in choosing a life without alcohol. The key is to remember that friends are an abundant resource. Having a strong social circle is purely a function of the effort you invest into it. That includes choosing to associate only with people who are aligned with your purpose, while avoiding the energy vampires.
James Ndubuisi is a Writer, Radio broadcaster, Lawyer, Entertainment Promoter and Talent Manager. He tweets @JamesNdu
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like to share your feat on my website. Remember that no feat is too small, be it finishing a whole book, or climbing the great wall of China. Thanks.