The Problem with Giving Up Drinking.
By Lewis David.

Have you tried to give up drinking and failed? Probably. Most people have. It can drive you nuts. You try and try again, but still you can’t give up.

Today, I’m going to reveal the solution. It’s easy.

This is it: Stop giving up!

It might shock you that I would say that, but don’t worry. I haven’t gone crazy. The issue I have is not with being sober; it’s with those words, “giving up”.

When you talk about giving up something, it brings up a sense of lack, as though something is missing from your life. I understand why. It's because people believe that you either have something, or else you are missing out. And that's the phrase I often hear from people that have a problem giving up alcohol. They say, "I don't want to give up alcohol because I'll be missing out."

That sense of lack that comes from missing out gnaws away at people, and if they can't get past the idea that they are missing out on something, it will eventually come back to hurt them.

What I mean is that many times I've known people that have quit drinking for days, weeks, months, sometimes even years, but then they picked up a drink again – often with disastrous consequences. The cause was a niggling idea that had been in their head all the time that by giving up, they were missing out on something.

Now today, I want to invite you to flip that thinking around. Look at it a different way. Don't look at it as “giving up”. Look at it as “letting go”.

I'm not just playing with words here. There's a world of difference. You are probably reading my words because alcohol has brought pain into your life. It could be pain in the form of a DUI, a broken relationship, or a lost job. Whatever it might be, you have experienced the pain that problematic drinking causes.

Now think of other forms of pain. Take, for example, a migraine, a real thumping headache. That's a form of pain that you will be happy to let go of. You wouldn't say, "Well, actually, I'm not sure I want to give up having migraine headaches because I'll be missing out on the pain!" Letting go of that pain would be a pleasure, a relief. It would be happiness.

Letting go of the pain that alcohol has brought into your life can be the same. Letting go is the easy way of dealing with your alcohol issue. It changes that sense of lack to a sense of gain – gaining a life free of all the problems that alcohol brings to your life. It makes sobriety desirable, not a chore. Instead of feeling like you are missing out, you realize you have gained something priceless: peace of mind.

When you look at it that way, letting go seems simple, and it is. But there is one thing you need to understand to let go of alcohol successfully: Letting go is not a one-time action. It’s something you do repeatedly, as often as necessary. In the early days of letting go of alcohol, you might find yourself repeating to yourself something like “just let go” many times per day, as cravings to drink hit you often.

Repetition is a wonderful thing when it comes to letting go of alcohol. It is the repeated action of drinking that gives people an alcohol issue. It is the repetition of letting go that can solve that issue.


Further reading:

We wrote Mindfulness for Alcohol Recovery: Making Peace with Drinking  to gently and compassionately take the reader through the process of letting go.

Mindfulness for Alcohol Recovery is a long-term program you can use for as long as you want. All you must do is read the words, listen to the recordings that we've specially made for you – and then let go.