Is Your Drinking Just a Habit?

alcohol-habitAlthough it may seem like ‘just a habit’, you are making a choice to have a drink each and every time. That choice involves many components – your beliefs about alcohol and yourself, your thoughts (your inner dialogue), your feelings and your behaviour.

Your wish to not drink so much (because you can recognize the negative consequences) will translate into action depending on your motivations. Partly you are motivated to have a drink because its pleasurable, it helps you relax etc, and at the same time you’re motivated not to drink because you know about all those negative consequences. So you’re in a dilemma. The strength of your different motivations will determine how easy you find it to choose not to have a drink.

Lets take an example to illustrate this – there is something happening at work which you find very stressful, so you get home feeling frustrated and edgy. You believe the stress at work is not going away soon, and perhaps you also blame yourself for some aspect of the situation. You have a belief that you can’t handle this stress well naturally, and you believe that alcohol removes it very effectively. So you want a drink. But of course you know you shouldn’t, because you’ll be hungover again tomorrow, and that will leave you feeling worse. So your inner dialogue, your thoughts, might be something like – “well I haven’t had a drink for a couple of days, so I deserve it.” or – “I just don’t want to feel stressed like this, I want this feeling to stop NOW”.

However, emotional pain and difficult feelings are a part of life, there’s no escaping them, but alcohol deals with them so effectively, that its easy to develop a reliance on it to take away all your painful feelings. In order to cut down or stop drinking therefore, you have to accept that painful feelings must be dealt with sober, just as you are. You can deal with life, but you are choosing not to experience discomfort, because it can so easily be tranquillised with alcohol.

Its a common thing to drink because you feel “I can’t cope” – but what does that actually mean? Whatever is happening in our lives, however painful it is – we get through it, we survive, and that is coping. So the belief that we can’t cope makes us give up trying, give up hope. And again, alcohol is there to take away that hopeless feeling, to take us to that dream-world where things are fluffy and safe.

To get through life being generally sober, we have to accept that painful feelings can be handled naturally. Not rubbed out, but acknowledged, truly felt. You’re stressed? So see how it feels for it to just subside naturally with time. You feel bored? So just sit with that and examine what it really means to you. What could you actually do to remedy that feeling? Again, explore it and see what needs or thoughts are associated with the feeling. Then you might realise a different solution or two, whatever they might be.

Or perhaps you just don’t think you’re a particularly valuable person? Any mistake, any difficult situation can be attributed to your own failure or lack of some quality. Again, alcohol makes you feel good about yourself, temporarily anyway. And then it bites back with a vengeance. So to an extent, the solution might also be about healing that relationship with yourself. Your beliefs about yourself can often be a sort of self-constructed fiction. That constant inner commentator is so detached from the world, in many ways. So you may believe yourself to be inadequate because that’s how you’ve been affected by life, but of course its a subjective opinion, its not a fact, just a viewpoint.

The point here is to make yourself aware of the various elements that make up your drinking habits, then you can try to solve each part, rather than just relying on will power to not drink, which as you’ve probably discovered by now, isn’t that effective.

109 Comments

  1. Jack 19 May, 2016 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Wow I thought i was the only one, glad i found this, has helped me understand more about what im hoing through.

    • TF 21 July, 2016 at 2:12 am - Reply

      I am glad I found this site too I have been struggling with stopping drinking for 10 years I am a night drinker too as soon as 5pm hit out comes the bottles..I have set a challenge to stop last night was my first cut by half and tonight I plan to half again..I would be happy to get back to social drinking…sick of just getting through each day to cook and drink

  2. Scott 8 March, 2016 at 2:18 am - Reply

    Guys,
    I feel better after reading all your posts I almost feel like we are all family and I hope all of you can get past this. I never started drinking until I was 20 in the army and after my first deployment to Iraq I really started drinking a lot. It started out just partying from just coming back alive and then when I went from soldier to civilian when my new job would get tough that is when I would drink a few to take the edge off, but now I am sure I turned it into a habit because when I could tell that I was drinking to much and putting on weight I stop for a few weeks, but not long after I feel bored and the only thing that keeps me happy is getting that buzz again. I dont know what to do anymore I have a family and they make me very happy but at the same time I almost feel that it would be better if I just clock out. I dont know where I lost the self control and I only wish I could get it back. I like going out for a beer with friends but I only wish I could tell myself no when I get home. If anyone is in the same boat as me any advice would be great because at this point throwing in the towel seems to be the best option and I dont want that for my family, how do I turn this urge off and enjoy life rather than making beer my whole reason for living.

  3. mark 18 July, 2015 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    I had one. Worse days in life only. Thing to. Calm down is alcohol or working out at gym its mainly coz brain recluse same efhonrs that help me

  4. abc 8 July, 2015 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    Comment…Sir I need ur advice…. my father is a chain drinker and smoker.. my family had tried alot to correct his bad habit of drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.. what should we do now?

  5. larry 24 June, 2015 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    Doesn’t will power play an important role

  6. Anonymous 27 May, 2015 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Interesting comments

  7. VIJAY 25 April, 2015 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    SIR I AM REALLY I AM NOT AB;TO QUIT THIS HABBIT

  8. Theresa Johnson 19 February, 2015 at 6:04 am - Reply

    I would like some conversation

  9. Annie 1 December, 2014 at 3:39 am - Reply

    It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  10. STEVIE B 21 October, 2014 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    I think I have a problem… I drink every day… I had my Gallbladder out and had to stop drinking for 30 days as my Pancreus was also bad but it was the longest 30 days of my life… back to it… drink 4-5 IPA beers a day… is that too much? I feel amazed if I can go a day with just one beer… It does effect how I am with my kids… I don’t read to them etc if I drink just mostly put them to bed and pass out.

  11. Aaron 17 September, 2014 at 12:10 am - Reply

    hi i am almost 25 and have been drinking since i was about 19. when i first started drinking i just had it occasionally, but then started having a little more, then it started to go down hill, i previously had 3 brains surgeries due to epilepsy, and one affected my short term memory severely , then before i knew it i started slowly becoming stressed out( severally stressed out), losing care for myself and continued going deeper and deeper, but anyway since all of this stuff happened i started drinking a lot,and since then i pretty much almost drink a full 26er of rum each night or a ton of beer, then wake up for work at 7.45am and this has been my life style for the last roughly 5 year. But since i moved out and live by my self now i get bored and stress out some how then before i know it i am drunk and going to bed, i have tried to find hobbies to do, but stupidly i feel i am incapable of doing stuff and just give up before i even try , (also my epilepsy has continued and has gotten worse lately having grandmals seizures by myself in my apartment hitting my head on walls and having huge bruises all over) but this is my story pretty much up to date and hopefully i can find away to cure it before something bad happens. i thought i would type this out for a little relief because i normally never tell people my story or about my life

    • Leigh 29 October, 2014 at 1:51 pm - Reply

      Aaron—I too have had 3 brain surgeries, two of which were for epilepsy, so completely empathize with you. I also share your burden of using alcohol to “help” me in whatever way it chooses. So far, this practice has not been very helpful, and yet I keep doing it.

      I wish you (and myself) luck at finding our way back to a more beneficial lifestyle.

  12. steve 1 September, 2014 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    I am 32 now and have been drinking from age 16. It has ruined every aspect of my life, I have been in jail and even spent 5yrs in prison over alcohol. Now I am facing a divorce because I could not stop drinking. I got drunk an almost shot myself about a month ago, that scared me and I went to the doctor and got antibuse. I have not drank after getting the script and feel better to a point. I just can not get over the feeling that I will fail to have the life I want. Today is a very bad day and all I want is to drink. I still love my wife and talk to her daily. She has no faith in me and I am losing faith in myself.Honestly if I knew I would have do feel like this forever I would go outback and swing from a tree. I need hope soon or that will happen. Has anyone felt this way? and what did you do about it?

    • lee 18 October, 2014 at 11:24 pm - Reply

      Hope you are doing better. I feel the same way you do. I hope it gets better

  13. Bob 10 March, 2014 at 3:39 am - Reply

    My gf and I drink in the afternoons most days because it’s just simply fun. We can go some days wo drinking but we don’t have the silly type of fun when we do drink.

    The stuff is so toxic but so much fun at the same time. Any advice?

  14. msdix 16 December, 2013 at 7:35 am - Reply

    Well all ,first time here.it seems almost all of us are suffering,dealing,questioning the same issue. Well of course that’s
    why were on this sight.I too have asked myself every question you all have. Experienced what each one of you have though I’m a lot older than most of you and did not start my addition until later in life. ( I drank ALOT when younger as well) stopped while pregnant and while my girls were young. I beat myself up daily yet can’t resist. I’m God fearing and hold a good job caretake a family member 400 miles away from my own family.( whom also suffers from the same addiction) Which of course helps me justify my daily craving as well as beates me up every time I take a sip. I’ve tried the excersize, hobbies, even bible study. Fight wanting to go home anything but that. Though in a small town that closes down by 6 except for a bar, knowing no one and trying to fit in. Im ok with who I am just not what Im fighting daily. All to no avail the wine wins every time.
    I question the money issuit gone poof and know perhaps counciling would help. Yet I also know the judgement will only make me fall deeper….. I have a truly Blessed life,loving and supportive family, lots of talent and much to give. So why do I continue to hurt my self? Humm the truth truly hurts yet dosen’t help me change. It goes back to what we know and our comfort zones. This box helps me yet its killing me. As I sit here typing and posting my head and heart hurt. I say I’ll stop but I don’t . may we all get inner strength, find a drink that tastes and satisfies as much as alcohol satisfies. Its like choclatee, just one….who eats just one. As this Holiday season is here may we all take heart in knowing were all in it together so here is a chocolate for each and every one of us. To the New Year. One less glass and one better hour each day. Its 5:00 somewhere. before it

  15. Lita Letaoana 4 December, 2013 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    I’m a 25 year old woman and I have bee drinking for years now. I used to drink every night back in 2009 and thenn I just stopped I now drink every weekend. From Friday to Sunday I drink a six pack on every night of the weekend. I drink indoors and seldomly go out. I drink while with my boyfriend. I sometimes don’t see it as a problem but at times I do feel guilty the Monday after the weekend not because of the drinking but because I do find it a waste of money but I still drink.

  16. S 1 November, 2013 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    I can identify with many of the posters here, I don’t have any alchohol cravings during the day, but when evening rolls around my wife and I will both polish off a bottle of wine. We do this almost every night for about the last five years, before that we both drank but it was much more casual. We both find it relaxing and ‘adult’ time after we put the kids to bed. We both have jobs and are successful, but I am concerned about how much we are drinking.

  17. brandi 20 October, 2013 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Yup…. I’m in the same boat. 6-7 years now, bottle or two of merlot every single evening. Wake up feeling extremely guilty and hate myself. I have three boys and sometimes don’t remember putting them to bed at night. I have so many things I’d rather be doing with my life and with the kids but instead I just opt for the easier thing to do: drink and cook dinner. I like good meals too so drinking and cooking a yummy meal is satisfying for the moment. I usually end up eating too much as I’m cooking and I fill my belly before I can even sit to eat with kids so, as the kids are eating dinner, I might be in the bathroom puking up my over indulgence out of pure guilt (hence, another nasty habit I have) :/
    As the years go on, it’s only getting worse. I find myself stopping at the gas station and picking up a couple purse sized vodka shots to get started before I get home from work at 2,3,4 o’clock in the afternoon. I used to be able to skip drinking 1-3 days a week but cannot motivate myself to skip any anymore. My relationship with God is not growing, my relationship with my husband and kids don’t seem to be growing, all due to my silly distraction of a habit.
    Money is another problem. Most money is spent dining out (by myself), groceries and a ton of wine! Our debt is growing due to my over spending on my addiction and the weight of that on my heart is heavy. EXTREMELY heavy. I’m stuck. I wish I’ve NEVER had a drop of alcohol. Too late now. I have a lot to fix and have no idea where to start.

    • Ethan 29 December, 2016 at 5:46 am - Reply

      Wow, I know it’s been a while since you posted this, I hope you are doing well and I can relate 100% to everything you said. I have made a decision to fix myself. I am just missing out on too much, I can’t stand it anymore.

  18. Graham 7 October, 2013 at 11:38 am - Reply

    I think the alcohol is not the real problem (but certainly becomes a part of it), people just turn to it in order to help mask some other issue(s). Usually it’s down to either relationships, money, jobs, or just an unfulfilling existence in a tough world. This is certainly the case for me – i binge on a regular basis – i don’t even enjoy it and keep asking “why do i do it to myself”…but there are other issues that i either don’t feel i can control or can’t face up to sorting and so i let the demons win and turn to it again.
    It really is a vicious circle as the alcohol only serves to lower my self-esteem and my control over my emotions (as well as the physical damage!), so the problems just grow instead of me doing something about it.
    So, in my opinion, getting to the root cause of ones’ problems is the first step, but in order to take action and do something about it (step 2) you need to be clean of alcohol…hence the vicious circle. I stopped for 3 months this year and it had such a positive impact on my frame of mind and my life, but unless you can give it up for good, it only takes a night out or social occassion where you have too much and it can change your emotions and hook you in again.

    • Stacey 11 October, 2013 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      You have just summed up my feelings in your one post
      . I am in danger of losing my job and family and nothing seems to change my behavior.

      • Graham 7 November, 2013 at 1:13 pm - Reply

        It’s crazy isn’t it. You’d think that the threat of losing your job and even worse, your family would make you change your ways – but it doesn’t. Quite the opposite in fact – it makes you feel miserable and unhappy and so you drink more. The sad thing is that I don’t even enjoy drinking anymore – i go into it knowing full well it’s the wrong thing to do and that i’ll feel really bad the next day etc – i just do it to try and escape. The irony in that is it’s far from an escape, it’s a trap that you sink deeper into.

  19. Rebecca 13 August, 2013 at 12:25 am - Reply

    I can identify with a lot of the previous posts in that I’m fine all day but when evening rolls around, I really like to drink my glasses of red wine. I’m not a connoisseur, I don’t “enjoy” with a good meal, I just like to get it down me til I feel that little”ahhh”. I have probably been doing this roughly every night for roughly 25 years. I almost never get drunk and never really feel hungover. What I have noticed lately, is that I am building a tolerance to it and to achieve that”happy place”I need to drink a little more. Very often, I’m going to bed with heartburn, sweating at night and feeling slightly nauseous. Nothing serious, I know, but enough to make me rethink what I’m doing to myself.

    • Lauren 3 October, 2014 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      Rebecca,
      Your relationship to alcohol is exactly what mine has been. I also drank red wine every evening with dinner, just to get that buzz. But I also noticed that over time I needed to have a little more to get that same buzz. Just like you, I started to notice that I didn’t feel great at night. My heart would race (from the sugar in the wine, I think), and though not hung over the next day, I’d feel kind of sluggish. I started to become concerned about what I was doing to my body, as I’m a long time runner. I had quit before for a few months but had physicians tell me it was better to not to quit entirely as it was good for a woman over 40 to have some red wine. So I started up again. I stopped having wine two weeks ago and feel so much better. I don’t like being so dependent on something that’s not healthy. I don’t crave alcohol at all. It was the same when I stopped before. I substituted tea or seven up with dinner. As soon as the late afternoon period has passed, I’m fine.

Leave A Comment