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Mar 21

The Last Drop

the last dropIt is said that for those attempting to quit alcohol one of the hardest things to accept is the thought that they can never drink again.

This is why they are often encouraged to take “one day at a time”, and to vow “not to take a drink today”.

Whilst this advice might help to overcome the immediate and impulsive urge to drink, it does little to address the long term propensity for the individual to relapse at some future point, when the “one day at a time” mantra fails to provide the required levels of motivation and willpower to resist yet another onslaught from the dreaded cravings.

The problem with short term relapse prevention strategies such as these is that they do not tackle the root cause of most relapses – the fact that the drinker has never really accepted that they can never drink again, or even more fundamentally, they do not really want to quit.

Although they may have genuinely believed that they wanted to quit for good initially, this is often just a desire to stop the pain they are feeling at the time. They quit because they want relief from the suffering (both physically and mentally) that their drinking is causing, or to escape from some crisis that their drinking has caused.

But for many, stopping is merely a means of giving themselves the time and space to get well enough to begin drinking again.

Without wishing to oversimplify things, if you really have decided that you will never drink again, then you would never ever consider taking another drink any more than you would consider putting a dog turd into your mouth. (Apologies for the rather graphic analogy, but you should feel the same sense of revulsion about poisoning your body with alcohol if you genuinely want to create a paradigm shift in your thinking about your drinking.)

If you still feel uneasy about your long term commitment to quit for good then try examining your thought processes when you tell yourself you want to quit and listen out for the silent “but”:

  • I want to stop (but what I really want is to feel well again)
  • I want to stop (until the fuss dies down)
  • I want to stop (but I want to drink as well)
  • I have to stop (but I don’t really want to)
  • I have to stop (but it’s not fair)
  • I want to stop (but I’ll probably drink again one day)
  • I want to stop (but it won’t last)

Having these supressed thoughts about quitting drinking is quite normal, particularly if you have become dependent on alcohol, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for having them. This is just one of the many wily and cunning tricks that alcohol will play on you if you threaten to cut off the supply.

But by understanding these potentially damaging and hidden motivators to drink again, and working to eradicate them from your thinking, you will stand a much greater chance of achieving lasting and permanent sobriety. And in doing so you will also feel good about the choice you have made since you will have come to believe, with total congruence, that you have had your last drink!

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