Doing a 30
Some tips from others
Day 19 and here's what I think so far:
- clear head
- healthy, eating two or three times a day instead of grabbing french fries at midnight on the way home
- losing weight
- saving money (but where the heck the money is, I'm not sure <g>)
- improvement at my work, more efficient
- no driving drunk
- clean house (no dishes talking back to me <g>)
- spend more time with my kitty (before she thought I'd come home because I forgot something)
- waking up alone, not having to find clothes and scurry out the door before he suggests breakfast
- waking up in my bed, not beside the toilet
- no continuous nosebleeds from thin blood, ability to donate blood and not make the recipient drunk, not anemic
Disadvantages: (and what I am doing / going to do about them)
- smoke more - try the patch. See a doctor.
- grouchy - keep positive. Continue taking Prozac, perhaps upping the dosage temporarily.
- sleeplessness - mild sedative, tea, warm milk and honey, Tylenol PM
How do I do it?
- stock lots of N/A beer in the fridge
- absolutely no alcohol in the house
- replace drinking with other activities, I go to swimming aerobics for one hour every night
- the wedding I went to last weekend - I stayed until 11 pm then drove friends home, they were happy I was willing to
- offer to baby-sit someone's children
- volunteer work, help the needy
- Dr. Atkins diet, which specifically states no alcohol
- actively reading MM list every day, although I don't post much anymore
- re-reading my past two years' posts of days when I beat myself up for getting blasted the night before, puking all night, getting fired from my job, hospitalized with a concussion from falling out of a hottub, driving so drunk I have to close one eye to see if the traffic light is red or green, or I follow the cars lights in front of me because I can't see the road, and many more.
Good luck to everyone currently in their 30 or contemplating starting. Hope this helps.
The 30 is more of starting point not a goal in and of itself. It's like having your first mammogram, it sets a frame of reference for later. Well, not a good analogy...Let's see, it's more of a gentle test. Testing to see, first of all, can you walk away from alcohol for a short period of time. A time to look at your lifestyle...is alcohol your predominant concern or hobby?...can you fill the nondrinking hours with some other activities? ...what are they? .. are you really serious about moderation? And finally, by abstaining for the 30 days, your tolerance to alcohol is reduced so when you do resume drinking it, you won't 'need' as much to get the desired effects.
So the 30 is not just a 30. It is one of the tools to help you sort out your priorities, your strengths and your weak areas. You now have more information and know what to focus on the most in order to reach your goal of becoming a moderate drinker.
You probably already knew all this. Your question was 'is it necessary?' My nonexpert answer, again, is no it is not but it makes all the ensuing efforts at moderation that much easier if you do.
I'm just chiming in on the "visceral" idea...Xxx (I think that's who initially brought it up) is absolutely right. You will stop drinking, or change your drinking habits, when you have a strong motivation to change that you can feel *in your body*, not just think about. Most people feel it in the "gut", but some sense it in their chest/heart region, and a few in their pelvis. (It all depends on where your body-awareness is centered, there's no "wrong" way to feel it as long as it's in your physical body.)
I sometimes lose my gut feeling about moderating, and there is NO better way for me to pick it up again than the hangover after I've lost my moderation incentive! Grrr, I hate to be hung over. I am a very gut-centered person (typical for a Cancer and an enneagram "8"), and being hung over bothers my stomach and messes up my balance all day. I hate it so much that one day I got sick of it all and came to the MM website.
One of the best ways to "install", if you will, a gut feeling is to make a huge list of the following (fans of Tony Robbins and other NLP gurus will find this familiar):
1. WHY HAVE I NOT CHANGED THIS BEHAVIOR ALREADY?
You know drinking too much is bad for you. Why have you not changed it yet? Be totally honest. Write down all the pain and unpleasantness you have associated to changing in the past. Use specific sensory details--don't just
say, "It will be annoying to change." Some of what you write may seem irrational or just plain dumb. Don't worry about it. No matter how crazy a thought may seem, if it has emotional intensity for you then write it down. You can examine it later.
2. WHAT HAS BEEN MY PAYOFF FOR NOT CHANGING?
Write down all the reasons why you don't want to reduce or quit drinking. You have some, or you would have changed already. And again, some of them will not "make sense". Brutal honesty is good here.
At this point, if you have done the exercise correctly, you now know precisely why you have not changed before. It is likely that you associate a lot of unpleasantness, annoyance, deprivation, embarrassment or other painful emotions to quitting or cutting down your drinking, and a lot of pleasure to drinking. Whether your associations are Right, Wrong, Reasonable or Unreasonable does not matter one bit for the purpose of this exercise (although it matters a very great deal in such disciplines as Rational-Emotive Therapy and Cognitive Therapy). What we are trying to do here is shift the tide of your emotions from over-drinking to moderating/quitting, not examine the premises of your associations.
3. WHAT WILL IT COST ME IF I DON'T CHANGE NOW?
Answering this question is bound to create some pain for you, if you do it honestly. Make an enormous list of *every* cost, immediate and eventual, of not quitting or cutting back your drinking. Here are some questions to get you started:
What will be the (immediate and eventual) impact on my career if I don't change?
What will it cost me in my relationships--with spouse/SO, children, friends, colleagues?
What will be the impact on my reputation--in my career, community, religious affiliation, family?
What will it cost me financially?
How will it impact my health if I don't change my drinking habits?
How will I feel about myself right now, if I don't change? After five years of not changing? After ten? After twenty?
What will I miss out on because I didn't change?
What will I have in my life that I don't want, because I didn't deal with my drinking?
What will be the spiritual impact of failing to change?
Again, use specifics and sensory details. One of my biggest reasons to change was the idea that if I continued drinking in an uncontrolled manner, I might eventually end up in residential alcoholism "treatment" with AA being shoved down my throat. I forced myself to imagine what it would REALLY BE LIKE...obligatory 12-step meetings every day...being treated like a child, told to make my bed, clean up my room...listening for hour after hour to "disease-model" lectures with which I emphatically disagree...told that I must not only never drink again, I should throw away my vanilla extract too and would never be able to take certain kinds of painkillers..."sharing" of experiences amounting to a forced public confession...BTW, I got all this information by asking people I knew who had been there. The specter of Treatment was, and still is, a very useful negative reinforcement for me.
4. WHAT WILL BE MY PAYOFF FOR CHANGING NOW?
Here's the fun part. Go back over that list of questions, and this time write down all the great stuff that you WILL experience if you change NOW. Most alcohol abusers are addicted to instant gratification, so make sure to include some strong positive feeling or wonderful benefit that you will IMMEDIATELY receive as soon as you quit or control your drinking. Make this list as long as possible. I worked on it every other day for a week and had about three pages worth of specific things I KNEW I would receive, now or eventually, if I handled my drinking. This, in combination with the horrors of Treatment, is what keeps me determined to learn some social skills and some better ways of handling stress. Doing this exercise has not made moderating any easier, but it has given me sufficient motivation to get through the hard times and to go right back to my plan/program after slipping, instead of getting the "I-failed-might-as-well-give-up" syndrome.
At the end of the exercise, if you do not feel a strong conviction that you WILL quit or get a handle on your drinking, starting TODAY, you have not answered questions 3 and 4 in a specific enough manner. This method works if you vividly imagine both the intense negative outcomes of continuing to drink abusively, and the intense positive outcomes of moderating or stopping. Usually, there is one particular image that "does it" for you--like Treatment in my case. When you find that image, make it as big, bold and vivid in your mind as you can. It's good to find both a Carrot and a Stick image to do this with, so you have the motivation coming from both directions.