03 Feb Some Thoughts On Quitting
This is the time of year that many people think about making changes in their lives. I wrote about that last month some. This month I want to focus my attention on those of you who may be thinking that it is probably time to make the big change to stop drinking. I know that some of you who got to this point want to stop reading but I ask that you read on as I have some important thoughts about those who need to quit and the people around the people who need to quit. First, to those who need/want to quit.
You may be at this point of working on this decision for various reasons including health concerns, addiction concerns, or situational conflicts that can no longer be ignored. Either way, now that you are here, I say without reservation, congratulations but also beware of the pressures to not change that you are likely to experience. One of the biggest is what I call “the big lie”. The big lie has been promoted through media, advertising, as well as people you know that are not where you are on this subject. The big lie is the idea that alcohol is so woven into the fabric of our society and lives, that to give it up would cost you a lot. They try to convince you that your status as a fun loving and happy person will no longer be true and furthermore, trying to have fun and be a part of your crowd will be compromised if you no longer drink. After all, drinking is part of the fun if the commercials are to be believed. Beautiful people in beautiful places doing fun things and living life MUST include drinking almost all the time. Certain foods will no longer be tasty and a good steak without a good glass of wine is no longer a good steak. THESE ARE ALL LIES to keep you from stopping to spend social and financial capital on alcohol.
Second, I need to say a word to those of you who are close to people who may be making this important change. I have a client who recently quit drinking because of health concerns. This person is doing great but as we talked through it, there have been those people around him that have in subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways tried to get him to reconsider. “Oh, you don’t have to quit completely. You can have one or two. What fun would it be to not have some laughs and we all know how much fun you are after a couple of drinks. Just stop during the week. What’s better than a cold beer on the golf course or after you mow the yard?” As a friend of mine put it, when one crab tries to crawl out of the barrel, the other crabs try to drag him back in!
I have two things to say to these folks. First, shame on you for not supporting someone you claim as friend or loved one. You are the ones who are supposed to stand with them through the tough times and not the ones blocking the way. If you love them, support them even if you don’t really understand. Often there are factors at play you will not know, but you job is to be on their side anyway. The second thing is this. If you have a strong adverse reaction to someone you know trying to stop drinking maybe the reason is you know deep inside that this may be exactly what you need to do. Their choice might be challenging you to face your own choices.
So, I say good luck to those who are deciding to quit. Be strong and if you fall off the wagon, don’t be afraid to get back on it. And to those who care for those who need to quit, show your love by your encouragement and support. You will be giving them a great gift!