I’ve never been good at habits; even locking down a routine can be a challenge for me. I’ll get really excited about doing something regular, then I’ll drop it and move onto something else without so much as a second look. Recently, there was a time in my life where I found myself getting into a habit that I knew would lead me in a bad direction. I knew that this was one habit I didn’t want to keep up. I was drinking way too much.
I will start out by saying that I am in no way trying to compare myself with people who REALLY struggle with alcoholism or any other addiction. Nothing that I have experienced to this point has allowed me to really know what that struggle is like. I do not want to make light of the seriousness of the matter, I just want to share with you all how I recognized a downward spiral and pulled myself back.
I can remember very vividly what my state of mind was at the time where I became attached to alcohol. I was in a state of loneliness. I was worried about my employment status. I was worried about how I would continue to survive on my own. Most times, I was just bored–mindless drinking from boredom is as dangerous as mindless snacking. I found it too easy to go to my fave restaurant and order 3 (sometimes 4) large margaritas–at least I was able to get out of the house and be around good company. Before I knew it, I was hitting up that bar multiple times in one week. On top of that, I found myself drinking 2 bottles of wine in one sitting. I used to knock back a bottle in a couple of days, and maybe I’d kill one bottle in a sitting. Two bottles of wine combined with multiple margaritas in a week…something wasn’t right.
It came to me that this was not normal. I didn’t want this to be normal. The amount of alcohol I was drinking might’ve been normal to some people, but it wasn’t normal for me. I decided to actively have moments of reflection to try to understand why I was drinking so much. Alcohol had become a sort of companion. I may not have had any company at home, but at least I had a bottle of wine. I may not have had anyone accompany me to the bar, but at least I had my margaritas. It still wasn’t enough. I’d been lying to myself and saying that I was comfortable in my solitude. In a way, I was comfortable, but being in a house by yourself all the time can take a toll on you. In hindsight, I realize that it wasn’t always the idea of being alone that bothered me so much, it was the combination of other stressors that made it easy to drink. I wasn’t saying, “Oh, this really sucks so I’m gonna drink a lot”. I was just getting caught up in creating a habit without even meaning to.
What helped me get over my drinking habit? The main thing that helped me drop the habit was the realization of how much money I was throwing away on drinking. Drinking is NOT cheap. You know how many batches of tacos I could make with that margarita money? It also helped that I recognized myself enough to know that this was not normal behavior for me. I may seem to have it semi-together, but like anyone else I’ve had to work through my share of issues to get to this point. I still enjoy my wine and margaritas; I just don’t make it a regular habit anymore. I still have overwhelming feelings of loneliness every once in a while, but I write them away. I still have feelings of uncertainty and stress, but I reach out to a friend for encouragement instead of reaching to down a bottle of wine. Drinking has gone back to what it used to be; drinking is a chill thing that I do every now and then.
In my 28 years, I’ve seen what addiction can do. I’ve only experienced a taste of what addiction is like, and I am not here for it. My very childhood was what it was because of addiction and mental illness–I don’t want that for myself. If you find yourself treading down a path that you know will lead you to these types of troubles, please take a moment of reflection and recognize where you’re going. This doesn’t apply to just alcohol, it applies to any overindulgence that you know is out of character for you. Are you sure it’s worth it? Addiction is a powerful thing, but if you’re able to pull yourself from that brink, I urge you to give it an honest try before it’s too late.