Reading this means you are beginning to question your drinking or smoking habits. Maybe you are beginning to see your life wrapped around alcohol or marijuana. It’s becoming a daily habit, or maybe you have found you are choosing substances over responsibilities, and your life is falling by the wayside.
Either way, you are here! Whether you seek support, a solution, or guidance, I acknowledge you for being aware that something needs to change.
So how do you know if you have a problem with alcohol or marijuana?
Easy – STOP!
For me, this was impossible. My family and friends would tell me, “Just stop drinking.” But the secret and the shame silenced me into silence. I would swear it off every night, and the next day I was drinking by lunch. I literally couldn’t “stop drinking.” I didn’t want to drink, but I always had a reason.
I understand now that this is a sign of dependence, otherwise known as addiction, and things would not get better without support.
If my story is relatable and there continues to be some reason to drink, we get to have a more challenging conversation. I was ashamed of this deep dark secret, fighting to escape, and had no idea how to stop the cycle. The good news is there is a solution.
So how do you stop drinking if you can’t? This brings me to the first step.
Step #1 – Admitting You Have A Problem with Alcohol or Marijuana?
Admit you might have a problem with alcohol or marijuana. Pay attention to the thinking patterns around the substance.
- How often do you think about it?
- Are you scheming to find ways to have a drink?
- How many hours a day are you thinking about it?
- You might be asking yourself, How did you get here?
At first, drinking and smoking start off as fun and exciting. It’s a way to connect, socialize and get together with friends. As we continue to use alcohol and marijuana daily, it changes our brain chemistry by producing large amounts of our pleasure hormones dopamine.
Daily use increases our tolerance, meaning we need more to achieve the desired effect. In the first few days or hours of not using, the hormone response triggers, and we become irritable, annoyed, angry, and moody until the urge is satisfied. Dependence can happen to anyone at any age.
Admitting there is a problem is the first step. Nothing is wrong with you; you are not faulted; you are not broken. This is where some additional work is required.
You are not alone. Many other people including myself have experienced the same thing you are right now. This brings me to my next step.
Step #2 – Support For Your Alcohol or Marijuana Addiction
You are not alone. Many support groups, Facebook groups, and fellowships, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), have been where you are. Find someone sober in recovery who can guide you through the process and hold you accountable.
This is vital for the first few months. Work to find someone you can have daily contact with. Do daily check-ins to set up intentions for the day. It’s essential to have someone you can reach out to for support to keep your thinking in check.
The thought of having a drink will come, but rather than picking up the drink; you pick up the phone. You are adjusting the chemicals in your brain to balance itself out. Someone who has been through it will know how to walk you through the urges and cravings.
While you talk with your support person, they will likely ask you to do something else instead of picking up a drink. This brings me to step 3.
Step #3 Replace Your Unhealthy Behavior For a Healthy One
When you crave a drink, find something else to do with the time. Go for a walk, clean the house, call a friend, and be of service. If you go to the bar for happy hour, go to the gym instead. If you drink wine while you cook dinner, find a replacement drink you enjoy in its place.
When I was working with my first sponsor, she said, “the word ritual is in the word spiritual, and if you wish to lead a spiritual life, start by applying daily rituals in your life.”
If you are serious about cutting back, moderating, or quitting for a while, then get on some routines.
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
- Start reading inspiration, spiritual, motivational stories, books, and blogs.
- Start a daily gratitude journal. Exercise every day.
All of these steps take intention, commitment, and awareness. If you want to cut back on your drinking or smoking, set an intention. If you are still struggling to follow through, reach out for support. Reaching out takes vulnerability, courage, and bravery.
Believe me, it is possible, and you are stronger than you can imagine.
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