8 Things To Know If You Want To Quit Drinking

You’ve heard that quitting drinking and getting sober can change your life. In this post, Learn what happens when you stop drinking.

By Ed Latimore Last modified

December 22, 2013 is the last time I had any alcohol. I know that when I publish this, it will be almost 6 years since I’ve had a drink.

I’m fortunate that I didn’t have to hit rock bottom to get sober. Many people with a drinking problem don’t get the luxury of voluntarily giving up alcohol.

Many alcoholics only stop drinking because they’ve lost the support of their friends and family. 

To celebrate my second year on the wagon, I wrote my internal and external observations of the world as a former drinker. Many people resonated with that piece and found the post helpful in their own struggles to abstain from alcohol.

But what if you’re on the fence about getting sober?

You’re thinking about quitting drinking, but you wonder if it’s worth it.

You’ve heard that quitting drinking can change your life, but you’re not even sure if you have a drinking problem.

(Read: “How to Know If You Have A Drinking Problem”)

I’ve talked to many people in all stages of getting sober.

They all have the same curiosities, thoughts, and worries about living a life with no alcohol. In this post, I’ve addressed nearly all of the questions that people have asked me about quitting drinking.

I know that somewhere, someone will read this and it’s going to help them quit drinking. Maybe someone wants to know what goes through the mind of a person who gets sober.

I know that many people who read this know someone who either:

  • Wants to stop drinking
  • Needs to stop drinking
  • Has a drinking problem and is the person who needs to stop drinking

Whichever person you are, I hope you get something out of this post and a life is change or even saved.

3 Things You Need If You Want To Quit Drinking

You need three things to successfully stop drinking:

  1. Fear of what will happen if you don’t stop drinking.
  2. A goal you’re after that you believe sobriety will assist you in accomplishing
  3. Acceptance of your fears when it comes to both of these things

Most people stop at number 1. Those who make it to number 2 will start drinking after they’ve accomplished their goal. When you have all 3, you’ve embraced your humility and recognized how difficult this will be.

I knew when I needed to stop. I didn’t bother trying for almost 2 years.

It takes courage to admit that you have a problem. Part of that courage comes from acknowledging your fears. Fear of what people think of you, fear that you’ll fail, and fear that you’re making the wrong decision.

Once you have these three things handled, it’ll be easy to quit.

Hangovers keep you from doing shit

You gotta want more than this bullshit to get sober

If there’s one thing that will make all the difference, focus on how bad things can get. Meditate on it. I still think about what it would be like if I caused a drunk driving accident. It creates real terror in my being.

No matter how well things are going, that terror keeps me from every picking up a drinking and exposing myself to my dark side. 

You Don’t Need Alcoholics Anonymous To Stop Drinking

When I decided to get sober, I enlisted the power of every tool at my disposal to guarantee success.

I went to an AA meeting on the first day of my sobriety. While the community is solid and it has many success stories, it wasn’t for me.

I believe there are two types of alcoholics (generally speaking): people who have a drinking problem and people who have problems while drinking.

The outcome is the same, but the process is different. The first group is what most people think of when they imagine alcoholics. These people truly have an addiction and “need” to drink everyday. I believe these are the type of people that need Alcoholics Anonymous to get sober.

I was the second type. I could shut it off and walk away, but when it was on, my life was a wreck.

I used to brag that 95% of my personal problems were caused or exacerbated by alcohol. In reality, it was even higher.

A different way to get sober

When I got sober, it was a terrifying time in my life, but I made it through. I wish that someone warned me about the emotional and mental challenges I’d face when I quit drinking.

I wrote this book for people who want to get sober, but they don’t have any support.

I wrote this book to give guidance where there currently is none in our society. Whether you want to take a short break or give up the drinking forever, this book is for you.

I wrote this book so that people can understand the mind and motivations of an alcoholic.  Someone you love is suffering, they don’t want to suffer anymore, and they need your help.

I wrote this book to change a life and maybe to even save a few…

Check it out on Amazon

Once I recognized this, I changed my environment and habits. I think this is the difference between those with a compulsion and those with a bad habit.

Bad habits respond well to the domino effect. Fix one, and everything else falls into place. A compulsion requires constant vigilance to prevent you from going over the edge and returning to the dark place.

I had a bad habit. Bad habits are fixed with discipline and self-awareness.

This is why it can be useful to know why you can’t stop drinking in the first place.

Some of you will need to get outside help and some of you can do it alone. Neither one is better than the other, but it’s important to know which path is right for you.

If You Have Good Friends, You Won’t Lose Them When You Quit Drinking

I was afraid of losing friends because I believed that drinking was such a part of my personality that without it, I wouldn’t be someone they’d want to be friends with.

Imagine how messed up you have to be to believe that you’ll lose friends if you stop consuming a substance that makes behave poorly. I’m fortunate that I kept all of my close friends and even some of the friends I made during my heaviest drinking years.

Yes, there are haters out there who only want you to fail.

Sure, there are crabs who never want to see you escape from the barrel.

But most of my experiences have been this:

If you take responsibility for your problems and make decisions to improve your life, most people either don’t care or actively support you. My experience with sobriety has been largely the latter.

Especially from the people who consider me their friend.

More than they hated losing a drinking buddy, they loved being associated with someone making real changes in their life.

(Read: “How To Socialize And Have Fun Sober”)

You Might Not Be An Alcoholic

How do you know if you’re an alcoholic?

How do you know if you have a drinking problem?

I only went to one AA meeting because I didn’t think it was the best fit for me. 

The people there were from all walks of life, but the one thing they had in common is that their drinking caused caused problems in all areas of their life.

I’ve come to believe there is a difference between someone with a drinking problem and someone that has problems while drinking. Most alcoholics are the latter. The former are people that need services like AA. 

While there are different types of alcoholics, they all have the same thing in common:

Alcoholics let alcohol interfere with their life goals. If you don’t want to be better, then it doesn’t matter how much, how often, or how fast you drink.

But if your drinking gets in the way of progress, relationships, or your quality of life, then you have a drinking problem.

This is the most controversial piece of advice I give people, because it flies in the face of what many publications consider as the criteria for alcoholism. According to alcoholrehabguide.org, the common symptoms of alcoholism (alcohol abuse) are:

  • Experiencing temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss
  • Exhibiting signs of irritability and extreme mood swings
  • Making excuses for drinking such as to relax, deal with stress or feel normal
  • Choosing drinking over other responsibilities and obligations
  • Becoming isolated and distant from friends and family members
  • Drinking alone or in secrecy
  • Feeling hungover when not drinking
  • Changing appearance and group of acquaintances you hang out with

While these symptoms are serious, this is what alcohol is supposed to do. The behaviors are so common to our drinking western society that no one thinks twice if you have “drinking buddies” or you use alcohol to relax.

However, if you can’t make progress in your life or continually regress because of your alcohol consumption, then you have a problem. Then it’s safe to say that you are an alcoholic and you should do something before you lose everything.

You Need To Stop Drinking If You Lose Friends When You Do

They won’t be friends for long if they toss a few more back…

Sometimes I wonder if I was any more of an asshole drunk than I was sober.  

Everyone’s mood and temperament changes when drinking, but I wanted to know if drinking had a net positive or negative effect on my social life. I used a simple (totally unscientific) method to answer this question.

I didn’t have my first drink until I was 18. I counted the number of close friendships I had at that age. Then I counted the close friends I have now. I subtracted 2 for each friendship I lost and added 1 for each friendship I gained.

Since I got a positive number, I concluded that alcohol did not, in the long term, affect my friendships. It did, however, lower my tolerance for disingenuous displays of friendship. More impactfully, it made a harder person to be a friend to.

This is one of those things that you can only recognize in sober hindsight. It takes special people who love you dearly to remain your friend when your drinking problem:

  • Puts them in danger
  • Needs them cover for you
  • Pressures you into drinking with them so they feel comfortable
  • Hits on your girlfriend while constantly intoxicated
  • Is generally going nowhere in life because of their habit

I consider myself lucky to have maintained my long time friends during the worst of my drinking.

So alcohol (barely) did not affect my friendships in the long term run. In the short run, I know for certain that I pissed a lot of people off.

I know I met some people who may have been great friends. However, they met me drunk or they knew of my drunken reputation and wanted nothing to do with me.

Surprisingly, the missed relationships don’t bother me. I’m aware that the following is a weak justification, but I believe that it contains enough truth to be valid:

I don’t think any friend I would have made under the pretense of heavy drinking is someone that I’d like sober anyway. While there are exceptions to the rule, the person I am today hates the person who I was.

Maybe “hate” is too strong of a word. It’s more appropriate to say that I have a low opinion of old me and I carry a certain level of shame and guilt about my behavior. 

This means that I’d likely hate the type of person that guy was making friends with. This doesn’t apply to everyone I met during the “dark years”, but it is an unfortunate circumstance of bad habits.

Stop Drinking If You Constantly Piss Off Sober People

Getting drunk causes problems

You need to quit drinking if it brings out the worst in you

If your head space isn’t right, alcohol is going to expose it very quickly.

It’s easier to deal with personal problems when you’re sober, but having personal problems makes it more likely that you’ll get drunk. Alcohol greatly reduces your capacity for self-control.

Without self-control, you’re more likely to behave in a way that is repulsive to other people because you have a problem with yourself.

Any personal problem I had while sober got 10 times worse when I drank.

I said, did, and texted things that only made my life worse. I had to get sober if I wanted if i wanted to stop putting my friends in a position to explain away my bad behavior with alcohol.

I never thought I was the type of person to drink my problems away, but when getting drunk is a regular part of life, it was inevitable that I would have problems in my life. If you get drunk to avoid the problems your sober problems, you may need to think about getting sober so that you stop making those problems worse. 

Now, I didn’t feel bad about pissing off people that were also drinking. They were part of the game of drinking and people acting foolish is to be expected.

I feel bad about the people who had to deal with me while they were sober. The innocent casualties in the game of drinking are the true losers and the only ones that truly suffer. 

Getting Sober Will Help You Find Your True Self

I got super intoxicated at places like parties or bars because I was bored.

I enjoy socializing with small groups of people that I’m close with, but large groups of people annoy the hell out of me. The only way I could make it tolerable was by getting wasted.

This helped me understand that I was never going to be happy fitting in and that I needed a purpose to direct my energy towards. Or else I’d get bored and likely self-destructive.

When you don’t drink, at first it’s impossible to not feel like an outsider. You become comfortable with the feeling, but it’s impossible to feel like you belong.

This is because alcohol is such a fixture in our culture that by actively rejecting it, you are actively rejecting what has essentially become a tradition.

Your Relationships Will Change When You Quit Drinking

You can’t know yourself while drinking.

Alcohol is designed to alter your perception of reality.

The more time you spend in an altered state, the less accurate your perception of reality is. This means you’re likely to have friends and activities you don’t really want to spend time on.

Maybe you don’t like them, but it’s far more likely that they aren’t a good fit for your true personality and how you most naturally relate to the world. You won’t know this until you spend a significant amount of time, across all emotional spectrums, in a sober state of mind.

Sobriety is a good way to discover which relationships are important in your life.

The number of people I no longer communicate with is expected, so it’s not that surprising. What is surprising is the fact that I don’t miss the communication at all.

All I know is that it’s very difficult to explore the depths of a connection via bonding over alcoholic consumption.

If You Think You Want To Get Sober…

  • You don’t need Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Your good friends won’t desert you
  • You might not even be an alcoholic
  • You need to stop drinking if you ruin relationships
  • You need to stop drinking if piss people off
  • You’ll find your true self if you get sober
  • Your relationships will change if you quit drinking

These are the key things that few people warn you about when you get sober. Consider then and make the best decision for your life.

The rest is up to you.

A different way to get sober

When I got sober, it was a terrifying time in my life, but I made it through. I wish that someone warned me about the emotional and mental challenges I’d face when I quit drinking.

I wrote this book for people who want to get sober, but they don’t have any support.

I wrote this book to give guidance where there currently is none in our society. Whether you want to take a short break or give up the drinking forever, this book is for you.

I wrote this book so that people can understand the mind and motivations of an alcoholic.  Someone you love is suffering, they don’t want to suffer anymore, and they need your help.

I wrote this book to change a life and maybe to even save a few…

Check it out on Amazon
And next, read this: How To Know If You Have A Drinking Problen