Rappers Marshall Bruce “Eminem” Mathers III, 47, and Curtis James “50 Cent” Jackson III, 44, have many things in common. One of them is that they are both teetotal.
DISCLAIMER: I am neither a doctor nor a sobriety expert. I did not attend Alcoholics Anonymous sessions. But after being alcoholic for 14 years starting from my teenage years, I was able to quit once and for all. Today marks the fourth year of my sobriety. These things worked for me and I strongly believe they will work for you ,too. I was able to quit not because I was strong or I was extraordinarily disciplined. I was able to quit because I had the right mindset, which anyone else can also have.
If you are an alcoholic or a chain-smoker, remember that whatever your situation is, you can quit right now. The fact that you acknowledge that you have a drinking problem or your smoking habit is a problem means that you can change your situation.
As Dr. Phil McGraw always tells us, you cannot change what you do not acknowledge. But why is it so hard for you to quit drinking and smoking even after acknowledging the problem? Here are three basic reasons why:
#1. You still think quitting by installment basis works.
Others try to quit drinking by reducing either the frequency or the quantity. It can work for those who just started drinking or smoking.
But if you are already an alcoholic, this just does not work at all. You may be able to quit drinking and smoking for a maximum of three months but you will surely go back to your “normal” dose or habit.
What is worse is that you will relapse. From going on hiatus, you will be brought back to the drinking and smoking schedule and dose that you were accustomed to. From here, the tendency is to increase it because what you were used to no longer works.
For example, you used to drink three bottles of beer and smoke three sticks of cigarette a day. Then, in an attempt to quit, you reduced it to two bottles and two sticks a day, then to one bottle and one stick a day and eventually quit totally. Great job! But after three months, you go back to just one bottle and just one stick “only for today” and before you knew it, you are back to three bottles and three sticks a day. But these no longer satisfy your alcoholic cravings so you go up to four bottles and four sticks a day and even more in the next few weeks.
They say you will get sick if you quit once and for all? That is usually a convenient excuse. If you quit and you suffer side effects, face the music. It is better to suffer less early than to suffer more later.
Quitting drinking and smoking by installment basis is a poor way to do it. If you want to quit, just quit now once and for all.
#2. You still believe that you need alcohol and cigarette in your life.
While you acknowledge that your alcohol and nicotine intake is a problem, you will not be able to give them up if you still believe that you get benefits from them. It is not enough to be convinced that these substances are not good for your health. You have to see how drinking and smoking are destroying your relationships and your career, how they poison you literally and figuratively and how they keep you from enjoying the life that you deserve.
Unless you are convinced that a comfortable life means no alcohol and no cigarette, you will not be able to quit.
#3. You keep blaming others.
For sure, there are many people, things and circumstances around you that contribute to your alcohol and nicotine addiction. But pointing your fingers at them will not help you quit at all.
If you wait for these people, things and circumstances to change and help you quit, it will take you forever. Yes, they are blameworthy but blaming them will not bring you closer to sobriety.
Actually, blame yourself. That is your body. Do they put a gun on your head and force you to drink and smoke?
So what do you need to do? Considering the three barriers mentioned earlier, these are the three steps that you can take to successfully reclaim sobriety. We were not born alcoholic. We were all born sober and we should live sober.
#1. Treat it like an extramarital affair.
If a person is caught cheating on his or her spouse or lover and promises to not do it again, it means he or she will quit having an affair outside the relationship once and for all. It is not by installment basis.
“I used to have two mistresses, now I promise to have one only until I am able to quit cheating totally.”
No, it does not work that way. The same is true with drinking and smoking, which should be considered as betrayal against your body. If you do not see it that way, then you are still not a good candidate for sobriety.
If you still think drinking a little helps you socialize during parties, you cannot quit drinking. If you still think smoking helps you calm down when anxious or nervous, you cannot quit smoking.
Instead, you need to know that you can socialize better during parties if you do not drink. You need to know that you can calm down when anxious or nervous even without smoking.
To change your habit, you need to change your mindset. Bad habits are like weeds and your mindset is the roots.
Trying to quit drinking and smoking by installment basis and still believing that they have some benefits is like trimming the weeds. They will always grow back until you get rid of the roots. Change your mindset. Change the way you look at alcohol and cigarette.
#2. Stay with the people who support your journey to sobriety.
After changing your mindset, it is time to change the dynamics that involve the people you deal with in a regular basis. They have known you as an alcoholic and ironically, not everyone will be pleased to know that you are quitting alcohol and cigarette for good.
You will be surprised that some of the people who kept telling you to quit drinking and smoking will be the same people to tell you to “drink a little” and “smoke a little,” otherwise, you are a killjoy. Quit being with these people. But if, for some reason, you have to deal with them (because they are your workmates or your family), do not let them control you.
You can always go to parties with them but it is always your choice whether or not you should put alcohol and nicotine in your body not theirs. Your choice is to not allow such poisons to enter your system. If they disagree with your choice, get rid of them as well like they are alcohol or cigarette.
Better yet, stay with those who are happy to know that you are no longer drinking and smoking. These are your legitimate support system. Update them with your progress. Their support will strengthen you while you are on your way to recovery.
#3. Depend on yourself.
You owe it yourself. You deserve to experience the best version of your life and that version has no alcohol and cigarette.
You think you already know yourself? No, not yet, especially if you are an alcoholic. You will be surprised how many good things about yourself you will discover once you become sober. You will be surprised by the special skills that you have but have been hidden all along just because you were busy getting drunk. You will be surprised by the new interests and hobbies you never thought you will enjoy when you were spending most of your days either drunk or suffering from hangover.
Be mature enough to do this by yourself. Yes, ask help but keep in mind that this is your journey to recovery. Its success depends on the decisions you make, not the decisions of the people around you. Stop blaming other people. Stop blaming your circumstances.
It is your life. On the one hand, it is your right to enjoy it. On the other hand, it is your responsibility to get rid of the barriers along the way.
Some people will keep telling you that it is okay to drink and smoke “even just a little.” Stop blaming them because your alcoholism is not their responsibility.
Appreciate and recognize the people who root for you while you are reclaiming your sober self. But do not fully depend on them. They have their own lives to live and your sobriety is not their responsibility.
It is all your responsibility. It is your life. Some “friends” are tempting you to “drink just a little?” Be a grown-ass man and say no. You miss the feeling of blowing cigarette smoke during cold nights? Put on your big-girl panties and tolerate the urge.
The most effective person who can help you quit drinking and smoking is yourself.