This is Part 6 in an Ongoing Series
By the end of my drinking I had become quite skilful at summoning up the motivation to quit. The problem was not so much getting to the point of stopping but of then staying stopped. This is because my determination to give up alcohol would fade unless I took deliberate action to maintain it. I was also missing another key ingredient – the willingness to do whatever it takes to break away from alcohol (I’ll be talking about this in the next article). I found motivation to be the first vital step to breaking away from addiction. If I’m forced to choose a metaphor, I would say that it is the fuel in the engine of recovery.
Life Falling Apart Was Never Enough Motivation
I can remember most of my drinking years as involving a pathetic existence but suffering rarely worked for me as a motivation to quit. If anything this misery gave me even more reason to get drunk. It wasn’t so much hitting rock bottom that woke me up, but the realization that I did not have to be there. The real driving force behind all my attempts to quit was the nagging feeling that my life could be so much better. Those times before when I’d managed to stay sober had given me a taste of what was possible. At the end of my addiction I would have been just happy for the pain to stop, but it was the hope that there could be more than this that really motivated me to keep on searching for a solution.
The Secret to Developing the Motivation to Quit Alcohol
Books and the internet were not enough to get me sober, but they could help me develop the motivation to quit. I would immerse myself in all the recovery literature I could get my hands on. The aim was to deliberately brainwash myself so that getting sober became my number one priority. Sometimes I had to do this for a few days, but it always worked for me eventually. I found the inspirational stories of people who had managed to quit and gone on to live a good life to be the most potent – I couldn’t get enough of them (one of the main reasons why I keep writing about recovery is the memory of how such content did make a difference to me).
Another trick that I’d use for increasing my motivation was writing. I would try to get all the junk inside my head down on paper. I’d brainstorm reasons for why my life would be better without alcohol, and I always felt mentally clearer after I’d done this. I would also dissect any excuses that I had for continued drinking, and these never stood up to any type of scrutiny once they were written down.
Another strategy that I found useful was to give myself pep talks. My inner personal trainer ridiculed my doubts and cheered on my efforts. It felt like tapping into an inner strength that was beyond anything I could normally muster. I suffered badly from low self esteem in those days, but I was still able to pretend to be confident and somehow this made me feel more confident. I suppose this is what they mean in Alcoholics Anonymous when they say you need to fake it to make it.
I would keep using these strategies until I felt ready to stop. I’d try to spend as many of my waking hours as possible focused on recovery until I reached the tipping point.
How to Quit Being a Drunk Series
Part one – Welcome to the Series
Part two – The Payoff
Part Three -Alcoholism is a choice
Part Four – Rock Bottom Myth
Part Five- The Problem with Ambivalence
Part Six- Getting Motivated
Part Seven – From Arrogance to Willingness