“Your addiction will lie to you in your own voice.”
Your addiction will often appear to you as a voice in your head that sounds like your own rational thoughts. It will tell you that it's not really that big of a deal, that you are really in control or, in many cases, will conveniently wipe your memory (the ISM or “incredibly short memory”) so you won't recall what a tough time you had getting through that last hangover.
Be on the lookout for justification phrases such as:
“But I didn't really have a problem before”
“Everyone else drinks like I do”
“This next time will be different”
“I've quit once, I can quit again”
“The only person you're negatively affecting is yourself”
“I'm cured! I just went [X amount of time] without drinking!”
“Everyone else is having so much fun”
“I got this.”
Stay vigilant in protecting your subconscious mind from thoughts like these and you will have an easier time avoiding relapse. It's much easier to stay sober than it is to get sober, and staying sober isn't always easy.
Mike, with almost two years since his last drink, shares his story
[8:05] Paul Introduces Mike.
Sober over 600 days. 37 years old, from California. A professional musician that has worked in California, Boston and around China, as well. He now lives with his girlfriend in Hong Kong. Mike does for the show notes for each podcast episode.
[11:10] You quit drinking and smoking at the same time?
Yes. Smoking was getting in the way of his singing. He read Allen Carr's “Easy Way To Quit Smoking” and at some point he realized that he wouldn't be able to quit smoking without quitting drinking. He committed to 30 days. Felt great so he kept going.
[13:58] When did you realize you were going to have to quit drinking also?
When he moved in with his girlfriend. He realized that his actions were having consequences that were affecting other people, and that if he really cared about this person and himself, he would have to clean up his act.
[15:45] What were the indicators that you had a problem with drinking and/or smoking?
He had a therapy session, and the therapist helped him realize that his problem was the drinking, and not what he had thought.
[18:27] At that point, did you attempt to quit or moderate?
Yes. Upon advice from his father, he tried to moderate his drinking by only drinking during work hours. It was a form of torture as his whole day became centered around waiting for work to begin. Eventually it lead to him breaking the rule and drinking all day for weeks.
[20:23] So the willpower technique was torture?
Yes. While the rules were in place he found himself constantly distracted and thinking about drinking. His brain was hijacked by both tobacco and alcohol.
[22:40] How did you get through those difficult cravings after you quit?
He started learning martial arts, and it gave him the tools he had been missing. Previously, he had been using alcohol to relax intense feelings of anxiety or discomfort, but now he was able to use the techniques that he learned at the martial arts classes.
[24:25] Was everyone kung fu fighting?
In Hong Kong, not as much, but globally, yes.. more people are practicing Kung Fu now than ever before.
[26:54] What do you do when the uncomfortable feelings or cravings come?
He focuses on the physical sensations of the craving. He tries to keep his body from becoming static, and thus paralyzed by the craving. He breathes, moves, walks, gets fresh air, whatever is necessary to keep the craving from tensing him up.
[29:19] What is it like to continue working in the nightlife now that you're sober?
When you're still drinking, even the thought of trying to quit seems like an insurmountable task, but once you've quit and, inevitably, you change the way you see things, the environment in which you were in before is not what it seemed.
[32:30] What's on your sobriety bucket list going forward?
He's interested in the physical activities he always turned down while he was drinking and smoking. He wants to travel more and say yes to the things he said no to in the past.
[34:05] What is it like to not have the addiction causing you to feel unsolicited fear?
It's liberating. There are so many positive experiences to be had in life. Sobriety is an opportunity that begets other opportunities.
[34:53] What is it like to be in recovery in Hong Kong?
He knows someone who has been to AA in Hong Kong but he hasn't been to any meetings himself, yet. He found solace in online resources, and he considers his online communities to be his recovery community.
[37:10] Rapid Fire Round
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Easy Way To Quit Smoking – A quit aid by Allen Carr.
30 Day No Alcohol Challenge – A quit aid by James Swanick
Standing at the Water's Edge – A book about creative immersion by Dr. Anne Paris
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“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”