Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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dolphin_color
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by dolphin_color » Wed Jan 01, 2020 4:42 am

Hazel, keep up the good work! :twothumbsup:

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:06 pm

DharmaN00b wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 4:33 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:03 am
Dharma practice was what ultimately led to me giving up alcohol too. Really, there is nothing more precious, I'm on the same page.
I believe I had an epithany so I'm a bit behind Hazel in the running. That said I'm interested in your own experiences. What was it, if you don't mind?
Not much to tell really, had an unhealthy an gradually self-destructive relationship with alcohol throughout large chunks of my life, quit the first time I took refuge, started up again for a brief period. Luckily I had both Dharma and a sober Dharma friend to steer me back. I'm 43, so I have a number of years of drinking experience to pull from. Drank -a ton- in my early 20's like everyone..but it was unhealthy, drinking by myself, a lot, usually around emotional issues. I maintained a similar pattern later in life and my use would increase to pretty questionable levels. I could pull it back and set rules about it (only x number of drinks, only on weekends etc.), but eventually I'd find myself breaking the rules. Got to the point where if there was anything in the house, I couldn't resist drinking it all. I even started to think about how I could hide alcohol from my wife so that she wouldn't know I was drinking more...those sorts of things are what really made me think a change was in order. I was also angry all the time, and didn't realize how much the booze had to do with that.

I don't have any amazing stories, as an isolated drinker, the only legals troubles I had were when I was much younger and didn't involve alcohol. Just gradual physical and emotional issues with alcohol, family history of alcoholism made certain outcomes more likely too, I think.

If you are contemplating quitting drinking, you probably already have good reasons for it. It doesn't really matter if you want to label yourself as an alcoholic, etc., if it's causing you suffering, you are doing things you normally wouldn't do etc...it's an indication that things are starting to cross a line between "use" and "abuse". Some people can skirt that line for years (I did), others plummet quick into full-blown badness. Once you cross that line though, it's pretty tough to go back to "normal" use of alcohol, the neurological deck is stacked at that point.

Of course, there are many other valid reasons to quit also, my reason is "If I drink it goes bad", in a few different ways. It also made me fat(ter).
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Hazel
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Hazel » Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:28 pm

Thank you for sharing, JD!
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:06 pm
It doesn't really matter if you want to label yourself as an alcoholic, etc., if it's causing you suffering, you are doing things you normally wouldn't do etc...it's an indication that things are starting to cross a line between "use" and "abuse".
THIS!!!! I armchair-believe that the term/idea of alcoholism is a dangerous reductionism. People start comparing themselves to what their mental model of an "alcoholic" is and never think in terms of "how can I improve my life/how is my life being harmed". Combine that with with the messages "if you are an alcoholic, you are powerless and your only option is to quit" and people get scared off from seeking help. Who starts out ready to quit?

I think it would have been much harder to quit if I hadn't been on the harm reduction path for months and months. I worked hard to get into the place where the heaviness of my drinking ebbed and flowed versus being a constantly increasing firehose. I got to the place where I started to have a few sober nights here and there and then during one of them I said "no more, I take refuge in the Three Jewels, not alcohol".

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Hazel
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Hazel » Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:58 pm

Hazel wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 11:28 pm
Thank you for sharing, JD!
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 5:06 pm
It doesn't really matter if you want to label yourself as an alcoholic, etc., if it's causing you suffering, you are doing things you normally wouldn't do etc...it's an indication that things are starting to cross a line between "use" and "abuse".
THIS!!!! I armchair-believe that the term/idea of alcoholism is a dangerous reductionism. People start comparing themselves to what their mental model of an "alcoholic" is and never think in terms of "how can I improve my life/how is my life being harmed". Combine that with with the messages "if you are an alcoholic, you are powerless and your only option is to quit" and people get scared off from seeking help. Who starts out ready to quit?

I think it would have been much harder to quit if I hadn't been on the harm reduction path for months and months. I worked hard to get into the place where the heaviness of my drinking ebbed and flowed versus being a constantly increasing firehose. I got to the place where I started to have a few sober nights here and there and then during one of them I said "no more, I take refuge in the Three Jewels, not alcohol".
Also I had started taking welbutrin, which apparently helps with addiction/cravings. Sure wasn't/isn't easy though.

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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by narhwal90 » Mon Jan 06, 2020 11:11 pm

The general opinion in AA is people will quit drinking when they are ready to. Acceptance of the effectiveness of other methods is explicitly written into the Big Book. Some folks say AA is the only way for others to recover but that goes beyond what the book says. I know a number of alcoholics that had to get to a point where they were nearly dead from drinking and drugs before they became ready, and they do not encourage letting things get to that state. Getting free of the compulsion and anger before that point is. Bill Wilson himself stated each person has to make their own choices and interpretations.

sorry to go off topic...

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Hazel
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Hazel » Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:44 pm

88 days.

In the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Supreme Assembly
I take refuge until enlightenment
By the merit of my generosity, and other perfections
May I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings

Another difficult night awaits me tonight. I help organize an arts festival and the planning for that begins tonight during what will likely be a 3 hour meeting. Last year I got trashed every meeting. I'm pretty sure I was the one drinking the heaviest, so maybe this will help shift the tone. However, I definitely remember a bottle of whisky at the center of the room at at least a couple meetings, and there was always wine and beer. Damn, now I want whisky :crying:.

:rules:

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Hazel
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Hazel » Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:41 pm

Like one person drank and had maybe 2 beers. It was almost completely dry. Maybe I was the one who was the bad influence at these meetings. Yikes. Or I was too drunk to notice people not drinking.

That's the thing: it renders the mind heedless.

shaunc
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by shaunc » Wed Jan 08, 2020 8:06 pm

Keep going hazel, you're doing well.

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Hazel
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Hazel » Wed Jan 08, 2020 8:19 pm

shaunc wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 8:06 pm
Keep going hazel, you're doing well.
Thank you!

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Hazel
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Hazel » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:12 am

Sober 95 days.


I was flipping through my journal and noticed this passage written not too long after I quit (made slight tweaks for the purpose of publication). Maybe it will be inspiring to someone:
Progress does not always feel good. On the contrary, if you are progressing then that means you are doing something hard/strenuous. If progress were easy, you'd be done by now.

Praise to suffering sharp enough to motivate alongside favorable circumstances to overcome it.

In this regard I am fortunate to suffer.

DharmaN00b
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by DharmaN00b » Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:39 am

Hazel wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:12 am
Sober 95 days.

Progress does not always feel good. On the contrary, if you are progressing then that means you are doing something hard/strenuous. If progress were easy, you'd be done by now.

[/quote]
Hazel, I don't know about you but the reason I made a firm commitment to get rid of booze was also because of not feeling good and difficulty (the reasons we give up in the first place).

It's easy to forget how bad it can be and then trick myself into sugar coating what a rotten toffee apple irresponsible boozing is. Not to mention how much better it feels being healthier and not having the mental baggage.

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Hazel
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Hazel » Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:19 am

Sober 108 days.

I quit Facebook today. Unfortunately there is a thirty day period after you delete your Facebook account where if you log in the deletion is canceled. Meanwhile logging into facebook is practically two clicks away at any moment.

I really don't have much faith in myself not to change my mind tomorrow, like I have done dozens of times.

narhwal90
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by narhwal90 » Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:36 am

Suggest changing your password to a long string of random stuff, copy and paste it for the confirmation then you'll never be able to log in again... :) delete your content first. I gave up on facebook 5 or 6 years ago, still feels great.

madhusudan
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by madhusudan » Wed Jan 29, 2020 6:49 pm

Did you notice, Hazel, that your most recent post was your 108th? Whoa.....duuuuuuuuude.....pretty rad.

I thought narwhal had a great idea on quitting FB. I too gave it up some years ago after their repeatedly changing the privacy policy, which to me indicated their complete lack of respect for their users. It's been great since then.

May I share my quitting drinking story? I am now dry for a bit over a month. I think it's 36 days now.

I started getting a toothache after drinks and passing out (again) without brushing. Everything in my area of Japan closes for Winter Break. To get through it I started fasting and quit drinking. Not a tipple over the holidays. I survived the two weeks by being dry, eating much less and managing with OTC painkiller and cayenne tea. After the new year a local dentist was kind enough to squeeze me into his schedule and we discovered two deep cavities which required root canals. I'm wrapping up the treatment in two more visits.

To me it was a major blessing because the experience got me to finally give up alcohol and tobacco. Those negative habits stole not only my health, but my Dharma practice over decades. Of course, like most moderate to heavy drinkers, I've made tons of bad decisions over the years due to intoxication, which I regret and renounce. In the past 36 days I've seen my general health rebound, I feel great every morning, I've lost weight, and resumed exercise after a long hiatus. People at work comment on the change in my appearance. Most importantly, I feel my Dharma practice coming together as I'm finally following the 5th precept, something that's weighed on me these many years.

If anyone reading this is considering quitting alcohol, please do it. You can make a resolution, find support and make the change before actual physical pain like I experienced. However, if you think it's what you need, I pray you can also be blessed with pain. I did need it, so please don't feel bad for me. You can't imagine the relief I felt at finally abandoning drunkenness as the dentist shredded my nerves.

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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:46 pm

I have totally screwed up teeth from that exact thing - boozing it up in my 20's and passing out without brushing. I didn't see the real effects until my mid to late 30's, and boy did it suck, constant dental work once I could actually afford it.

After you get sober take care of your freaking teeth. I literally had to go through about ten years of dental work to make up for lost time, you don't realize how bad dental care affects you until it's too late.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Hazel
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Hazel » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:04 pm

Thank you for the shares! For me, I didn't want to spoil the taste of booze in my mouth by brushing...

Day 123 of sobriety.

The amount of daily will-power I need to exert in order to not drink has decreased noticeably. There is no longer the "oh no, what am I going to do, it's 5pm and I can't drink!" feeling every day and cravings are in general no longer tied to my daily routine. Being sober has become the default thing to do in non-stressful circumstances.

This has been so much easier than quitting smoking pot. I feel like I'm getting off easy. Though with pot I was smoking at least every 15 minutes to an hour from morning until I went to bed (and I HAD to do it before I started an activity like taking a shower or doing the dishes or getting dressed... or an important work meeting), with drinking I was just getting drunk in the evenings (albeit that was still just 4-5 hours after I woke up, but still).

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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:41 pm

Hazel wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:04 pm
Thank you for the shares! For me, I didn't want to spoil the taste of booze in my mouth by brushing...

Day 123 of sobriety.

The amount of daily will-power I need to exert in order to not drink has decreased noticeably. There is no longer the "oh no, what am I going to do, it's 5pm and I can't drink!" feeling every day and cravings are in general no longer tied to my daily routine. Being sober has become the default thing to do in non-stressful circumstances.

This has been so much easier than quitting smoking pot. I feel like I'm getting off easy. Though with pot I was smoking at least every 15 minutes to an hour from morning until I went to bed (and I HAD to do it before I started an activity like taking a shower or doing the dishes or getting dressed... or an important work meeting), with drinking I was just getting drunk in the evenings (albeit that was still just 4-5 hours after I woke up, but still).
Smoking that much pot gives you a crazy seratonin boost, and your brain becomes habituated to it over time, I'll bet you felt like crap for a bit after quitting. Been there myself and I was -grumpy-... not as long running as when I quit smoking cigarettes, but more acute. I felt really sore too.

Nice job, really happy to hear things are going so well!
Being sober has become the default thing to do in non-stressful circumstances.
Awesome, the next part is to develop a plan so that you can keep it the default in stressful circumstances, a little tougher sometimes. FYI you are also right around the point where some people get a little spike in cravings, emotional ups and downs, using dreams etc. Everyone is different of course, just a general thing as your system heals.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Hazel
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Hazel » Wed Feb 12, 2020 6:24 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:41 pm
Hazel wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:04 pm
Thank you for the shares! For me, I didn't want to spoil the taste of booze in my mouth by brushing...

Day 123 of sobriety.

The amount of daily will-power I need to exert in order to not drink has decreased noticeably. There is no longer the "oh no, what am I going to do, it's 5pm and I can't drink!" feeling every day and cravings are in general no longer tied to my daily routine. Being sober has become the default thing to do in non-stressful circumstances.

This has been so much easier than quitting smoking pot. I feel like I'm getting off easy. Though with pot I was smoking at least every 15 minutes to an hour from morning until I went to bed (and I HAD to do it before I started an activity like taking a shower or doing the dishes or getting dressed... or an important work meeting), with drinking I was just getting drunk in the evenings (albeit that was still just 4-5 hours after I woke up, but still).
Smoking that much pot gives you a crazy seratonin boost, and your brain becomes habituated to it over time, I'll bet you felt like crap for a bit after quitting. Been there myself and I was -grumpy-... not as long running as when I quit smoking cigarettes, but more acute. I felt really sore too.

Nice job, really happy to hear things are going so well!
Being sober has become the default thing to do in non-stressful circumstances.
Awesome, the next part is to develop a plan so that you can keep it the default in stressful circumstances, a little tougher sometimes. FYI you are also right around the point where some people get a little spike in cravings, emotional ups and downs, using dreams etc. Everyone is different of course, just a general thing as your system heals.
Great advice!

When I quit pot, I had been smoking so much and in such a problematic way that I became pretty much non-functional for a few months. I also dove into a deep depression and was a nervous wreck. The only reason I didn't lose my job is because I work in tech and I was extremely open with my open minded manager who was able to sell it as a health issue. Almost three years later I still have usage dreams and bad (but shorter lived and less frequent) cravings. My anxiety levels are only now starting to recover to where they were before my constant weed bingeing.

I was sort of expecting alcohol to be the same thing. Granted it still sucks, but the actual withdrawal portion was short lived and I was able to notice an improvement from my drunk baseline within a couple months. With weed, it took way way longer and I still feel like I lost something that I'm waiting to get back.

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Hazel
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by Hazel » Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:56 pm

130.

Damn, somedays are easier than others and right now is not one of the easy ones. I feel like my brain and chest are throwing a temper tantrum. :toilet:

Not sure if it's been mentioned on this site already, but samsara sucks. ;)

shaunc
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Re: Quitting alcohol. Dharmic advice?

Post by shaunc » Wed Feb 19, 2020 4:20 am

Hazel wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:56 pm
130.

Damn, somedays are easier than others and right now is not one of the easy ones. I feel like my brain and chest are throwing a temper tantrum. :toilet:

Not sure if it's been mentioned on this site already, but samsara sucks. ;)

Some days are certainly harder than others. Just try to take it one day at a time and remember that like everything else this too Will pass.
Good luck and best wishes.

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