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Old 11-25-2009, 11:20 AM   #1
LFS
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Quitting Alcohol

My name is LFS, and I may or may not be an alcoholic.

After a lifetime of drinking I quit on September 15, 2009. I'm starting this thread to talk about my experiences, chart my progress, invite participation, or whatever else. It might be useful to somebody else, it also might be useful to me.

I have a family history of alcohol abuse. My mother's father, whom I never met, was an Irish Catholic prison guard and local politician in upstate New York. He was also by all accounts a heavy alcoholic and violent drunk. He died of alcohol-related causes when my mother was 16 (he was 52 I think). He had three daughters - two became alcoholics (my mother and a sister). For various alcohol-related reasons my mother and her alcoholic sister stopped speaking around 30 years ago.

I first became aware of my mother's alcoholism when I was around 10. My sister is a couple of years older, she had shared her concerns with a mutual friend who asked me about it. It had never occurred to me until that point. At some point during my youth, maybe when I was 13, my mother went to rehab. I'm sure there was a specific cause, I don't remember it. We visited her in rehab and did family therapy. It didn't really make a huge impression on me.

My mother was a highly functioning alcoholic, a Type A business woman. She travelled a lot, which is when she'd do her real drinking. In January 1991, the final semester of my senior year in high school, she went on a business trip to Palo Alto, went on a binge, and fell very ill. She called my father and, for whatever reason, he flew there to help. She was rushed to the hospital and spent two months there. I lived alone back in Massachusetts during this time. Needless to say this period made a huge impression on me, and in some ways turned me into a man. I was forced to rely entirely on myself.

By this time I was already drinking regularly. Because of my size I was able to buy alcohol starting at around age 16. I quickly became the drunk guy. My entire social life revolved around alcohol. I always had it and could always get it for people. I was the idiot who was proud of drinking more and faster than anybody.

You can imagine what college was like. I joined a fraternity where my behavior was not only acceptable, but celebrated. Again, I was the guy funneling 6 beers at a time, drinking 30 in a night, etc. Now, these were also the best times of my life until that point, no doubt, but it would be difficult to overestimate the role of alcohol in my life during college.

After college I moved to LA and started a career in the entertainment business. Going out every night and drinking regularly, as in many businesses, was the norm. I binge drank as per usual, etc.

I met a good woman in 1997, moved in with her in 1998, and married her in 2003. She doesn't drink, ironically. She's put up with a lot. My first child was born in 2005, my second in 2008. During this period I quit drinking several times, but also had my lowest points. Those might come up later.

These last couple of years have been very stressful, and I probably drank five nights out of seven. I put on a lot of weight. In July of this year we moved to a new neighborhood. I started the habit of stopping at a bar on the way home from work. Every night. On more than one occasion I ended up staying at the bar for hours, making excuses when I got home. The local alcoholics in the bar were welcoming me as one of their own. As I am crazy but not stupid I was becoming aware of the road I was going down.

On September 14 I went to a school board meeting, then out for drinks with a couple departing board members. When we went our separate ways instead of going home I went to another bar. My wife didn't know where I was until I arrived home at 1AM, drunk, having driven myself. I probably drove drunk more since July than in the rest of my life combined. We agreed at that moment that something had to be done. I agreed that if I wasn't able to stop by myself I would seek help. I really don't want to seek help, so I just quit.

So there you have it. This can be a thread to share stories, worries, experiences, or you can ask me whatever. This is going to be a serious thread, so if you derail it or post nonsensical things I'm going to delete them and potentially punish you. I hope this was worthwhile for somebody, I think it was for me.

Last edited by LFS; 11-25-2009 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:34 AM   #2
gdaddy84
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

Good luck
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:38 AM   #3
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

How hard has it been not to drink? Is this your longest stretch of sobriety (you mentioned you've quit a few times before)? Do you ever go out with your buddies to a bar and not drink or do you just not go to bars any more? I ask because I've thought of quitting too but my entire social life right now pretty much consists of going out drinking with my friends and I don't know if I could handle just sitting there not drinking when all of them are.

btw, great thread idea and good luck.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:39 AM   #4
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

Hi LFS.

I cannot imagine anything worse than alcohol abuse/problems because of the over-exposure of alcohol in our society (it's tough enough to watch the sunday football games with a hangover). It's something that will never go away and something you'll be confronted with everyday.

For some, abstaining is the only way to go, and I wish you the very best.

Looking over the "net positive or negative effect on your life thread" it's pretty clear that it's positive for making friends and meeting women. At this point in your life, you have friends and a loving (albeit crappy driving) wife, and you should be thrilled. Given those contributions to your life already, the way you drink alcohol only really stands to hurt your health and fitness, cost you money, and create additional drama.

Best of luck. 2+2 is probably decent support. I'd also suggest yoga- I started doing it for relaxation purposes and it is amazing how well it clears my head and helps me focus.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:46 AM   #5
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

It sounds like you had been drinking a ton between July & September...how difficult has it been to not drink these last two months?

Good luck to you...alcoholism is a problem on my Mom's side of the family, and of course it has a huge impact on everyone. I hope you can resist every temptation.

Do you anticipate holidays to be more tempting to drink during?
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:47 AM   #6
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

Is switching to purely drinking at home an option? Seems like all or nothing is a big step.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:48 AM   #7
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom1975 View Post
How hard has it been not to drink?
Not very hard at all. I attribute this to two things: 1) it was making me feel like absolute crap and 2) my mother's decline and death. Her health decline really began this year, I'm no doctor but I'm 100% sure that she died early because of her alcohol abuse. And I physically just felt like ****. I have bad GI problems, alcohol was exacerbating them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom1975 View Post
Is this your longest stretch of sobriety (you mentioned you've quit a few times before)?
No, I quit for at least six months twice. Once because I was trying to get in shape, once because of the aforementioned GI issues. I can't recall when/how I fell off the wagon in these cases, but getting in touch with that seems like a good idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom1975 View Post
Do you ever go out with your buddies to a bar and not drink or do you just not go to bars any more?
I have not gone to a "bar" yet, but have been in several social situations where there was drinking. After my mother's funeral we had everyone back to the house, I might've been the only person not drinking. Also during that time I spent a lot of time with old high-school and college friends, we went to dinner, etc. They were excited to have a designated driver. The irony of sitting with several friends with martinis, etc, while I was having a Diet Coke was not lost on anyone.

Something that's been interesting, maybe only to me: everyone in my life has been extremely supportive/relieved, even people I didn't know even thought about this. Like, I tell somebody and they're like "Yeah, that sounds like a pretty good idea." My father said that he was glad I was quitting and that he was worried I had a problem, but had never said anything. He said my mother had never talked about it, so hopefully she wasn't worried. She would've blamed herself.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:48 AM   #8
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

Have you noticed any changes in your energy level after you stopped drinking? I've heard quitting booze entirely can be really tough at first, but after a couple weeks you get a real energy kick that makes you not want to go back.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:55 AM   #9
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

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Originally Posted by manupod View Post
Looking over the "net positive or negative effect on your life thread" it's pretty clear that it's positive for making friends and meeting women. At this point in your life, you have friends and a loving (albeit crappy driving) wife, and you should be thrilled. Given those contributions to your life already, the way you drink alcohol only really stands to hurt your health and fitness, cost you money, and create additional drama.
Yes, the phase of my life I'm in has a lot to do with it. I don't regret my early-life drinking and will remember it fondly. I'm not punishing myself, and I don't find guilt to be useful. But the drunk guy at 19 is a pretty different story as an overweight 36 year-old father of 2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zipppy View Post
Do you anticipate holidays to be more tempting to drink during?
Yes and no. On the one hand, it's a traditional drinking time. On the other, it's very busy. I've noticed that the times I've thought to myself "Man, I could go for a drink about now" are the times when I'm bored. During this last heightened period of drinking I drank at my office fairly regularly. That would usually start around 4PM-5PM when things were at their quietest and I was fidgety.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VillainUnknown View Post
Is switching to purely drinking at home an option? Seems like all or nothing is a big step.
I don't believe I can be the "couple of glasses of wine" guy. I wish I could. Once I've had a couple of drinks I lose any ability to stop. I have much more control over not having the first drink.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:57 AM   #10
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

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Originally Posted by chuckbomb View Post
Have you noticed any changes in your energy level after you stopped drinking? I've heard quitting booze entirely can be really tough at first, but after a couple weeks you get a real energy kick that makes you not want to go back.
I've been pretty disappointed by how I feel physically. Like, I still basically feel like crap, just not as bad as before. Again, it's been a hell of a year, I think I'm feeling the stress in my body. Also, my son is one and my daughter is four and a half, I don't exactly get a ton of sleep. But yeah, I hear about how great I'm supposed to feel, and I don't.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:04 PM   #11
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

How high was your tolerance? Were you getting stone drunk every time you went to bars alone or were you just drinking because your system thought it needed alcohol?
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:06 PM   #12
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

I know these 3-4 guys who have a yearly routine that runs something like no alcohol for 6 months and what you and I would consider normal drinking (most would probably think excessive) for the other 6 months. Repeat.

Can't really imagine life without beer or a nice wine every once in a while.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:09 PM   #13
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

I'm not going to tell you good luck. Stick with it for your wife and children.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:12 PM   #14
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

Best of luck with this. Given your experiences (both good and bad), how do you anticipate talking to your kids about alcohol (or have you done so already)?
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:21 PM   #15
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

LFS

Reading the majority of your post was like reading my own life story, Especially the part about being the big guy who could always out-drink people and was proud of it.

I've been on a bit of a binge for the last few weeks drinking probably 4 nights a week or so and waking up every morning regretting it since i don't recover as quickly as I used to when I was younger. I have been asking myself why I am even drinking since most of the enjoyment I have gotten from it is no longer there. I had minor health scare when I woke up Monday and decided I've had enough. I also recently found out a family friend entered rehab a few weeks ago for alcohol.

Tonight is my friend's birthday party and I am dreading going because I know it will turn into a major deal that I won't be drinking. I don't want to become one of those people who make a big deal out of staying sober (except ITT I guess.)

As you mentioned I have also "taken breaks" before for periods of time as long as 6 months, but those were usually more because of economic reasons more than anything else. This time I am CHOOSING to stop because I am just tired of it.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:26 PM   #16
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

What are your preferred drinks?

How large are you?
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:28 PM   #17
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

Good luck man.

You took the most important of all of the steps, realizing you may/may not have a problem.

God speed to you LFS.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:29 PM   #18
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUntouchable View Post
How high was your tolerance? Were you getting stone drunk every time you went to bars alone or were you just drinking because your system thought it needed alcohol?
My tolerance was a lot lower than when I was younger. I think that's a function of getting older. Also, I began taking Lexapro for depression a few years ago, I think that lowered my tolerance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mittens View Post
Best of luck with this. Given your experiences (both good and bad), how do you anticipate talking to your kids about alcohol (or have you done so already)?
Good question. I have no idea. They will grow up in a different environment than me because there won't be an practicing alcoholic in the house. Like most things with them I plan on being as honest as possible. I think the absolute WORST thing I could do would be to forbid them from ever drinking.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:29 PM   #19
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

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Originally Posted by Pocket Trips View Post
Tonight is my friend's birthday party and I am dreading going because I know it will turn into a major deal that I won't be drinking. I don't want to become one of those people who make a big deal out of staying sober (except ITT I guess.)
Show up early and leave early? Or show up late, after everyone's drunk already, when they won't even notice you're not drinking?

LFS: You said you've been surprised by the positive reaction of many. Any negative reactions or peer pressuring on you from others?
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:29 PM   #20
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

Your story is very similar to mine. I dont want to comment to much except to say that the VAST majority of people with your described style of drinking cannot quit without help. Maybe this isn't true for you but I would consider to look into different support stuff. Many people (like myself) thought they could quit, quit for an extended period of time, and fall predictably into their old patterns.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:30 PM   #21
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

GL. Gotta be tough. I quit smoking after 5 years of it (24 yrs old). I think if I could do that in the prime of my social/going out life, with zero priorities, this should be relatively easy for you given your family's past, your present kids/wife. If you can get through a period of time where you stop thinking about it, you will succeed. That was the key for me, just making it so I did something to preoccupy my cravings. Theres tons of help out there, so don't be ashamed to seek it if it will help in the long run. GL again.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:33 PM   #22
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

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Originally Posted by holland3r View Post
What are your preferred drinks?

How large are you?
Last question first: 6'4", 267 right now.

As for preferred drinks, the only thing I wouldn't drink was gin. That said, if that's all there was I would drink it

In high school college, I drank pretty much exclusively beer. After college I still drank beer but developed a taste for martinis. Sometime in the last 10 years I started with scotch, then high-end scotch.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:34 PM   #23
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

How many people have you wanted to pummel with the angry fist of god when they ask you to go for drinks at work? I think my default at the moment is a blank stare and 'nah I can't make it for w/e reason.'


I'm on my 2nd try currently... I went for a 3 month period earlier this year with about 6 drinks total to fall off the bus a little over a month ago reverting back to my old ways... which I will just say is/was drinking a lot for a period of approximately the last 12 years.

Oddly after responding in earnest to the pole/thread yesterday, at 4pm here at work one of my coworkers came by my desk and said, 'turn off your computer, we are going some where.' We then went to a local hotel lounge to meet with my supervisors for drinks to celebrate a recent win that our team achieved. I had 3 beers after being dry for almost 2 weeks. I feel pretty disgusted and disappointed with myself right now. I guess I could have just drank soda, but it would have definitely been 'out of character' and everyone would have noticed just as your friends observed with you. Afterwards, I went home and nothing else eventful happened, but I can't leave the experience without thinking I should start over and tell everyone at the new workplace I am Mormon or something.

/blog


Best of luck moving forward with your plan/goal. This is proving to be quite a challenge to deal with for me, as the temptation is always there constantly, mostly from perceived social pressure. Any thoughts or suggestions that anyone has who has successfully made it through this are very welcome here.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:34 PM   #24
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

orange juice is good to always have around. intense alcohol cravings can occur when blood sugar dips.
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:35 PM   #25
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Re: Quitting Alcohol

Quote:
Originally Posted by neuroman View Post
LFS: You said you've been surprised by the positive reaction of many. Any negative reactions or peer pressuring on you from others?
No. Anybody who knows me very well seems to know that this is necessary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boozy View Post
I dont want to comment to much except to say that the VAST majority of people with your described style of drinking cannot quit without help. Maybe this isn't true for you but I would consider to look into different support stuff. Many people (like myself) thought they could quit, quit for an extended period of time, and fall predictably into their old patterns.
I would love for you to expand on this. I have a good friend who wants me to go to a meeting next week, I'm going to do it, if only to see what it's like. I agree that I might need help.
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