How to Stop Drinking by Yourself

How to Stop Drinking by Yourself


A lot of people who have emailed me over the years want to know how to stop drinking on your own.  It’s a good question, and one that I struggled with for years as an alcoholic.  Let’s break it down a bit here.

First of all:

Can you stop drinking by yourself?

I have read plenty of evidence from others that can, in fact, stop drinking alcohol on your own.  But there is also a mountain of evidence that points to the idea that you can quit drinking a heck of a lot easier if you simply ask for help.  Of course, asking for help is really hard to do, and that is why most people are here reading this to begin with.  They would prefer to solve their own drinking problem while saving face.  But….can it be done?

There are plenty who will tell you that it cannot be done.  Certainly nearly everyone in a 12 step program will tell you that it is impossible to get sober without humbling yourself and asking for help.  However, remember that they are a self selecting group.  Every single one of them already found sobriety through that path.  If people had found sobriety through another path, then you will not find them at an AA meeting.  They will be somewhere else.

Frank, April 15, 2011 - glasses2
Creative Commons License photo credit: pat00139

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There is a saying that “you cannot solve your problem using the same level of thinking that created it.” This is good advice, and certainly true.  But people in 12 step programs throw it around all the time as evidence that others need the 12 step program in order to recover.  It is probably true that they need a profound mental shift in order to change their life, but obviously this does not have to be a 12 step program.  There are other paths.

The question is: can the alcoholic stumble on one of these paths on their own?  Can they find a path that leads them to freedom from addiction?  Can they solve their own problem?

The answer is definitely a resounding yes. Sure, there is power in one alcoholic helping another.  But of course, someone had to get sober first.  Someone had to help themselves before they helped others.  People do have moments of clarity, even without being led into religious conversion while having their hand held the whole time.

Heck, there are people who have stopped drinking–real alcoholics–simply through rigorous exercise and personal commitment to themselves.  Does this require a profound mental shift?  You bet it does.  Is it “solving the problem at a different level than the one it was created at?”  Heck yeah, it is a couple of levels up the ladder!  Commitment to personal growth and taking daily action to overcome a problem?  Not exactly rocket science, but not easy to do either.

But possible?  Oh yeah….I’m pretty sure it’s been done.  Do not believe all the fear mongers in recovery who say that “it is their way or the highway.”  Such statements are based only in fear.  It is possible to find your own solution in recovery.


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