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How to Quit Drinking or Using Drugs by Changing Your Thinking

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It can be difficult to quit drinking alcohol or using drugs. However, we can use the power of our mind and thoughts to stop. We can do this by focusing our thoughts on the long-term positive benefits and negative consequences of drinking compared to the short-term benefits.

Although it may sound counterintuitive, it can actually help you to quit drinking or using drugs by first identifying the perceived benefits of using. We can then ask ourselves if the perceived benefits outweigh the long-term negative consequences or whether they prevent us from experiencing some future benefit.

Most people engage in drinking or drug use because there is some perceived benefit. They might believe that drinking or drug use will help them feel better, lower stress, increase energy, have more fun, be more social, avoid a certain feeling, or because they can’t stand a particular situation. Usually, these beliefs are activated by a specific event.

For example, if something bad happens at work or a person gets in an argument, then the person may think, “I feel stressed right now, and drinking will help me feel better.” He or she may think, “I can’t stand this situation, and drinking will help me avoid feeling this bad.” Additionally, some people may have something good happen to them and want to use drugs to celebrate. For example, they may think, “If I use drugs or drink, then I will feel better, and that will help me celebrate.” Or, they believe drinking will help them be more social, have more fun, or get more dates.  Again, these are all thoughts based on perceived short-term benefits.

One way to quit drinking is to ask yourself, “Are the short-term benefits worth the long-term negative consequences?” Or, “Is drinking or drug use in my long-term best interest.” For example, people may initially feel better when they drink, but then have a hangover the next day and feel sick. Or, they may feel more sociable, but then drink to excess and push people away.

It can be helpful for you to identify the long-term negative consequences of drinking. For people who have a problem with drinking, the long-term consequences often include poor health, strained relationships, higher levels of anxiety and depression, poor job performance, and in some cases, arrests or injury while intoxicated. Thus, when you start thinking about the perceived short-term benefits of drinking, you can ask yourself whether they are worth the long-term negative consequences or prevent you from experiencing the long-term benefits of sobriety.

People usually quit drinking or using drugs because of the negative consequences. However, they often stay sober because they experience positive benefits they did not anticipate. For example, their physical and mental health may improve, they may develop closer relationships and experience deeper levels of intimacy with their loved ones. Their self-esteem improves because they can handle life’s ups and downs without drinking or using. And they actually have more fun sober. Having more fun while sober often surprises people.

Many people are afraid to quit drinking or using because they believe their life will be boring. However, many people in recovery report having more fun in their lives because they feel higher levels of awareness, connection, and true happiness during the good times in life and fun events they previously went through intoxicated.

If you are thinking of quitting drinking or using, ask yourself what your relationship to drugs and alcohol is right now and whether you are happy with that relationship. Write down answers to the following questions. What are the short-term benefits or reasons why you are drinking? What are the long term negative consequences of drinking or using? What are the potential benefits of quitting drinking? Are the short-term benefits of drinking or using drugs worth the long-term negative consequences? Once you have written down the answers, thinking through them whenever you are tempted to use or drink can help you quit and stay sober.


Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D

Founder of Spiritual Media Blog



Author Headshot Matthew WelshDr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D., is the founder of Spiritual Media Blog. Spiritual Media Blog features guest posts, articles, interviews, and reviews about spirituality, psychology, and inspirational entertainment. Dr. Welsh also works as a full-time psychologist and life coach.

Please Link to http://www.spiritualmediablog.com for more information.

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The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.

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