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I enjoy life now more than ever. I didn't always. I used to think I had to drink to have fun and enjoy life. I also thought that drinking was the way to get around my problems and avoid responsibility. That only made my problems worse and more numerous. Now I know these were signs of alcoholism and that I had to change my thinking to change my drinking patterns.
To get where I am today, I had to make some major changes in my thinking to change my drinking habit. Every time I was tempted to have a drink, I would examine why I wanted that drink. Usually, it was a way to escape. Sometimes, I just thought it was the only way to have fun.
If my reason for wanting a drink was that I was having a problem dealing with something, I made a conscious effort to face the problem and resolve it instead. It wasn't easy but when I resolved problems instead of trying to escape from them with drinking, I felt better about myself. That feeling reminded me of another reason I drank – I had a low regard for myself.
Changing my thought process from escape and avoidance to solving problems and taking responsibility took time to become habitual but it was worth it to curb alcohol dependence. Changing my way of thinking didn't come easy. It took time and persistence.
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I had to change the way I thought about having fun too. I used to think that a party wasn't a good party without drinking alcohol. Picnics and barbecues also had to involve alcohol or they were boring. It took a lot of work to convince myself that the real fun was in enjoying the conversation, food and games, and that drinking interfered with that fun rather than enhanced it. Now the parties and activities I think are the most fun usually don't even have any alcoholic drinks at all.
What I did and still do to change the way I think is to firmly tell myself “NO” when the urge to have a drink hits me. I ask myself why I want the drink and then act on the reason instead of getting a drink. It didn't happen overnight and I am still working on it. Whether it is about feeling bad about myself, having a problem with something or just having fun, if first thought is to have a drink, I have to remember that it is one of the signs of alcoholism and work to redirect my thinking. I am not finished yet but eventually, the changes in the way I think will have permanently changed my drinking habits.