A repost, with commentary....
You really can change. The research evidence supports that people really can and do change. We all know people who have stopped harmful habits like smoking even though all smokers admit that it is very difficult to quit.
ItÕs important that you believe in your own ability to change. We encourage you to do what you can to support your self-confidence, your faith in yourself, your hope for the future. If you canÕt choose to believe that you can change, then at least reserve your judgment, set aside any negative beliefs, and approaching the process of change with an open mind.
DonÕt fall into the self-fulfilling prophecy trap. That is, if you predict something, you will tend to make that thing happen. Believing that you canÕt change undermines your effort or willingness to try and leaves you with only the cold comfort and trivial reward of being right when you fail.
Failing to change only proves that you have not yet mastered the skills. Change is difficult. Change requires strategies, preparation, and knowledge which you might not have yet. Perhaps you have repeatedly tried something that does not work for you rather than trying a new, different approach. Realizing there are many paths to change brings hope.
Change is usually difficult, but not impossible. Your genetics and your upbringing do not determine your behavior. Biology is not destiny. Neither can your history hold you totally in its grip. Even your current environment does not totally control you, though changing or leaving your current environment may make changing your behavior easier.
Change is a process, not an event. You should keep in mind that change does not happen in a flash. Change may start with a flash of awareness, but it continues as a journey. And like a journey you had better be prepared to weather the difficulties and set backs that come along the way.
Setbacks are learning experiences, not proof of failure. In CBT recovery we see slips and lapses as a chance for practicing new skills, not something to be ashamed about. Instead of using a relapse as an excuse to give up and put yourself down, use any setbacks as opportunities to better understand what went wrong and how things might be handled better the next time.
Drinking is behavior, and behavior can be changed—even if it has become compulsive and unhealthy. CBT works by helping you recognize the emotions and beliefs that underlie your behavior, and helping you learn to dispute the irrational beliefs. If you change your thinking, you can change your behavior.
Once you have identified what you like about alcohol, can you take that journal out of the closet or drawer and write down the benefits you find that alcohol provides you? Those are the things you are going to miss when you quit, and itÕs really important to address them.
Then start writing down the costs. People who come to a forum board usually acknowledge that they have a drinking problem, and describe much anxiety about it—about what life would be like without it, about being fearful of other people finding out about it. But often they donÕt clearly describe how it is a problem for them.
Many people are afraid to quit drinking because of the uncertainty of change: they are afraid that they wonÕt be able to cope with stress or anxiety, afraid that they wonÕt feel rewarded or be able to relax. Finding other ways to deal with those things is an important strategy. Another is separating them in your own mind from your goal of sobriety: quit drinking, stay quit, and worry about the stress later. I have stressful days, everybody does. Sobriety means we donÕt think about using alcohol or other drugs to cope with that stress. DoesnÕt mean we donÕt think about it, especially in early sobriety. We just donÕt do it.
The things that people describe as triggers are often conditions (happiness, sadmess. anxiety, sleeplessness, etc.). To me, a trigger is more specific.
ÒI bought the bottle of wine because....(you finish the sentence). I opened the bottle of wine because (I always do at this time of day; I felt antsy and wanted to relax; I had company and felt it would make me wittier).Ó Defining your triggers more accurately by time and place might be helpful. The CBT tool of an ABC is helpful for defusing urges or for dealing with conditions that lead to them.
For starters, we can treat drinking as a simple ingestion issue, and deal with it by not buying, not pouring, and not drinking. If it ainÕt there, ya canÕt drink it. ThatÕs the simple part. Hmm. Now IÕm antsy, and thereÕs no wine. What to do? Something else. Folks who quit drinking plan for the urges and anticipate the times theyÕre likely to have them. A plan would include NOT having alcohol around, and having something else to do. Change your shopping patterns. Read a book, take a bubble bath, have sex, or do whatever else helps you relax.
á Moving from wishing for sobriety to a commitment to sobriety is the first step.
á Taking action to prevent opportunity is second.
á Planning for future urges is third.
á Reinforcing your commitment and plans by communicating with others is fourth.
á Practicing your sobriety tools and reading more about what alcohol does to you is fifth.
á Developing other interests to replace your drinking time is sixth. Accepting yourself and your imperfections, and developing more balance in your life might be seventh.
Add five more steps and youÕve got an official program!
Making your commitment to sobriety public, and posting it here, can be a very useful part of the process. ThereÕs no need to worry about telling us about your life and all of the things that are going on with you. You are simultaneously anonymous and family. We know as much or as little about you as you choose to reveal. That can be really useful, because you can talk to us about things that might be difficult to discuss elsewhere.