We’re not going to play a numbers game with you. Comparing different studies and juggling statistics will not help you focus during your personal transition to sobriety, and in fact, information overload is a real danger when you’re trying to clear your mind, and come to terms with sobriety and a new way of living. We will, however, give you some round figures to peruse, and while these numbers are for guideline purposes only, one fact is abundantly clear: when it comes to suffering from a drinking problem—from the pain that accompanies alcohol abuse--you are joining literally millions of people trying to come to terms with the same disease.
In the United States and Canada, approximately:
As disturbing as these estimates are, consider this comforting fact: millions of people have made the transition from alcoholic behaviour to a balanced lifestyle completely free of alcohol.
Don’t get caught up in statistics. The important point is: You are not alone!
Guilt and drinking problems are constant companions. It’s not hard to understand given the heartache and chaos that our drinking habits subject family, friends and co-workers to. We don’t intentionally cause the problems and grief that our alcoholism brings to bear on those around us, but our illness - that's right...illness, has gained the upper hand, and in a very real way, we’ve lost control of a significant part of our lives. You didn’t ask for this illness, did you?
Still feel guilty? Ask yourself these questions:
Drinking lead you to serious drinking, then a slippery slope that dropped you at the front door to alcoholism. It can happen to anyone. We didn’t ask for it, and you didn’t ask for it - it happened! The road back to guilt-free living is called `Recovery’, and it’s road you can decide to take.
Once the decision to quit drinking has been made...replace your guilt with the pride that only someone working to regain control of their life can know.
Hold this thought: you’ve got an illness, and like other people that face problems with disease, once you take tangible steps to fight back…to take control of your life, you can ‘lose the guilt’. You are sick…you didn’t plan to suffer from this illness, but you are going to be pro-active and fight back. You are going to use the resources around you - within you - to effectively deal with this problem. With the real decision to change, you can let the guilt fall away.
Aside from the addiction itself, one of the stumbling blocks that many of us faced was the thought of never being able to drink alcohol again, and how our sobriety would be looked upon by our friends and family. Well, you can believe this: the people who really care about you will quietly salute you in your quest for a new-found sobriety...then they’ll carry on with their daily lives, your ex-problem fading into the past The people who care less about you, really aren’t concerned about whether you drink or not. Your casual acquaintances are not wrapped up in your personal drinking problem, and aren’t really paying attention one way or the other. Once you take control of your problem, the rest of the world will continue on its course without giving you a second thought.
So…forget about ‘appearing weak’, or being ashamed of admitting you've got a problem. Beyond what’s going on between your ears, it’s really not a major issue. Everybody’s has problems, and except for those closest to you, your drinking problem isn’t even in their field of view. You are completely free to concentrate on your drive to sobriety!
The great thing about getting past the the ‘I can’t live without alcohol’ and the ‘I suffer from some manner of failing, and everybody will know it’ stage, is that your life is going to get so much easier without alcohol! And why wouldn’t it?…think about all the situations you’ve got yourself into while under the influence…the things you’ve done, the embarrassing situations you’ve tried to talk yourself out of….the missed opportunities, the ‘near misses’, the money you’ve spent…the promotions that you missed…this list could go on for pages! When you’ve been clear of alcohol for a little while, you’re going to laugh out loud at the crazy notion that ‘not drinking’ could ever be more awkward than starting enjoy your life with a clarity and confidence that you never experienced while drinking.
A goal is a dream with a deadline! Your first goal—should you decide you want positive change in your life—is to, right now, simply state what you have decided to do about your drinking problem. Alcoholism builds a maze around us, and focusing in one direction, or on one objective, is easier said than done. But take this important step. Write the following sentence on a piece of paper:
I clearly see that I have a devastating problem with alcohol, and am now Empowered and Prepared to take all steps necessary to put this Life-Threatening Problem behind me once and for all!
Then put your signature under the statement…that’s it! You’ve already started on the road back by accepting that you’ve got a problem, and by making a clear commitment to yourself to use the resources available to eradicate your drinking problem. The ‘Prize’ …quite simply, your life without alcohol. Focus on what that would mean to you…envision what living without a drinking problem would be like for you. Hold the thought. Keep your eye on the prize…you’ve already brought it closer to reality!
Sobriety...seize it, embrace it and cherish it! Seek out the help you need, and lean on those that can walk with you during your journey of recovery--and discovery!
Today, you can take a small step away from your drinking problem, and towards a vibrant, new life without alcohol. Yes…you can do it!