Some people can control their alcohol abuse by moderating their drinking. Usually, those people are problem drinkers who engage in risky drinking behavior, but haven’t yet become truly dependent on alcohol.
For most true alcoholics, alcohol moderation is simply not a realistic possibility (click here to understand why).
But if you’ve been a chronic alcoholic for years, the thought of facing life without alcohol can be a scary thought. What do you do when you’re sober?
Sure, you may have your health and you might be able to relate better with people now, but its not uncommon for people to relapse simply because they don’t know how to live without alcohol. They even get depressed after they quit drinking. If that sounds like you, read on…
How To Enjoy Life Without Alcohol
Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to live a miserable existence just because you can’t drink. But to truly enjoy a satisfying and meaningful life without alcohol, you have to take steps to lead a life of passion, love and fulfillment. If you’ve been sober for years and you’re miserable, then the problem isn’t that you’re sober – you’re experiencing perhaps the most universal problem encountered in the human condition – how do you live a life worth living?
I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers to one of the most complex questions ever posed by mankind. However, I can share some of my own thoughts on this, and some steps you can take to live a meaningful and fulfilling life without alcohol.
1. Break The Mold
In the early-stages of recovery, its common to feel a little down and not know what to do with yourself. But if you’ve quit drinking for more than a year and you’re still living a miserable life, then the first thing you need to realize is that you need to a change.
I can’t tell you exactly what you need to do to lead a fulfilling life, but I can tell you that you need to stop expecting things to get better just because you want them to. Here are some things you can try:
- Change careers or go back to school.
- Leave a toxic or dead-end relationship
- Go on an extended trip to a foreign culture. Heck, if you don’t have dependents, get up and move. The change of environment might do you good.
- Start a business
- Take up new hobbies
- Start working out
- Go take a class that will help you meet new people
- Do volunteer work
Find what works for you, and ignore what doesn’t. You won’t find your life’s meaning overnight, but I can guarantee that you definitely won’t find it if you don’t even keep actively trying new things.
2. Seek Holistic Personal Growth
This is very similar to the first tip, but its not just about changing up what you do and finding your passion. Its also about actively pursuing growth in multiple areas of your life. It means that you should be trying to move forward in multiple aspects of your life, whether that’s physical, mental, social etc. You don’t need to see results everyday, every week, or even every month. But everyday, you need to take small steps towards forward progress.
I really like James Altucher’s take on holistic growth – see his post How To Be The Luckiest Guy On The Planet In 4 Easy Steps – but you can follow any sort of model that works for you, as long as you’re making daily progress in multiple areas of your life.
3. Build Positive, Loving Relationships
Easier said than done. For most people, its not easy to build meaningful, deep relationships with people we love and trust 100%. This is especially true for alcoholics and addicts, who tend to prefer isolation. Some people even tell themselves they don’t need other people to make them happy.
Its true that you don’t need a circle of superficial friends and acquaintances to be happy. If you’re like most humans however, you need at least a few positive people in your life who you love, and who love you, in order to be happy. Just to clarify, I’m not just talking about romantic relationships, I’m talking about friendships as well – in fact, I’m talking about friendships especially.
How do you build these relationships if you don’t already have them? Start by reaching out to your family and friends. Reconnect with those you’ve lost touch with and make amends with those you’ve alienated in the past. Learn to accept their flaws and choose to love them.
In addition to rebuilding existing relationships, you should look to build new ones as well. A big part of attracting these kinds of relationships is by being a great person yourself, someone people want to be around. You might be a kind soul on the inside, but if all you do is mope around and be miserable, positive people won’t want to be around you.
If you’re having trouble attracting positive relationships into your life right now, that’s ok – it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be a loner for ever. Take time to work on the 1st two steps and look to improve yourself. Do you have low self-esteem? Start getting into shape and use self-reflection to be come comfortable with who your are. Have social anxiety? Try joining a toastmasters club. As you become more comfortable and happy with yourself, you’ll naturally start to attract the right kind of people into your life.
4. Choose To Be Happy
It might sound trite and cheesy, but its really true. Unless you’re suffering from clinical depression (in which case, seek professional help), you can choose to be happy. You can choose to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. You can be grateful for the things you have, and you can learn to forgive and let go of resentment.
You might not get there overnight. In fact, if you’ve been miserable for a long time, I guarantee you won’t become a happy person overnight just by choosing to be happy. However, if you try new things, actively work to improve your life, build great relationships, choose to adopt a positive mindset and unlearn the negative thought patterns you’ve acquired over the years, you can live a happy, fulfilling life without alcohol or drugs. Believe me.