It can be difficult to quit drinking alcohol or using drugs. However, we truly can use the power of our mind and our thoughts to quit drinking or using alcohol. 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. Then, we can ask ourselves if the perceived benefit is worth the long term negative consequence or prevents us from experiencing some sort of future benefit.  Most people engage in drinking or drug use because there is some perceived benefit. The benefits may be because they believe 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 certain situation. Usually these thoughts or beliefs are activated by a certain event. For example, if something bad happens at work or a person gets in an argument, then the person may think to themselves, “I feel stressed right now and drinking will help me feel better” or they may think to themselves “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 want to use drugs to celebrate or feel better. For example, they may think to themselves “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 or think to yourself, “Are they 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 eventually be social, 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 a person starts thinking about the perceived short term benefits of drinking, then they can ask themselves whether those short term benefits are worth the long term negative consequences or if the short term benefits are preventing them from experiencing the long term benefits of sobriety.

Moreover, people often quit drinking or using drugs because of the negative consequences. However, they often stay sober because they experience positive benefits they did not realize they could experience while sober. For example, while sober, there physical and mental health may improve, they develop closer relationships and experience deeper levels of intimacy with there loved ones, their self-esteem improves because they are able to handle life ups and downs without drinking or using, and they actually have more fun sober. Having more fun while sober actually surprises people. Many people are afraid to quit drinking or using because they believe their life will be boring. However, many people in recovery often explain they are having more fun in there life because they feel greater levels of awareness, connection, and true happiness during the good times in life and fun events they previously went through sober.

So, if you are considering quitting drinking or using, then ask yourself what is your relationship to drugs and alcohol right now and are you 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? Is the short term benefit of drinking or using drugs worth the long term negative consequences? After you have written these answers down, then thinking through the answers when you are tempted to use or drink can help you to quit.


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

Founder of Spiritual Media Blog

Spiritual Media Blog features articles, guest blogs, and reviews about spirituality and psychology.

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Dr. Matthew Welsh J.D., Ph.D. is the founder of Spiritual Media Blog. After graduating from law school Dr. Welsh is the creator of Spiritual Media Blog to be a source of entertainment and media. He began his career in Hollywood working for an entertainment agency, the William Morris Agency, and then as a trial lawyer for the Department of Child Services in Indiana. He realized that he was not happy working as a lawyer. So, he quit his job as a lawyer to pursue his calling to become a psychologist and obtained his Ph.D. in Psychology. He now works as a full-time psychologist. Spiritual Media Blog is an inspirational and creative platform for his passions related to spirituality, and psychology. His hope for Spiritual Media Blog is that it provides you with content that is practical, inspirational, and entertaining.

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