Since quitting drugs and alcohol, I’ve never felt better. Here are some reasons why I knew I had to get sober.
Before I quit drugs and alcohol, my life was a mess. I nearly lost everything.
Relatively speaking, I wasn’t even that bad off, either. I never had the stomach for opioids, so I never got caught up with heroin or even Percocet or fentanyl. I never injected anything, never stole money to buy drugs, and never hurt anyone physically when I was under the influence. Luckily, I always had a place to stay so I never wound up on the streets.
My problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to stop doing coke when I was drinking. Honestly, I didn’t even enjoy cocaine the first few times I tried it. I didn’t like the way it made me feel. But, the more it came around and the more bumps I took, the more it seemed to grow on me. Before I knew it, I was hooked. And, not only was I addicted to coke, but I was an alcoholic, too. To me, the two drugs went hand in hand.
Although I always had a roof over my head, I did lose my job. I was arrested and charged with a few DUIs. I also alienated nearly all of my friend and family. As I became more and more dependent on drugs and alcohol, I slowly lost every shred of confidence I ever had. In the end, I found myself with very little hope for the future. It was bad.
Quitting Drugs and Alcohol Was the Best Choice I Ever Made
If I was able to quit, anyone can do it. I’m convinced of that. It takes a lot of work, but the effort is well worth it.
There are so many reasons to quit drinking alcohol and doing drugs. It took me a long time to realize why quitting was important. But, once I understood why it was important for me personally, I committed and never looked back.
In this article, I discuss some of the reasons why I wanted to cut drugs and alcohol out of my life. I also offer some advice on how to quit drugs for anyone who might need it.
1. I Knew Drinking and Drugs Were Bad for Me
Everyone knows that drugs are bad. Most people realize that excessive drinking is bad, too. But, when you’re caught up in the grips of an addiction, it’s easy to overlook the fact that these substances have negative consequences in your life.
After a while, though, the side effects of my addiction were hard to ignore. Most of my family members had stopped talking to me (each member had a different reason for distancing themselves). My physical health was suffering (I puked up blood a handful of times). And, because I lost my job and had DUIs on my record, my future looked bleak.
Ultimately, drinking and drugs impacted every aspect of my life. It took a toll on my physical, emotional, and financial health.
This was my biggest reason for quitting alcohol and drugs. I realized that, if I didn’t stop, my problems would only get worse. Somewhere around 5,000 people die of cocaine overdoses every year. And nearly 90,000 die from alcohol-related causes every year. So, I knew that I was on a dangerous path and things could end badly for me.
It took me a long time to see this clearly. But, once I saw my life for what it was, I knew that I had to change something.
2. I Wanted to Be a Better Role Model
I don’t have kids of my own, yet. But, when my siblings started having children, I promised myself that I’d be the best uncle I could be. At that time, I hadn’t yet evolved into a drug addict and alcoholic.
Of course, my problem grew worse as my nieces and nephews got older. By the time they were old enough to know who I was, I was a full-blown addict. I couldn’t necessarily be a good uncle when I was preoccupied with hangovers and getting my next fix.
After I lost my job, I moved in with my sister who had a spare room and, surprisingly, was still willing to talk to me. When she offered me the room, I moved in under the guise that I was trying to get clean. At first, this wasn’t true. I still planned to go out drinking and continuing my cocaine habit, hoping that she might not notice.
Of course, she noticed. She also threatened to kick me out. But, that had less to do with my decision than being around my niece and nephew every day. I read something about how children who grow up with an addict in their house are far more likely to become addicts themselves.
I decided that quitting drugs and alcohol was the only way I could be a good influence on the children in my life.
3. I Grew Tired of the Hangovers
Nothing makes you wake up and say, “I want to quit drinking,” quite like a hangover. When I was drinking and doing coke every night, I had bad hangovers every day. Eventually, it got to a point that I spent at least half of every day recovering. I’d lay in bed for hours after I woke up, swearing that I’d never get drunk or high again. Of course, I continued to use for a very long time even though I knew alcohol was ruining my life.
So, I continued to get sick and vomit each morning. I also continued to feel horrible throughout my days.
One day, after searching for hangover cures online, I came across an interesting article about why we get alcohol hangovers. It didn’t help to cure my headaches but it did help me realize that the only true cure was to quit drinking. The idea of sobriety was already floating around in my head, so I added “no more hangovers” to my list of reasons to give up alcohol.
4. I Embarrassed Myself One Too Many Times
Like many addicts, I used to HUMILIATE myself when I was drunk and high. I said far too many things that I regret saying and did far too many things that I regret doing. For your sake (and mine), I won’t go into details. However, I will say that once I quit drugs and alcohol, I had to apologize to a lot of people.
As any drinker knows, alcohol lowers our inhibitions and makes us feel confident…at least while we’re drunk. But, once the booze wears off, our brain chemistry returns to its normal state. Usually, our normal selves aren’t as outgoing as our drunk selves. So, once the booze has left our system, we usually regret some things we did when we were drunk.
Remember, I was using large amounts of cocaine, too. For those who’ve never used it, cocaine makes you quite talkative. So, as you might imagine, I was saying embarrassing things on a daily basis.
It’s not a huge deal to say embarrassing things to other drug addicts at a party. But, once I started embarrassing myself in front of non-addicts at work and family functions, I started to hate myself. Over time, I started to understand that quitting all drugs was the only way to relieve myself of constant humiliation.
5. I Craved Real Human Connection
I’m not a scientist so I don’t understand the science of addiction. I’m not a psychologist, either, so I can’t explain why I gravitated toward drugs. But, I always had a feeling that my substance abuse problem had something to do with loneliness.
When I started using drugs in my early 20’s, I was somewhat of a loner. I’d get together with friends every few weeks for a couple drinks. But, I never felt any genuine connection to the people around me. It almost felt like my friends were humoring me and inviting me out just to be nice.
Once I started drinking more and doing drugs, though, I started to feel accepted. When I was partying, I felt like I could be myself. I became outgoing. I made people laugh. I enjoyed being around people for the first time in my life. But, those feelings only persisted as long as I was drunk and high.
Deep down, I knew that the connection I felt wasn’t real. I knew that the crowd I hung out with were all just as messed up as I was. These people didn’t call me unless the plan was to get drunk. If I wanted to experience true human connection, I knew the drinking and drugs would have to end.
6. I Wanted to Sleep Better
People often associate alcohol with sleep. It’s probably because we’ve all seen someone who drank too much and passed out. Trust me, I’ve definitely been the person who got drunk and fell asleep on the couch at a party.
But, when you drink all the time, your sleep habits suffer. You just don’t sleep as well. A friend explained to me the reason why alcohol and sleep don’t mesh well. Basically, it’s because booze activates a part of your brain that only works when you’re awake. So, although you might fall asleep drunk, part of your brain is still functioning like you’re cognizant. In the end, you don’t actually get good rest.
That’s exactly what happened to me. Up until I quit doing drugs and drinking, I’m not sure I ever got a full night’s rest. Remember, I was doing a fair amount of cocaine, too. That also played a huge role in my lack of sleep.
To be honest, my sleep problems didn’t stop immediately once I quit. It actually took several more months before I got a good night’s sleep. This, in part, was due to cocaine withdrawal syndrome, which is known to cause insomnia. But, after staying clean for a few months, I finally slept like a normal, healthy person.
7. I Wasted All of My Money On Drinking and Drugs
A bad drug and alcohol habit can really drain your wallet. At the height of my addiction, I was spending upwards of $200 a day on cocaine alone. That didn’t even include all of the drinks I was buying at bars. It didn’t include the fines I had to pay for my DUIs, either.
Once I lost my job, I knew I had to quit drugs and alcohol if I wanted to survive financially. But, because my sister let me live with her, I didn’t have to worry about rent (I kept telling her I’d pay her soon. It’s one of the classic lies that addicts tell).
I had a good job before that, so I had some money saved up. But, once I blew that drinking and doing drugs, the only way for me to get back on my feet was to quit.
8. I Knew I Could Be More Productive
Before I became an addict, I had all kinds of hopes, dreams, goals, and hobbies. I had a decent job, but I also had aspirations outside work. I’ve always loved drawing, so I had plans to write a graphic novel. I also make music and I hoped to put together an album at some point.
When you’re in the grips of an addiction, though, you stop caring about your hobbies. They don’t produce the same rush of dopamine in your brain. While I did draw occasionally and sometimes played guitar when I was high, I didn’t do it nearly as much as I should have been.
Quitting drugs and alcohol allowed me to re-engage with my passions. For the first time in years, I have enough energy and motivation to pursue my hobbies. While this wasn’t on my list of reasons to quit drinking and doing drugs at the time, it turned out to be one of the best benefits.
9. I Was Unable to Enjoy Anything Except Using
Not only did my productivity diminish when I was addicted, but my entire personal life was impacted, as well. My family relationships suffered. My friendships dissipated. Anything that had made me happy earlier in life stopped bringing me joy.
After a while, I found myself unwilling to go to an event where I couldn’t drink to excess. For example, I skipped my friend’s wedding because I knew that if I got as drunk as I wanted to, I’d embarrass myself. I knew it wouldn’t be fun for me to go sober, so I stayed home and drank alone instead.
For a few years, this was a common occurrence in my life. I’d make up excuses to stay home or head out of town to party with other addicts. If it didn’t involve getting high and unreasonably drunk, I wanted nothing to do with it.
After I quit drugs, I learned that they actually change your brain over time. Once someone is addicted, their addicted brain starts to see the drug of choice as something it needs to survive. So, it’s not surprising that I found zero pleasure in other activities. Luckily, once I quit and committed to sobriety, I started to enjoy other things besides drugs and alcohol again.
10. I Lost My Sense of Self-Worth
When I first started using, I felt great. As I discussed above, drugs gave me a newfound sense of confidence. For the first time in my life, I felt like a fun person who other people liked.
But, that feeling didn’t last long. As my life got worse and worse, I began to lose all sense of self-worth. I had no confidence. My self-esteem went out the window. I slowly started to feel useless. Even worse, my shame drove me to drink more.
After all, I was unemployed, nearly homeless, and had very few friends who weren’t drug users themselves. Even my own family expressed their disappointment with me. The worst part was that I couldn’t even blame the ones who wanted nothing to do with me.
In the end, I knew that I had to quit drinking and using drugs to prove to myself that I had value. I had a feeling that I could rebuild my sense of self-worth if I could get sober and stick to it.
11. I Knew That My Appearance Was Suffering
Drug addiction takes a serious toll on your looks. Alcohol, specifically, dehydrates your skin and causes bloating. When I was using drugs and drinking every day, I looked terrible. My skin was bad. My eyes were always bloodshot. Even my hair started to fall out.
If it wasn’t for the cocaine, I probably would have gained some serious weight, too. But, because coke causes weight loss, I always stayed very skinny. I definitely looked horrible, though.
I started to worry that, if I didn’t quit drugs and alcohol, my physical appearance would quickly deteriorate. I’ve met plenty of forty-year-old alcoholics who look like they’re seventy years old. I never wanted to become that person. So I made it one of my reasons for quitting.
12. I Wanted a More Meaningful Life
Drinking and doing drugs every day might sound fun to some people. In reality, however, it’s not. When that’s all you ever do, you constantly feel like there’s a better life outside of the drugs.
Of course, it takes some people a long time to admit that they have a drug problem. That was certainly my case.
For years, I pretended as if everything was fine. I partied at night and worked during the day. On the weekends, I did drugs and drank for 40-50 hours straight. At first, I had a lot of fun. But, as the side effects of my drug addiction took hold, I started to feel as if my whole life was meaningless.
Fortunately, I did not have children when I was an addict. I’d always hoped to have kids someday. But, I realized that I was in no position to raise a child when I couldn’t even take care of myself.
I knew that no one would ever marry me, either, as long as I kept using. So, I continued living the isolated life of a drug addict with no prospects of a meaningful future.
Once I realized just how bleak my future looked, however, I decided it was time to quit drugs and alcohol. I knew that, if I wanted to live a life of love and happiness, I had to get the drugs out of my system.
13. I Realized It Was Possible
Honestly, one of the reasons why my habit lasted so long was that I didn’t know how to quit drugs. I was too embarrassed to ask my family or friends for help and I didn’t have the foresight to research addiction resources.
Luckily, I came across a Tumblr account about quitting drugs and alcohol by coincidence one day. That account led me into a whole Tumblr blog community about addiction recovery. I spent a few hours reading and realized that there were a ton of people out there who’d gone through the same things as me.
Many of these folks were working professionals who suffered from alcohol and cocaine addictions, just like myself. But, by seeking out treatment, these people were able to get sober.
Reading those blog posts, I learned about drug detox, rehab, and 12-step meetings. Of course, I’d always heard about these programs. But, I never believed that they actually helped people get sober. As it turns out, they do!
I can’t say that quitting all drugs at the same time was easy. Alcohol withdrawal, in particular, was quite unpleasant. But, the day I quit drinking was the worst day of the whole process. My life only improved from there.
If I Can Quit Drugs and Alcohol, Anyone Can
If you’re sitting there thinking, “I want to quit drinking and doing drugs but I don’t know how,” my best piece of advice is to reach out for help. There are plenty of people out there who want to help you get sober.
I can’t explain how much better I feel about my life now. Both physically and emotionally, I feel like a new person. If you’re out there suffering from addiction, I want you to know that you’re not alone and that a happier, healthier lifestyle is possible.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016, April). Illegal Drug Use. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/drug-use-illegal.htm
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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (n.d.). Alcohol Use Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016, Aug.). Understanding Drug Use and Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction