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No Desire For Alcohol, Is That even Possible?

Updated: Feb 28

alcohol burning desire
Are you like a moth to a flame with alcohol?

Back in 2007 when I started my first foray into becoming alcohol free, I used a process of conditioning my mindset for change and then when I felt ready, stopping the behaviour of drinking alcohol altogether. Whenever I hit a bump in the road and felt the beginnings of a need for a drink, I would counter that desire for a drink in that moment with the internal rhetoric of a crazed temperance advocate.

That internal rhetoric was on and off for the eight plus years I was not drinking. At times it was barely a whisper, barely acknowledged and ineffective in changing my behaviour. It depended on what might trigger me. Sometimes there was nothing, especially as time went on. Then, I might happen to give a longing glance at someone slaking their thirst on a hot day at one of four pubs in my home town and think about one in that moment. I would quickly have to push down any thoughts like "just one.. it'll be ok" Other times, watching a table full of diners pouring voluminous amounts of red wine into their glasses, I would be reduced to countering my drinking thoughts with mantras of "you have a disease, you can never drink again, you are not like other people, and so on.."

For the first year or so, I didn't go to the pub or rarely ate out in a restaurant, which was hard on my wife as she had lost her drinking buddy and her social life attached to my drinking persona.

My internal barrier against surfacing thoughts and beliefs that alcohol had benefits was like swiss cheese, it leaked a lot and required a lot of effort to plug the holes.

Brow beating myself to sobriety. Shaming myself to piousness. Unpleasant but what I believed was necessary to maintain my life of self imposed exile without alcohol.

"At your very core you still believe alcohol has benefits but the pain of drinking is more than the pain of giving up the perceived benefits of alcohol."

Such is the nature of behaviour based change, you are using willpower to overcome any thoughts or beliefs that counter your willpower. At your very core you still believe alcohol has benefits but the pain of drinking is more than the pain of giving up the perceived benefits of alcohol. It requires energy to argue with yourself about maintaining your steadfast stance on changing the behaviour, enforcing sobriety. On the one hand you have the quiet sympathetic voice seeking to ease your discomfort by seducing you into having a sip of alcohol, only to be countered by the critical nasty voice telling you how stupid can you be even thinking like that. The arguing with yourself is painful and your willpower is a finite resource. Much like holding a 10 pound weight over your head, your arm muscles will tire and fatigue, eventually giving way... so will your willpower over time.

The interesting thing about both of these voices is that they actually both want the same thing for you, they want you to be free of pain, they want to protect you and they want the best for you.

The sympathetic voice wants to ease the pain that it knows is caused by abstaining from the very thing you subconsciously believe is necessary for your being.

The angry, nasty, critical voice is scared that you are going to go back to the very behaviour that you sought to escape from and seeks to keep you on your chosen path by shaming and blaming you into submission.

Trouble is, the sympathetic voice is using the wrong tool to fix you - more alcohol

and the critical nasty voice is also using the wrong tool to fix you - shame and blame!

So what to do? Many traditional forms of giving away drinking involve willpower whether it be counting drinks, counting days, morning mantras such as "I will not drink today". These can be useful and can have their place to set intention and stick to the plan, however those pesky thoughts and beliefs that you still hold that alcohol is your "friend with benefits" will still seek to break your resolve.

What if you could get to a place where there is no conflict, no desire for alcohol, no thoughts surfacing on how your life is over, that you alone cannot drink, while everyone else is happily swimming in it?

"Meh, like ok, that's not me anymore, that's not what I do now"

IS it even POSSIBLE? Yes, it is. If you had told me in the years between 2007 and 2016 that one day I would get to a place where I had no actual desire for alcohol I would have laughed at you, impossible! Even on my second journey to freedom from alcohol in 2021 it didn't click that the end result of my learning and reframing my alcohol use would be no desire for alcohol. It took a while to realise that had actually happened to me. But now I can honestly say I don't desire it. I can take it or leave it, where others are busy with drinking, I don't look lovingly at their half full wine glasses. I just think to myself each to their own, live and let live. Just don't breathe on me, or spill your drink on me! If things get rowdy and I start to get uncomfortable, I just move away, or take my leave altogether. I can go anywhere, be anywhere were alcohol exists but I have no desire to drink at all. I can honestly say though sometimes very rarely, old neural pathways will pop-up and be like "a drink would be nice" but then it is quickly countered with curiosity like "Where did that come from, was it a familiar place, a smell, a memory, am I romanticising alcohol in a similar environment from bygone days?"

"Meh, like ok, that's not me anymore, that's not what I do now" They're nothing to be scared of or to get frightened about, often they are just old "neural stubs" in the brain that are queued when the conditions are right and they pop up. Just like an annoying pop-up on a web page they are examined, dealt with and closed off.

The way through to this point has been educating myself, reading "quitlit" (quit literature), listening to podcasts, working on my subconscious and conscious thoughts and beliefs around alcohol. Understanding that my old nemesis does not hold any benefits for me whatsoever! That our relationship was at its core toxic to my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. It does take work, it's not a "one and done" process. Annie Grace's book "This Naked Mind" has been the how to, I read it about five times (takes me a while to get the message lol) on the bus to and from work. I did a lot of the exercises and even did some journaling to get my thoughts and beliefs on paper where they could be viewed, reviewed and changed. I made a list with what I thought were the good things about alcohol on one side and what I thought all the bad things were on the other side. The bad side had a lot more entries. It was useful to see on paper what my conscious beliefs about alcohol were. The more difficult ones were those that I could not see, things relating to me, personally. I needed alcohol to fit in, to be liked, to help me connect with others. All not true to me now, but they were then. In fact I originally picked the book up with a view to moderating my drinking, to control it, the thought of giving up again altogether wasn't on my radar. Somewhere along the way I switched!

That is the beauty of emotion based change, by changing the way I felt about not drinking, it was easier to stop altogether.

When I thought I was ready, I signed up for the TNM (This Naked Mind) free 30 day experiment to test 30 days of non-drinking. I went 30 days alcohol free and just kept going. Its been over two and half years now. By working on my thoughts and beliefs, I changed the way I thought about alcohol, I changed the way I felt about drinking to a point where I didn't really want it anymore. That is the beauty of emotion based change, by changing the way I felt about not drinking, it was easier to stop altogether. No more FOMO, (fear of missing out) because I didn't drink. No need to hide away and avoid anyone that drinks or avoid anywhere that alcohol is served. No need to worry about how much or how often one is consuming alcohol. Always being able to respond to those in need. Recently we had a late night call from an elderly relative that needed an ambulance. I drove my wife and I to a country town 30 minutes away to be with them when the ambulance arrived. Then we followed it to hospital, waiting for the relative to be assessed and discharged. Something I couldn't have done when I was drinking heavily most nights. It would have been highly probable that I would have had an accident or been caught drink driving.

Annie Grace herself describes her life now as one where alcohol is small and irrelevant, a sentiment many of us who have been through the TNM process share. Imagine not wanting alcohol at all—no desire, nothing, how freeing would that be? Think about the possibilities without the distractions and negative effects of alcohol. Picture waking up each day with clarity and energy, able to pursue your passions and goals without the weight of alcohol-related thoughts clouding your mind . I'm just one of many whose journey shows that reassessing our relationship with alcohol can lead to a more fulfilling life. You too can break free from societal norms, focus on the positives, and envision a future where you're not held back by alcohol, but instead, empowered to live a more vibrant and purposeful life.

What to know more and how to get started? Contact me or better yet, book a no obligation discovery call with me. It's really an informal chat over a Zoom session to talk about where you are at, what your goals are, what coaching with the TNM process is and what support I can provide you in your own journey to find freedom from alcohol, however that looks for you.

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