Breaking Bad Habits of Substance Abuse 

Breaking bad habits of addictions, substance and alcohol abuse (caffeine and sugar included) are some of the toughest challenges you may ever face. A personal journey that everyone may face at some stage in their life. And it may not even look like abuse.

I started drinking at 12. By 15, I was a heavy drinker. I was drinking several beers, shots of vodka, whiskey & wine in one go. By 21, I was easily adding a bottle of tequila onto everything else.

I wasn’t drinking everyday as an adult. I’d started working. I had become a weekend party binge drinker. I never drank on my own. I wasn’t the obvious alcoholic.

Jo-Addiction
Me in my party drinking days. Don’t be fooled by the outside smile.

This is a part of my life change journey I’d like to share with you. It wasn’t easy when I quit. I didn’t know how to have fun. It was the culture of my social community.

I didn’t know then at twelve – when I had my first drink and smoke. It was just what I did so I could talk up a storm, feel free…

…and think I was being me.

I just knew that it was an adults-only affair. All the more enticing it became.

From about twelve to twenty seven, at every social interaction – I danced a grand dance with Black Label, J&B, Tukela, and cheap-cheap red wine.

Now – like many a love affair, it wasn’t every day. I didn’t consider it alcohol abuse. You see, I didn’t thirst after it the way you see it in the movies. It was just what I did, like you may do, after work to relax, and at parties to unwind.

I didn’t know it then, but when I drank it was the one time the empty hole inside my heart vanished. The one time the gnawing churn in my stomach quietened. It was just what I did you see…

… After all, I could drink anyone under the table. It was just what I did because drinking was what we all did back then.

Breaking bad habits means letting go what you believe it gives you

In some circles, like media and advertising, it was the thing to have a bottle while you waited for deadlines late at night (and lunchtime rendezvous). After all, back in those days, everything seemed free and easy when we sat around doing the tukela slam.

It took many a year before I noticed this lover of mine, that wrapped me up at night – cloaked my soul in numbness and chained my heart in a sea of storms, blinding me even to the lightening strikes that flashed across the reddened skies…

…That I became brave in ways that loved danger more than life. That this lover of mine loved me not at all. Slowly it eroded all the beauty that was me. And most certainly – what beauty there was – I could not see.

No, I don’t think the alcohol made me into something I wasn’t. I think it showed me some of what I already was – but at a pain level not light. Hiding me from my own grace. Denying me of my own power. Until I had forgotten all that was great in me.

My friend Karen, whom I call sister, said to me once – “When you drink I am afraid of you, afraid for you.’

That was the first seed to awaken me from my slumber. The beginning of breaking bad habits in my life.

I was alone when I awoke…

…And only I could lift my spirits up to a place where I would begin to live my every dream I had onced placed upon a star with childhood friends at midnight.

It took a while. But in December 1998, I decided – that was that.

I was tired of posioning myself. No longer could this ex-lover fool me into thinking together we had more fun, freedom and life.

I wanted the true taste of being FREE. Of JOY. Of LIVING.

Breaking Bad Habits Continues. Go to Part II

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