I’ve never been exactly an alcoholic. But no one really is. I mean, it’s really more of a continuum than a simple categorical statement like, “I’m an alcoholic.” For me, I had a drinking problem but not enough to interfere too much with my life. But it was still a concern so here are some things I did to figure out how to deal with this.
1. Whiskey was too much for me. So I switched to beer. You don’t have to completely quit alcohol but you should try to make it more manageable. Drink beer instead of hard liquor so that your belly fills up faster and you don’t get as inebriated. This isn’t exactly a Stoic technique but it is rational and it will save you some trouble.
2. Remember, to drink water between beers. This helps to make the effects of alcohol even less potent than otherwise. Drinking water will also fill your belly faster and keep you from drinking as much and as often. It will also keep you more hydrated and you’ll avoid feeling nearly as hungover in the morning as you normally would without pacing yourself.
3. Never drink on an empty stomach. Also make sure you eat something as well as drink something in between beers.
4. Now that you’ve done 1-3, you’ve definitely achieved some success; you might be drinking more than a moderate amount but you’re helping your liver a lot more and your liver is thanking you.
5. If alcohol is still a problem by this point you’re probably still drinking too many beers even though you’re taking water and food breaks in between. You should probably not be drinking 12 beers in a day, even beers that don’t seem to have much more alcoholic content than water like Budlight.
6. If you’re drinking too many beers, here’s where the Stoic advice should come in handy. You’re not drinking too much because of weakness of will, you’re drinking too much because you’re suffering from a lack of wisdom. You think alcohol is the ultimate good in your life and it can really seem that way because it feels like a shortcut to tranquility. But really, the best way to tranquility is virtue. That means you should know what’s truly in your control and not in your control. Your choices are in your control but whether those choices yield actionable results is not truly in your control. You should also know that less alcohol means you can do more good for those around you. If you let alcohol be your only good in life, you’ll forget the true good you can do for others. Instead of staying home and drinking you can go to your daughter’s soccer game. That does so much more true good for you and your daughter than sitting at home drinking alone.
7. If you’re drinking too many beers, it could be because you’re avoiding something. You have social anxiety, you have depression, you might even have generalized anxiety. If any of these are the case, seek professional help. Psychological therapy can go a long way to helping you get over your issues, especially when a psychologist is helping you. You can also practice Stoicism. All our fears tend to be magnified because of our judgment that externals are bad. Try to help yourself get rid of the judgment that things external to you are bad and you might find that some of your fears dissipate.
8. Remember, you’re never a failure if you find yourself running back to the bottle. Don’t ever hate yourself. You’re mistakenly covering up for fear or depression by pursuing something you misjudge as a good way to dissolve those fears or depression. The best way though is often through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy used by a sufficiently trained CBT Ph.D. Psychologist. And, of course, supplementing CBT with a life philosophy like Stoicism.
9. You are not an alcoholic. You may have a drinking problem but you are not defined by that problem. You are simply drinking beyond moderation. It’s interfering with your desire to pursue virtue. Don’t let it. Try to remember your last taste of what it was like to do good and do that thing. Do the good. Be the good. You can be a good person. But you are not an alcoholic. You just drink too much.
I hope this helps someone like it did me.