Onto my other previous addiction: alcohol. Ah, sweet alcohol.

In all seriousness, though, alcohol addiction is a very real problem. Was I an alcoholic? To my mind at the time, I wasn’t, but perhaps others in my life would have disagreed. I was certainly drinking a lot of alcohol, many times alone or in secret, and often to numb myself or distract myself from something else. However, I did continue working and my job performance was not suffering. I had never drank on the job (although I will admit, the thought did cross my mind more than once).

I don’t know when my alcohol addiction started. I’m pretty sure after I turned 18, because I had finished high school. It started insidiously, just a couple of drinks at a time, not a lot by most standards. It really kicked into high gear during my postgraduate studies at university, after I had returned from a year overseas and had moved back in with my parents. I was stressed and overwhelmed by my coursework and part time job, and I felt isolated from my friends who were out in the real world getting real jobs and starting their lives. I wasn’t drinking every day, perhaps only once a week or once a fortnight – but I was drinking a lot each time.

After I moved out, my drinking abated a little but then picked up again in full force, even worse than before. Most nights I would pour a glass after work, whilst preparing dinner. On Friday and Saturday nights, it would be two or three or four glasses. I was easily able to drink a full bottle of wine, although thankfully this didn’t happen too often. Instead of binge-drinking, it was more steady throughout the week. I started having fewer and fewer “dry” days. My alcohol consumption continued well into 2011.

Coinciding with all of this was my continual exploration of a fruit based raw diet (for another post). It was only in mid to late 2011, even into early 2012, that I really learned how to do the diet properly.

Before I discovered a raw diet, I was drinking all types of alcohol. I usually bought hard liquor like vodka or rum or tequila, which I thought was cheaper and less calorie-dense than wine. Eventually I started drinking only wine, and this lasted for a few years.

As my intake of fruit increased, my tolerance of alcohol decreased. I started noticing that my physical strength and stamina was poor the morning after, even after only one glass of wine. Alcohol started losing its appeal, and I became aware that wine smelled “off” and “vinegar-ish” to me (well, it is fermented fruit). The thought of having a drink was no longer pleasurable. I got to the end of 2012 and realised that I hadn’t even had a sip of alcohol for the entire year. Not even on New Year, nor on my birthday. Had I chosen to consume alcohol, I am sure that one whiff of the stuff would have set me straight. Interestingly, at family gatherings over the last 12 months I have found myself increasingly repulsed by the smell emanating from the open bottles of wine.

Like with coffee, I didn’t use willpower. I intensely dislike “white-knuckling it”. With changes in my diet, exercise habits, and mindset, these “bad” habits just fell away. In my opinion, that is the secret to successful and permanent habit change. When we try to remove something from our life, we are left with a gaping hole, often with no idea how to fill it.

If we think about children, there comes a time when they outgrow the rattles and start playing with blocks and dolls and trucks. How does it happen? They find other activities, other interests, and the rattles get sidelined until they are no longer appealing. There’s no white-knuckling. There’s no force involved. It’s a natural progression into better habits that make the old “bad” habits fall away.