We can choose our friends, but we can’t choose our family and so…..how do we deal with this issue if our close family members still drink? Should we just go off the grid and avoid them? Should we insist that they don’t drink when you’re around? Annie answers this question by sharing some of her tools to help avoid the neurological stress created in these situations. Find out her best advice for dealing with the drinkers in the family.

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Download EP:180 Transcript


A lot of people report that after the first month, the first six weeks, it does get harder because all the reasons that you were drinking in the first place really start to fade. Think about what it feels like to be nauseous. It’s really hard to imagine what that feels like. Or what it feels like to have a hangover. Again, that’s really difficult to imagine. You can’t easily recall these moments of regret. You can’t easily recall the difficulties that you had, the guilt you felt, because we tend to recall things just through sort of rose colored glasses. I think that can be really difficult. Then having people around you who just insist on drinking can obviously make it even more difficult.


The decision has to be your decision for you. It can’t be your decision for your family members or for anybody else. It has to come from a place in you where you realize that you want more and that you have the power to have more in your life. And this decision, it has to be undivided. I think that’s a piece that a lot of people skip over, because as long as you’re letting it be “Oh, well, I might drink on occasion. Well, I’m going to see how it goes.”, you continue to have a lot of pain.

I remember instances where, if I couldn’t drink, like when I was pregnant, it was so much easier because there wasn’t a decision there. It was absolute.

If I would go, “Oh, I’m going to try not to drink.”, that was impossible. Guess what my mind was taken up with? The entire time I was there was trying not to drink, and then eventually I’d give in.

End the Argument

It’s been said that in this argument between the angel on the one shoulder and the devil on one shoulder, there’s no winners because ultimately, the devil always will win at some point. You have to end the argument, and you can end the argument by making a really firm, clear decision.

Absolute Decision

The things that you need to do in order to get to that point of absolute decision could be really intense, involving a lot of reflection, and looking at your own life, and really mindfully thinking about drinking. Specifically in the instances that you do drink, and especially when your family members still drink, and what it does for it.

Life Changing

The decision, once you commit all of yourself to it, it can change your entire life, and it can free you from a lifetime of decisions. There’s been neurological studies to show that even the decision between 20 different brands of dish detergent at the store can really tax your brain. Those little decisions tax your brain as much as some of the really big decisions.

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You make a really big, “I am not going to drink for this amount time”, your lifetime … Or if you are not ready for your lifetime, six months or a year decision. You make that very firm decision and you make that very firm commitment, it relieves all the pressure of all the little decisions of “I’m going to try not to drink”, which is a very neurologically stressed out place to be. The thing that happens is that, actually, studies have shown that self-control is one of the most taxing things your brain can do. So, you’re putting yourself in this state of this constant self-control by allowing these decisions to be a possibility.

If drinking is a possibility, you have to exercise self-control to not do it. If you’ve decided that drinking is not a possibility, and you’ve committed to that decision, as long as you’re not completely physically addicted, you have the capacity to make that decision. And that really can relieve your stress.

When Family Members Still Drink

So, I would make that decision a moment in time in the future, and prepare for it. Envision how you’re going to deal with different temptations, and become incredibly mindful of the temptations that you’re going through right now. So, when your family member comes, they offer you something, they give you a hard time, start to become really explicit in your mind of what that feels like and what sort of things you could do in the future to get over those things and to alleviate it. Then float the idea of you giving up alcohol for a certain amount of time … And I would recommend, again, six months to a year because that’s going to give you as much time as possible to really get your own head on straight and get out of the clutches of alcohol addiction. I’d recommend a lifetime, but I understand if that can be really scary and you might need to start somewhere.

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