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AA Didn’t Work For Me: How I Overcame Drinking and Got My Life Back

steps to overcoming addiction
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Exclusive interview by Carol Marak

If only I had______, my life would be happier, brighter, more satisfying.

Debi Talbert, now an intentional living coach and host of EXIT the Drinking Life podcast, adhered to negative self-talk for years. Her self-esteem tumbled down a rabbit hole – a labyrinth with no outlet. This is, unfortunately, the case for far too many people.

Debi’s mind controlled her actions. At 18, she started drinking alcohol to overcome shyness and her low self-image. She wanted to be an extrovert, to be more social. Alcohol was her crutch to make it happen.    

Listening to Debi’s story hit a few chords of my own. It reminded me of the pesky demons I wrestle with from time to time. Perhaps you can relate. Living in a culture of more is better, our society pressures people to look a certain way, earn more money, achieve more success, and keep up with the Joneses.

It’s no wonder individuals use facial fillers, drink excessive alcohol, and go into debt. They develop habits to feel good enough, strong enough, or brave enough.  A madness without borders. 

Struggling with Alcohol

Debi was a pro at self-deception, especially when dealing with her unconscious ego defenses—the kind that arose from inner conflict. Her battles with alcohol were grave and far-reaching. She was 55 and at her daughter’s wedding when she finally got a wake-up call. Debi partied so much that day she failed to show up for the photo shoots. Even today she can’t remember any part of the event.

She vowed to recover from the substance abuse after that event. That very day, Debi made the decision to try to unpack and stabilize the outer turmoil. She wanted an inner self that didn’t need protecting — just revealing.

steps to overcoming addiction

Steps to overcoming Addiction

While transformation from destructive behaviors is possible on your own, most people seek help and support. They turn to Alcoholics Anonymous, rehab, counseling, and reading material.  

Alcoholic Anonymous is the option you hear about most often. The 12 step program’s philosophy is that people addicted to alcohol are powerless, which did not resonate with Debi. The book, Law of Attraction  by Michael Losier provided a different kind of encouragement for Debi. The book’s philosophy is that positive thoughts bring positive results into a person’s life—while negative thoughts bring negative outcomes.  Living with a well-developed defeatist mindset, low self-esteem and even lower confidence, the positive thought principles offered promise unlike anything she felt for a long time.  

Positive thoughts bring positive results vs. admitting to powerlessness

Debi couldn’t buy into AA’s concept of powerlessness after reading The Law of Attraction. The book’s positive and upbeat messages sparked faith and optimism in her. She believed she had a higher chance of surviving the negative mentality if she followed the book’s principles. Debi’s journey to alcohol freedom was a series of ups and downs. Many stops and starts. Her lasting transformation happen when she concentrated on the Law of Attraction’s strategy of deciding what you want. When Debi focused on finding out what she actually wanted from the alcohol – shifted her beliefs and thoughts about alcohol – her desire for alcohol faded, as did her struggle.

Possibilities, shifting negative to positive self-talk, and creating new opportunities became her focus, and research her new obsession. She discovered another book, This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life, which sealed the deal. It provided a clear roadmap to rewire her brain. In essence, it taught her, We don’t do what we say, we do what we believe.

This Naked Mind promoted journaling to release unwanted feelings and thoughts. It gave her a way to process and to slow down. Negative self-talk, I’m not enough, I feel shame, I don’t have enough money, I’m not worthy, I’m the dumb one—lost it’s power and control. 

Healing Alcohol Addiction

Debi Talbert is no longer reliant on wine or liquor for self-worth and confidence. Instead, she uses methodologies she learned through reading and applying The Law of Attraction, This Naked Mind, life coaching, online classes, and research to help her to be her best self.

One step at a time, Debi further applied the methodologies to rewire her brain. The science behind the addictive brain patterns, based on the premise that beliefs create feelings that cause an action or reaction, taught her that changing her mindset can ultimately deliver a particular consequence. 

Rewiring the brain – the process

Debi started by working to recognize the things she’d done right. This data provided proof that tied past successes and behaviors to the present moment. For example, she journaled about obstacles she overcame and survived, like navigating a stressful job and raising children. This exercise prominently displayed: 

  • Beliefs about her worth
  • Beliefs about her ability
  • The stories she anticipated about her future
  • Awareness of what she accomplished thus far

Next, Debi did a cost/benefit analysis of drinking using self-examination:

  • What are alcohol’s gifts to me?
  • What do I want from alcohol?
  • What do I expect from alcohol?
  • What benefits did I receive when hungover?
Debi Talbert
Debi Talbert, Life Coach and Founder of The Exit Methodology

The EXIT Methodology

Years later, the work Debi did culminated in her EXIT Methodology that she uses to coach clients today:

Explore, Examine, Experiment – new possibilities.

X-out – thoughts, beliefs, habits and routines getting in your way.

Ignite curiosity instead of judgment.

Trust yourself to figure things out.

No matter the addiction, it makes us feel defeated. And most of us have little hope for the future when we feel like a failure. Debi tells me when clients apply her EXIT strategy, there’s a shift within three sessions; they experience a self-confidence moment. That’s when she gets goosebumps—the kind that confirms they’re on the road to recovery. 

The bottom line

Debi works with clients of all ages, but she is on a particular mission to help every woman age 50+ love what they see in the mirror, create lives they love living and decide for themselves where alcohol fits into the life they want to live. She is an inspirational life coach who specializes in addiction – and who really “gets it”. 

This quote from an article Debi wrote for 50PlusToday called, Drinking More As You Age? You’re Not Alone. Why And How I Stopped, says it all:

I am happier, healthier, fitter, more productive, and better rested now that I no longer feel the need to reach for a drink or two (or three) every day. I now work toward achieving dreams and I am starting a business as my third act. I feel joyful and am back to the “get a room” kind of relationship with my husband of 25 years. I spend quality time with amazing kids and grandkids. The biggest difference between who I am now verses who I was? I am fully present and absolutely loving life.

If you need help, don’t suffer in silence. And don’t let embarrassment or shame stop you from seeking help. More people are in your same situation, or have been, than you know.  Learn more about Debi Talbert and the inspiring services she offers to help you become the most joyful version of yourself (and the steps to overcoming addiction)  HERE.

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