What if your addiction was just a bad habit

How keystone habits changed my life for the better

Joey Joyful | Hypnologist
8 min readJan 7, 2020


Used to be I couldn’t go through a day without some kind of drink.

Beer — Wine — Scotch — or a combination of all three.

If I was really in a good mood I would smoke up as well. As if the weed would counteract the effects of the alcohol in some way.

It started off as regular drinking during my teenage years. I remember the good times of sharing a 12 pack of beers in the park with my friends.

I must’ve been 25 when I had my car accident. Not because of the booze, rest assured.

No, I was waiting in traffic to get out at my exit when this guy behind me fell asleep at the wheel and rammed into me, no braking. I was still and he was moving at about 70 kph (about 45 mph). Afterwards he told me he fell asleep at the wheel after his night shift at work.

It made quite a bang. I wasn’t able to push harder down on the brakes to avoid ramming into the lady in front of me.

I whiplashed, but didn’t feel it in the moment. Concerned about the person in front I went and checked on her. She was pregnant and in shock. Must’ve been 7–8 months, her belly was almost touching the steering wheel. I asked her if she was alright and told her I would call an ambulance to check up on her.

Then I proceeded, in fury, to check up on the guy that hit me.

I was so mad I rammed both my fists into the roof of his car. In true HULK SMASH style. Even made a dent.

He was terrified. I must’ve looked like a demon. So much so I went back to my car to get my glasses.

They had fallen off my nose in the accident and I had only just then realized it when I couldn’t see his terrified face clearly.

I rummaged around in the car until I found them, on the ground in the back seat.

I was feeling out of control, I had to calm down. All I was thinking of was killing someone.

I started breathing calmly and checked the damage to our cars.

Curiously mine only had a dent in the license plate. His car was angled down and seemed to have caused no apparent damage to mine. He slid beneath mine.

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

His though, eeech. His hood was more akin to an accordion exposing the motor beneath it.

I started feeling sorry for the guy.

Still scared, he was excusing himself profusely.

He kept repeating ‘I’m Sorry, I’m Sorry’ in between ‘I just came off work, I must of dozed off’.

I felt for him. Just an average Joe trying his best. Same as me. He was finishing his work day, I was about to start mine.

The lady in front was still in a panic. She was talking gibberish and wanted to leave. I pleaded with her to wait as I wanted to call an ambulance for her, but she wouldn’t listen and drove off.

That left just me and my crash buddy.

I pulled out a ‘friendly report’ from my glove compartment, as we both seemed to be okay (the operative word here is ‘Seemed’). We quickly filled it out and I left the scene to start my workday.

Phew. What a way to start my shift.

No one believed me at work, as my car had no apparent damage (I later found out the accident had caused a leak in my gas tank I had to repair from my own pocket, always go for a check up at the garage after an accident).

So no pity from my co-workers.

I worked in a grocery store and was in the process of receiving the daily order in the back store when the pain started.

A sharp pain in my lower back. Getting steadily stronger and stronger. My back seemed to be screaming at me ‘STOP WORKING, I’M IN PAIN!!!’.

Well, within a minute I was in agony on the floor unable to move. I had no idea what had just happened. The accident was maybe 2 hours ago now, the adrenaline of the moment had probably dissipated and now the after shock was settling in.

I forget how I managed to get home, I just remember walking past my boss saying I was booking off sick because of my accident, that I couldn’t move anymore. I was walking like an old man, shuffling my feet on the floor a few inches at a time.

He didn’t believe me, thought I was joking, until I just walked out of the grocery store and called him the next day with a note from my doctor. I was off for at least 3 months. Herniated L5 disk in my lower back and sprained C3 in my neck. My back felt like a cement block.

Adrenaline and endorphines hid this from me at the scene of the accident and only showed me the damage once I calmed down. The body truly is a pharmacy and we have the best drugs out there.

Why do I talk about this in an article about sobriety? Well, this is my origin story for my drinking habit.

Conventional medicine being what it is, I was doped up on muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory pills until my intestines had no more bacteria. I was in constant pain without the meds, and in a painful daze with them.

The physio barely helped, except when she massaged my back with some hot cream and left me with hot towels to lay there for 30 minutes. That was bliss.

But getting to the physio and back was torture, the meds were torture, and I was stuck at home with my son of 2 years old and my wife who was in school at the time finishing her college degree.

Life was not grand.

I was not seeing the progress I wanted to and the prescriptions were habit forming. I supplemented the prescription meds with a pharmacy of my own.

Booze and Weed.

And at some point I stopped taking the prescription pills, and stopped going to the physio as well. I decided to take care of my own recovery. Huh. Ironic. Because that’s what caused me to become addicted.

Well, the addiction lasted quite some years. It wasn’t that apparent. Except pain was now my go to excuse to control my environment.

Whenever we were out having a good time, and the booze was either dry or we had not taken any with us, I could always resort to complaining about the pain in my back to go back home, where we were well stocked of course.

I didn’t even notice I was using pain as my excuse for booze. It just was.

And everyone was compassionate about it. Understood.

Enabled is a better word.

I think this was the lesser of two evils though. Had I kept on with the meds I probably would be a statistic in the opioid crisis in Canada today.

Instead I chose to self-medicate, so I was in a hidden statistic.

But this is often the case for would be sobers.

It creeps in on you. Doesn’t feel like an addiction because everyone drinks. And in my circle of friends, everyone smoked up as well.

Except I was doing it to hide from the physical pain. They were doing it for their own reasons.

So Keystone habits Joey! What does this have to do with anything?

Well, addiction in my vocabulary has now become a drinking habit, or a smoking habit. No more addiction for this guy. Because we are as we perceive we are. And quitting an addiction is wayyy harder than changing a drinking habit.

Photo by Joaquín on Unsplash

In architecture, a ‘Keystone’ is the stone in the middle of an alcove that holds all the others into place. It is the central stone that will solidify the whole structure.

And similarly to the keystone in architecture, a keystone habit will hold all your other habits into place.

I started meditating about 7 years ago. And when I did it was with the firm intention of quitting my booze addiction.

I can say the first addiction therapy I self administered was an experiment, mostly because I failed, but also because I learned a lot from that first attempt.

I called myself an alcoholic then. Today I changed my perspective.

My meditation habit helped me change my drinking habit. It helped me take a look inside myself and what I did quit is lying to myself.

Because we do that, we lie to ourselves when we partake in an unhealthy habit. We pretend and invent reasons to continue, but invariably we know inside it’s all a lie.

Look in the mirror, look deep into your eyes and tell yourself that unhealthy habit is good for you.

You’ll see the lie right away.

And my daily meditation habit is akin to looking deep into my eyes in the mirror and telling the truth about my habits.

A truth serum.

And it is the keystone habit that helped me become sober from alcohol.

I’m going on 4 years in April. And it feels great.

I can’t lie. I had a few drinks with my wife and family to celebrate different holidays and anniversaries. But it wasn’t the same. It was a conscious drink, and I knew it was only one. I feel it in my bones, I can’t ever go back to the unconscious drinking I used to.

Meditation has made sure of that.

And today that single habit has helped me develop other healthy habits:

  • Exercise, 3–5 times a week
  • Vegetarian diet
  • Getting rid of toxic friends
  • Stopped watching mindless TV (I still Netflix with my wife, at least there are no commercials)
  • Nature walks
  • I read to learn, a lot
  • Healthy sleep habits
  • Daily gratitude journal

And I share all that I learn with others like me. Others that are willing to get sober without any complicated steps, or need to believe in a divinity we can’t see or feel.

Those that feel as if they have no power over their habits but deep down they know, at least they want to feel as if they can get better.

We’re not sick, we don’t have a disease, we were not born this way. We were made this way. Trauma made us, society made us, prescription meds made us. And we can remake us into the ones we forgot we can be.

One conscious moment at a time.

Follow me here on Medium if you want more articles on sobriety, hypnosis and meditation. Connect with me in the socials here: FacebookInstagram.

Oh, and share this article with someone you feel this could benefit.

#sobercurious #soberisthenewsexy #sober #soberlife #sobriety #soberliving #addiction #recovery #alcoholfree #soberaf #sobermensch



Joey Joyful | Hypnologist

Hypnosis | Mindfulness | Gratitude | Vibrational Healing | Channeling messages to expand my consciousness and sharing what I experience.