How did I quit and stay quit?

woman standing in library

People often ask me, how did I do it? How did I quit and stay quit? Here's my answer.

First of all I spent about two years having a brutally honest dialogue with myself about my alcohol habit. I didn't hide from the truth or deny how bad things were. In those two years I told myself over and over and over that my drinking wasn't healthy, that it wasn't functional, that it was out of control and getting worse, and that something needed to change.

While I was having this brutally honest internal dialogue with myself, my eyes were full open to notice that my drinking was progressively getting heavier, sloppier, more disfunctional and out of control. Again - not denying or hiding from the truth.

Then, in the early hours of September 6, 2011, I reached a crisis point (after displaying a new disfunctional behaviour of hiding an empty bottle and lying about how much I'd had) and accepted, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that despite all my best efforts I just could not handle alcohol at all. And in that moment I made a firm decision, that I was removing alcohol from my life forever. And when I say firm, I mean FIRM. No going back. No thinking things could ever be different. Full acceptance.

Once that firm decision had been made I attacked learning how to live sober with 100% of my being. I adopted an open, curious, determined, willing attitude... clinging to the knowledge that it was possible to live happily without alcohol (because I saw others who were doing that), and maintaining a belief that it would get easy eventually (again, because I saw others who felt that way).

I soaked up all the information I could find, through numerous different outlets, to educate myself about sobriety and recovery. I saw it as a great challenge and intriguing test, imagining myself as a human guinea pig as I explored my own transformation.

And finally I embraced connecting with others who knew exactly what I was going through, because they were going (or had already gone) through it too. I listened to all of the advice and support that came my way, while constantly sharing the truth about all I was struggling with, experiencing, feeling and seeing.

There are many, many different routes to recovery, many many different interventions, programmes and schemes that might help. There is no right or wrong. Whatever gets and keeps you sober and happy is A-OK.

But, however you choose to go about transforming your life, I do recommend you keep these steps in mind;

  1. Be honest with yourself
  2. Accept the truth
  3. Make a firm decision
  4. Throw everything at it
  5. Connect open-heartedly with others in the same boat

And above all, stay curious. It is the most fascinating ride you will ever go on. You'll learn things you never knew about yourself, and most likely end up in a place you never imagined.

Love, Mrs D xxx

  1. 20012015 5 years ago

    This post has been an epiphany for me! I’ve been having that conversation in my head for FOUR years. Those 5 steps make everything so clear. Step 3 and 4 are where I’ve let myself fall down. Thank you?

  2. jmtn 5 years ago

    Thank you for this! I love it. Well said. It helps.

  3. Mariah 5 years ago

    I am on day four and feel soooo proud of myself. I have not had one alcohol-free day for years and years. Even now on day four I feel different somehow. Each day I have become more determined. I have taken the step ‘throw everything at it’ as my mantra for now. That is what I need to do. Each day at this time between 4pm and 7pm I have to dig deep and remember to give this everything I have got. I have told myself it wasn’t going to be easy and it isn’t. But I am so chuffed to have done three and a half whole days. In my mind, I am beginning to think ‘if I can do three days, I can complete day four and then do one more’.

    I am so very grateful to have access to this lovely group for support…….it really helps to know that others are going through the same as me. I have learnt a lot already.

    Love to all xx

    • Anne 5 years ago

      I’m going into day 3 – this is exactly what I need to hear – thank you

  4. Sansa 5 years ago

    Just joined! I am taking on step 5 and connecting with others because its too hard not too. Thank you to all and united we stand in sobriety. Big fan of the Bubble Hour and unpickled blog with Jean McCarthy. She is fantastic! That is where I found this resource. I am struggling as well. I need to go in deep with sobriety and make it my passion. I like Ms. D’s decision highlighting FIRM! Thanks for creating this site.

  5. JR 5 years ago

    Throwing everything at it – this is brilliant!

  6. kitten 5 years ago

    @mrs-d, great post, great distillation of the steps. Interesting, I, too, was having long conversations with myself, telling myself I could moderate, knowing I could not, the self loathing becoming more and more unbearable, until I realized their was no other way out, but to quit. It really is so good to know that we all that choose to quit go through relatively the same thing.

  7. Cinderella 5 years ago

    Truest 5 steps ever. Being alcohol free and being mindful of it as you progress along is very self inspiring and I never get tired of sharing that with anyone.

  8. Lovelife 5 years ago

    Thank you @mrs-d you have no idea how much you are helping me now & I dare say for a long time to come.
    I am day 29 of my forever free of Alcohol life & although feeling proud of my decision to remove what was slowly killing my amazing life I am privileged to have, I still battle with the fact that the one thing that seemed to be something our life sadly revolves around on a daily basis, is no longer & will never be part of mine. Coincidentally as I write this, I am lying by the pool in the most beautiful resort on this plant on a work incentive trip with all peeps enjoying cocktails whilst I sip at my Tonic & Lime (strongest test yet!)
    Hoping that my obsessive thoughts will leave me at some stage soon, I am loving this website for encouragement & currently laughing out loud at your second book “goes within”.. Clearly Mindfulness will be my next quest!
    Anyway – thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your journey & providing this amazing platform as support and encouragement. Xxx

  9. Poppy88 5 years ago

    It is the most fascinating ride! I gave up for near 6 months in 2013 following the death of my Mumsy. I then ‘relapsed’ the summer of that same year, for about 5 years. Lots of very not great times on the juice, a lot to regret. I am now 387 days sober and strong in my resolve to stay AF. Am reading a great book at the mo called ‘Drink’ by Ann Dowsett Johnson. It fundamentally looks at women and booze (sorry guys not meaning to leave you out at all, but it’s still a very interesting read for all peeps) and the correlation between booze and being a mum, and a working mum etc etc. only two chapters in but as you say @mrs-d it is a fascinating area to understand, I just find myself reading and reading about it all. Have a happy day everyone and thanks Mrs D! And everyone here for their sage words of wisdom and sharing, it’s all so beneficial in so many ways xx

  10. barnmomma 5 years ago

    Thanks, Mrs. D. Number 3 is where I have been stumbling. My decision to ditch the wine is firm…till it’s not. Time to stop waffling and get to the real work of getting and staying sober.

  11. Hammer123 5 years ago

    I agree it doesn’t matter what support system you use because it will be different for everyone, but you must use those 5 steps.
    1) I was honest about drinking being a problem
    2) I had tried every conceivable way to moderate and had to finally accept that I could not do it.
    3) I then decided under no condition would I ever drink again, zero exceptions
    4) I found podcasts and realised that many people were suffering as much or more than me and that this was a common issue.
    5) I found this site through one of the podcasts and through sharing our struggles and experiences I have been inspired and inspired some people in this community to live a sober life!

    Thanks @mrs-d

  12. Connie 5 years ago

    I especially love and appreciate how aware you were of the time it took with your eyes wide open to decide to act on your alcoholism. I did the same thing. I took close to two years of awareness of my dysfunctional behavior and horrible self loathing until finally something clicked. For me , I finally accepted that I was not going to ever really “want” to quit. I kept “ wanting” to be normal and control my drinking. Only when I knew I could never be “normal “ was I ready to take the plunge into sobriety. Your words help us all realize what a process it really is. Thanks.

  13. suzkep 5 years ago

    Looking at Mrs D’s 5 steps I have stumbled at number 3. The decisions have been definitely FIRM at the time but they just havn’t remained so. Time has un-firmed my decisions. Its strange – I gave up smoking without looking back when someone said to me “make a decision” . It was a wonderful trigger for me and I tell the story with great pride. I guess also I have never really and truly done the 5th step either. I need to work on that, I’m going to work on that.

  14. christym47 5 years ago

    I am new to this group and just wanted to thank you for starting this recovery community. I have not explored online support before, so I am completely new and unsure how to use it, but I know that I will not be able to stay sober without others to help me. I have tried AA many times and ultimately could not connect with it in a long term sustainable and am hoping that there are other ways that I can maintain sobriety. I have had sometime in the resent past, but just went through a relapse and am trying to recommit, actually I am recommitting, to my sobriety. I am so done, and desperate to stay done, with alcohol. It truly is progressive and it takes over more and more every time I relapse. I want sobriety more than anything and want to be surrounded by others who do too. Thank you for writing this list, every bit of wisdom helps!

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