Middle-aged lady art teacher with a dirty little secret. Looking for a way back into life. Want to greet the day with enthusiasm and sleep through the night again. Hoping to make some connections that will help see me through, and offer support to those who are on a similar path.
Hey Friends, how do you get started on your sobriety? I’ve tried and failed enough times to dread another trial. But I desperately want to get off this rollercoaster. Belle on Tired of Thinking About Drinking says that a person who has failed needs to add more tools. I have not reached out before like this, so I’m trying now. Anyone who would like to share things that helped them with getting started and early days?
Stopping drinking is hard. If you ever hear anyone say it isn’t then they either don’t understand or they’re trying to sell you something. The challenge is so hard because it is not actually alcohol we are fighting, it is our own minds. It is our own minds that create the cravings and the lies and it is our own minds that create our emotions and biased memories. Stopping drinking is hard, so how about making some plans to make it work this time. Decide . Plan . Do.
Here are a bunch of things that helped me get going.
– The closer we are to alcohol the stronger the cravings, so don’t have alcohol in the house. If you buy alcohol you will drink it… so don’t buy it. Don’t go into bars or restaurants that sell alcohol, don’t go into liquor outlets or anywhere else you can buy alcohol, don’t go near the places you used to drink after work and don’t go to anywhere you used to drink. Don’t even pull into the car park of any of these places. – DON’T PICK UP THE FIRST DRINK. Do anything at all to stop yourself from picking up the first drink because the first drink dissolves all objections to having another. If I don’t have the first drink, then I can’t have 10! This is the new truth… “One is too many, ten is not enough”. – Radically change your daily routine and most especially fill up the slack times when you used to drink. Plan to be doing something else somewhere else at these times. Make a commitment to them and turn up. – If you are somewhere and you can see drinking and feel it pulling then leave immediately before it grows stronger. If you are going to somewhere where there will be drinking then be accompanied by someone who knows you’re not drinking and prepare an exit route so that it’s there if you need it. – Have sweet things and snacks handy and have alcohol-free drinks handy. – Take deliberate time out to exercise every day. Do somethings that gets your heartbeat up for 10 mins or more. Walk uphill, jog, exercise machine, gym, using stairs. This releases endorphins and these lift our spirits. – Be kind to yourself… you deserve treats, and alcohol is not “treats”. Alcohol is not a reward it is a punishment. Alcohol doesn’t make things better. If alcohol was actually making bad things good then there wouldn’t be a problem that needed fixing. – Have lots of things prepared in advance that will occupy your mind and hands. Use them when the cravings come on hard. Simple books and puzzles probably won’t cut it as at first we can’t maintain enough concentration through the roaring of our minds… physical “doing” is good though. Make a list of jobs that need doing; tidy something, pack/unpack something, move stuff, dig, weed, sweep, clean the inside of the car… anything that keeps hands and mind occupied. – Prepare your defences along these 3 lines: delay, distract, deny. 1. Put off having that drink until later. 2. DO SOMETHING instead of sitting thinking about drinking (use the list of jobs). 3. Deny yourself the possibility of drinking even if your resolve has collapsed (e.g. give keys, cash, cards to someone else). – Keep the horizon close: “forever!” is self-sabotaging. The target is to not drink for the rest of the day… that’s all. “I’m not drinking today” Tomorrow and the days after haven’t happened yet; they don’t count. Today is the only day that matters. – Make yourself accountable by telling someone you are doing this. – Find and engage in some sort of recovery community, online or face-to-face. Other people have done this and can help you, but not if you don’t connect with them. Here is good, so check in daily, face-to-face is more powerful but not necessarily available to everyone.
Plan a timetable to keep all of this up for a minimum of 30 days because by then your brain will have significantly re-adjusted to life without alcohol. Both the problem and your ability to fight it will have changed by then.
Keep reminding yourself when challenged that this is possible, it is necessary and it is worthwhile. Find the evidence that proves these three things to your own satisfaction. You are still here and you are still kicking… so make the kicks count. You can do this.
Hiya, well done you for reaching out! The things that helped me were having an alternative AF drink at the ready, so when that wine o’clock craving came round I could still pour a drink into my favourite wine glass – my drink of choice is a squeezed lemon in water, not too sweet… Also chippies and icecream later in the evening… that was my ‘reward’ for not drinking and a reward that I maintained for about 6 months!!! The kids would go to be then out came the icecream… followed by chippies (or crisps depending on where in the world you are) at about 9pm… perhaps not the healthiest of options but man were they good and a damn site better than drinking 🙂 Another thing I realised was that although there are sooo many benefits to giving up the wine, it doesn’t feel great straight away so don’t put any pressure or expectations on yourself to feel amazing… it will come with time but it can be a battle early on. Being on here, posting, replying to other peoples posts is an amazing strategy, it’s great when you need support and it’s also a good feeling to offer it as well, amazing how much knowing there are others on the same journey helps! Keep playing it forward, it will take some time to convince your brain of how good you’ll feel the next morning if you don’t have that drink because it’s so used to believing that a wine (or beer) is a treat, a reward at the end of the day, the reality is it isnt… it may take your brain some to to believe you but keep at it 🙂 Good luck – keep trying new strategies, keep checking in… this may well be the time that sober works for you xxx Sorry for the long post 🙂
there is a brilliant podcast by Veronica Valli and Chip Somers called Soberful. I get so much from it. Veronica has written an excellent book that helped me in the early days called Why You Drink and How to Stop: A Journey to Freedom. Chip was the guy that helped Russell Brand get sober. They have years of experience and both work as addiction counselors some links below…
I’m certainly not a shining example of sobriety (yet! 😉). I’ve been on and off the wagon a few times this year but am finding my latest sober stretch (9 days and counting) easier than any of my past attempts. I am taking Antabuse and that helps with short term impulses to drink because I know I physically can’t. I’m also immersing myself in the sober world online and reading as many books/blogs as I can. AA recommend 90 meetings in 90 days when you first start and while AA isn’t for me I kind of see spending a lot of time in online sober forums etc in those first few days/weeks as doing the same thing!
Hi @teenybronco! I found Belle really helpful, I was her penpal for a long time and she helped me with accountability. I also bought a lot of her audios which also helped. I also like these websites – as she would say, helps to rewire the brain, the part that thinks that drinking is a good idea: hip sobriety.com, lauramckowen.com, thesoberschool.com, unpickledblog.com. I found that sobriety, learning about how to cope without booze, is very interesting, I read a lot about it. Keep checking in here, you can do this! : )