I used to be what is called a “grey area drinker”… At least I was a “grey area drinker” until I slipped over the edge and found myself in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. On that day I was quite suddenly embarrassed to be asking that I not be termed a “problem drinker” on my public record. I felt angry and a bit resentful to have been exposed as maybe not so in control, but I was also frightened that I couldn’t stop drinking on my own. For me, stopping drinking, giving up my “wine o’clock” routine, was something that I had hoped I would never have to do. In the end however, it was the best choice I ever made. The first four weeks alcohol-free can be difficult to maneuver but if I did it you can do it too!
If you have never heard the term “grey area drinker” the Ted Talk below explains what that means as well as offering suggestions for successfully stopping drinking. My tips and tricks for the first month alcohol-free are below. If you’re drinking too much if you want to stop or take a break, grab ahold!
What did I do to get through my first four weeks alcohol free?
- Changed my mindset from wanting to want to quit drinking to “I am now a nondrinker, no ifs ands or buts. There is no turning back”.
- Post here every day. Even if it’s just a reply to someone else’s post. Post something.
- Read books. I’ve read several “Stop Drinking” books before so this isn’t new but I’ve read 2 this month. They were quite a contrast in views. First Annie Grace This Naked Mind and then Harry Haroutunian Being Sober. Reading such contrasting views back to back really made me challenge what MY views and beliefs are on alcohol addiction.
- I started counseling with a mental health therapist, again. I’ve only been 3 times. We are starting with “trauma therapy” which wasn’t as scary as it sounds. I rather quite liked it.
- Listened to podcasts. I LOVE Belle’s podcasts. She is no-nonsense straight up how it is and I dig it. Her voice is incredibly soothing. She also has short podcasts if you only have a few minutes. ( You’ll find links to Belle’s podcast and to Annie Grace’s as well in this post How to Walk Away From the Wine o’ Clock Routine
- I slept, a lot. I did have quite a bit of insomnia so to help I took Valerian root, melatonin and passion flower (I also take black cohosh but that is more for hot flashes that would wake me up). They helped a lot!
- I took a different route home to avoid the grocery store I used to buy wine at. I didn’t shop when feeling weak/tired. I didn’t keep cash on hand.
- Bought a journal to keep track of thoughts/ideas, websites, quotes, etc.
- Watched documentaries regarding alcohol abuse.
- Packed healthy lunch and snacks to take to work.
- Tried as much as I could to keep stress levels and aggravations low.
- Taking walks. Tempting to throw myself into an exerise program but walking is as vigorous as I’ve gotten the first month.
- Epsom salt/magnesium baths. You can get a 3 lb bag scented or unsented for about $3-4
- Deep breathing. The first couple weeks I would have feelings of panic that would just wash over me and I’d breath through them. They would pass but were uncomfortable. I recommend the 4-7-8 technique. it’s effective.
- I kept a vivid memory of how awful my last drinking experience was. And all the other downsides, sneaking, lying, hangovers, and the mental energy it takes to do all of that.
- I am working on my spirituality. This will be different for everyone. I chose to get baptized.
- This may sound kind of funny, but I have a little saying I tell myself when I see people drinking and I kind of miss it “I drank enough in my first 50 years for a whole (or more) lifetime”
- I’ve Retired from a Long and Illustrious Drinking Career
What have I not done? Don’t think alcohol-free will just happen on its own without putting in the work.
It’s worth it!
More from this author : 18 Months Sober: Fulfilling the Promise of Hope
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