During the six long years between the day I knew that I needed to stop drinking and the day I finally did, there was a lot of pain and frustration that might have been avoided if I had known a few simple things. My understanding at the time of how to stop drinking was pretty basic – Just Stop! Getting the stop to stick, however, was easier said than done.
If you’ve decided to quit drinking and are feeling scared, that’s natural. You have most likely relied on alcohol as a tool to help with any number of other things for a long time. And of course, if you didn’t enjoy drinking, you would not have a problem with drinking too much.
I believe you have a choice in how you perceive quitting drinking. You can see it as something you are compelled to do, or you can approach it with curiosity and as a positive thing. You can perceive a life without alcohol as a lesser life, or you can see it as something that will bring new, untainted highs, open up fresh opportunities, and inspire you to learn new things. It will make a significant difference if you can be open to new ideas and immerse yourself in all things sobriety (the study of which is fascinating). Be prepared to be a little self-centered for a while as you focus on rebuilding yourself without the crutch of alcohol.
There are many communities on the internet and in the “real” world designed to help you change your relationship with alcohol. It helps tremendously to have a community of people who have personal experience with exactly what you’re going through. Look around until you find a group that fits you. The following ideas are from our online community. We are one of the many free resources on the internet, full of people like you who are helping each other get sober and stay that way.
People who will try to sell you a magic cure. Selling sobriety has become part of the thriving online self-help market, but we believe that sobriety is a gift to be shared generously. If you’re struggling to stop drinking or stay sober, this survival guide, together with the support of our Boom Rethink the Drink Community, will help you reach your goals and Rethink the Drink!
Before Day 1:
If you’ve been drinking heavily, you will most likely be experiencing some anxiety, a lot of self-doubt, and negativity. This is not who you are; this is you recovering from the effects of alcohol. You might have noticed that you sweat A LOT, your mood is low, and you may experience ‘poor me’ syndrome and are prone to irritability. You might have also noticed that you have memory problems that go beyond blackouts. You may find that exercise has stopped being enjoyable, and it is willpower that is keeping you at it. Feeling bloated, tired, and underperforming at work, most of us find our self-esteem down around our ankles as we begin day 1 alcohol-free.
Here are some thoughts from members of our community to inspire you to get started and stop drinking today.
This article from Verywell Mind on the stages of alcohol withdrawal will help you know what to expect physically and psychologically as you move past Day 1.
And from inside our private Boom community which you are welcome to join we reccomed reading the answers from our members to this question : What advice would you give our New Members about those first 30 or 40 days? What do you remember about the early sticking points ?
One of the simplest most important lessons I’ve learned is that there is a connection between low blood sugar and alcohol cravings in the late afternoon. To be safe make sure that you plan to eat before your usual drinking time and we recommend you think about trying L-Glutamine powder as explained in this article on HALT and these posts by two of our members-
Have good food and alternative beverages handy.
The first days and weeks will be easier if you help your body detox so do a bit of study on foods you enjoy that are liver cleansing. There are some great books on the subject or you can easily do a quick internet search of top ten liver detox foods. Have special treats ready though for those evening hours when your brain craves alcohol. Although there are people out there who cut alcohol, carbs, sugar, and caffeine in one fell swoop I found that I needed “treats” to keep from “treating” myself to alcohol. Don’t be afraid of ice cream! It’s scientifically proven to make you happy
Make a sobriety plan.
It’s a good idea to have some books ready to read in the evening as well as podcasts and videos that will support your intention to stay sober. There are lots of free resources on the internet. Blogs and Ted Talks and PodCasts. Our resource section is full of links with posts from members on what worked for them and why. Resources to Watch / Resources to Read
In general, it is fair to say that there are as many different experiences as there are people trying to get sober. All are valid. It helps to be able to talk it out with others as someone will have had the same issue and will have some ideas on making it a little more bearable.
There is no absolute truth in what to expect when you stop drinking. There is no specific addictive personality or an absolute cure. When I was drinking myself numb I lost track of who I was. Sobriety has been about rediscovering me
Unless you are physically dependent on alcohol and suffer from DT’s (if so, it would be wise to see a medical professional), day one will most likely be the easiest for you to stay alcohol-free. You’ll be focused, and you’ll be comforted that you have made a decision to put an end to this mess. You may have trouble sleeping on and off during your first sober week, but on day one, you’re likely to sleep relatively well. Try to drink a lot of water. Three liters and a bit will help you start to detox and also help keep anxiety down.
You may start well as you wake up fresh and hopeful, but some people also find that the anxiety they drank to appease is still there. Whether you’re feeling strong and positive as you face the day or a bit empty and lost, expect that around 2-5 pm, you are likely to start thinking about drinking. A perfectly rational little voice will pop up, telling you to have a drink and start again tomorrow. You may suddenly decide that you’re not that bad, it’s your partner’s fault, you can restart on Monday, after the holiday, etc.
This is where the real hard recovery work starts. If you haven’t made a plan, you need to do that now. This is a great time to read up on your Lizard Brain and start to understand that for a good while, everything and anything is a reason for the addicted brain to drink.
Be prepared for a roller coaster ride, or what I call “riding the yo-yo”.
If you journal—do it. If you need to talk, find an ear. If being alone is hard on your psyche—don’t be alone! Remember what you were doing to your mind and body; they became accustomed to the poisoning and abuse. Remember what was happening to your daily life and relationships. You can’t heal yourself without removing the toxin. You can’t change those things without changing the behavior.
One of the things I never understood when trying to stop drinking and smoking is that for a while, my brain didn’t really know how to function without nicotine and alcohol. I didn’t have the reflexes to relax without a drink or concentrate without a smoke. We often think that smokers and drinkers NEED their drug of choice because until you have actually gone through withdrawal and rewired your brain to function well without the drug, you are running on empty.
Day 4 -5 etc
You might have a low-level headache, the sweats, sleep problems and vivid dreams (maybe about drinking) as the chemicals and toxins start to leave your mind and body. This post has some terrific sleep solutions.
You might feel tense, wired, restless, and uncomfortable. Anxiety is fairly common in the first and second weeks alcohol-free. Try listening to music to help you process your emotions and relax. Your mind will be busy, but your liver is thanking you from the bottom of its “livery” self.
Taking a hot bath with a few cups of Epsom salts or unrefined sea salts dissolved in the water can help a lot with the detox process. The magnesium in the salts will ease the tension in your muscles while soothing you to sleep.
If you are worried about any symptoms that you are feeling, please do talk to a medical professional.
No matter how strong your cravings may be remember that they will pass.
Waking up fresh in the morning, without guilt, shame or fear of what damage you’ve done to your body, is a great reward for holding on to those first awkward sober evenings.
Be prepared for “feeling better.” This is deceiving. Feeling better does NOT mean that your body can handle more poison. It does NOT mean that your pattern of drinking will have changed. It does NOT mean that alcohol is ‘OK’ again. Alcohol is still a drug, and it is still going to poison you. Think of it as though you’re building up a bank account. You get richer with every penny you save, right? Every day AF is one more “penny” in the bank! People who have lived AF long-term will attest to the power of sober momentum. When you’ve built up that bank account, it’s harder to spend the money.
Sober Survival Tips
Keep it simple, eat well (especially before your drinking hour), and make a plan that lists your triggers and how bad drinking is for you (relationships, as a parent, financially, living life to the full, work-wise, etc.)
Work with a community online or in the tangible world or both. If you make sobriety your number one priority for a while, you will make it.
Write down what it is you want. How do you want to live? Now, FOCUS on those things.
Avoid shops after 1-2 pm or so for as long as it takes (this is an amazing strategy to stop ‘absent-minded’ buying of booze.)
Try to think about today only, focus on getting through this minute, this hour, this day.
If you have a family to feed and cooking in the evening is a trigger, do as much prep as you can on the weekend and let yourself indulge in as many take-outs as you might need to on crazy days. Leave the chores if you need to keep calm.
Think of your first 30 days as an at-home rehab and treat yourself to the help you need to keep the evening stress at a minimum.
Open a book, open a browser, open your mind. The keys are out there.
You don’t HAVE to drink.
Read More Here
If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break… Talk to Us.
We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using
POSTS INSIDE OUR BOOM COMMUNITY THAT RELATE TO THIS POST
This post was written by Clare1, Patrece, WV, Jill and Tana with links to posts from other members of the Boozemusings Community.
Boozemusings is a lifestyle blog and the BOOM Community is a peer support group. We are NOT trained addiction counselors but simply a community of people who have overcome or are overcoming alcohol issues. We do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does anything on this website create a physician/patient relationship. If you require medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, please consult your physician.