Why I No Longer Drink and 10 Lessons I’ve Learned in 5 Years Sober

Worman in sunflower field representing Why I Don't Drink and 10 Lessons I've Learned in 5 Years Sober

I’ve been participating in an online community since I stopped drinking over 5 years ago. I’ve learned that there is a commonality among us when we go sober. No matter what our individual circumstances, we often share similar experiences when we remove the alcohol from our lives. I no longer drink because, at 62, my mental health was shot to pieces from 45 years of drinking.  Today, my mind is clear and uncluttered

I no longer drink because my yearning for peace and resolution in a heavy drinking household was 100 times stronger than my craving for booze. 

Today that peace is always here.

I no longer drink because I needed to be honest with myself about my love of booze to fix everything in my life. 

Today, I deal easily with problems – and ask for help when needed

I no longer drink because psychosis was heading my way.  My psychosis is genetic my father and younger brother both had paranoid schizophrenia in their late 40s/early 50s. 

Today, the millstone of inherited mental illness has disappeared, forever

I no longer drink because I had no idea of who I really was (she’d run away at 11, got into the coffin at 16). 

Today, I know and relish this incredible, determined and courageous teenager, who guides the way.

I no longer drink because I needed some adventure in my life, not crushing boredom.  

Today, I look for new places to visit (even in lockdown) and new challenges in my healthy habits, like yoga

I no longer drink because I was tired, so tired of the same old narrative about me and my family.  

Today, I can proudly say my husband no longer drinks and my son is getting better.

I no longer drink because I needed to save, instead of spend. 

Today I do, sometimes £200 a month!

I no longer drink because, as a people pleaser, I was full of resentment. 

Today, I have firm boundaries and people respect me (the manipulators have disappeared – yaaaay!)

I no longer drink because I needed to see, feel and hear Nature in all her glory. 

Today, every walk is done with a sense of alertness and wonder, seeing new butterflies, paths and stretching my once tired leg muscles, now so strong.

Woman in Forest represnting Why I Don't Drink and 10 Lessons I've Learned in 5 Years Sober

I no longer drink because anger and anxiety were constant bedfellows and insomnia a curse. 

Today, peace and gratitude is here, and it’s an eternal peace and gratitude and 8 hours sleep is my daily gift

I no longer drink because my life was so complicated:  I was born into a traumatised family and had created one.  

Today the family is peaceful: and we can reach resolution

I no longer drink, because the curse of addiction had blighted every aspect of my life.

Today, the bigger victory lies in letting go of all the stuff I can’t control.  That,  t h a t – is bliss.

What does it feel like to stop drinking when you’ve been doing it all your adult life?

A few weeks after we quit, when the pink fluffy cloud of new sobriety disappears, intense feelings of anger, pity and resentment at our lives – and having to do “this” (quit drinking) – can surface. It’s often like being a toddler again. Our toys have been taken away, and we’ve been put to bed early, and we have to learn that shouting, ranting, drinking and hating our lives isn’t a productive route out of the quicksand we’re stuck in.

Toddler pouting - first weeks of sobriety

Many of us want to change our relationships: suddenly we despise our partners and wonder how the f* we ended up with them; we don’t like our kids, we often feel we’re in dead-end jobs, we want to move house because, well, we never intended moving to this area.   Most of all, we feel like we’re going through a breakdown…….  Yada, yada, yada….


So, how can we make sense of this awful mess and life we now realise is ours  – and of our creation?

When you stop drinking don’t breakdown,

break IT down…..

10 ways to Keep Calm and Stay Sober :

#1  Accept that you have to do this sober.  Drinking got you into a pretty mess, whether you were conscious of this, or not.  Not drinking is the Foundation Stone of creating a new you.

#2  There are absolutely ZERO quick fixes. What society taught? Sorry, no quick fixes, you have to work things out as we go along.

#3  List everything you’re unhappy with: find things that are good about that situation (we usually can) as well as the bad.  Decide on two areas you want to focus on changing, along with not drinking.  So, a maximum of 3.  
(Don’t pick your significant other, as this is the most intimate and you are going to change a LOT by not drinking.  Al-Anon’s advice is clear: leave relationship changes for 12 months sober. Wait to make any big decisions.)

#4  For each goal, list 3 practical things you can do to achieve it.  Small and practical e.g, if you’ve chosen fitness as a goal, research classes in your area and prices and go along for a free taster session.  That’s what I did with yoga, 5 years ago.   If you like it, and the people are welcoming, sign up for 3 months and invest in some kit.  Not expensive, as it’s still experimental.  So, I bought a yoga mat, as the studio one was too thin – £40 investment.  (I still use this mat, 5 years later!)

Aim to go along for 3 months, at least once a week.  Listen, learn, contribute, have a chat with some strangers – it’s very liberating for us shy drinkers!  When you feel the urge to stay at home, fight it and get out.  Once you’ve got to class, your body and soul will thank you for that wise decision.

#5  If you get sick, or get injured, or life gets in the way, see if you can practise it at home, following good people on YouTube.  It’s the practice that’s essential, not where you do it.  Then, go back to class, as being in community is GOOD!

#6  Encourage yourself every day in your new goals/habits.  We must learn to become our best cheerleaders.  Many of us here had poor or indifferent parenting, so becoming our best parent is really, really important.

#7  If your goal is to get a better job, it’s the same process. List the things you love about your job, and what you hate.  See if you can get a better job in your company.   If that’s impossible, then invest in further studies, to increase your employability.  Update your CV.  Look at LinkedIn and jobs in your field.  How would you list your achievements and do you have people who would recommend you?  Recommendations are very important when applying for new roles.

#8  Exercise, eat and sleep well, because these are your allies in all progress in life.  ALL

#9  Do something to help others.  When I help others, I realise how fortunate I am, and that I’m just a human being too.  I don’t want to feel superior, because that stops me asking questions, but I do want to feel equal.  It teaches me compassion…..

#10 Be grateful to your body, mind and soul for choosing the gift of sobriety, because it opens the door to so many countless miracles and the really joyful things in life.

So, break IT down (all the things bugging you) to avoid having a breakdown.  

Just for today……

Just for today, wake up and smile.  You’re still here, in a warm and cosy bed….

Just for today, sit and have your tea/coffee outside, and feel the sun, or wind, on your face

Just for today, listen and thank the local birds for singing their hearts out

Just for today, choose healthy food for breakfast

Just for today, chew every mouthful and think of the sunshine, rain and the many people who made it possible for you to buy and enjoy this food

Just for today, look out for people who smile and smile back.  Wave if they’re too far away!

Just for today, think of the good and positive people in your life

Just for today, dream of how your life will look and feel when booze plays no part in it, whatsoever

Just for today, find a new walk, either by exploring, or using Google maps.  And go there!

Just for today, count how many birds you can see.  Photograph the flowers and see the world from an ant’s point of view

Just for today, skip lunch and have water instead.  Most of us are too sedentary and don’t take enough exercise.

Just for today, think about what your plan for the witching hour.  What AF drinks do you have stocked up?  What new books/Netflix movies or series.  Or pick a friend to call

Just for today, avoid the news. It can wait.

Just for today, create a simple meal from scratch – something you can cook in 20 mins. max.  One pot even!

Just for today, eat very, very slowly with your eyes closed, enjoying every single morsel.

Just for today, lay your head on your partner’s /child’s/pet’s belly and listen to their breathing.

Just for today, give a neck massage

Just for today, help someone who asked for help a while back.  It feels great to help!

Just for day, have slow, and gentle sex, as though it was the first time

Just for today, have a warm glass of milk, or sprinkle lavender oil on your pillow to help you sleep

Just for today, thank your parents for life and thank the world for all the gifts you enjoyed today.

Just for today, stop and realise how amazing life really is when you no longer drink!


This post was shared with the Boozemusings Community by Annette Allen, an active member of BOOM Community Rethink the Drink and the author of An Ethiopian Odyssey 

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How do you go Sober? ( more reading in blue titles)

B Be accountable Talk to Us We Understand
A Avoid alcohol like the plague  Ideas Here
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats  Ideas Here
A Allow yourself to cry when needed  Ideas Here
Nourish your body with good food  Ideas Here
C Create happy & fun memories  Ideas Here
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day Ideas Here

W Work hard to get what you want Ideas Here
O Organise things for less stress  Ideas Here
Realise you can’t control it all Ideas Here
K Keep going & prepare for success Ideas Here
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest Sleep Solutions

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