Today I have been alcohol-free for four years. I say alcohol-free rather than sober because that is how I feel. FREE! Once alcohol dependent categorized a chronic alcoholic. Once trapped by my need to drink no matter how bad things got but now FREE!
When I started on day one, I honestly didn’t think I could even get through four hours. I had given up on myself as had everyone else, and I was so far down the rabbit hole, I quite honestly didn’t even want to go on with life. My mental health was in pieces and I had become so physically dependent on alcohol, that I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning without a drink.
I was categorized as a chronic alcoholic by healthcare professionals. This was something that I wasn’t comfortable with, but a chronic alcoholic is what I was. It is said that admitting you have a problem, is the first step to recovery. This is true, but there is so much more to recovery for me.
Before my relapse in early 2016, I had 5 years of sobriety under my belt, but I wasn’t happy being sober. I had always told myself I could drink again one day and that when I did drink- that I would be able to control it. I managed to stay sober for 5 years, but I didn’t have any help or support to do so, so after my relapse, I began to consider what I needed to do differently to succeed.
I realized that in order to be successful this time around, I needed help. Help came in the way of long-term counseling that I needed to have in order to deal with why I was committing slow suicide via alcohol. I’m not saying that everybody needs long-term counseling, but this is what worked for me. I got involved in group therapy, 1:1 therapy, and eventually, I came out sober, on the other side. It was vital to my sobriety that I accept that I couldn’t moderate my drinking. This acceptance was almost as big a hurdle to jump as admitting that I had a serious problem with alcohol in the first place.
Becoming alcohol-free, and living an alcohol-free life, takes time, patience, and a lot of teeth-gritting. After all, it took time to become alcohol-dependent in the first place. I have had people suggest to me that it was easy for me to quit drinking without realising that it is probably the hardest thing that I have ever done. I had to cut toxic family members out of my life, I sold my car so that I wouldn’t be tempted to drive to the bottle shop. These things were hard, but I did them because my sobriety mattered more to me than anything else. I learnt through therapy that if I wanted to stop drinking and remain alcohol-free, I had to do whatever it takes. Again, I’m not saying that everybody needs to cut their family off and sell their cars, but this is what I had to do to protect my quit.
My mind and body would scream for booze sometimes, but I knew that this was my last chance to succeed at quitting alcohol. I had damaged myself mentally and physically so badly that I knew that my body couldn’t take another relapse. At one point, I would have done anything for my next drink and now I will do anything to stay sober. I have made alcohol a nonstarter, no matter what.
I think people are surprised in the early days when they’re going well in their sobriety and cravings hit seemingly out of nowhere. Often, I’ve found that people get shocked and scared and don’t know how to deal with their cravings. My advice is to embrace the cravings. Treat them as part of your sober journey, accept that the cravings and there, and know that they soon will pass. The cravings won’t kill you, however, if you act on them – alcohol just might.
I was truly alcohol-dependent. I never thought that I could be sober, happy, and content, but if I can do it- so can you. related reading : Breaking Free of Cravings for Alcohol with Mindfulness
Will you join me today and say:
I can do this, I will be alcohol free.
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