A big fear of mine when things shut down in Spring 2020 was being without booze. When we first locked down to prevent the spread of Covid19, many of our governments deemed alcohol an essential item and I was comforted that drinking away the Covid lockdown blues would be celebrated as a natural reaction to the state of the world. Drinking did surge dangerously during the first year of the pandemic and as a result of the dire statistics 30 day quit drinking challenges are becoming more and more popular. #sobercurious? No thank you! I didn’t want to quit drinking. I didn’t even want to stop for Dry February, the shortest “sober challenge” month of the year. But the drinking done by my husband and I really ramped up to epic proportions during the COVID pandemic.
By December 2020, the end of that first year of Covid lockdowns, my husband decided that he was going to stop drinking for Dry Feb. He announced this around Christmastime, when we were really on a roll, with a special “advent calendar” case of wine from our wine club. We were making fancy homemade meals to pair with the wine, and sharing texts and messages with friends who were doing the same with their “advent wine”. Of course, we drank a LOT more than that one bottle nightly. That “advent wine” was just to have with the meal!
Once the “advent wine” was gone, we were now used to this new increased volume of daily drinking, and it was easy to keep it up in January. I’ve learned that it is always easy to find an excuse to drink….
When the end of January rolled around I wasn’t even enjoying the booze much but still poured it down my throat every day like clockwork. Hangovers had long become a “normal” part of life. It was just their severity that varied. I decided by the end of January that it would be good for me to take a break for a month from the booze too, and I reluctantly signed on for a Dry February with my Mr. 30 days to quit drinking? 28 was more than I could imagine at that point.
I honestly didn’t think I was drinking too much. I had justified it to myself as necessary for relaxation, pain relief from arthritic inflammation, socialization, and sleep. I recall January 31st, I think I had four glasses of wine over several hours, which I thought was a very little amount, moderate drinking (yikes!), and I didn’t enjoy any of it..…
During my Feb Fast I was noticing some positive changes, like falling asleep, and not waking up at 3:00am, all sweaty with terrible anxiety! And my swollen arthritic joints were improving! I found these things amazing, and that encouraged me to stick with sobriety even as February ended, and my Mr. happily went back to the booze, (albeit at a reduced rate)…..
As an avid reader, I decided that I would have to “get my head in the game” if I was going to make some changes to my behaviour. I began reading “Quit Lit” and found this hugely helpful. I researched online and found the lovely Belle and her Tired of Thinking about Drinking Blog and free resources. I soldiered on day by day, and instituted some new healthier habits for the old shitty drinking ones. I had a friend that had stopped drinking in January, and her success and support provided helpful insights. My Mr carried on AF for the month of February with sheer willpower alone I believe. It was hugely helpful to me that he was not drinking during that first month.
But going it sober alone now was a different story.
I decided I needed more sober support so I researched online again and found some Sober Day counting apps, as well as the BOOM Rethink the Drink community, with more amazing free resources and so many lovely folks to talk to in daily posts and Zoom meetings.
Now I am almost one year sober and noticing more positive changes all the time. Physical improvements keep coming, as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual shifts as more AF time passes and I continue to grow and change. The changes are subtle but becoming more and more noticeable to me. Financially there is a lot more money available for great sober treats that I used to throw away on booze thinking it was a staple of life.
If you are new on this sober path, I hope this package of posts may help encourage you to stick with it through those difficult early days. This “sober journey” truly is a most interesting journey. It’s far different than I could have ever imagined. I’m finding more peace, more connection with an inner wisdom, a contentedness, that I’ve been searching for for years. I believe sobriety is the first step needed to help me get me back to my true self.
A question a Day for 31 Days to help you Quit Drinking from our Dry January Archive
My issue with alcohol has never been a “rock bottom” but rather a slow steady erosion like a stream wearing down a pebble.
30 posts for 30 days to help you Quit Drinking
There was a constant yap in my head about alcohol. I didn’t drink every day, but I wanted to. I didn’t always open a second bottle, but I wanted to. My world had got very small.
read this post here to see what our answers were to the question –
In my early weeks alcohol-free, I had unexpected moments of Bliss, and Hope, and Gratitude, that came from no longer feeling physically and emotionally beaten down by my binge routine, but I also had moments where I felt completely and utterly lost. I felt lonely and afraid. What would my life be like now?
read this post here
My sober toolbox is an actual physical box filled with tools. It is also a virtual toolbox filled with mental and physical tools and ideas to support my sobriety. This “sober journey” is about you. Your sober toolbox should reflect you!
read more on Sober toolboxes here
Shifting this routine from the natural rhythm of what many adults do every night, to a new alcohol-free lifestyle is not as easy as just saying “I will not drink tonight” and expecting the same power of will you exert over all of the other challenges in your life to “make it happen”. You need to have a plan and an understanding of HALT.
Read this post here
We drink wine to relax and reboot but sadly, if we drink routinely, the addictive nature of alcohol causes us to begin to NEED wine to relax and reboot. As our tolerance increases we need more and more wine to get the same effect and what seemed like a normal routine, begins to take many of us to an increasingly darker place. A place that inspires dependency and a sort of low self-esteem that makes that dependency doubly difficult to break.
read this post here which includes our solutions to this problem –
I’m finding that at the end of my workday, all I want is a glass of wine. The longer I’m away from alcohol, the harder I’m finding it to remind myself why I can’t have just one. It literally makes me want to cry sometimes. The task of making dinner honestly feels like a mountain.
It’s true that the beginning can feel unspeakably rough and raw. But the beginning is also the stuff of miracles, of subtle and massive shifts, of learning and growing and questioning
With each new experience I nervously navigate I realize what I thought was impossible or at the least highly undesirable, is in fact the opposite. Instead of having nothing to show for my pain and suffering, I have this beautiful accomplishment and my future possibilities coming into focus.
The thing about fitting the profile of the classic “high functioning alcoholic”, is that the “high functioning” part is real. I WAS! Are you? Do you want to manage your drinking, because you probably can for a while, on and off, now and then? Your high-functioning drive will convince you, that you can set the rules and then enforce them. Sigh, that’s the hard part, the enforcement of sober rules when consuming alcohol
Remember Pavlov’s Dog? It just might be helpful for some of us to visualize what’s going on as BELLS and DROOL. Planning for known BELLS is a huge part of this work. The real work is learning how to BE WITH THE DROOL and not fall prey to the scream for the old reward.
read this post here
Put simply – If you give up alcohol, stay alcohol-free and change your behaviour at the same time, you’re going to develop different parts of your brain. The more you change your behaviour away from alcohol and find new ways to live the more these new pathways will evolve.
read this post here
For so long I would drink to avoid feeling crappie. Yet its been a long time since I’ve felt this happy. HAPPY! Yes indeed – the irony is that I drank to be happy but it was finally stopping drinking that brought me true happiness.
I was today years old when I realized the literal tragedy of the slang word for drunk, “wasted”. I think back on how much of my youth and potential I wasted for the sake of alcohol, and I could almost cry. “I was so wasted last night!” Yes, child. You were. And there’s nothing to be done about it now but to not waste today, or any of the rest of your days.
My favorite thing about gaining momentum in early sobriety is that I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to improve myself or hustle or repent or be a perfect example or make up for all of my mistakes. There is nothing wrong with any of those things, but I don’t HAVE to do them. What I do have to do is not drink today. Then sleep. Then wake up and not drink today, ad infinitum. That and that alone is sober momentum, the building of sober moments merely by being – being you, not drinking. Which is enough, by the way.
Stopping drinking and staying sober is about the choices we make not only at the big monumental tipping points that some people will call their last rock bottom, but also the little every day tipping points that come up when we’re triggered.
To build a new programme you must retrain the conscious brain. You need to evolve new habits – new ways to deal with stress, anxiety, sadness. Find new ways to celebrate life’s events. You cannot hope this will happen by chance.
Have you heard about your Lizard Brain? The part of your brain designed to keep you safe? That ancient brain that evolved when we lived in an older world with predators that wanted to eat us? That part of your brain still kicks in now in the 21st century. We may not be running from saber tooth tigers but our ancient, reflexive, lizard brain reacts when we feel threatened by stress. The lizard brain knows that in life and death situations the response is simple- Fight, Flight, Freeze, Flop, or Friend. When you drink you “evolve” that survival brain to see alcohol as the answer to danger.
The most important relationship that changes when you divorce from alcohol is your relationship with you. We live in a bizarre culture….it is normal for people to get drunk most nights….it’s not normal for people to abstain….but you are not ordinary you are extraordinary ! And you are my hero !
If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break or go alcohol-free in 2022… Talk to Us.
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“I think I have a problem with drinking”