I used to think that my alcohol cravings had power over me. Before I stopped drinking and got some sober momentum going, if you had told me that with mindfullness I could shut down those cravings and the physical anxiety they carried with them, I would have known that you had never really needed alcohol like I did. They say that alcohol addiction is cunning and powerful, that alcohol is the seductive beast that kills, and I felt that to my core.
For me, a craving for alcohol would start as a thought but would become powerfully physical. I would hear my mind tell me to have a drink. That thought would carry me away onto more and more thoughts and desires about drinking… as I followed this thought chatter, my body would start to respond.
Jaw tightening, heart beating faster, emptiness growing inside of me, adrenaline pumping through my body leaving me feeling as if I’m about to fall of a cliff. Skin crawling. Brain fog rolling in so quickly that it would completely steal my ability to focus on anything!
Anxiety – Physically manifested Anxiety
And my mind told me that the remedy for that physical distress was of course- a drink.
Now that I’m sober, my alcohol free mind is curious…. was it the craving that sent me into this anxiety, or was it the thought chatter that followed the craving, that actually did me in? What would happen if, when that first thought made its way into my mind, I stopped it right away. What would happen if I shifted my focus… if I didn’t get carried away by the tidal wave of thought chatter that always followed?!
How could I do this?
This is what I define as mindfulness.
I’ve been practicing disconnecting my identity from my thoughts. I’ve been recognizing the thought chatter for what it is… just a normal psychological process that happens WITHIN my body… just like digestion and blood circulation are processes that happen in the “background”. My thoughts come and go and I don’t need to attach myself to any of them! They do NOT need to dictate my mood, my mindset or my focus if I do not allow them to take control.
When I first stopped drinking, this practice of mindfulness or intervening with my thought chatter, would go something like this;
“I really need a drink.”
Immediately I would say to myself;
Why did I just think that?
related reading How to Quiet that Thirsty Little Voice in Your Head
What am I feeling right now?
related reading Feeling Everything
Am I hungry?
related reading Alcohol Cravings and Hypoglycaemia
Am I thirsty?
related reading Boom Community Mocktails – Elegant Elderflower Dreams
Am I tired?
related reading Sleep Solutions
Am I sad or angry or overwhelmed?
related reading Feelings are like Lighthouses
What would a drink actually do for me right now?
related reading Play the Tape Forward – Protect Your Quit
What has it done for me in the past?
related reading The Conversation in my Head
What would happen if I just DIDN’t drink?
related reading Clarity
Sitting with these questions would get me doing the kinda inner sobriety work that keeps you sober long term through self discovery, yes, but even more importantly, this process would take me OUT of the trap of the thought chatter = anxiety cycle….because I was pulling myself into rational thinking. Rational thinking would force me to focus!
I may not have control over the thought chatter happening, but I sure DO have control over how I react to it! Now my focus wasn’t on the drink at all! It was of my past experiences, my hope and optimism of my future, of my physical body and having an awareness of the present moment.
This has been my key to never allowing my alcohol cravings to be anything more than just a thought.
I was no longer a slave to the “background noise” that would ultimately lead me to pacifying my anxiety. I was practicing mindfulness. I was consciously guiding my thoughts. Aware of the normal psychological process happening, not attaching myself to it, but just exploring and investigating it.
Mindfulness : Transmuting all the Irrational thinking that comes along with addiction into rational thinking that supports major change and resilience.
The longer I’m sober, as I practice using this mindfulness against alcohol cravings, the thought chatter around needing/wanting a drink is almost completely gone. I now hear the thought I need/want a drink and I don’t even have to question it anymore; I know the answer already!!! Now I just watch as the thoughts come and go. If or when I do accidentally find myself feeling the anxiety of the craving, I can quickly pull myself out of it with this process. It’s been a really powerful and transforming practice for me in regards to many areas of my life, not just with alcohol.
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“I think I have a problem with drinking”
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
N 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
R 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