Five years ago I found myself desperate to stop drinking but not sure how to do it. My drinking had escalated to daily blackout levels at some point in 2008. My justification was stress and loneliness. The combination of being a single parent, a high-pressure job and the 2-hour daily commute made me feel trapped in a routine that was becoming more and more self destructive and I worried about how it was effecting my 6 year old son.
The way I stopped drinking was based on developing self-awareness of my habit. You can only change what you are aware of.
I joined a web community called Hello Sunday Morning where I could post anonymously and privately to other people like me. People who were not comfortable joining the traditional programs but were ready to stop drinking at least for a while .
In that online community which has since been closed, and now in the new community that I am a part of, we posted about everything that we were going through as we adjusted to life alcohol free. I could talk the stuff through that I kept secret from the real world, and it helped me ‘get’ that I wasn’t a heap of crap mother/person to have gotten so deep into drinking. The group and the posting were pivotal to my efforts because it kept me in focus and accountable.
This short video tells a bit of my story and what worked for me :
How I Stopped Slipping and Stayed Sober
It used to be that sobriety was about saying ‘no’, and that works to a degree, but stopping habitual, addictive or dependent behavior through will power alone is not the best solution. You do need to use will power, but stopping is not down to that and that alone. If you try to stop without support and without a way to work out who you are without your booze crutch, you can be left resentful and hankering after your old boozer life – the definition of a dry drunk thinking forever
” Why can’t I just have one?”
Through interacting in these online communities I have found the answer to loving life alcohol free in Neuro-Science and ‘neuroplasticity’. The science behind how we can learn and develop a new way of being.
What neuroscience now understands is that our brains continually grow and expand and we can literally overwrite the patterns of ‘must drink hard and fast now’ with something nicer, freer and something that is much less restricting than being a boozer. But that takes effort and engagement on your part: You need to exercise those developing neuro-pathways in your brain so that they become the dominant preferred way of thinking and being. Writing in an online community is a great way to do that.
Posting and Neuroplasticity :
My experience with the old Hello Sunday Morning web platform and our new online community Boom Rethink the Drink, is that they not only helped me stopping drinking, but helped me be happy about being sober. The community system of posting and commenting and supporting each other from day one and before day one, to years and years alcohol free, encourages you to reach back and help the next person coming along, which feels great to you but also keeps the community growing and working together. Everyone is invested in themselves and invested in each other. The definition of great team work to break the status quo in a world where alcohol is the only drug that people will question you for not using.
Through posting in an anonymous online community, you can talk about your fears and achievements and explore them further, you can help others, and find solutions to things that you’re struggling with, things that are bothering you; every time you post, every time you comment, every time you welcome a new member, you strengthen your new sober neuropathways.
Soooo, come hang out with us if you want to stop drinking. Help yourself and help others. Write posts, get it all out, say hello to the newbies and tell them what worked for you. The first time you get a Thank you ! when you’ve helped someone is just the best, and that feeling again helps those developing pathways bed down and get stronger.
Neuro-plasticity is fascinating and for me, it kind of sealed the deal and gave me that extra layer of long term sober confidence: Check out The Biology of Desire by Marc Lewis
And learn more from these posts on our blog.
Come try it out with us in BOOM Rethink the Drink
Start with a Plan
Plan, make a plan……. Taking action is really important if you want to get this
So, how do you do this? Well, the simplest way is to post.
Why? Because it is soothing, it helps you get your head around what you need to do to stop, it helps you understand the milestones that will keep you focused and assess what is working and what isn’t working. If you slip, plans help you check in on yourself before the slip runs away with you.
Planning can be in a post here in the community space or on paper, whatever works for you. Plans need to be updated regularly and are the one place you go to where everything lives about your desire to stop drinking. Plans can also help you understand the ‘why’ in terms of what your dependancy/habit/’olism looks like – a bit more thinking is needed to go back to the root causes but posting helps there:
When my plan was ready to use it kind of looked like this:
- List ALL Drinking Triggers:
- When do they happen during the day week month year e.g. 4pm
- What situations mix with times to create a powerful trigger e.g. commuting home past shops
- What emotions do I recognise (and for me I escalated these emotions) e.g stress and tension
- What other behaviours or traits collide to make drinking more needed e.g. hunger, a list of fking jobs at the end of the working day, reliving negative conversations that may or may not have happened in reality
- You can add your triggers to this post in BOOm What Triggers You and make sure that you understand H.A.L.T
- What do I want to achieve
- Stop drinking forever and happily
- HOW Examples include
- Read recovery books, TED talks, YOUTUBE – immerse yourself in all things recovery – it is a fascinating subject
- Looking at a craving with curiosity: Surf the Urge
- Eat well before trigger times
- Meditate, tap, therapy, massage, yoga, acupuncture, exercise, keep busy, binge netflix, cook/don’t cook, ice cream/suer healthy whatever you fancy – ideas here If you are Struggling with Anger or Anxiety or Depression…
- Post progress, post issues, post revelations, post thoughts,
- Help and advise newbies – this is super important and gives you a sense of achievement and it will make you realise how far you have come within a really short time (by day 5 on BOOM you can easily be ready to support others starting with a welcome, encourage posting by asking questions…)
- Rules that will help you when in craving situations E.g No shops after 2pm, eat and post before acting on an impulse. If I asked for advice on BOOM and people gave that advice I would give it a go – scariest one was when someone suggested posting before a slip (I never drank when I put a post out saying that I tought I was going to slip – you need to dig deep really and describe what is going on and why…. Basically you are ‘getting it out there in a constructuve way).
- Blog your journey here on BOOM, it will really help you and others which is magical: You are very very welcome to blog in the Seventh Heaven area
- Be accountable to you and your plan – if it’s not working for you change it so it does 🙂
- Work out what drinking costs you: Financially, Physically, Emotionally, IMpact on Family and Friends…
- Milestones: That you would like to achieve (a reward is great here)
- Rewards: E.g. Sober Flowers Friday, Spa, try something new, hire a cleaner once a month, week (this was major for me and it might sound trite but it removed a massive stressor that I would escalate commuting home)
- What to do if it goes to shit E.g. learn from the experience, look at how you felt before during and after the slip, what to do next time i that situation
Rethink the Drink… You are Worth it!
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