strawberry pospicles sober treats

Sober Treats – Rewiring your Reward Pathways When You Go Alcohol-Free


Are you struggling to stay alcohol-free and thinking Yikes! How will I get through wine o’clock Sober ?!!!? I get it, even though you committed to staying sober, sometimes that need to feel a bit of spice in your life at night is so strong – but there are other ways – better choices than opening a bottle! You need a sober treat!

We asked members of our online community BOOM Rethink the Drink what their favorite sober treats are and some of the answers may surprise you.

What is the best treat that inspires me to stay alcohol-free? Not wondering what I did last night and hoping I don’t owe apologies

I love that feeling of relief and pride when I’m getting into bed knowing I didn’t drink. And feeling good in the morning is another bonus.

Understanding the importance of sober treats is part of demystifying the process of staying sober. I learned so much after I stopped drinking that helped me understand why it was so hard for me to go alcohol-free in the first place. Over the many years that I was trying to stop drinking – before I finally did manage it, one of the things that I did not understand was the importance of replacing my perceived treat of drinking alcohol, with a sober treat – and how to do that. It’s about consciously acknowledging the pleasure that comes from things other than alcohol. Or from things that follow going alcohol-free.

What is my favorite sober treat? I love how accessible calm has become.

Did you know that Dopamine is released in your brain not just when you drink but when you DECIDE to drink – so if you talk yourself into heading to the store for a bottle, or talk your partner into heading to the store for a bottle … the Dopamine starts to fire in your brain – REWARD REWARD REWARD … and your brain begins to drool like Pavlov’s dog.

It’s not just the chemical reaction that occurs when the alcohol hits the dopamine release valve, there is a chemical reaction in your brain that hits the dopamine release valve just because you made the decision– just because you are Planning to drink. This is where community support and accountability comes in when you are trying to stay sober. It’s really important to call yourself out to someone who knows that you are invested in NOT drinking today. Get in here and post – before you make the decision to drink- at the moment that you start to think about drinking. Typing out your intention and getting a quick response from people who understand why you need to stay the course, is tremendously powerful!

Using phone to reach out to online community Alcohol-Free Inspiration for Dry July 2020 - Day 3 Sober Treats

This dopamine release at the expectation of drinking is also why sober treats are so important…. it’s not just about replacing a treat with a treat … it’s about giving your brain something to get excited about, something to anticipate.  

I love going to bed knowing I didn’t drink all day, and then waking up fresh and clear in the morning. My sober treat is trusting myself again

The thing with sober treats is that you don’t get the chemical reaction that you do with a drug. So getting the point across to your brain that THIS IS THE REWARD require effort- it’s not a chemical punch- you need to brag about those treats like you might see someone brag on Facebook about some great cocktail they make on a Sunday morning or the fantastic boutique gin they got trashed on last night. This is one of the great things about something like Dry July! You CAN go on Facebook and brag about the fun or yummy thing you did instead of drinking tonight because you have a Dry July passport to stay alcohol-free for the month! Bragging goes straight to those reward centers in your brain.

Brag about the sober treat, tell us about the spa treatment, the book you bought, or show us a picture of the cupcake. the mocktail- the teddy bear you got for you because you deserve a hug! 

Waking up early and remembering everything about the night before

If I get a craving it helps me to look forward to one of those special treats. Usually it will take away my craving!

I was a musician until retiring last December. One of the things that I could not ever imagine was winding down after performing without a bottle or two. I had been drinking after concerts since I was in school. It’s what I had always learned horn players NEEDED to do.

The first time that I found myself CRAVING my homemade mocktail reward on the way home from a Friday night concert I was blown away! It was just a matter of wash rinse repeat with the nightly routine of drinking iced green mint tea with a splash of Schweppes sour lemon instead of the nightly routine of a bottle and a bit or two of wine.

Sober Treats Work!!! 

If drinking is a treat to you – as it was to most of us – you can change that thinking but it takes repetition and conscious effort.

Think about how beautifully presented the images of alcohol are that you see every day throughout the day even at home… they pop up everywhere- even in articles about NOT drinking- That’s why we ask that people be careful about the images that they post in BOOM, because sometimes a scholarly article or news report on the problems our culture has with drinking, come with images that set off that Pavlovian response in your reward centers and make you start thinking about how great a drink would be.

Retrain your reward centers to crave these beautifully presented treats by selling them to yourself with the same sort of seductive presentation.

It doesn’t have to be a sweet treat

Or even a food treat

Manicure Alcohol-Free Inspiration for Dry July 2020 - Day 3 Sober Treats
Hot Bath Alcohol-Free Inspiration for Dry July 2020 - Day 3 Sober Treats

This is my go-too 

and this 

Flowers Alcohol-Free Inspiration for Dry July 2020 - Day 3 Sober Treats

But Chocolate is always there in a crunch

Chocolate Alcohol-Free Inspiration for Dry July 2020 - Day 3 Sober Treats

and icecream too 

Ice cream Alcohol-Free Inspiration for Dry July 2020 - Day 3 Sober Treats


It’s wine o’clock and your brain is screaming for a treat!

Just remeber, you’ve decided to stay alcohol-free today. It’s an adventure. Have some fun with it!

Strawberry in water Alcohol-Free Inspiration for Dry July 2020 - Day 3 Sober Treats

What kind of adult treat might replace the chemical zap to your brain that you’re missing?

We asked our BOOM community

What are your favorite sober treats big and small? How have sober treats helped you stay alcohol-free?

Icecream with butterscotch sauce Alcohol-Free Inspiration for Dry July 2020 - Day 3 Sober Treats

Ice cream and butterscotch sauce 😋
I’ve used it as replacement

I think anything can be a sober treat sort of. What you normally like and want but just no alcohol involved which means you can really appreciate those treats fully.

Lemon Cake  Alcohol-Free Inspiration for Dry July 2020 - Day 3 Sober Treats

I love hot chocolate and lemon cake.
And chocolate cake and raspberry cake or any kind of cake!🤣 I love when I can get out and mountain bike or surf. And when it’s really hot I love to have a cold sparkling water!
If I get a craving it helps me to look forward to one of those special treats. Usually it will take away my craving!

Good chocolate: Cadbury’s choc-o-latte: milk choc with biscuits and coffee – delish.  (Just 3 squares – really savouring the taste.)  And blackberry and lemon sorbet from the safest (social distancing) store close by.  Tingling and lo-cal.  And Belvoir fruit cordials, made in the UK and  50% fruit.  And walks….. <3 <3 <3

Celestial Seasonings Herbal Teas.  I make it iced and sip all day and night.  Pee like a race horse but much better for my life than vodka and seltzer.

And – From Off – Dry by Kristi Coulter Day 778: You Do Not Have to be Good

.. think about cutting yourselves some slack. Have a cupcake if you want it. Buy two cupcakes and eat only the frosting parts of both of them, which is a thing I have heard some other people do. Go to a movie in the middle of the day. Sleep late. Binge-watch something. Smoke a bunch of cigarettes, if it’s going to make not drinking a little easier.

This is not about being lazy for the rest of your life, or gaining fifty pounds or getting fired or resigning yourself to lung cancer. This is about giving yourself some space to just be sober for a bit, until you’ve got some momentum

From Off – Dry by Kristi Coulter Day 778: You Do Not Have to be Good

It does help to understand why your brain is whining for wine. Those cravings at wine o’clock, that feeling that life will be dull and boring without a bit of alcohol in the mix, it’s not just habit or routine, there is chemistry in the cocktail:

DopamineEndorphins and Adrenaline from The alcohol effect on middle aged “fun” sensors

Water play Alcohol-Free Inspiration for Dry July 2020 - Day 3

Here is an excerpt from scientific research on alcohol and brain chemistry:

“ Some of the better-researched neurotransmitter systems with which alcohol interacts are the following:

Endorphins: Alcohol affects the endorphin system in a manner similar to opiates, acting as a pain-killer and giving an endorphin “high”

Dopamine: All drugs which lead to dependence appear to affect the dopamine system. Stimulants like amphetamine and cocaine affect dopamine directly whereas other drugs appear to affect it indirectly. In this article, we will review the research on the effect of alcohol on dopamine

Norepinephrine: Also known as noradrenaline. Alcohol causes a release of norepinephrine in the brain which is one reason why alcohol acts as a stimulant and not just as a depressant.

Adrenaline: Alcohol causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline–this is another reason why alcohol has stimulant properties. The adrenaline is carried to the brain via the bloodstream.

Alcohol does not lead to an increase of dopamine throughout the brain; it only causes an increase in dopamine in the area of the reward pathway (Boileau et al 2003)

astes better than sober today

So I don’t have to be good !?
That’s great!
I mean I’m no saint
If I had to be good 
The perfect housewife and mum
My husband would probably faint (lol)

So are you saying 
I can keep playing 
Having fun 
Now that my sobriety’s begun?
This is challenging my preconceptions 
It’s a misconception 

Erm question?
So I don’t have to be sensible
and all grown up
Just because I don’t pick up
The booze 
I could still be how I choose?

I don’t think
I could actually live up
To a perfect version of me
Don’t put me on a pedestal 
I’ll fall!

I’m far from perfect you see 
I don’t go to the gym 
Or go for a swim
I’d rather pig out
Watch movies 
Comedies, thrillers or dramas that move me

You’re more than likely
to find me snuggling
on the sofa with a cup of tea
No triathlon for me
Not really!

I don’t drink now, not anymore 
But I still get fed up
In a bad mood for sure
I need to chill out
Let off steam 

But it’s no longer done
by pursuing the alcohol “dream ” 
You know the one that we’re constantly sold 
I mean, 
That just got old!

I do need a few new hobbies though 
Like yoga and art 
I’ll give them a go 
And I fancy the theatre or
A West End show

But for now, I think I’m doing great!
Doing fine 
Just by not drinking that wine!

Poetic Musings on Day 778: You Do Not Have to be Good
a post by Kristi Coulter on being fine without the wine.

If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break…or if you have stopped drinking and are trying to stick to sober! Talk to Us. 

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

You can read more about us Here And join  Here

community support 24-7 or sign up and sign in here

Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying

“I think I have a problem with drinking”

How do you go Alcohol-Free? ( 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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