Let’s face it, giving up drinking can be hard. I still find it difficult even after 2 and a half years being alcohol free. There are fleeting moments when I fancy a beer and if I see a drip of condensation dribble down the side of a chilled glass of Chardonnay, I literally have to slap myself across the face and remember that one, is not a possibility for me.
Luckily, there is some tricks that make this lifestyle choice more bearable. With the right stuff backing you up... this pot-holed highway to sobriety can be little less bumpy.
My first 18 months of living a sober life were lonely, I stayed at home, eating chocolate, feeling like that last person on earth. Was I really the only Mum suffering after necking a glass of Prosecco every time the baby cried? Was I the only person dealing with anxiety and self hatred every time I drank?
When I quit, unfortunately, there was no fanfare. I didn’t have to walk between a line of raised trumpets along a crowd lined high street, all I had to do was look online and read.
I found the sober curious community; At last ‘my kinda people.’
Discovering this treasure trove of open hearted, damaged and evolved souls made me feel far from alone. I found people like me, bloody millions of them in fact. It was wonderful. Ex-party girls and boys searching out a healthier lifestyle. A huge community of ex ravers, bar rats and mums that didn’t need wine to make it through the mundanities of motherhood and in a haze of party popper smoke the sober world opened up to me. it was like looking from darkness into light and I became as hooked on sobriety as I had been alcohol.
As the weeks and months past I realised that not drinking wasn’t boring like I had always believed, it was amazing. I flipped my opinion. It was drunks spitting in my face telling me the same story 15 times that were boring.
I found bloggers and writers, apps and podcasts. I soaked them up like a sponge. Other people’s success stories became my inspiration. Knowing there were people stuck between the bar and a mental health facility like I was, made me feel, well, less mental.
I learnt that giving up drinking was about changing my frame of mind. I had taken the time to see outside of its frivolity and look deeper into its dark side, into the statistics, the spousal abuse, the accidents and the illness caused by this very socially acceptable drug. I had started to question everything, and the sober community offered me answers.
So, if you’ve recently given up the grog or are finding yourself questioning your consumption, I’ve listed here my top 5 tips for not leaning on that bottle that’s banging around in the fridge door. Here are some things that might make it easier, that mean you might consider doing dry July, Alcohol free August, unsozzeled September, Sober October and ‘I promise not to get shitfaced November’.... it's worth a go!
There are so many cool and interesting people out there that have given up drinking and most of them have a podcast. For me, listening to their stories helps me understand my reasons for quitting. When listening to any sober story, no matter how extreme, I can usually relate their relationship with alcohol to my own so I always have a connection with the narrator. If it’s not an interesting topic, just listening to a soft voice coming through my headphones, eases my stressful day and lessens my cravings. Listening to a podcast at 6pm, when I used to crack open a bottle of white, is the perfect distraction and soothes over my need for alcohol.
Some of my favourites are:
The Addicted Mind Podcast.
The Bubble Hour.
A Sober Girls Guide
Happy Place -
Just a good Listen
Modern Love – New York Times
Under The Skin – Russell Brand
The Adam Buxton Podcast
Desert Island Discs
Being prepared with a snazzy soft drink is a great way to feel like you’re still having a treat. Drinking alcohol used to be my reward - so gratifying myself with something that still has a hint of pleasure to it... is a great way of heading off any cravings off at the pass. Nowadays I’m happy to sit among beer drinkers with a ridiculous looking cocktail with fruit balanced on the rim and a parrot twizzler sticking out. Mocktails are also a good way of distracting people from the fact that I’m not drinking. Overall a win/ win.
For my favourites, Google:
Blueberry Ginger Cooler
Cucumber Grape fizz
Realising there are people out there just like you makes it easier to foresee a future without alcohol. Reading the ups and downs of other addicts has definitely helped me understand where I sit on the vast alcoholism spectrum. Before I started reading about booze, I thought I was just a party girl that over did it sometimes but after wading into the world of Quit literature I came to understand that I had a problem and that no matter how big or small and that everyone deserves help.
A few of the books that helped me were –
Sober Curious By Ruby Warrington.
The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober By Catherine Gray
This Naked Mind – By Annie Grace
4. Practice Sober Socialising
The first time I went out without a drink was so hard. I felt like a bright light was being shined into my face and I could hear every word I spoke. I hated it. I was uncomfortable and wasn’t sure if I liked this sober version of me. It took time to get used to. Not being passed out at a taxi rank and having to actually converse with other humans was draining. I had to train myself over a period of time. Teaching yourself to accept the sober you takes time and effort and lots of fizzy water. The only thing I can recommend here is - keep going. Keep clicking on 'yes' to those Facebook invites and keep going out, out out. Eventually you'll get used to it and enjoy it.
Towards the end of my drinking days I’d began to dread going out because I couldn’t control myself when alcohol was involved and I knew I’d end up making an idiot of myself and have my head in a toilet at the end of my ‘fun’ night out. Now – I love going out. I love meeting people and having genuine conversations. It’s better than drunk socialising (difficult to believe I know!) So simply keep at it and that bright light will dim to a soft content glow.
Ha! I tricked you with some whimsical ideas that this was going to be easy! You thought all you had to do was sip mocktails while listening to the dulcet tones of an addiction expert in the bath and then head out to lawn bowls once every 2 weeks! Er no. Sorry to disappoint you! I’m remorseful to say that stopping drinking isn’t that easy and takes a professional hand to loosen its firm grip. Digging deep into your past and finding out your reason why? Is the only way you will get well. You need to reach out to someone that is qualified, someone that understands the ins and outs of addiction. The path I chose was a one on one therapist but groups such as AA work too. As the saying goes ‘We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.’ It is so true. you ned to learn new ways, open up other pathways. I failed at moderation for years because I was trusting my own addictive behaviours. It took someone else to point out where I was going wrong. A therapist will teach you to take responsibility for your problem, be honest about it and break free from old habits.
Sober me is better for me and for everyone around me, now I'm not going to be a smug twit and tell you sobriety makes everything perfect. It does not, I'm still unorganised and shout at my children and at times feel like banging my head against a wall, but I'm happier.
Thats the main things that changes.
You exchange alcohol for happiness.
A fair deal I reckon.
By Victoria Vanstone