Six months ago, I made the decision to stop drinking. For the past 15 years, I’ve taken breaks lasting one month to as long as eight months, always with the same goal, take a break and then practice moderation. However, moderation never lasted. It might be a month or even up to a year, but that occasional glass of wine with dinner always led back to problem drinking, filled with embarrassment and regret. This roller coaster had to end. While there wasn’t a “rock bottom” moment or family intervention, I knew one day, down the road, I would have to quit. I could either stop now, on my own terms, or wait until alcohol threatened my health.
While I am by no means an expert, the following list helped me form a strong foundation to begin a life of sobriety:
• The first phase of sobriety can be quite challenging. Some require professional assistance. Remember, successful sobriety must include a plan. Many roads lead to sobriety. Which road will you choose?
• Stock the fridge with a substitute. In the first week, I often drank 2-3 cans of sparkling water per evening.
• Will others at home still be drinking? How will you handle alcohol in the house? Chad still drinks, but for the first few months, he did not purchase any of my favorites, specifically white wine.
• What will you do after work? When the weekend arrives? Will you attend social gatherings where others are drinking? I limited large social outings for the first few months. I also explored new alcohol free activities: Guided meditation, learning a new language, and re-learning cribbage.
• While I didn’t join AA or any formal program, I spent time researching many of them. I connected with AA’s mantra, “One day at a time.” In the early days of sobriety when the urges and anxiety ramp up, stepping back and focusing on a single day is often required.
• Learn about sobriety’s many paths by exploring the “Quit Lit” genre. I connected with much of Annie Grace’s “This Naked Mind.” This book taught me how to develop the mind of a non-drinker. (According to the author, “This book is not for the 10% of drinkers who…are physiologically dependent.”)
• Should you share your journey from the start? Some people require the accountability of a public journey. I needed to wrap my head around the idea of a sober life and develop a routine. At first, I only shared with Chad and the kids and later with a small circle of family and friends.
• As Admiral McRaven said in his speech, 10 Ways to Change the World, “Find someone to help you paddle.” Whether that help comes in a face-to-face support group, on-line program, or sober buddy, please know that you are not alone! There’s a community out there to help you refocus, laugh, or vent.
In the future, I’ll still share posts about music, frugality, and funny farm mishaps, but I will also share stories from my sober journey, what’s helping, what’s challenging, and those lovely moments of joy. I hope my experience will help others who struggle with alcohol.
Thanks for reading!