How do I stop drinking?

Yesterday I’d fallen into one of those predictable but still somewhat surprising holes I forget to look out for. Blame it on post-vacation letdown or post-sugar crash or moon cycles or who cares really. I’m human. Sometimes I figure the veil has finally lifted only to reveal that I suck.

Then I checked my neglected blog email account and found a message from someone asking for any tips about the basics of, you know, how exactly does one not drink anymore. And then I remembered clear as day what a therapist told me when I was in this person’s shoes.

First you have to build your sober support system.

I always liked the sound of a Sober Support System. It sounds efficient and strong and not terribly complicated. I still had no idea how to build one at the time, so I asked.

My therapist told me to get to AA. I did. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and there are plenty of non-step support groups too, though availability varies depending on where you live. If you know someone else who doesn’t drink, reach out to them. Chances are they’ll be thrilled to hear from you and happy to help!

Once you get to a sober support meeting, you’ll meet other people going through the same thing. You’ll meet newly sober people like yourself and you’ll meet others with a little time under their belt. If you’re like me, you’ll relate to a lot of stories and feel much less alone and more filled with hope.

If you can’t do in-person meetings right now, there are also online resources and support groups and forums. You can connect at any time and meet a wide variety of people going through the same thing.

(Note: I know I’m missing some good resources and plan to build a page with links. If you know of any helpful sober resources not included, please share in a comment!)

Just pick something or a mix of things and stick with it and build from there. The first thing you pick doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment, no matter what you read or hear or fear. You can use any blend of resources, as long as it works for you.

The key is getting through today without a drink. Because you know what? I’ve never once regretted not having a drink. Not once in 1,116 days have I ever woken up and thought “man, I really missed out by not drinking last night.” Not once. Before I quit drinking, I’d lost count of mornings filled with nausea, dread and regret. They all bled together like one big never-ending hangover.

So build up your sober support network and don’t drink. That’s it for now. Both of these things get easier over time. Each time you get through a tough/happy/bored/anxious day without drinking and practice leaning on others, it gets a little easier to do the next time.

It takes time, so be patient with yourself. I drank for decades, and progress has built slowly over several years, with plenty of room for improvement. No rush, no real end goal in sight. Today I’m enjoying the scenery.

And I’ve yet to meet a friendlier, more helpful bunch of people than other sober people. If you’re not sure where to start, email a few sober bloggers (like me). Seriously. We want to help and it feels good to pay it forward.

Don’t worry, you’ll see what I mean one day.

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42 thoughts on “How do I stop drinking?

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  1. Thank you for this message. You remind me of the support I need on this journey. I love the blogging support, but for me, I just may need more one on one in-person support. I’m going to try to find non-AA support groups around me. And maybe if there aren’t any, who knows, maybe I should start one:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you. When I’m feeling low or struggly, the first thing I want is to physically be around other people in recovery. Online is the next best thing, but listen to what you’re feeling. I recently joined the booze free brigade (yahoo group) based on the great things I’d heard. Seems like a great group for support, believe some members even meet in person. Thanks for your comment!

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  2. I love this whole post K~ you told me months back, “If you know someone else who doesn’t drink, reach out to them. Chances are they’ll be thrilled to hear from you and happy to help!” This is so true and how I found my sponsor. She was thrilled and took me to my first meeting. I was so scared to reach out and you were right, she was thrilled. This is a great piece for “newbies”. I love your blog and thank you for all your support.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the reblog, B! And someone I reached out to also took me to my first meeting. I was fine after that, but it really helped to have someone go with me. He was thrilled to help and now I understand why 🙂

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  3. You know BB! Sometimes you come across people and their writing and it can’t help but inspire. I am a virtual non-drinker, but reading about your journey has inspired me and I thank you for that.
    Aside from your recovery story, you have made such a difference in the lives of many, as I read the comments. Your general writing and wit has been a pleasure to share and may I say, I have personally grown by your openness and care. Thankyou and keep enjoying the journey.B

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you. I have been reading your posts for years, always so envious of your courage and determination. I finally decided I want what you have. Today is day 5 of sobriety. Thanks for today’s post. Most helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Day 5!! That’s huge. Not drinking isn’t easy, but the reality is that this is an easier, much better way of life for me. Thank you for commenting and congratulations on your decision. You made my day 🙂

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  5. This post is fantastic. I wish I had seen it back when I first quit. It might not have taken me 3 white knuckle months to go through the door of an AA meeting. Sober blogs and emails are great, but human contact takes it to a whole different level. I too love the line about never regretting not having a drink. I have never thought about it that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I hadn’t had someone offer to take me during week 2 of not drinking, I’m honestly not sure when I would have made it. I was apprehensive, but for no reason, as it turned out. I just felt safe and understood. It was a relief. I’m glad you’ve found comfort there.

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  6. Fantastic post. Excellent advice 🙂 I agree with soberlearning that human contact is really great, although meetings can be scary. I think you’re right tho. Every person that I’ve met in “real” life that is in recovery has been thrilled to help me or just be there when I needed it. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought I’d be bothering them or seem like a weirdo, so it felt scary to reach out to someone I knew was sober. I’m so glad I did and I totally get why they were thrilled to help.

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  7. I read your blog, even though I am not, nor ever was a drinker.
    Eating though was out of control. You know when you consider hiring a professional to do your toenails. It took a conscious decision to lose weight. And I managed to do so. One of the strategies, which also applies to drinking is: make sure you don’t have the bad stuff in the house.
    You can still go out and get some, but then you know you betray yourself.

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    1. “make sure you don’t have the bad stuff in the house.” This is key for me when it comes to junk food. I am going to work on this one. Thanks for your comment and for reading, Bert!

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  8. I woke up this morning deciding that today was the day I was going to quit drinking. Being in total denial mode, I’ve been struggling with this decision for a while now. My husband has even been pretty much clueless, having no idea how much wine I was consuming each night, so it was easy for me to “get away with it”! So here I am looking online for any and all help, and I came across your blog. Thank you so much! This is just what I needed 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kim – thanks for your comment! Check out some of the blog links on the right — Belle’s 100 Day Challenge might be nice to check out since you’re just starting out. I can relate to that feeling of “getting away with it” though I felt completely worn down and terrible inside. Letting go of alcohol has brought so much reward and relief. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Thank you!! I’m scared yet excited at the same time – crazy, huh? Just put my name on the list for Belle’s 100 Day Challenge…..

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  10. I love this message. Thank you for your inspiration! It’s great to see how long you have made it. I am only at day 9, so knowing that other people have taken this trip before is really helpful. Having a social support group is really necessary, especially if you are like me and all of your friends and family members are drinkers. Coming online to interact with like minded sober people is extremely helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I couldn’t agree with you more. I suffered from alcoholism for over a decade and during the times I was binge drinking, I managed to surround myself with others who liked to destroy their lives and livers as well.
    It was only until my mother fell ill with liver failure and I was staring death right in its eyes that I stopped drinking; cold turkey. I knew I didn’t want to die and end up yellow and zombie-like… this is what became of my mother.
    But stopping was not easy. And I had to make a choice of surrounding myself with a new group of people. And I had to make the choice of parting with someone who I had spent a quarter of my life with… six years and two back in college… so eight all together.
    My boyfriend now doesn’t drink and I knew I needed this if I wanted to stay sober. We have been together for over three years now and he is a huge support system for me. Where I was once drinking my life away with my mother, she is now sober and living a healthy life with a new liver.
    I try to tell people all of the time they must surround themselves with sober people. Especially when the first make the commitment to not drink anymore. The hardest year, for me, was the first year. I hated going out to restaurants and parties where I knew people would be drinking. Slowly, I learned to get over these yearnings but it was only through a sober support system I was able to conquer those demons for good.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for this, I just relapsed August 1st after a year and 9 months so I am feeling pretty low. Realized that all that time I saw not drinking as a punishment instead of being grateful for my sobriety. It had the same effect and I felt just as aweful afterward. So for those of you wondering…..TOTALLY not worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this…I’m glad you made it back so soon. I get what you mean about seeing not drinking as a punishment. Gratitude is key, but it’s a (slowly) learned skill for some of us. I used to make gratitude lists for awhile or force myself to look at the flipside of a seemingly negative event. Life ebbs and flows, so I hope you’ll find the support you need. I hope you’re feeling less low today. You sound like you’ve had a breakthrough. I’m grateful for your comment.

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  13. This is actually my second serious attempt at sobriety and I was shocked at how a simple change in perspective makes this time a fair bit easier. I am not sure if I can articulate it well enough, but I am going to try. The first time I went for sobriety it was more of a “try not to drink” process. This time around it’s “I don’t drink:. This slight shift in perspective is making a world of difference. Do not get me wrong, it is still a struggle some days.
    Because my sobriety is important to me, I needed to learn how to be myself again without the booze. That fact was the catalyst for my own website. I couldn’t pinpoint a single thing I wanted to invest my time in other thanso I decided to try a little bit of everything. In all honesty, it has been the most cathartic process. My obsession is making myself interesting again (okay, that sounds a little bit like all I want to do is impress people, but in reality, I was a young girl with big dreams and ambitions that lost herself under all the empty cans and bottles) and in doing so I have found my own sober-support system. I’m really glad I’ve found the sober community here at wordpress to add to my arsenal.

    Now, excuse me while I continue to stalk your posts 😉

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      1. Thank you!
        as for “a change in perspective”, it sounds like a canned catch all phrase out of a for profit self-hep book. But it’s definitely something you don’t want to write off.

        Like

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