I have been communicating with a woman who is trying to quit drinking. Alcohol has become a problem in her life and it is beginning to negatively impact her work and family. We have exchanged emails during a difficult time for her, and although I am not a doctor (aren’t you GLAD), I have had the equivalent of a Doctorate in the school of alcohol’s hard knocks. I can certainly relate to her seesaw existence: up when she’s not drinking, down when she is…
My email friend seems to be able to go for a few days sober and then a trigger of some sort will have her running for the bottle. Recently it was a disappointment in love. She asked me, “How do I stop?”
And that my friends, is the BIG question.
I wish I could stand before you like one of those reality chefs in a pretty apron and mix the perfect sobriety recipe, but it does not exist. I can only tell you what I did when I decided to quit drinking.
HOW I STOPPED DRINKING:
1. I realized I could never take another drink. That was my biggest challenge and my biggest disappointment.
2. I trained myself to live one day at a time. It sounds like a cliché I know, but catastrophic thinking will derail the best of intentions.
3. I just said, “NO!” Do I sound like Nancy Reagan? I actually said it aloud whenever I was heading for the Gate station to buy a bottle of plonk. I still do.
4. I made myself take stock every morning. Here I go talking to myself again, but every morning I would say aloud, “Feel how you are feeling.” Instead of doing a damage check (bruises, abrasions, headache, teeth intact?) I would consciously assess how GOOD I felt. No hangover in the morning is the BIG perk of sobriety.
5. I found a drink substitute. I have always hated those people who go on diets and force everyone to go with them – sitting in a restaurant, dying of boredom, while the dieter interrogates the waiter and talks endlessly about carbs and the dreaded gluten. When I’m out, I drink gassy water and cranberry in a wine glass and keep my mouth shut.
6. I knocked myself out with Sleepytime Tea – Extra Strength. What do they put in that stuff? I have no guilt about the times I drugged myself to sleep at 7 PM to stop myself from drinking. Or the occasional afternoon…
7. I asked for help. Wow. There’s a novel idea, right? After years of suffering on my own, I asked those people who love me to please HELP ME.
8. I found community. Facebook, Twitter, podcasts, books, meetings – in the year 2015 we are blessed with the enormity of social media outreach. It is one of the great positives of the LOOK-AT-ME generation. There are many resources to sobriety.
9. I prayed. Praying takes many forms and it helps when the regrets roll in like thunder… For me it was essential to surrender to a higher power and to begin to seek enlightenment. I am still a fledgling, but I believe.
10. I wrote a blog. Don’t you do this because I’m writing a book and I don’t want the market to be flooded with boozing memoires… (just kidding). I found that writing it all down was a great catharsis. Obviously I still do…
This is a journey worth taking.
I will help you if I can.
Please, anyone with ideas to make this journey easier or more successful, leave a COMMENT.