Friday Night Pep Talk: 13 Essentials for Quitting Drinking
You’re looking at this page, which means you want to quit. That’s the good news!
Getting sober is an amazing, life changing process, that at times may feel almost impossible. It’s NOT. If you’re ready to stop drinking, and you are willing to get the support you need, you can recover from alcoholism no matter how bad the addiction. You can start your journey towards a better life today!
Here is my list of the 13 essentials to help you in early sobriety, and keep you focused on what’s important in those early months!
- For your first few weeks sober, your only goal each day should be to make it through without a drink. That’s all! Not fixing your entire life, just not drinking for 24 hours at a time.
- Practice complete abstinence. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can moderate your alcohol intake. If you were anything like me, you have already tried to control your drinking in some way, and failed. It won’t work now, nor will it ever again.
- Remember, you’re not giving up a good friend who has treated you well. Instead, you are getting rid of an enemy, and gaining a new, better, healthier and happier life.
- Don’t misjudge your control over your addiction. Everyone does at some point. Stay away from places where alcohol is the main event! You have no business being in a bar if you are trying to stop drinking. Don’t add that kind of stress to your new found sobriety.
- Keep busy, especially in your first few months of sobriety. Staying sober is hard enough, but keeping busy will help you not obsess about not drinking, and/or what are you going to do with the rest if your life. Practice staying in the day.
- Seek out in-patient/outpatient treatment if you can and are willing. Look into starting therapy. Usually, addiction is only a symptom of other underlying issues. You will have an easier time quitting if you can get to the root of the problem.
- If possible, cut out toxic relationships from your life. This include family, friendships and romance. If you keep hanging out with the same people you will continue to do the same things.
- Don’t mistake an enthusiasm to change with actual action. Only action will produce actual change. That means that getting sober will take some work and adjustment to your life’s routines.
- Reach out to others in recovery. Find meetings, blogs, podcasts, and search for online resources. See the link at the top of this page to Find Support.
- Remember, you’re responsible for your own sobriety. No one can make you do it! There is lots of support out there, but you have to do the work.
- Move beyond self-pity. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t accomplish anything. Having an addiction is not the end of the world! Neither is not drinking! You will be OK!
- Develop a support network. Whether this includes 12 step programs like AA or SmartRecovery, or others, build an extensive recovery network who understands what you’re going through. Recovery is much easier with like people on your side!
- And lastly, if what you’re doing is not working, and you keep relapsing, that’s ok, many people need a few starts. Don’t beat yourself up! But, you also should recognize that you need to make changes in your actions and try something different. Stay open to new ideas and support systems in recovery. Recovery is not one size fits all, keep searching till you find what works for you.
For more great tips, please check out my post on Getting Sober: Where to Start
NOTE: If you choose to start the path to sobriety alone, bear in mind that if you start experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms (panic attacks, severe anxiety, the shakes, rapid heartbeat) you should seek immediate medical assistance. Withdrawal from alcohol in some cases can cause death.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).