Quitting Drinking: Where to Start – Part 2
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Right now you can start the journey to a new-found life in sobriety! If you are ready to get started, and end the continuous miserable cycle of Alcohol Use Disorder, you have come to the right place!
WELCOME! I have been down this journey myself and I am extremely grateful for every day that I do not take a drink. Getting sober is a wonderfully rewarding, yet quite difficult process. The first steps are always the hardest, but all you have to do is just put one foot in front of the other. If you choose this journey you will gain strength, and knowledge, and freedom that you have never experienced.
This is the second part of this guide. Click HERE to read Part 1
FEEL YOUR FEELINGS. Cry when you need to, and laugh when you can. Get angry if you feel like it. Eat when you are hungry. Sleep when you are tired. Most likely, you haven’t felt your feelings for a long time. You will find many feelings that you may not be able to even identify. This is going to be really strange at first, but try to embrace them. This was not meant to be easy, but it will get easier with time!
COMMIT TO 90 DAYS. Researchers at Yale University have documented what they call the sleeper effect–a gradual re-engaging of proper decision making and analytical functions in the brain’s prefrontal cortex–after a person has abstained for at least 90-days. From the July 05, 2007 issue of Time Magazine’s cover story, “How We Get Addicted” by Michael D. Lemonick, “Research shows that the prefrontal cortex of the brain is very important in sustaining substance abuse sobriety because it helps you control your impulses and refrain from alcoholism and drug abuse. It takes at least 90-days for it to re-engage.”
AVOID DRINKING SITUATIONS. You know that saying, if you stand by the hot dog cart long enough, you will get a hot dog! Do not put yourself in situations where alcohol is the main event! This also pertains to people; you might have to give up your old drinking buddies and the favorite watering hole. It’s really important that you stay away from all alcohol related activities to minimize your triggers and cravings, which unfortunately are a part of early sobriety. Alcoholism is very powerful disease, do not underestimate it!!!
KEEP INSPIRED. Sobriety is a learned skill, and like any skill it takes time to be good at it. You may start really excited and happy (aka the pink cloud state) and/or lose interest and get bored. You may struggle with your feelings, both mental and physical. You may hate life without alcohol, and miss all the things that make drinking “great!” You will want to quit and just go back to your old life! But DO NOT GIVE IN! Remind yourself of the last time you drank, or the scary incident you found yourself in while drinking, or a risky behavior you were engaged in due to your drinking! You don’t want to go back there again! You are not giving up a best friend, you are getting rid of a vengeful enemy. I promise if you stay sober, things will get better, and you will never have to feel that way again.
As you begin your journey, the first few months of sobriety can often be filled with incredible highs and lows, and you may feel like you rarely know what’s coming around the next corner. You may find that you are fidgety, anxious, and unbalanced. This is because your body, mind and spirit are undergoing a tremendous amount of change and adjustment while trying to function without any alcohol. At this time you may find that cravings are hard to deal with, and seem to occupy most of your day. You can read my full post about dealing with cravings HERE.
After the initial withdrawal from the alcohol you may experience the onset of PAWS. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is a set of impairments that occur immediately after withdrawal from alcohol, usually the symptoms peak around four to eight weeks after quitting. The condition may last from six to eighteen months after the last use, and often fluctuating but incrementally improving. Many of the problems associated with early sobriety do not stem directly from alcohol. Instead, most are associated with physical and psychosocial changes that occur after the alcohol has left our bodies.
In early recovery there will be some period of feeling crappy which is to be expected as our bodies and brain functions are slowly returning to normal. Stress especially aggravates PAWS symptoms because the natural chemicals like adrenaline, that help us to cope in stressful situations, aren’t back to full strength yet. (Source: Help Guide) This period of time especially, requires patience and determination!
You can read my entire post on PAWS HERE. In closing, I hope you have found some good information to get you started on your sober journey. I hope you give it a chance enough to see the amazing gifts that sobriety can bring – don’t give up before the miracle happens!
You can also read about my journey to sobriety on the About Me page. We would love to hear from you, what was a crucial part of your early recovery?
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).