It’s important to me that this blog actually helps people to address their problems with alcohol. No matter how big or small you perceive them to be (in relation to other drinkers you are always worse and better than someone else) you CAN change. This is the most important thing.
IMPORTANT: if you are a very heavy drinker then I do suggest going to your GP first before you stop drinking as they can give you the help that you may need to ‘dry out’ successfully.
I wasn’t that heavy. Insomuch as I was a binger. I could easily go a week without – although that would be rare. So if you are like I was, getting drunk twice a week, or maybe you are drinking wine every night but don’t get very bad immediate withdrawals then this advice could work for you too. However everyone is different, each journey to sobriety is unique so please just take this as what it is: a blog post about how I quit drinking. If it helps you, fab.
1. I realised I had a problem
Instead of living in denial, I was honest to my partner and some friends that I was worried about my drinking. This started the process of wondering if my life could be different.
2. I signed up with One Year No Beer
These guys are amazing. They are a group of individuals, led by two guys called Andy and Ruari, who decided to improve their lives and health by quitting booze for 28, 90, 365 days – or forever. There is a forum to share in, an awesome Facebook group (free and paid for people who sign up). As well as that there are daily emails with videos on. A book. Social meet ups – one coming up very soon for me! They encourage fitness and that is a big element, but plenty of people in the group don’t exercise so don’t let that put you off. I paid (not much, think it was about 30 quid) to do a 28 day period last summer when I signed up with them and still have access to the group which is a lifeline of non-judgmental support and love. I am on my third stint – and I know this is forever now.
It’s just awesome. Highly recommended. Couldn’t have done it without them.
3. I read Annie Grace’s book, This Naked Mind
This book is a game changer. It’s mentioned a lot in the OYNB group. It is so powerful that I said to someone “don’t read it unless you seriously want to change your perception of booze”. This book will ‘uncondition’ years of brainwashing that we have all undergone around alcohol via marketing: that somehow it makes your life better, that you need it to survive, to have fun. You don’t. And this book helped me to see that.
4. I stocked up on soft drinks
For the first few weeks (of each go) I slurped on AF beer of a Saturday night, or a Virgin Mary, or a tonic with ice, to make me feel like it was the weekend, or when I was cooking a meal. More recently I don’t bother, as I honestly don’t feel the need to. But at parties and with food that you may associate booze with (pizza, curry etc) they can definitely fill a gap to start with.
5. I didn’t give up giving up
Despite well-meaning friends’ advice to stop giving up as ‘when you fail it just hits you harder’, I did NOT stop giving up. As I knew the truth. I had to. If I didn’t something bad would happen; that was one thing I was sure of – and I still am to this day. If you falter, or waver, or have a blip (big or small they are part of the journey) then get back up, dust yourself off and think about why that was. And come back stronger.
6. I didn’t push myself too hard
For the first few weeks other people in the FB OYNB group were jumping out of bed at 6am and running. I just didn’t feel like I could. I was catching up on years of sleep deprivation and my body was healing. It still is. So when I can’t face yoga at 6.30am or a run in the rain, I don’t do it. That said, there is an element of pushing yourself to get out there when there really is no excuse not to. What I am saying is, if you need to eat chocolate under a blanket instead of go to a Zumba class, just do it. Be kind to yourself. In time, your energy will return and when it does you will love getting out and being fitter and more healthy.
7. I shared my news… but slowly
First time I stopped I sent a group email. Then when I fell of the wagon I felt dumb. So people’s advice to me was don’t broadcast your news. Well, I agree and disagree with this advice. I would say, share away and shout loud and proud – but all in good time. I have drip fed people my news. Many knew from the start, but only recently I mentioned it on my personal social media. Not everybody loves it. Oh well.
8. I didn’t let other people’s reaction (or non reaction) upset me
Well, OK, maybe I do get a bit upset. But I won’t let it stop my progress. And you mustn’t either. For whatever reason your family member or friend doesn’t like you stopping or doesn’t think you can, don’t let them get to you. Remember there is still a huge stigma surrounding ‘drinking problems’. They could be worried about their own drinking, or maybe feel you are making a fuss about nothing. Who knows? And who cares! You are doing this for you. So stay strong.
9. I did meditation
OK, OK, my Headspace (a free meditation app) habit has died down in recent weeks, but as soon as I post this I shall have a 15 minute sesh. Just like the never giving up giving up thing, keep revisiting your new healthy habits even if you neglect them for a bit. That’s OK as long as you go back to them.
10. I didn’t get complacent
Incredibly, after 52 days (on this non-stop stint – I stopped drinking last summer), I have hit what someone else recently described as ‘cruise control’. That means that it’s kind of got easy. And this will happen to you too, most likely. So when it does you mustn’t get complacent. That’s why the OYNB FB group is so vital. I visit every day and help other people. Commenting, cheering people on etc. It really makes a difference to be part of this amazing sober community.
11. I got used to experiencing uncomfortable feelings
So I previously said that I wasn’t capable of having awkward moments. That’s not actually true. I just hate them, so I invariably talk fast over them or try to cover them up in some other way. But being sober you have to get over that. It’s not your responsibility to fill the gaps, to be the life and soul. You will feel a bit awkward at a party, over dinner, or other social occasion without the fake happiness lubricant that is booze. But you know what? Sit with that feeling for a while It’s not that bad. And it passes. And the more you get used to it the less it bothers you. Say hello to the new, authentic, real YOU. She is worth getting to know – and she doesn’t repeat herself or get louder and more annoying with every drink…
I think that’s it. I really, really hope this helps someone. Please comment below with how you quit or if this is helpful at all!