5 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Stopped Drinking

5 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Stopped Drinking

Oh, the beauty of hindsight! It makes everything look so completely and utterly different, doesn’t it? When I think back to those first few days and weeks of early sobriety, I could have saved myself a lot of worry and heartache if I knew then, what I know now. I had SO many misconceptions about alcohol-free living. I think that if I’d had the right information, it might have been less of a struggle. So this week I thought I’d share a few of the things I wish someone had told me when I first quit.

 

black oneSobriety is what you make of it.

This is the most important one. Changing any habit is tough at first, but you can choose to focus on what you’re losing, or what you’re gaining. If you feel sobriety is just about removing something from your life and learning to live with the gap that’s left behind, then it will always be hard. If you can flip your mindset and focus on the opportunities you’re gaining, then it can be a very positive, uplifting experience. Yes, sobriety is full-on and scary sometimes – but nothing extraordinary ever happens within your comfort zone, does it? The best advice I ever got was this: sobriety is about figuring out how to build a life that is so great, you don’t need mind altering drugs to cope with it. When you put it like that, it’s hard to see alcohol-free living as anything but a good thing.

 

black twoIt’s your motivation, not your method, that counts.

There isn’t one way of getting sober so don’t let anyone tell you that you’re ‘not doing it right’. You don’t have to go to meetings unless you want to. You don’t have to define yourself in a certain way. The only thing you really need is the motivation to change. How you go about it is up to you.

 

black threeIt’s easier when you stop questioning the decision.

‘Normal’ drinkers do not spend their days wondering whether they should stop drinking – trust me on this one. So give yourself a fighting chance and stop thinking about whether you really need to quit. If you could control your drinking, you would have done so by now. Toing and froing over the decision is really tiring and it wears you down. A good way around this is to decide you’ll review the situation at a later date, after a 10 – 12 week break.

 

black fourNot everyone will care that you’ve stopped drinking.

Yes, some people will make a big deal out of it. But for every tiny-brained idiot, there will be someone else who really isn’t bothered at all. You will tell them and they will respond with zero interest! I wasted such a lot of time worrying about other people’s reactions; I made it a much bigger deal than it needed to be.

 

black fiveYou aren’t a weak-willed loser.

I remember feeling annoyed that I seemed to be able to control my finances, my weight and my diet, yet in this one area I lacked discipline. Nowadays, I come at this from a completely different perspective. Why should anyone be able to control their intake of a mind-altering, willpower-killing drug? It’s madness. With other addictive substances (e.g.tobacco, heroin, legal highs) we just assume that people will get addicted because the drugs themselves are addictive. With alcohol, we do this strange thing of blaming the drinker instead. (I feel annoyed every time I see an advert that says ‘please drink responsibly.’ There is no such thing as ‘responsible’ drinking, not when it comes to brain-bending poisons.) I think quitting drinking is a very un-loser like thing to do. It’s exactly the same as choosing not to eat cheap takeaway food. You’re simply deciding not to put crap in your body. 

 

What do you wish you’d known when you stopped drinking?

I’d love to hear from you on this – what are the things you wish you’d been told? What would you have loved to have known?

 

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32 Comments

  1. I wish I had known that sobriety is much easier than you think when your decision is firm. If you keep second guessing your decision you will most likely fail. I had tried several times and made it sober for two months or more. But I would sneak a sip of my husbands drink or he would bring home my favorite white wine. Now if my husband leaves his drink on the counter when I’m cleaning away. When he brought home vodka instead of gin(his favorite). I just walk away and understand he wants some one to drink with. Well to bad. I QUIT thanks to Kate. There are no right or wrong ways to quit. You just have to find what works for you and keep your mind straight. Kate had been wonderful for that

    Reply
    • Thanks Mary – it’s always great to hear from you! 🙂

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    • Hi, Mary. I completely agree with your statement about how sobriety is so much easier when you’re completely committed. After almost 17 solid years of drinking almost every single night, I worried that I would crave it each day. I really haven’t craved it at all and I have one year of sobriety this Wednesday. Once I got the last bit of alcohol totally out of my system, the rest was pretty straightforward: just don’t do it no matter what. I also hid my drinking very well, to the point where hardly anyone even knew I drank. I only told a small handful of very close family members and friends that I had stopped. When they recovered from their shock at the idea that I was an alcoholic in the first place, they congratulated me and we all moved on without much fanfare. I had to stop expecting other people to care as much as I did about something that they didn’t even know about. No one needs to know about it at the end of the day. All that matters is the fact that I don’t drink anymore.

      Congratulations to you and Kate (and thanks for this blog, Kate)! We desperately need more people talking about these issues.

      Reply
  2. Im glad to hear I ‘wont always miss it’! Im on day 63 and the pangs of wanting are less frequent, but more powerful. And I actually think ‘maybe just one?’ And then I have to remind myself exactly what you’ve wrote here…if I was able to control it, I wouldnt be here in the first place. Thanks for your emails, Kate and Team!!

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  3. I love the part about some people will just not care that you quit! Many of my friends didn’t realize there was a problem (I hid it so well!), so my quitting has sparked zero interest! It’s reassuring to me that I quit before everyone saw me at my worst.
    Also wish I had known that alcohol did not define me. I used to love to party, dance, get a little rebellious. I had a whole image built up in my mind of who I was and getting drunk was a part of that.
    Since quitting I have come to discover that there is more to me. And things that I really like about myself that I had sort of forgotten about in the haze of alcohol seem to be presenting themselves again. I want to learn new things again, to read and to engage in the world around me. To go places (because I no longer have to worry about how I will drive home!) and see places I haven’t been! Don’t mean to sound so “rainbows and butterflies” but quitting drinking has really opened up so many opportunities! I wish I had known that when I quit, I was really just starting a whole new (and much more positive) way to go about life!

    Reply
    • I love your attitude – clearly, so much has changed for you Bridget! Totally agree that alcohol does not define us. SO many amazing things happen when you quit!

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  4. I’m on day 7 being sober. The fear of not drinking is still very real, but I’m focused and I already feel better than I did just a couple days ago. I made it through my first weekend, which seemed the scariest, but I did it so I can do it again! Thanks for this blog though, it’s so uplifting for a situation that many consider shameful. Thanks for building us up, and filling us with positivity!!

    Reply
    • Well done Michelle – that first weekend can be tough. Here’s to many more hangover-free days! 🙂

      Reply
    • Did you keep sober?
      I make it 5-6 days and then I fail. It’s so frustrating

      Reply
  5. When i stopped drinking i wished i had a support network who i could talk to about my daily fears and doubts. It is comforting to know you are not the only one. The Sober School has helped me to see my battle as normal and that help is out there. Thankyou Kate

    Reply
    • Thanks Louise. You’re definitely not alone 🙂

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  6. I love this! I am 7 1/2 months sober today (227 days to be exact) and I still struggle. That inner voice never really goes away, it just gets quieter. It becomes easier because we consciously choose sobriety every time we want to take a drink. We keep reinforcing healthy behavior with avoiding alcohol that soon it almost becomes automatic, like riding a bike. Drawing the line in the sand has worked for me too. Before I decided to quit for good, I had periods of a few weeks to 60 days where I would “take breaks” from alcohol. That worked for me but I always knew I would eventually go back. When I chose sobriety on January 1st, I knew it was for good. I love articles like these because even though sober people make up a minority of the population, it is wonderful to remember we are making healthy choices for ourselves and our choice to stay sober makes us strong, not weak.

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your 227 days! That’s excellent. If you’re still struggling with that inner voice, I would recommend you focus on that for a bit. Have you read Jason Vale’s book, Kick The Drink? It’s one of my favourites and could help you make that final mindset shift. Sobriety is a lot easier when you realise you’re not missing out on anything!

      Reply
  7. Thanks for this, I’m on a 140 days sober at the moment and I wish I knew at the start that it was normal to feel worse when you first quit but that it would get so much better. Living life without a crutch can feel completely overwhelming before you have your support system in place but that I wouldn’t feel like that forever. I feel so much happier now and I’m really glad I stuck it out.

    Reply
  8. This is a great list! I wish I would have known that I would have feelings that I would have to feel and acknowledge. I attempted to quite a few times, but when my anxiety was at a high I would always give into drinking. It’s because I had not accepted that I would have to deal with the anxiety instead of numb it away.

    Reply
  9. Quick question.. for the people that quit drinking, did you choose a day? I ask because that’s how I quit smoking cigarettes.
    Thank you in advance.

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    • What exactly do you mean Sue? You can choose a day in the future to quit if you want. But many people just decide they’ve had enough and feel it makes sense to stop immediately.

      Reply
  10. Great Blog
    Like Gena i too have come to realize I become very anxious especially going into meeting. A drink gives me the confidence but the results are always negative. Sadly I am still drinking, BUT the positive is I joined the gym starting to run & bike so hoping my new distractions will curb the longing.
    It is sooooooooooooo hard. Great to tune in behind the scenes with such fantastic realistic facts. i will keep on keeping on.

    Reply
  11. I am back on day 1 again. Waking up with fear,anxiety and tears. Reading these comments gives me hope. I am living a lie. Most of my family think I have stopped. I hide it well. Please let this be my last day 1. Thanks guys for these positive comments x x

    Reply
  12. Kate: Great information. I love turning it around and focusing on what I’m gaining instead of what I’m giving up. That will definitely help me on my journey. I used to cycle a LOT…. I mean it was nothing to ride 50 or so miles here in the Rocky Mountains. My drinking got so bad the last year I haven’t been on my bike for TWELVE MONTHS. Too hung over/felt like crap every day. But I miss riding. You’ve inspired me to get my bike tuned up this week and get ready for a beautiful ride this weekend….Thank you Kate. You are a blessing.

    Reply
    • Thanks Cynthia! It will be so much fun to get back on your bike this weekend – this is the perfect time of year to be outside and I’m sure you’ll feel great afterwards 🙂

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  13. I’m feeling frustrated. I’m only on day 2 and I am so fatigued. I feel like I need to take a nap and I just woke up 4 hours ago. Is this common?

    Reply
    • Take it easy on yourself Aileen – you’re only on day 2! You’ve only just stopped flooding your body with a toxic, poisonous drug. You’re bound to still be recovering from that. Feeling tired is very common. If you have any concerns, it’s best to see your doctor just to be on the safe side. If you’ve been drinking a lot then stopping abruptly can be dangerous, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

      Reply
  14. Hearing others struggles and success stories really help!! I enjoy this weekly post! Thank you , Jody

    Reply
  15. I was so nervous of trying sobriety just in case I couldn’t do it. But it’s been 2 weeks and 1 day free of alcohol and its really nice. I feel free, it’s like stopping smoking. Free of thinking whether I have time to fit in a hangover the next day, adding up the weight watchers points and waking at 2 trying to trace the memory of going to bed. It was tempting to put it off until later, as I had family trips, and visitors and lots of alcohol occasions to circumnavigate, but I followed the 5 o clock tips and gave tried alcohol free beer (interesting) and chilled fizzies and that’s been fine. Waking up each day with a clear head, feeling good, not ill, tired, craving sugar and anxious feels amazing. It makes me feel a bit angry about how we are duped into believing it’s a normal part of our life. Thank you Kate for the sober school because it really helps.

    Reply
    • Congratulations on your two weeks Emma! Fabulous stuff. You’re right to do this now – there’s never a ‘perfect’ time to do this and I think it’s particularly good to be hangover-free in the summer. Well done 🙂

      Reply
  16. Dear All! Happy to state: 1y! Yes, 1 year being completely sober! Not even a drop of liqueur!
    There were times I couldn’t even dare to think about this. Days when hangover was followed by another hangover, useless nights, what nights?, days. Of course, days turn to weeks, weeks to months… have to say, wasn’t that useless. Cannot say that those days were completely useless. If I haven’t had those, maybe I wouldn’t love the “now”. =) In a way it helped me to realize: being clear is fun.
    Again, 1 year. =D I’m keeping up, so next year I want to send another post as well!

    Reply
    • Congratulations Balazs, that’s amazing! Well done – you must feel great 🙂

      Reply
  17. I stumbled across this page after another night of bad choices. Monday, happy hour, again I told myself I could just have a couple and be on my way home. Instead I did what I always do when I lie to myself about my own self control. Got hammered, ate crappy takeout food, and passed out by 8pm. Now I’m wide awake at 3am, sober and feeling guilty and ashamed because I did it again. I wrestle with the idea of quitting and/or cutting back so frequently that even now, as guilt ridden as I feeling in this very moment I’m reluctant to say that I am going to stop, even for a period of time. Because I’ve told myself this many times and failed. I guess I just don’t trust myself anymore. Regardless I’m happy to have stumbled across this page, and I plan to spend quite a bit of time reading this while I work on my determination to change. I’m 29, I have a great job and a nice house I worked for myself. I have accomplished a lot in life despite my abusive drinking tendencies so it’s easy to hide behind what I have accomplished instead of what needs to be done. I’m rambling now. Thank you for creating this page Kate, I found comfort in it tonight.

    Reply
    • Capri, how are you feeling now? I highly recommend working with Kate in her Getting Unstuck class. There are many people just like you (I’m one) who have felt the exact same way you do/did. I was kind of nervous at first, but after the first day it was amazing. She gives you all the tools and information you need to move forward sober. It was exactly the jump start I needed. Seven months plus for me now!

      Reply
  18. I’m only on Day 2 so I have no advice to give. I just want to say thank you for this page and this post. Yesterday was good but today I am tired, anxious and scared. Reading that others have gone through this and are getting better makes me feel good. These 5 tips will be helpful.

    Reply
  19. Does anyone have any advice for how to deal with a spouse that is not ready for sobriety? I have quit but get tired of his drinking, passing out, not wanting to do anything. He doesn’t give me grief for my choice, he just isn’t on board with the same choice.

    Reply

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