Claire writes: I was wondering how did you deal with the first six weeks or so? I have changed dinner dates into lunch dates etc to eliminate the risk and I understand how you should keep your blood sugar levels at an even keel to stop the dips but what were your thoughts and how did you bypass the triggers?
Can you help Claire? Are you in the same boat right now? Please share your support and advice in the comments below. Here are my thoughts:
I think planning ahead is a key part of dealing with triggers and it sounds as if you’re already doing that. It might seem boring, but being really organised and looking ahead means you can take control of a situation and decide what you’re going to do about it. For example, if you always go out for drinks on a Friday night, now is the time to decide how you’re going to handle that. Will you be happy drinking a soft drink whilst others are on the hard stuff? What will you tell people if they ask why you’re not drinking? (Some people won’t even notice but you might want to think through a few lines in advance). If you don’t think you’ll be up to it then just don’t go. It won’t always feel like this – but right now you need to put yourself first.
Make sure you think about HALT – don’t get hungry, angry, lonely or tired. And I would add ‘don’t get thirsty’ to that list as well, as that can be a real trigger. Try and eat proper meals and go to bed early. If you do get caught up with a craving, drink some water and immediately start another activity that will keep you busy for at least 30 minutes.
Identify your triggers. Ask yourself honestly why you drink. Is it to help you cope with stress? Is it to cheer yourself up? Is it to mark the end of work time and the start of me time? Sit down – when you’re in a good, strong mood – and write down 3 alternative ways you can tackle that feeling. So if you drink because you’re stressed you might write: go for a run, have a bath, phone a friend.
Celebrate often. Every time you get through a difficult situation without picking up a drink, that is worthy of a celebration. Let yourself do whatever you like. If you want to binge watch Netflix or eat pints of ice cream then that’s fine. Give yourself permission to take it easy. You’re not going to turn into a perfect person overnight. Don’t catastrophise and worry that you’re going to replace one addiction with another. (If you’re still mainlining ice cream in 4 months time then fine – you might need to do some work around that – but worry about it then, and not now).
Finally, if you really can’t shake off a craving, make a deal with yourself: you’ll have a drink tomorrow. A good night’s sleep will make all the difference. I can only speak for myself, but I have never, ever, woken up the next day and thought “gosh I wish I’d got really shitfaced last night. I’d be enjoying a painful hangover and lots of guilt right now”.
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Hi Kate, I stummbled across your blog on Thursday night and since making the decision to do the 90 days alcohol free all I want is drink . So tomorrow is my deadline. My son returns to school and I’m like a kid giving up her fav toy. I know I’m procrastinating but I feel the change is coming. I’m so happy I found this page so thank you .
I’m doing the September Dryathalon hoping it will lead to a permanent solution! I’ve cut back a hell of a lot but now think now and again well I’ve done really well so why not! Then the next day kick myself!! I’ll be following Kate’s blog and checking in on a regular basis. Think it’s a great site!! Good luck!! X
Claire, I’d endorse the advice about playing the scene through to its inevitable conclusion. I’d also suggest writing everything down- why might you be tempted? by whom? what’s your tactic? at the start, don’t put yourself under pressure as I can promise that, years in, it won’t even cause you a thought and your social life with drinkers and non drinkers, friends old and new will be richer than ever. For now, cut yourself some slack; it’s braver not to go than to test yourself to the limit. Plan an alternative- book, bed and hot choccy worked for me- and positively reinforce yourself in your sober diary. You are amazing
Hi Claire, first up well done for deciding to give booze the old heave-ho! I concur with everything Kate said. The thing that will give you the most sticking power is changing your habits and enforcing these by doing something else, completely unrelated. What worked for me (and still does when I get a but cravey) is mentally reminding myself of why I’m doing this, but more importantly ‘playing the film through to the end’. So by having ‘just one drink’ you take your mind to the end of that run, which is never just the one as once you’re on it, well, you’re on it! The waking up the next morning and not remembering how you got home, or feeling like absolute arse for work the next day as you promised yourself you’d not drink on a school night anymore, and then the remorse, the guilt, the money spent that you can’t afford, the beating yourself up of ‘why did I do that AGAIN??!!’ over and over and over… remember how bloody awful you felt all those times when you gave in and had ‘just the one’. How do you feel about it now you know exactly where that path leads? This always works for me, it’s such a powerful tool xx
I love this idea. What a great way of getting yourself out of the “oh i’ll just have one drink” trap. Because we never do have ‘just the one’! x
Hi Claire, well done for saying goodbye to the booze. My 6 week anniversary is tomorrow and I feel so pleased with myself. I wanted to give up booze for years, unfortunately I was known as the drinker in my circle and the life and soul of the party. This really became my role and I felt no one would want to hang out with me once I gave up. I had my first night out last Friday and coped really well, as designated driver it is easier for people to accept. My husband is not drinking as much either so he says I’ve had a positive effect on him.
Congratulations Jayne! Sounds like you’re doing great x
Thank you Jayne – we have the same story – if I was out with friends there would always be an inevitable comment about how fast I was drinking and I would laugh it off but then go home and fret about the comment and replay the scenario in my head in the middle of the night….
Congratulations on the 6 week mark – I am at the 6 day mark and that is a huge achievement for me – I think I will be on cloud 9 at 6 weeks!
Fingerscrossed I will let you know 🙂 Cxx
i can 100% relate to being the “party animal” of the friend circle who would always drink and be so much fun and so crazy and funny. I worry that I’ll become boring or that i’ll lose common groung between me and my friend circle. It’s reassuring to know other people are tackling this challenge. I hope you’re doing well and know that I’m in a super similar situation. Good job.
Claire here! I just wanted to say thank you so much for the most amazing support and advice you have all given me. I am so determined to do this I am just so conscious of my ‘weaknesses’ and I contacted Kate because she has done it – and she has inspired me so much!
Thank you so much and good luck everyone 🙂
Hi, I have not yet started on my sober journey I have decided to do the Go Sober for October, but this was more or an excuse to let everyone know then they wouldn’t realise that I actually feel I do drink too much wine and it is time to stop and take control.
I’m so glad that I have found this site and there are people out there like me. Any tips on how to prepare myself for next week would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Clare I am also doing sober October day 1 today and feeling very anxious