1) Make changes
Change the people, places and pastimes that you’re used to spending time with or at. This is easiest when you socialise with people who don’t drink at all (there are many that exist), or in coffee shops rather than pubs, or take up a sport or hobby that doesn’t revolve around drinking or in places where alcohol is served.
Remember, nothing changes if nothing changes.
2) Dry House
Empty your house and workplace of booze. If you live with someone else who drinks, ask them to remove their alcohol until you feel more grounded about your sobriety. Again, avoid places where alcohol is served, or socialising with other people who may be drinking – at least for the moment. Your good friends will still be there for you when you’re sober – indeed they’re more likely to be supportive of the changes you’re making if they’re a true friend.
3) Tell everyone
Let everyone know that you’ve stopped. Broadcast it to anyone who’s listening. This will encourage you to stick to the plan and to stay on track, in order to not lose face. Also, if you know anyone who’s quit previously, now would be a really good time to raise the topic in a discussion with them and ask for their advice and support.
4) Replacement Therapy
Replace your booze with something else – ideally something that isn’t harmful to you – such as a nice fruit drink, or some chocolate (remember to only eat sensible amounts). Alternatively, you could take up a sport, play music, or go to comedy shows which release the endorphins whilst helping you smile and laugh. You could reward yourself with the money you’ve saved on alcohol by going to see a show or a movie.
5) Imagine / Visualise / Dream
Visualise yourself in the future, feeling happy, joyous and free. Close your eyes and imagine a perfect world filled with all your healthy desires. Visualisation is often the best way to begin making any shifts or changes in your life. Visualise yourself enjoying yourself whilst having a great time doing something else.
6) Keep yourself busy
Create some alternative structure to your day. Plan your free evenings differently. Ensure you fill yourself with activities well in advance and have back up plans in case they fall through. Essentially, make sure you’re never bored or lonely. If you have children, then commit to dedicating yourself to them and their success.
Educate yourself on the physical harms alcohol has been causing your body. After all, it is a mild poison. Consider yourself in the future if you don’t stop. How will you look or feel in another 5 years if you carry on drinking? How will you be in a further 10 years of your life of drinking? Will you still be alive in 15 years time? Look at picture of people ravaged in a physical sense by the long term effects of alcohol consumption. Then consider the social impact alcohol is having on your life.
8) Take notes
Write a list of all the times you’ve let someone down, or gone back on your word, or lied, cheated or stole from someone you care about. Consider whether you’re still able to tolerate yourself while you continue behaving in such a way.
9) Keep things simple
Break the day down into manageable sizes, so you make a commitment not to drink for one day, or one hour, or 5 minutes or even just the next 30 seconds and then repeat this exercise the next day / hour / minute etc.
10) Seek professional help
There’s plenty of it about. Contact Sober Services and consider taking on a Sober Coaching package, which will permit you to stop and stay stopped in the comfort of your own home, in your own time.
BONUS TIP – Go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting (or other 12 step Fellowship such as Narcotics Anonymous / Cocaine Anonymous / Marijuana Anonymous) meeting. It’s free and there’s meetings all over the place and on most evenings of the week.
Best of all, they’re anonymous, so no one needs to know.
There is also a full guide to a successful recovery from addiction contained within the pages of the book “It’s Not About Me”. It’s written in a simple to understand and dynamic manner to keep everyone engaged in the process, rather than spilling out data and complicated instructions.
If this is your first Festive Season sober, then please stay safe and surround yourself with happy, cheerful friends who aren’t looking to become inebriated in order to enjoy themselves. Often family gatherings that are focussed on children rather than adults are far more likely to be teetotal events.
Make your Festive Season about the children in your life – sons / daughters / nieces & nephews / cousins etc.
But most importantly of all, make sure you’re enjoying yourself and whatever you’re doing.
If you’re still feeling miserable, it’s likely because you’re not engaging in fun activities, and if you’re not happy, then you’re far more likely to turn to the bottle for comfort.
Happiness is an inside job, which is immediately created quite simply by helping other people, most easily in our children or our elders. So see how you can make someone else’s Xmas an enjoyable experience, rather than worrying about your own.
Every 23rd December, I’m involved in something called Basket Brigade www.basketbrigade.org.uk where we come together and build Xmas Hampers, which we then distribute amongst families less fortunate than ourselves this Christmas. It’s a day of complete contribution, handled anonymously, and therefore without looking for any recognition or thanks in return. The results of this are enough to lift the spirits of not only those families being fed, but also the person involved in creating the hamper – even though no one knows. They know.
So if you truly want to help yourself stay sober this Xmas, try helping someone less fortunate than yourself.
This is a story that needs to be told. Well, at least I need to tell it. I’m bound by my commitment to return the favour that the Spirit of the Universe deemed appropriate for me to recover, to then pass it on.