I hate reading blogs that give you a headline you need to know more about, then write 17 paragraphs before getting to the part you want to know. So, I will jump right in. Have you thought about giving up alcohol? Then let’s go:
- Read This Naked Mind. Better yet, by the audio version and listen to that. It is this fantastic book by Annie Grace that outlines exactly what alcohol does to your brain and your body, how society is involved, and why you crave it (it’s actually making you crave it! And she explains how. Get this- there’s nothing wrong with you for being addicted to an addictive substance!). There’s also a number of other books about alcohol and the journey others have taken to become alcohol free that are super helpful to read/listen to. These include, but are not limited to: Alcohol Explained, Dry, I’m Just Happy to be Here, The Sober Diaries, and Alcohol Lied to Me.
- Listen to This Naked Mind more than once. I listened in my car, on walks, while vacuuming, doing dishes, falling asleep, etc. Think of it this way, why would alcohol industries spend billions per year (yes, you read that right) if one ad hooked you for life? It doesn’t. They have to repeatedly spend that money to keep you believing. So, wouldn’t it make sense that you need more than one read to un-do all the brainwashing those ads do to us every day?
- Replace what was in your glass with something else you can look forward to. I started with tonic and lime in a martini glass. After a few weeks, I switched to seltzer with cranberry, ginger ale and lime in a wine glass. Then I started drinking Kombucha, either in a wine glass or sometimes they come in a cool beer bottle looking contraption (Brew Dr.). I will sometimes do seltzer with cranberry, cherry juice and pineapple juice in a wine glass. I made virgin mojitos (I call them “fo-jotos”). And I found some fantastic craft N/A beers; oatmeal stouts, amber ales… follow me on Instagram to see the brand names @thischicksgonesober
- You don’t have to tell everybody, but tell Having a little fear that you have someone besides yourself to disappoint helps you stay accountable. I have not made my “coming out” a public thing on Facebook, but I tell people in conversation. I also created an Instagram page for myself and I connect with other people living the alcohol free life. In addition, I frequently visit ThisNakedMindCommunity.com, where folks who are looking to cut back or quit drinking altogether post about their journey, and you can post and comment as well! It’s a wonderful group and they have such inspirational stories. Whether you want to post your journey/struggles/accomplishments or just read and/or comment on others, it’s a wonderful community to be a part of.
- Do the free 30 Day Alcohol Experiment offered by Annie Grace of This Naked Mind (did I mention, this book saved my life?! And gave my son a good mom!) (I’d say great, but I still drop the ball on things like giving Valentine’s gifts to the kids at daycare and keeping houseplants alive). The Alcohol Experiment encourages you to give up alcohol for 30 days. You get daily emails with information about alcohol, questions to ask yourself with an answer section- kind of like a journal, along with videos from experts in the field. AND IT’S FREE! What’s to lose? Oh, your desire to drink! Sign up at https://learn.thisnakedmind.com/the-alcohol-experiment-registration
- This Naked Mind also has a podcast, by the same name. You can listen for free on Stitcher. I was actually a guest on one of the episodes (to air March 2020). Annie does a mix of interviews with experts, with real life people (me) and their drinking stories, and she does short episodes where she answers readers’ questions. Listening to this in the car or while I exercise really helps me solidify the truth about this poison that I consumed for so so long. It can take me from a craving to “oh shi*, I don’t want that in my body” in a matter of minutes. There are episodes explaining how alcohol affects sleep, how the toxins our liver releases as it’s trying to get rid of alcohol is actually more dangerous than the alcohol itself, how alcohol causes cancer, and it debunks those bogus studies we always see claiming that alcohol is good for you.
- Replace drinking time (for me, that was anytime I wasn’t at work) with something else. Writing, Netflix, video games, exercise, drawing, reading, hiking, skiing, volunteering, a pet, cleaning, swimming, meditation… the possibilities are quite endless. You will probably find that you have so much free time, you can take up multiple activities to occupy the amount of time you wasted on drinking. And the brain space you have when there isn’t the ‘drink demon’ in your head constantly making you think about that next cocktail- it’s so peaceful! I used to dread Mondays so much, I spent all Sunday drinking. I drank while I did the chores and prepped for the week ahead. Now, instead of drinking while cooking/cleaning/laundry/dishes, I play fun music loudly and dance around with my son and my kombucha while I do those dreadful chores. And you know what? Now I actually look forward to doing them! And Mondays are a treat without a hangover! Okay, well, not a treat, but certainly not dreaded.
- Start a gratitude journal. I know, it sounds hokey. But it’s true that when you are forced to be grateful for things every day, you start to look for things to be grateful for throughout your day. This makes you a happier person. I have an app on my phone, and then it gives me little inspirational quotes once I’ve submitted my three grateful items. Sometimes, I just do it to get to the quotes, but hey- whatever works, right??
- Write down the lows of your drinking days so that when you start to question if you should live alcohol free or not, you can refer to it. Look at this list and see if the 20 minute dopamine rush is worth the 3 hour plunge into depression… per drink.
- When a craving hits, and it will, think past the moment. On New Year’s Eve, I went to our friend’s house prepared with my N/A champagne, and no desire to drink. Then my friend’s husband said, “Should we start with beer, or whiskey?” Now, I don’t even like whiskey (but that has not stopped me from drinking it in the past), but hearing those words put me in a FOMO state (fear of missing out). I had to think it through. What am I missing out on? That first 20 minutes of the buzz, the lightheadedness, the feeling of all cares going out the window. Okay, then what? Then a night filled with trying to get that first 20 minutes back. Then having too much (by the way, that initial 20 minutes never really returns). Then no way home, as I was the DD. Then a morning of headaches, nausea and a day of hangover. And regret, because I gave in. Is that 20 minutes worth it? The answer, for me, is always no.
Giving up alcohol isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. The clear mind, never regretting what you did the night before (unless you got into the ice cream, like I usually do), being refreshed in the morning- instead of trying to find ways to get out of whatever it is you have to do, and knowing you aren’t slowly killing yourself, it’s all worth it. If you have questioned your drinking, then what do you have to lose by giving alcohol up, even if just for a brief period of time? Try these 10 steps and I am willing to bet you will see that life is so much more than what’s in that bottle. I was stuck in that cycle of thinking about my next drink, being buzzed, being drunk, being hungover, and thinking about my next drink again for almost 20 years. I hated my father for living this way, yet I did it to myself, and I realized I was probably setting my son up to live this way too. That killed me. So these are the steps I took, and continue to take, and I have been happily alcohol free ever since.
Good luck to you on your journey! Feel free to contact me and let me know how it’s going!
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Beautifully put together, so so good. Thank you