You have come to the point of honestly deciding that you want to be a better person. You do not want to be addicted to alcohol anymore. You’ve heard about sober warriors, grey area drinkers, cutting down on alcohol and total abstinence. Have you decided what step to take to further your goal? What are the more effective ways to stop drinking alcohol?
MacMillian’s open crowd sourced dictionary defines “live sober” as “to no longer use, need or benefit from the consumption of illegal drugs, mind altering substances and alcohol”. Ask yourself, is this what you want to do? If your answer is “Not yet”, then you can start cutting down on alcohol consumption.
But if your answer is “yes”, then you are a sober warrior. This means you totally abstain from alcohol.
There is growing trend to shift from the label of “recovering alcoholic” simply “alcoholic” to “sober warrior”. The idea behind this movement is the thinking that we should not be ashamed of quitting alcohol. Many sober warriors came from the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) community and self help groups for alcoholics.
The re-branding of alcohol recovery came from their desire to strip the words “alcoholic” and “anonymous” because of the stigma these words bring.
We should not remain nameless, not wanting other people to know that we are kicking a bad habit. Why is it that when you want to quit smoking people applaud you, but when you decide to be sober, people think you are damaged goods?
Certainly the effects of alcoholism on families show the dwindling opinions of loved ones against those struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, as opposed to addictions of other nature.
When we rename recovery, we are able to focus on the optimistic part of ourselves, the part of ourselves that know we have a future without addiction. Alcohol addiction is now seen as life-style disease, much like diabetes or being overweight. These diseases can be corrected through lifestyle changes, not just through medicine and alcohol rehab.
Cutting down on alcohol consumption
Dry January is an effort by Alcohol Change UK, a charitable organization. The simple instruction is to stay “dry” (no alcohol consumption) for the whole month of January. It is an effort to encourage people to cut down on alcohol consumption, with an intention to change the way people think about socializing without alcohol.
Some heavy drinkers have benefited from this movement; some eventually decide to cut down their alcohol consumption. There are many helpful on-line sites such as DrinkAware, DrinkCoach or the NHS website. There are even people called “DrinkAware Crew” who volunteer to monitor drinking on nights out.
Obviously, these are all positive signs that more people are aware of the perils of being addicted to alcohol. More and more people are open to the new thinking that consuming alcohol is not good for health—mental, emotional and psychological health.
Grey Area Drinking and Coaching
There are some people who consider themselves to be grey area drinkers. Grey area drinkers are people in between two zones, the dangerous zone of hitting an alcoholic rock bottom, and the safe zone of social drinking.
They know they drink too much and are losing interest in living life at large.
They are what Jolene Park describes as people who want to drink normally in social situations, but end up regretting how much they drank once they started drinking.
Jolene is a functional nutritionist and a life coach. She supports abstaining completely from alcohol. She is also one of the pioneers of using life coaching techniques for sober living.
Here are some top tips from life coaches like Jolene:
Try a holistic approach – integrate your alcohol-free goals with your life goals. For example, you can put your fitness goals and sobriety goals together and call it “my make-over”.
Explore new interests and re-discover old ones. Maybe drinking has gotten you stuck. You can stop resisting, and start learning new things now. Tapping in into that creative, curious part of you.
Try alcohol alternatives like alcohol-free beer. Or switch to lower alcohol-strength alternatives.
Make two days of your week alcohol-free.
Being accountable through an accountability partner
Taking further advice for life coaching experts, it could help to have an accountability partner. Look for someone you trust, someone who has your well-being in mind. An accountability partner is basically someone you report your progress about.
Ideally, you should have a well-defined schedule or “date”, where you both talk about your sobriety goals.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, the Sponsor is usually your accountability partner. If you are part of other mutual support groups such as SMART recovery, you will need to find an accountability partner by yourself.
Keeping yourself motivated during withdrawal
The first week of alcohol withdrawal is the most taxing. Physically, your body has depended on alcohol to feel pleasure. Not using alcohol will make you feel very ill. Symptoms include headaches, stomach upsets, tremors insomnia and anxiety. Understandably, there is an urge to drink, just to stop the sick feeling.
To help you stay with your commitment, we suggest you do detox in a dedicated facility. In a centre, there will be people who are more than willing to help you go through this rough patch. Alcohol addicts dread the DTs (Delirium Tremens).
When it hits, you can lose consciousness, have seizures, and hallucinate. Certainly, DT is too scary to be faced alone. Step beyond the shame of entering detox. Many people share the same predicament that you do, and they have been helped to move along.
Detox is a major step when you are on recovery. If it is done right, you will tend to stick to the process.
Look at the big picture
Sometimes, when all we can see is trouble and more trouble up ahead in our sober living journey, we cannot see the forest for the trees.
It could help to go back to the most important questions you asked yourself when you started recovering from alcohol addiction.
Find your vision again. Get in touch with that part of yourself who honestly wants to be a better partner, spouse, parent, son or daughter.
You know you can do it. It just takes practice and time.