First of all, I need to caveat this post as I am no sobriety expert, I'm not a therapist and cannot prove my approach works for others, it just worked for me. However, I'd love to share my tips and wisdom in the event it may help to steer someone else's initial journey 'on the wagon' and provide some early sobriety support and resources. This is the very essence of community spirit, the caring and sharing of knowledge.
So, the very first and very crucial point is [and its a biggie], you MUST absolutely want it. Sounds like a no brainer, but there is a big difference between 'really liking' the idea of going booze free and utterly, if not desperately, wanting the crutch of alcohol to completely vanish from your life. You've had enough, it's not an option to continue drinking for you and you are ready to do anything it takes to be successful in sobriety.
The reason this is so important is that if you do not whole heartedly want to be free from alcohol, you are either a) not going to achieve it or b) you'll get sober but it'll be terribly dissatisfying because you are using 'will power'. By this I mean you still have the belief alcohol is fun and its something you have to force yourself to do, [to not drink], which in the end becomes really hard work and frustrating.
So the very first key to lasting and genuine success is simple: If you really, definitely and completely want to be sober, you're off to a great start, because you have the foundation and the open mindedness to take on some fantastic education and tools available out there.
At this point it's probably worth addressing 'what if I am only 90% committed to really wanting to go sober?'. Well, ask yourself these questions openly and honestly:
1. Why I am thinking about ditching the drink?
2. What issues do alcohol cause in my life today?
3. What am I scared of when I think about never drinking again?
4. Am I hurting myself or those around me, or in my immediate care, by drinking?
5. Do I believe that I have a problem with alcohol [the very fact you're reading this suggests this might be the case - no judgement obvs!]
You've had enough, it's not an option to continue drinking for you and you are ready to do anything it takes to be successful in sobriety.
So assuming you have gotten to that place where sobriety is the only way forward, what next? Here are my 10 tips to get you into your first 30 days of alcohol-free success!
1. Download an app on your phone to track progress. This is such a super useful and motivating tool. I recommend I am Sober or nomo apps. They have a great format to track time, money saved and can be applied to alcohol or other addictions. There are also communities attached to these apps if you want to explore them. Plus you can take nifty little screen shots for social media or sharing with loved ones during key date milestones.
2. Now we're talking about it, get active on sobriety social media forums. The digital recovery community out there today is AMAZING! There are closed groups on facebook so if you want to protect your new journey from your other online friends and family, you can [which I still do]. There's a lot of groups out there but make sure you choose to follow closed groups if you want to remain anonymous. My faves are Club Soda Alcohol Free, Team Sober UK, Sober Sisters, Sober Mommies Support group and many more, just do some searching and connect. You usually need to answer and submit 3 questions and then you are in. You can then read many stories and posts from people in similar boats and share yours. We mustn't forget Insta though, this is my absolute favourite. I have an account set up purely for recovery, separate to my main account with friends and family. I choose only to follow like minded people on this account and the support is growing daily. They are literally my digital family. If you're interested, my handle is @sobersinglemum_
3. Remove all booze from the house. Just get rid of it. Pour it away or throw it in the rubbish. Replace instead with nice alcohol free alternatives, there's so much choice nowadays, but my favourites are Estrella Damm Alcohol Free, Brewdog Nanny State (0.5% , Infinite Session IPA Alcohol Free 0.5%. There are also AF Gins, wine, ciders and Nosecco. Also don't under estimate the amazing cordials available either, I regularly buy Raspberry ones, cherry flavoured and elderflower cordials and mix them with cold sparking water. In fact I favour the cordials over the AF beers these days.
4. Tell someone close to you that you are going sober. Someone you can trust and who has your best interests at heart. Someone who can support you in your very early successes, 1 week, 10 days, 14 days etc. This really helps and will give you a boost when you need it as well as [hopefully] someone to share the ups and downs with. If you don't have anyone close to tell, connect with someone at a similar place to you online.
5. Read as many books/sobriety articles & blogs as humanly possible. Education is vital. I started off by reading The Easy Way for Women to Stop Drinking. It was life changing. It taught me early on that alcohol and all its conditioning and social acceptance, is still a drug that gives you nothing but pain. It unravelled the perception of alcohol being 'fun' and made me understand that you don't need willpower to stop doing something that brings you zero pleasure. I think This Naked Mind by Annie Grace is of similar ilk although I am yet to read it. Then, after reading your first uplifting book, make a list of books to buy and read to keep it going. I did this for reading, TV shows and films. You can find my lists on my Resources page. A good tip is to download audio book versions if you don't have time, or don't like to read an actual book. Then you can listen to it on the way to work, out walking or in the car.
6. Subscribe and listen to sobriety podcasts. These things are gold, honestly, I couldn't have gotten through my first 30 days without listening to a podcast every single day. The stories of people that battled with addiction and then overcame it, became therapy to me. I could relate to those people and it helped me to realise and appreciate we are all so similar and all have our daily battles with life. My 'go-to's' are The Bubble Hour, Soberful, One Year No Beer. There are many others out there, just try searching 'sobriety' in your podcast phone app and see what comes up.
7. Start moving. Even if it is a 20 minute walk each day, just get going. Walks turned into small runs and runs turned into tennis, running regularly, walking 10kms and paddle boarding four to five times a week. The better you feel in sobriety, the more energy you have to start doing things and doing it consistently. You get a new high from exercising and you notice the results pretty rapidly too.
8. Gratitude and positive visualisations. For me this area is key to my achievement so far. I have a gratitude journal but I don't always complete it if I'm honest, however I do practice gratitude in my thoughts and constantly search for the reasons why I am lucky and thankful in life. I try to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, which means paying attention to the negative chatter that erupts internally at times. I also either write down or visualise what success looks like for me. For example: Being healthy, my happy family around me, losing weight, fresh faced, a tan, doing well at work, going on holidays, getting better at tennis, positive doctors appointments, etc, etc. Whatever it is, it is meant to be a future vision of myself that is achievable because I am not drinking and continuing with addiction. It definitely works. I believe in the power of creating your own life through visualisation as well as being thankful for what you already have. I try this visualisation/grattitude technique before I drop off to sleep most nights.
9. Accept it won't be easy sometimes. The first BBQ without booze, your first night out with friends, a stressful tea time with the kids, not sleeping that well at first, struggling with your first 10 minute run, its all part of the fabric of adapting to a better life. Go with it and if you feel a craving get your AF beer out or go for a walk and listen to an uplifting podcast. Try not to panic, as at first these little blips seem hard and previously you would have just got the wine out and now you can't. Talk to your online forums, get some support and ride the mini storm. If you get through these first few weeks, these blips get easier and less frequent. I promise.
10. Treat yourself. Allow yourself to splurge on something brilliant at a certain point in your recovery. I bought a paddle board 60 days in as I had saved the equivalent amount of money from not drinking. Each week I buy a new book, and more recently I bought a second hand diamond ring to mark nearly 100 days alcohol free. Celebrate it!
- Think it
- Believe it
- Try it
- Achieve it
Good luck and keep me posted!
Thanks for reading.