Before I start this post I should make it clear that different people give up alcohol for different reasons. For me it was because I was sober curious and wanted to see if it had an impact on my health. If you are wanting to give up alcohol because you feel like your consumption is getting out of control, then you may find this post useful but I also urge you to seek medical help. The more support and resources you have at your disposal the better.
How People React
Tell people you are giving up alcohol and you will probably be greeted by two responses “Oh, I couldn’t give up alcohol” or they will whisper “Do you have a problem then?” People often can’t get their head around the fact that you would want to have a period of sobriety. But that’s because society pushes booze on us. The inference being that wine is sophisticated: It gives mums some much needed me time, it helps high-flying executives unwind and it’s the perfect go-to glass of goodness for all situations. Going out for a meal? Have a glass of wine. Had some brilliant news? Celebrate with a glass of wine. Had some bad news? Commiserate with a glass of wine. For many of us that glass of wine is where it stays. However, for some that glass of wine creeps up. The UK has a real problem when it comes to binge drinking and middle-aged women and their love of wine is – according to medical professionals – a ticking health bomb. Liver disease is one of the biggest killers in the UK. Over the next 5 years it is estimated that 63,000 people will die from liver problems linked to heavy drinking.
How Booze Can Change Us
Many of us have the misconception that an alcoholic is the homeless man sat on the bench, swigging extra-strong lagers. It isn’t. Alcohol is a highly-addictive drug. It can make anyone an alcoholic. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, male or female. It can take the most mild-mannered man and father, and turn them into someone who is violent and abusive. It can take a successful career woman and turn her into someone who feels desperate and depressed. There are many reasons for giving up drinking and you don’t need to be addicted to alcohol to decide that a period of abstinence from it would be a good thing.
However, even if you don’t consider yourself to have a drinking problem, actually giving it up can prove tricky. Don’t beat yourself up about the fact that it might not feel easy, it is a drug after all. Giving up alcohol takes preparation and a few tricks. I’m sharing my tips for locking away the wine witch. This is what worked for me.
7 Tips For Giving Up Alcohol
Preparation Is Key
You can’t decide on a whim that you are going to give up the booze. If you don’t prepare then you will fail. You need to take at least 2 weeks to think about why you are giving it up. Clear the house of any booze, stock up on plenty of alternatives and read all of the scary articles you can find. You want to remind yourself that booze is bad!
Find Yourself A Tribe
Tell everyone and anyone because they will hold you accountable. If they are a true friend, they will also respect and understand your decision and it should prevent them offering you an alcoholic drink next time you go out together. Join Facebook support groups. There are lots of sober curious ones and mindful drinking ones. Club Soda is a fantastic website with resources and it also has a very supportive Facebook group.
Read All Of The Books And Websites All Of The Time
You will question why you are doing this in the early days so it is good to have all of the information to hand. Some books that I really enjoyed reading are The Sober Mummy Diaries by Claire Pooley. This is a light-hearted account and a really easy read. I also suggest you read her blog too. The Unexpected Joy Of Being Sober by Catherine Gray is a more extreme account of the dangers of drink but really hammers home the idea that anyone can become addicted to alcohol. The 28 Day Alcohol-Free Challenge: Sleep Better, Lose Weight, Boost Energy, Beat Anxiety by Andy Rammage will offer you practical support during those early days. This Naked Mind by Annie Grace, explains how society conditions us to want to drink. Finally, Dry: Non-Alcoholic Cocktails, Cordials and Clever Concoctions by Clare Liardet is full of gorgeous mocktails for when you when you want what feels like a special adult drink without the booze.
Set Yourself A Target
If you announce that you are just giving up booze without a timescale, then you will probably fail. Instead, you set yourself a target. For me I have previously done Dry January so this time I set myself the target of 100 days. Then when I reach that I will see how I feel. I may decide to have a drink, I may decide to continue. The difference is that I know I have that option, so I don’t feel like I am depriving myself. Set yourself a target and when you reach it, re-evaluate how you are feeling. However, don’t use reaching that target as an excuse for going out and over-indulging in the booze.
Download an app to help you keep track of your days. I’m using Dry January and Beyond and, by logging my dry days, it is keeping me accountable. I can see I am making progress.
Be Kind To Yourself
Recognise that you are doing what many people wish they could do. You are looking after yourself and putting yourself first. However, that doesn’t mean it will always be easy. You might have some side effects. You might feel tired and low on energy at first. Treat yourself to some early nights, reading and lots of bubble baths. Recognise how you are feeling and remind yourself of why you are doing it. If you think that social events might make you drink, stay away. You don’t need to explain why. Just put yourself first. There will always be time for socialising later.
If you have a slip-up and end up having some alcohol, don’t beat yourself up. Recognise why you did and start again. You can do this.
Stock Up On Alcohol-Free Alternatives
Those long bank holiday weekends, when everyone is drinking in the sun can prove a trigger. Those Friday evenings in front of the television can be a trigger. Recognise what is your trigger and prepare for it. Stock up on alcohol-free alternatives. The sobriety movement is really taking off at the moment and as a result you can now get some really good alcohol free beers and wines. Our local Waitrose has got in on the act and we can now get an impressive selection of alcohol-free, wine, ciders and beer.
The alcohol-free Budweiser is one of my favourites, I can also recommend Nanny State from Brewdog.
Sing Sobriety’s Praises
Relish your weekends without wine. Enjoy the fact you are now up with the birds, go for long walks, appreciate feeling good about yourself. Enjoy every single moment and remind yourself that you aren’t missing out, you are just missing the awful hangovers. People that give up on booze often find that they start exercising more. It’s much easier to hit the gym when you don’t have a hangover.
Seven simple tips that should help you give up alcohol. Do you have any tips for kicking the booze?