I’m currently celebrating my six months of being sober from alcohol. I am so thrilled to have taken on this journey, primarily because I wanted to drastically prove to myself that I could cold turkey quit something that was causing me harm. I’ve been living in London for five years, and before London my drinking habits were close to none. However, upon engaging in London’s social scene – whether it was drinks with friends, date nights, or events – I noticed my drinking escalated dramatically. My tolerance and enjoyment for wine grew, which was surprising as I hated the taste of wine & beer before 2015, however they really grew on me.
In January 2020, I went for a physical examination for a routine check up, and all was good, apart from an early onset of an issue with my liver. It was nothing major but obviously we all wanted to nip it in the bud before it escalated or developed. The doctor suggested I fix my diet of foods and/or decrease my intake of alcohol, as both naturally affect the liver for everyone. I love food so much, and so my first thought and action was to cold turkey quit alcohol there and then on the same day. My journey with food is an ongoing process. I thoroughly enjoy quitting things in a split moment / day, such as when I went vegan, I transitioned in a day, as I wanted to 1) challenge myself, and 2) I know that I work better in doing things usually quite fast of a decision.
In terms of how I’ve been physically & mentally, I think I’ve noticed a decrease in puffiness, obviously no hangovers or grogginess from night outs, and my gut has been feeling a lot healthier. On the other hand, I’ve had a multitude of dreams where I almost started drinking again. According to Google these sort of dreams are common amongst people in recovery or coming off drinking – the dreamer usually takes a sip or almost takes a sip of the substance, feels heavy remorse or guilt, and subsequently wakes up feeling relieved to have that been just a dream. In a way, some researchers have found that people who are recovering and dream about alcohol or drinking could be experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. As in a way depending on how intense your journey prior to sobriety was, suddenly being off it could definitely have an affect on how you think, dream, and rest. Our subconscious mind thinks things we may not even be aware of until we’re asleep or resting. In terms of social anxiety / interactions, I’ve definitely had to tackle the nerves and anxiety in social settings as I no longer have alcohol to crutch on or to give me liquid courage. Through this it drastically has given me strength and a sense of growth as I’ve pushed myself to speak up more, engage in conversations in an authentic way and step out of my comfort zone in an honest & sober way.
If you’re interested in going sober, or taking a long break off of drinking, here are some key points in staying mindful on this journey.
The idea, thought, or plan is so incredibly important. If you are thinking that you may only last 2 weeks, you most likely will only last 2 weeks. Stay as determined for as long as you can, and don’t undermine your strength. Find your reason for doing this – is it for health reasons? Is it to gain a clearer mind? Is it to create more authentic relations? Whichever reason it may be, remember it and own it. You are so much stronger than you know. Find solace in taking on this challenge and journey. And recognise how much growth you’re going through during this time.
Think of the positives and what you are excited to do amidst not drinking. Is it being able to save more money instead of spending it on overpriced cocktails? Is it being able to wake up early on a Saturday morning and going for brunch? Is it being able to attend a yoga class without being hungover and feeling like vomiting? Is it to simply grow and create connections that are real and will be remembered in the morning?
Find other new, exciting self-care areas that you can engage in. Whether its yoga, meditation, new vegan recipes, writing, filming videos, or exercising, it’s important you keep yourself busy and happy – without alcohol.
Identify what triggers you to drink. For me, it was a socialising thing in London – after work drinks, date drinks, event drinks, etc. However, once I started to recognise that, actually, if I went on a date and was blasted from too many drinks – how am I going to start something meaningful with that person? I’ve layered on a liquid illusion over them and my memory or feelings towards them are a facade of what really happened. Likewise, there are so many healthier options for de-stressing and decompressing after work. I’ve found that hot showers are super relaxing, cooking my favorite food is too, and getting an early night’s sleep is soooo incredibly satisfying.
Stick around people who support your decision, even if it’s a short term break. People who pester or taunt you saying things like “ooo can’t wait until 6 months is over, back on the benders and all-nighters!” are not to be kept around. They are already envisioning you back on your old habits that probably were hurting you for a reason. Likewise people who taunt you saying the old statement “it’s just one drink, it won’t hurt” are just as harmful. Those in your circle should understand the importance and reasons of why you’re doing this and support you. Likewise check your friends / coworkers around you who may have been even enabling you without you realising.
Celebrate your milestones! Whether you choose to celebrate monthly, quarterly, or yearly, allow yourself to realise the great progress you’ve made. Perhaps have a cake, share the experience with loved ones, go out to a group class, journal, or share your successes on social media. Acknowledging your successes, greatly shows your mind and body that you can do this, and that you’ve come very far.
Volunteer, or help a friend. By offering ourselves to others, whether it’s via volunteering or helping a friend clean their room, or helping a loved one move houses, we are placing ourselves out of our own problems / heads and giving someone else the time of day. It allows us to focus on other things, put our energy to good use, and once again – move forward one day at a time!
Remember that going sober is a positive thing, and that there are so many great things that come with being sober. A clear mind and control over your actions & thoughts. With sobriety comes great power, as we are able to really engage authentically & honestly with our lives and experiences. There will be hard times perhaps, where our guilt or desires seem enormous, however try to remember why you’re doing this, the importance of it to you, and the importance of self-love, and self-care. Create a space for yourself to heal, love, be free, and be happy. There are a lot of positive things to be said about going against what traditional norms society has placed on us all.