Thursday, 2 June 2016

Sober Props

Everybody needs a few props when they quit drinking.

We need things to keep our monkey brains occupied, we need new rituals, and we need something to do with our hands.

I spent a lot of time looking at my hands in the early days, thinking what are you for?

My hands had spent the whole of my twenties taking cigarettes out of their packet (turning the first one filter end up for luck. Anyone else?), lighting them, smoking them, waving them around for emphasis, then stubbing them out.

Then I quit smoking and, funnily enough, the drinking ramped up as my itchy hands opened bottles, poured wine out and sipped endlessly from glasses.

It's not surprising that not drinking creates a vacuum.

That's why props are so helpful - just make sure that they're not also addictive! Avoid nicotine and other narcotics, gambling and shopping, for example....

Here are my favourite sober props:

1. Hot chocolate.

It has, as I've said elsewhere on this blog, magical powers, and it got me through many an evening in the early days.

There's a lovely ritual involved in making it (warming, spooning, stirring), something comforting about drinking it and a welcome sugar hit.

Hot chocolate reminds us of our childhoods - of simpler days before the Wine Witch stuck her broom handle into our lives. We can wrap our idle hands around the warm mug and it'll hug us right back. A hug in a mug.

2. Becks Blue (and other AF drinks).

Everyone has their own favourite AF drinks. The trick is to find something as reminiscent of 'proper' adult drinks as possible, without triggering a craving.

Becks Blue works for me because I was never a beer drinker. AF wine, however, just makes me yearn for the real thing (and tastes ghastly).

On really tough days (like when I was going through the cancer thing) Becks Blue got me through. It seemed to trick my sub conscious into relaxing just a little bit - enough to stop me reaching for the Real Thing.

Other personal favourites include virgin mojitos and virgin Mary's.

3. Cake (and other forms of refined sugar)

Everyone seems to crave sugar when they quit, and cake - or chocolate - is a great reward for getting through another 'one day at a time.' So do it. You can worry about the weight later. Baby steps.

4. Blogging

One of my favourite props. It keeps your hands busy, your mind busy, plus it helps you work through all the emotional STUFF that comes with getting sober.

Writing a journal does the same thing, if you don't want to go public, but if you blog you'll create your own support group, and help other people along the way.

(See my post: Blogging Saved my Life).

The problem with props is we, being natural addicts and all or nothing types, worry that the props themselves will get out of control.

Well, I'm now EXACTLY fifteen months sober, and I've realised that the props are gradually assuming less of a role in my life. I seem to be naturally phasing them out.

(If only I'd been able to do that with the vino!)

Magical hot chocolate? Around six months ago I replaced it with green tea. Still warming, still a ritual, but also really good for you.

Becks Blue? I still love it, but I drink - on average - one a day, as opposed to the SIX I drank on the day I got the cancer diagnosis.

Cake? Still a vital food group, but once or twice a week, not every day.

And blogging?

I still can't imagine life without it BUT I'm managing to keep it down to four or five posts a week rather than seven, which means that I have more time to focus on doing something that might earn me some much needed cash....

So the other great thing about sober props is they provide a really useful barometer as to how you're doing. The less you need them, the 'better' you are.

Love to you all, with hot chocolate and cake thrown in,



  1. I look forward to reading your posts. I'm glad you are still posting regularly. I read long before I commented. I'm currently at the lots of cake and hot chocolate stage. I also love to knit, great for keeping hands busy at night1

  2. Yes to all of them. Hate AF wine but only discovered that after I wasted money buying two bottles to try. Cake....two slices of Nigella's flour less choc and orange in one day...gulp.

  3. Love your blog- you are doing so well. Happy 15 months to you! :)

  4. So true.
    Mine was washing dishes. I got a job at a restaurant. It made me so happy to stay busy.
    Mark from
    I'm not set up on blogger

    1. I just hopped on over to your place, Mark. Love it. Thank you x

  5. Mine was Words With Friends on my phone. I had the max number of games kept me busy. BUT, now, I still have the same number of games going! All or nothing, right? I did take up your hot chocolate ritual. Very helpful and you are right..magical powers! I also do AF beer on occasion. And, blogging is helpful! This is great advice you give!!! Don't stop blogging! xo

  6. Congratulations on 15 months! I do get a sense from you that your life is moving on and your contemplation about going public is part of that. It's all good.

  7. No to the upside down cigarette, although my best friend used to do that. Mine was I didn't remove the front fold of paper/foil, not sure why I just didn't do it. Decaf tea of an evening or Becks Blue and PISTACHOES. I figure they must be low calorie cos you actually have to work to get them out, no shovelling a handful in your mouth. Although the 'shell shame' in the morning can be quite dire

    1. OMG, thank heavens I am not the only one nutty about pistachios. I also hide my empties ;-) x

  8. Becks, blogging, the soberverse and Nutella. And sometimes exercise. Props are so necessary and some of them make us feel guilty. But there is no guilt in anything as long as we aren't drinking.

  9. I just ate 2 pieces of a wonderful pie!
    I feel sick, but I am so happy I am sober!!

  10. Sending more people your way from Moderation Management - those who tried to moderate - and decided to abs - thanks for your blog and your shining example.

    1. Thanks so much Eeyore - the more the merrier! Xxx

  11. Help - thought I could moderate but can't bad day need to start again tomorrow after 9 weeks sober real rubbish already my bedtime mantra of 'cosy,comfortable,secure and sober' wn't win tonigh

    1. Hi Unknown! You poor thing. We've all been there. If the experiment serves to show you that moderation just doesn't work, then it'll be worth it. Big hugs x

  12. Please send some support if you can even if it is a kick up the ar-s

    1. Here is some support and, more crucially, hugs. Mail me if you like on x

  13. Your blog was revolutionary for me. Still early days but 2 years in and out of AA always felt like a battle, what you write about feels achievable I'm so impressed with your 15 months and you have a fab way of writing now Nora ephron has gone I think you should fill her boots write a movie! xx

  14. SoberMummy your blog is awesome. It saved me. The day I decided to quit I was really afraid. Really shit scared. I was so afraid of not following through and what that would mean for my children. I've had a couple of minor set backs early on but its now been about 3 months. Every time I get through another social occasion without a drink I'm high-fiving you and resist the urge to clog the blog waves and tell you about it.

    I have lots of terrible eating habits but hoping I'll get back on top of clean eating soon enough. Thanks a million. Cant wait to read your published works.