Advice for Newbies

Welcome, and congratulations!

The most difficult thing about quitting drinking is making the commitment to do it in the first place. So well done you - you've done the hard bit already. You're about to transform your life.

Here are just a few tips to help you through the first 30 days:

1. Preparation

Getting your head in the right place is crucial. If you start the month with a sense of dread and deprivation you'll never make it.

You are doing an amazing thing. You're changing your life for the better. Be excited!

If that last sentence is just incredibly irritating, and you can't imagine feeling anything like excitement right now, then read Jason Vale's book: Kick the Drink, Easily.

In fact, read it anyway. It'll completely change the way you think about drinking, and make the whole process of quitting much easier.

Write down, right now, while you can remember, all the reasons why you want to stop. The big ones (like health concerns) and all the little ones (like being embarrassed about your recycling bags).

Over the next few weeks there will be many moments when you will think "why am I doing this?" You'll need that list as a reminder.

2. Know what to expect

The first two or three weeks after quitting drinking can be physically and mentally gruelling, but it's much easier if you know what to expect, and know that it's all perfectly normal. After years of flooding your body with addictive toxins, it's bound to fight back a bit when you quit.

You will probably feel more tired than you can imagine. By mid afternoon you'll want a nap - like a toddler. You'll feel muggy headed, like you're wading through soup, and your concentration levels will be completely shot.

Don't worry - it'll pass. See it as a sign that your body's recuperating.

Ironically, you may find that you also have problems initially in getting to sleep. Again, this is temporary. Soon you'll be sleeping like a baby - better than you have in years. And no more waking up at 3am with the night horrors.

You might get headaches and/or constipation. That's all part of your body detoxing. Drink lots of water, fresh juices and smoothies.

You may be a bit (or a lot) tetchy and snappy. Like a bad case of PMT.  Try to avoid taking on anything too crucial or stressful over the next week or two.

You'll constantly think about drinking. Or not drinking. And, generally, the more you try NOT to think about something, the more you do.

I found that the best thing to do is to indulge the obsession - at least initially. I read endless books, articles and blogs about drinking. My favourite drinking memoir is Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story. For great drinking fiction read Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins, or Summer Secrets by Jane Green.

(To see SoberMummy's Book List click here)

3. Find Some Friends

It's really difficult to quit drinking on your own. You might be lucky and have someone 'in real life' who's doing it with you. The problem with that, however, is if they cave they're likely to take you down with them. And they might not need to quit as much as you do....

Luckily, there's a huge amount of help online - a whole Soberverse!

You can start at the beginning of this blog - back in March - and read through my first few weeks. And sign up to www.soberistas.com where you'll find huge amounts of help and support.

If you'd like to follow the story of someone who's only just hopped onto the sobercoaster, then check out my online blogging friends: Red, Gingergroundhog and Annie. And another more seasoned blogger, like me, Wine Bitch

There's also AA. I have to confess that I've still not been myself, but they've helped millions of people and saved endless lives. With AA you get all the help and support you'd get online plus real hugs, not just virtual ones.

4. Be good to yourself

You are doing a phenomenal thing. And it's not easy. So, for the next few weeks at least, don't try to do anything else. Don't worry about dieting, about getting a new job or redecorating the house. Just concentrate, for the moment, on NOT DRINKING!

Give yourself some rewards - you deserve them. And you're saving money! Eat cake. Drink lots of hot chocolate (it has magical properties - you'll see). Have hot baths with bubbles and candles. Book a massage. Whatever makes you feel good.

5. Watch out for cravings

You're bound to get them, especially at your main trigger points, like 'wine o'clock' or when you're hungry, tired, stressed or bored. Or pretty much anytime, actually.

Remember - THEY WILL PASS. You just need to distract yourself for as long as it takes.

Bake cookies. Or, the more healthy option, do some exercise. Go for a long walk, or a run. Getting away from the fridge or any drinking environment is a good idea.

Have a hot bath. Log onto Soberistas (see above) or your favourite blog. Take up knitting, colouring, the guitar - whatever works.

Find some good Alcohol Free drinks. I like something that feels 'adult'. Ribena just doesn't cut it.

My favourite is Beck's Blue beer. I was never a beer drinker, but Beck's Blue feels like a 'proper' drink and I'm totally reliant on the stuff to get me through the hard times.

Another good one is freshly squeezed lime, chopped mint and soda water. Feels like a cocktail. And I love Virgin Mary's. If you live in the UK then check out Big Tom's. It's ready spiced tomato juice - just add ice.

6. One day at a time

One of the things that freaks us out the most when we think about quitting is the concept of forever. Which is, in the words of Prince, a very long time.

Just don't think about it! For the time being, just concentrate on today. Take one day at a time. Not forever, just until that miraculous day (which will come!) when 'forever' feels not only feasible, but a no-brainer.

Many people (including myself) found that it took about 100 days to start being able to think in months, and six months before you can cope with 'forever.'

7. Wait for the miracles to happen

Just put one foot in front of the other, and you will, slowly slowly, start to see the benefits.

You'll sleep better than you have since childhood. Your eyes will be brighter, skin fresher and hair bouncier. You'll look five years younger.

You'll lose the puffy face and the wine belly. You'll feel calmer and happier.

But the best things about being sober don't happen in the first month. They keep on coming, over the weeks, months and years.

There's loads more about all of this and much, much more throughout this blog, and you are welcome to mail me direct on sobermummy@gmail.com.

To read my story from the beginning, click here.

All the help and advice on this blog are completely free, but if you find that it helps you I would be HUGELY GRATEFUL if you would consider donating some money to help women coping with breast cancer (a subject close to my heart - literally!), via my Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/sober-mummy  Donations can be completely anonymous, or under any pseudonym. THANK YOU!

Good luck to you all,

SM x

13 comments:

  1. Really helpful tips here. Thanks so much SM. love SFM x

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  2. So helpful thank you! Just passed the three week mark and am going absolutely mad (I think!). I thought it was just me but apparently everything I am going through is NORMAL. Incredibly tired, foggy head, can't concentrate and generally feel like crap! This just started happening a few days ago. I am going to embrace point 3 here and try to find some friends and support online. Thank you again!

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  3. Ohhhh shit....everything about your site, the things I just read are so SO me. Not surprisingly, hubby found it inadvertently as a huge and much grieving Bowie fan. The words you wrote about him moved both my husband and me. He sent a link to this site to me in an email with the remark "I'm interested to know what you think about it". I drink each and every day. I hide it. I lie about it. Sometimes he knows, sometimes he doesn't. But he knows I do. And he now....from reading on your site....knows that this is me. I have made the same promises to myself, over and over again with good intention, but I still go back. I thought I could just drink 'socially' (which is kinda funny since we never socialize with anyone), or just on weekends or just after 5 p.m. Which is a struggle for me as I get off work at 1:30 p.m. and my husband doesn't get off until 7:00 p.m. Those in between hours are my nemesis. I WANT to stop. I TOO have a 'wine belly' and never really admitted that's what it was. 'Beer belly' you hear much here in the US, and I eschewed it because I drank...oh wait...drink...mostly wine and not beer. Beer I drink when I am with my hubby so that I can consume alcohol without judgement. Am drinking wine....hidden in numerous places.... as I write this. :( I know that I have to stop. But I keep doing it. It used to be vodka. Then tequila. Then vodka. Lots and lots. Like trying to only drink half the bottle in an evening. Horrible. Lost jobs, got 2 DUI's. Husband left me. When he did, I was going through menopause and self medicating with yet more alcohol and he tried relentlessly to get me to go to a doctor and get meds for what I was feeling.But then I would either have to lie about my drinking or be honest. BOTH things....as a drinker...I chose to avoid. I simply kept drinking, and he'd had enough. I don't blame him for that. I do blame him for some of his choices and he could have tried to help me and communicate with me more rather than seeking out new partners on line. I blame myself. I BLAME MYSELF. I have never really told him that, and I come from a LONG line of OVER drinkers (you have no idea the hurt
    he caused...physically and emotionally), that's another story...and you know what? As I am typing this I realize....I don't blame him for 'wanting out' as he said...but I will always be hurt by the way he did it. Another story. SO.......long story short ....I need to stop. BUT I still keep drinking....AND I WANT OUT

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  4. I just want to pass the One Day Mark......

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  5. and you have breast cancer. i'm hoping things go well. and i'm shutting up now.

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  6. i feel so sheepish.............fuck i ranted and went on and on and on AND YOU HAVE BREAST CANCER. please forgive me............

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    1. Hey, Epicmother! Welcome! SO glad you found me (another reason to love Bowie!). You can do it! Just take it one day at a time - baby steps. And don't worry about the cancer thing. I HAD breast cancer, but hopefully all gone now. Big hugs xxx

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  7. I love your blog SM, I've read every single one of your entries since the beginning. You have given me the courage to really believe I can do it this time. I'm going to be 54 this year and to honest I'm not even sure if I will make that milestone without giving up the booze. I'm frightened, apprehensive but totally committed to becoming sober. I've only got 52 hours under my belt so far but I'm excited to be on this journey.

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  8. Thank you SM. You have been truly inspirational to me and today is Day 1. I have made my list. I have had enough. I thought I was going to have a heart attack last night. I have had to take the day off work. Enough. I will no doubt be back for more tips on a regular basis as I hit the first few days head on. Thank you and Big hugs. xx

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  9. Day 5 and going strong! It's funny, I have tried this so many times before with my husband who is also a wine-o-coaster, and he always talks me into caving in. But Ive been feeling crummy for a while now, and a few days ago I got really sick. I didn't even drink as much as the usual 3 liters a night. But I decided to convince myself that the wine is what did it and I simply cannot have it anymore. Kind of psyching myself out to believe I am allergic or something I guess, but it is working! He has been drinking right in front of me and the smell or thought of it makes me ill. NO CRAVINGS AT ALL this time. (usually I can't make it one day). I am so excited to see my brittle dry hair grow long and healthy, to lose that wine belly and to have my skin get back its natural glow that I can barely contain myself. And you are so right about wanting sweets- but I'm ok if I gain a few pounds at first- It'll come back off. one things at a time. Babysteps. thanks so much for the inspiration!

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  10. SoberMummy...I am ready to quit and feel all those amazing benefits and lose the self-loathing and regret that I live with constantly. I want peace and love your blog, very honest and I think it is going to be immensely helpful in this new journey of mine. I am starting to read you blog from Day 1. Congratulations on beating the Cancer, my mom passed after losing the battle over 10 years ago and she was truly my best friend in the world! Cancer is a vicious beast and I'm grateful you conquered that :) Hugs to you and wish me strength to get through day one, day two and forever on!

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  11. Just found your blog - and there is only one way to do that - ie looking for some inspiration. The few entries I've read I completely relate to and your 5 signs are very telling. I am an all or nothing girl but its a lot more all and a lot less nothing. I know where I need to be and I know getting there won't be easy but your words make sense and I now need to make a plan - thank-you for writing these words I have a feeling I'll be reading a lot more of them xx

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  12. I have returned to your blog having found it a few weeks ago. I am not necessarily a secret drinker but a very out of control drinker. I am inspired by your story and I am going to start today. And yes there is a mixture of fear, almost a little bit of grieving to leave my friend behind but a change has to happen and I am going to keep refering to your amazingly inspiring blog - thank-you for being here

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