10 Fears you have to face in order to quit drinking alcohol
When the first thoughts of quitting drinking started jabbing away at my brain (guilt and self-loathing I think it’s called), I never thought it would turn into anything more than exactly that, a few thoughts that I would keep on dismissing, before very quickly pouring myself another glass of shiraz and zoning out from the real-world along with my feelings and emotions.
The problem for me was that the thoughts just wouldn’t go away, and the more I read about the sober-lifestyle, the more I wondered what it would be like to live a life free from booze. Obviously, I only wanted to read about it, not actually do it, as that would just be daft!
I think that many heavy drinkers often find themselves reading about the benefits of not drinking and exploring a sober-lifestyle as they know that they’re harming themselves and feel like they need to do something about it, but when confronted with the reality of actually putting down the bottle and quitting alcohol for good, there’s a tendancy for them to bury their heads back in the sand, realising that the reality of a life with no booze is frightening and filling them with a sense of dread.
I was actually jealous of all the people posting in the sober-groups proudly announcing how many days alcohol-free they were – how on earth were they doing it!
I managed to keep pushing the idea of not drinking to the back of my mind for a couple of years, but it kept returning. There was no way I could never drink, I needed my daily fix, it had so many benefits that I couldn’t imagine a life without it, it would just be awful, I would be deprived.
So here I am, months later, sober, free and never drinking again and guess what, my life is so much better (you can read about all the incredible benefits in my other blog posts). If I can do it, so can you.
I love the sober-life and would never return to drinking alcohol, but to get to this point I did have to face some fears at the start of the journey, it took me several attempts just to get past the first day of not drinking (which even included a teary meltdown while on a run as I faced up to the fact that I couldn’t have wine that evening. Thanks to my wife for giving me a hug when I needed it most).
After the first few weeks of stopping drinking it just got easier and easier, then once I started to see and feel the benefits to my mind, body and well-being it simply served to spur me on and never look back.
Without doubt, the hardest part of becoming sober was the first day without booze, the first week (or two) can also be tough, but believe me, it gets easier as time goes by. Below are most of the fears and worries that raced through my mind as I faced up to taking on probably the biggest challenge and best change I have ever made in my life.
- Life without alcohol will be boring – this couldn’t be further than the truth. Since I stopped drinking, I have realised that if an event is boring, it is still boring with or without alcohol. Likewise, a great night out with friends is fun, with or without booze involved. You don’t need alcohol to have fun and the best thing is that you get to actually remember what a great time you had the next day.
- Alcohol cures my anxiety/depression, not drinking will make it worse – Alcohol is most likely the reason you are suffering from anxiety or depression, when I quit drinking, within a few weeks I found that the dark clouds of anxiety that had hung over me for years started to clear and those negative emotions and feelings were soon replaced by sunny, happy skies.
- If I can’t have my usual alcoholic drink, what the hell am I going to drink instead? – I found that I liked to have a drink in my hand each evening (I don’t like using the word ‘habit’, but it was exactly that; a habit). For me, it was a case of replacing the wine with something else and I was amazed at the huge range of wonderful alcohol-free drinks available, have a read of my other blog posts about the best alcohol-free drinks.
- What if I have withdrawals/cravings when I stop drinking alcohol? – This might happen, but within 10-14 days of stopping drinking your body will have rid itself of any trace of alcohol, there will be no physical cravings after this time, any urges to drink will only be in your mind and as time goes by they will become less and less frequent. However, it is important to learn how to deal with cravings and urges to drink, both in the early stages and as you go further on the sober-journey so please make sure you arm yourself so you are best prepared.
- If I do stop drinking alcohol, I won’t stick at it, I will fail on the sober journey – If you don’t ever try, you will never know. There is some amazing support available, particularly in the Be Sober private Facebook group where you can speak to other people on the path to sobriety in complete confidence in a caring environment without judgement. Surround yourself with the right support and tools to stand a real chance of success.
- I am genuinely scared, I fear that I can’t stop drinking – This is how I felt, I had drunk wine every single day for over twenty years, the thought of stopping drinking filled me with genuine fear. To get over this I read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace and by the end of the book my mindset about alcohol had totally changed and my feeling about not drinking alcohol had gone from ‘can’t have’ to ‘don’t want’, changing your mindset is the key to unlocking long-term sober success. We also have to face fears in many other aspects of our life and we are must accept that failure can (and does) happen, if you slip up on the path to sobriety it doesn’t matter, just get back up that bit wiser and stronger ready to continue your sober-journey, the fact is you aren’t a failure, even if you do have a few blips along the way.
- All my friends drink, it’s what we do together. They will disown me if I stop drinking – If you are reading this you have probably realised that you and alcohol do not make good companions, as you embark on the sober-journey you will likely want to share your new life-choice with friends and family. When I started to share, I had some adverse reactions from a couple of close friends, these were the ones where most of our relationship revolved around alcohol based events. I decided that the friends who were expressing their disgust at my decision to stop drinking were either upset at losing a drinking buddy, or they didn’t like the fact that my decision to stop drinking was forcing them to consider their own alcohol intake. Either way, tough, I am not going back to drinking alcohol and a real friend will accept the decision and be supportive.
- I have a big wedding/event/party coming up, if I stop drinking, how will I get through it? – It depends when the event is, if you haven’t stopped drinking yet and the event is just around the corner it may be worth waiting until it is out of the way until you put the bottle down (for good), you could even make that big night your final fling with the booze. If it is months away, I would be confident that if you have been sober for that long you will be strong enough to easily cope with just about any function.
- Drinking helps me sleep. If I quit alcohol I will be awake all night – The opposite is true, alcohol might knock you out for a few hours but it doesn’t give you a restful and refreshing nights sleep. The first week or two of not drinking can result in a few restless nights, but you will soon settle down and start to enjoy a deep sleep that you probably won’t have experienced since you were a child. There is the added bonus that you won’t wake up with a hangover and will feel recharged and ready to take on the day when you spring out of bed (with no boozy breath).
- Drinking makes me happy and feel relaxed – It doesn’t, it makes you forget things, including your problems for a few hours then it serves them back up to you in high definition the next morning (while you have a banging headache). You also think you are funnier and happier when you are drunk, but from a sober perspective you will see that drunk people are often just obnoxious, loud and tend to repeat everything they say. Only when I quit alcohol did I feel true happiness and become relaxed and at peace in my life, something I have been chasing for years and I discovered that the answer was in the bottle, but it meant putting it down forever.
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