I have been drinking alcohol since I was about 14. I know, I know, you shouldn’t start drinking that young. But it’s the truth. I have drunk heavily since I was about 19 (every weekend and sometimes throughout the week). It’s always been my not-so-great way to de-stress. I mean, everyone has their vice, and drinking has been mine for a long time.
I wouldn’t say that I am or ever have been an alcoholic, but there have definitely been times when my drinking caused more harm than good.
The second time was January of this year. For the last year or so, my boyfriend and I would spend the weekends drinking and watching youtube videos or playing video games. We are both introverts, so we don’t go out with friends often, but we sure do know how to drink and listen to music. So that’s what we’d do. Every weekend.
January 7th hit, and I saw all of these posts on Instagram about Dry January. I was intrigued. I knew I was late to the party, but figured we could try to complete the month sober. I proposed the idea to my boyfriend and he seemed like he had been wanting to cut back for a long time. To be honest, this made me feel both guilty and more ready than ever for a change. So we did it, we didn’t drink a sip for the rest of January. I felt great about myself, I had lost 10 pounds from actually sticking to my diet, I was sleeping throughout the night, and most importantly, my mental health was arguably the best it has been in a very long time.
However, February 1st came, and how did I celebrate? By getting hammered. Just like that, all the progress I made was gone and I was back to drinking every weekend and a bit through the week.
So, here I am. Trying again in March.
I actually started on the 26th of February and today is the 4th so I’m about a week in. If you are sober-curious like me, check out the tips that work for me, and the mistakes I’m not going to make again down below.
1. Keep other beverages on hand
I’m the type of person that likes to have a drink when I do housework. If I have something mindless to do like folding laundry or doing dishes, I’ll make a drink to have while I do it. When I’m not drinking, I like to still have a glass of water, or a coffee, or a fresca. That way I can still have my “folding ritual”, if you will.
2. Don’t avoid things just because you aren’t drinking
I recently finished my semester of school and wanted to celebrate by going to dinner. Immediately, two thoughts came to mind: I can’t do that, I’ll be tempted to drink. and I won’t have fun anyway because I won’t be able to drink.
One thing I struggle with is identifying self sabotaging thoughts, but even I realized pretty quickly that that. Is. Bullshit. I went out to eat with my man, got copious amounts of iced tea, and had a damn good meal.
avoiding places you would normally drink at is going to make this sober thing pretty boring. And it’s not maintainable If it sucks.
3. Have someone to talk to
I’m very lucky that I have a boyfriend who is willing to do this with me, because if I didn’t have someone to talk to when I reeeeaally wanted to stop at the liquor store on the way home, or when I was ready to throw in the towel for a glass of wine, I think I’d go crazy. If you don’t have a live in partner in this, call your mom and talk to her, or hit up a friend that you know will be supportive. If you drink as much as me, this is going to suck for a bit, so make use of that support system you have.
1. Celebrate your new-found self control by taking it away again
What I mean by this is if you struggle with self control and you feel like you are starting to get a grasp of this whole “not drinking excessively” thing, don’t do the thing that you struggle with as soon as the goal is met. I literally celebrated my sobriety by drinking and then never stopped. Don’t be me.
2. Think of it as something you’re missing out on
A simple switch in the language you use to explain your situation can do wonders. Instead of saying I can’t drink for a whole month, say “I’m trying to better my health” or “I’ll feel so much better in a month”. My first time around I felt like I couldn’t do things because of this situation I had put myself in. I felt like I was waiting for the month to be over and I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about my future. This time I’m looking forward to the journey I’m on.
3. Take the good days for granted
In January I felt a lot of highs and a lot of lows. Sometimes the lows outweighed the highs and I remember dwelling on the bad things like actually feeling my emotions and just being so bored sometimes. But the good days were so good. I remember my first Saturday in months (maybe even over a year) that I woke up without a hangover. It is so great. I should have road the wave of how good I felt but instead I remember feeling upset because I slept in and wasted the morning. Looking back, I realize now that I didn’t waste the day, I simply wasn’t awake at the crack of dawn because my hangover was preventing me from sleeping. I had gotten a good night’s sleep for the first time in a while.
This is hard, and sometimes its boring, and sometimes it’s great. It’s something I really want to do and that’s why I’m trying again. I challenge other people with situations similar to mine to try to stay sober for a month, because hey, who knows what will happen afterward?
Seven days down, twenty seven left to go
Take care of yourself