Ready to take on a period of sobriety? Quitting cold-turkey can be hard, but if you plan ahead you can help protect yourself against relapses, no matter what your usual drinking pattern. Simon Chapple, author of The Sober Survival Guide and a certified sobriety coach say “If you are attending a social event at which you know drink will be flowing, go armed with a plan.
The best strategy is visualisation.
Beforehand, create a clear picture in your mind of how the evening will go. Visualise everything, from what you’re wearing, through to walking through the door, to being offered your first drink. Arm yourself with what you’ll say when offered a drink and how the conversation will go.
“Another helpful strategy is to find out ahead of time if there will be suitable alcohol-free drinks available. If not, take your own, and keep an eye on your glass to make sure you don’t pick up the wrong one. If you are asked about your dietary requirements ahead of an event you can write ‘I don’t drink alcohol’ on your response.
“It’s also a good idea to make yourself accountable to someone, that could be a partner, friend or family member, or someone else who is attending the same event. Let them know what you are doing and ensure they are on hand for support. You could also share your upcoming social event in one of the many Facebook private sober groups to ensure you have instant help and advice at hand.”
How to stop drinking permanently
A long-term plan can be a little more difficult, as you’re committing to a lot. It’s always important to take one day at a time, and if you’re worried about your alcohol intake seek professional help via your doctor or specialist programme. Simon recommends the following to keep your mind occupied during sobriety:
“Book a spa day. Relax either on your own or with friends; this is one of my favourite ways to celebrate something.
“Go for a special meal. Book your favourite restaurant or try a new one; you’re now saving calories and cash, so you can afford to spend a bit more on your meal.
“Take a holiday or short break. It could be somewhere close to home or a far-flung destination; either is a wonderful way to celebrate.
“Enjoy a day out. It could be a trip to the zoo, an amusement park, or a museum; your choices are almost endless.”
When you hit a low point, or are feeling weak, Simon encourages you to remember that “alcohol usually makes mental health problems worse, even if you think that drinking makes you feel better.”