This article was written and published in partnership with Monument.
Thinking about removing alcohol from your life can elicit many questions. This article will offer a few tips from Award Winning Sober Coach Heather Lowe, Founder of Ditched the Drink, who has helped many people get and stay free from alcohol.
If you’re concerned about your drinking, you’re not alone. The CDC reports one in six US adults binge drinks, with 25% doing so at least weekly. Binge drinking is just one pattern of excessive drinking, but it accounts for nearly all excessive drinking. Over 90% of US adults who drink excessively report binge drinking, according to the CDC.
Many people first try to moderate or cut back on their drinking before quitting altogether. This can be a safe way to reduce your alcohol intake while experimenting with drinking less alcohol. I used this technique myself. For three years, I strived to drink less, with periods of drinking none at all, before I ultimately chose to give alcohol up for good. Drinking less is not a failure, and quitting drinking is not always a single decision. It can be a series of decisions and lessons, especially for drinkers who land in the gray area of the drinking spectrum. Tips for cutting back include drinking slowly, alternating drinks with water, and including food with your drinks. Binge Drinking: Health Effects, Signs, and Prevention
This topic is key and needs to be addressed immediately. If you want to drink less, you must remove the temptation. If you can get rid of any alcohol in your house, that will contribute to your success. If you can’t get rid of it completely, can you consider moving it to a new out-of-reach location or even locking it up? This will make accessing it more difficult during a craving, and you will be encouraged to pause and use other coping tools. Your future self will thank you!
In order to rewire your brain away from alcohol, you’ll want to switch up your routine. If you are used to drinking at home, sitting in a certain chair, or watching a specific TV show, you will want to avoid this scenario. Some clients rearrange their furniture, while others ban trigger TV shows for a few months or even indefinitely. Many clients find something else to do, such as a new hobby or getting out of the house. On the other hand, if your drinking is mainly done in a location other than your home, you’ll want to avoid that place while you are building your sober muscle. The gym and the great outdoors offer excellent alternatives. You can build healthy habits sans alcohol.
There are many apps, communities, and habit trackers that you can download to increase support for yourself. Some clients distract themselves from a craving with a game. Others anonymously seek support from sober chat groups or even online group meetings. Social Media offers inspiration and support as well. For motivation, inspiration, and education on how to get and stay sober, you can follow accounts such as
This can be a challenge for many in early sobriety because we may want to quit drinking, but we may not want anything else to change or anyone to know what we are working on. We may not be used to setting boundaries with ourselves or others. It is ok, and even necessary, to prioritize your alcohol-free journey. This can mean avoiding people, places, and things that trigger you.
Many people want to get sober secretly and “on their own,” but as a Sober Coach, I don’t know anyone who sustains sobriety that way. It can be scary, but by telling just one person about your concerns, you can open the floodgates of accepting help. This has been the key to success for myself and all of my clients. Every successful sober story starts with asking for and receiving help. Monument offers resources on How to Tell People You’re Getting Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder.
Prioritize self-care. Rest, nutrition, movement, and building a positive alcohol-free community like Monument will go far in achieving your alcohol-free goals. It takes time for your body and brain to heal when you remove alcohol. It’s important to take good care of your mental health during this time. Now is a perfect time to invest in some one-on-one support from a therapist or coach.
You will likely experience challenges when removing alcohol from your life. Your body will go through a physical transformation of healing. Your mental health takes some time to balance out. When you remove alcohol, you may have the clarity to address physical or mental health issues that you have been avoiding with alcohol. When you change, your relationships will change, too. You are saying goodbye to alcohol and perhaps losing your sense of identity that was related to drinking. Changing relationships, pastimes, and health can be a lot to handle. This is why getting some guidance, support, and community for yourself during this time is so important.
You may be losing some relationships that revolve around drinking. Grief is often part of the process of gaining sobriety. You may also have a newfound recognition of healthy relationships in your life. Now is a great time to nurture healthy relationships. Changed behavior is often the best apology. You can focus on building new and improved relationships with people that you put on the back burner when alcohol was taking center stage. Going on coffee dates, hiking, participating in sports, and catching up over delicious alcohol alternatives are just a few of the ways you can still maintain social relationships without relying on alcohol as the binding factor. https://joinmonument.com/resources/how-to-stop-binge-drinking/
Having strong habits will set the stage for consistency and success. These habits look different for everyone, but starting the day with intention is a great start. Establishing a morning routine will set the stage for success. Ending the day with an evening routine will help you wind down and prepare for rest. Many clients like to incorporate meditation, gratitude, movement, journaling, and a cup of tea in their morning and/or evening routines.
At first, it may feel like a punishment to prioritize sobriety, but what that means is taking care of yourself and doing what’s best for you. I have found that keeping sobriety as my number one pillar means taking the best possible care of myself. This is precisely what you need to get and stay sober. This can be something to look forward to and not seen as punishment.