01 Jan Giving up alcohol for New year
Happy New year 2016.
I thought I would talk about stopping drinking for New Year,for those who are still struggling with Alcoholism and who wish to stop drinking alcohol. It is New Years Day, the most popular day to quit, and many attempt to make stopping drinking, their resolution for the coming year, but most with a problem will not make it. Others will attempt a dry January and find out how hard it is, and come to the grim conclusion that they have a problem. I have recorded a short 25 min podcast on the subject, on my own.
Podcast about stopping drinking for New Year.
My experiences stopping drinking for New Year.
I speak from my own experience, as I have stopped drinking alcohol many times on January 1st. I knew I had a problem when I was in my early twenties, but drink and drugs were an important part of my life, and I was not ready to stop. I knew I was harming myself but could not see that life would be bearable without being able to blot parts of it out. I was very ill when I was thirty, but only stopped for a while and then had a decade of stopping and starting before I finally gave in at 40. I have stayed sober since then and prefer to be completely abstinent. That is the easiest way for me, but not for everyone.
The years between 30 and 40 were not good and I tried to solve all my issues without support. I did have some Counselling when I was 30 but did not do what I was told or make significant changes to my lifestyle. I did not stay sober for much more than a year as a result and always felt dreadful shame when I gave in and went back to the bottle. When I was forty I did attempt to stop on New Years Day but it went wrong pretty fast and it was only when I got really desperate and accepted I needed help that I made progress a few months later.
The way I stopped Drinking Alcohol.
I finally decided to stop, and made the decision to go to AA, which was huge for me. I had not wanted to go, and was worried about the stigma. It felt very strange going to meetings at first, and being a newcomer amongst people with multiple years of sobriety. I was not sure about the God Stuff but went along with other things and admitted that the members there did have what I wanted and that was sobriety.
I did also realise that I was really going to have to work at this to succeed as it was obvious that there were not that many in meetings with multiple years who were classed as old timers. Most were quite new and there were a significant number of people who were between one and five years sober. I did not realise that many people simply use AA for a while and then move on, I just thought you would die if you left, as that was what I was told.
I made use of the AA community, much more than the religious side such as the steps, in my time in the fellowship. It was being around sober people with a common aim that helped me and not praying. I am glad I went for 18 months, as it certainly helped motivate me to recover (although this is not the case for everyone). However I felt I needed some other help and went for counselling and moved away from AA. I realised AA would be there if I wanted it, but for me it was time to explore other solutions. I needed to deal with issues such as depression and this needed proper professional help, which I got.
There are plenty of solutions available, but I had not researched them or looked for any alternatives to AA, as that was the group that I had heard about and the one that some famous rock stars had belonged to. With hindsight this was a mistake and could have cost me dearly. I regret not finding out about methods such as the Sinclair Method http://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/explanation-sinclair-method-tsm/ when I was much younger as this could have saved me so much pain. I regret not looking at Smart Recovery early on as it’s CBT approach is what really worked for me later on. There were not that many meetings in those days but this has changed. There are also groups such as Lifering http://lifering.org/find-a-meeting/ which is growing and looks like it can really help.
It is a good time to try and beat alcoholism. There are many good books on the subject and I have listed some on my book section. The new groups such as Smart are growing and have online meetings as well. The Sinclair method is supported by the cthreefoundation.org which has a European site as well http://cthreeeurope.com . Lifering also has online meetings. There are other online groups such as Soberistas http://soberistas.com which you can join for a small fee and be part of an online support group for mainly women. They offer blogs and chatrooms, as well as good professional advice.
I was told in AA to make recovery my priority and put it before everything else. This was good advice at the time although I am a bit more relaxed about it now. I find that a healthy lifestyle is really what keeps me straight today. I look forward to exercise and healthy meals and many people in recovery who do well, do make radical changes such as taking up running. Looking back at the old me from decade ago and before seems slightly surreal. I am so glad that I made the changes I did and have had many rewards as a result. Some people can’t seem to make the changes and don’t progress, while others have many stops and starts. That seems quite normal, very few people seem to give up straight away and often need time to find support that helps them, especially if they have problems in their environment. There is not one sure 100% way to do this and we are all different.
Best wishes to anyone trying to stop problem drinking in 2016.
Good luck to all who are setting out on an alcohol or drug free journey today. I hope it goes well for you, but please don’t give up if you have setbacks. Most people in the Harm Reduction community accept that few will be able to stop straight away and try to help people who are going to use, even though they may not want to, to be able to do so in a safe manner. Stopping is a very hard thing to do and I admire anyone who tries. I have met many amazing people in recovery from all kinds of backgrounds and they all had to work at it. If they didn’t, they probably did not have much of a problem to start with!