When you face the challenge of giving up alcohol and staying sober long-term, it can feel beyond overwhelming.
There are books, podcasts, sober social media accounts, and groups, programs, and more. Not to mention AA and the traditional programs that have been around for decades.
This time we are living in is a blessing, but it can also derail you.
In this article, I break down the top three essentials to staying sober over 40.
The blessing comes from more folks speaking up and out about their alcohol abuse and how they decided to get sober. Chances are you came across this post because of a quick Google search.
The interwebs were not as prevalent when I quit drinking in 2013. I didn't know about sober blogs and podcasts. I did, however, read one book that changed how I felt a bit about my choice to get sober, Drinking a Love Story, by Caroline Knapp.
That one book gave me the insight to realize that I wasn't alone in my 30-year addiction with alcohol, and with that feeling comes the blessing.
Flash-forward to today, and there are so many different choices to get and stay sober; I find that I talk to women struggling with choosing the one thing that will work, and when they choose something that doesn't, they think it's them.
If you feel this way, please keep reading and know that it is not your fault.
You can read all of the Quit-Lit books, listen to all of the sober podcasts and join every group you can find, but if you don't have three things at the core of long-term sobriety, you may find yourself slipping back down the slippery slope of drinking.
The three essentials are simple to implement so you don't get derailed. You can make them easy to do by taking the pressure off of yourself to do all of the things.
When I quit drinking, I didn't think I would do it, but I also knew that I couldn't keep drinking and feeling miserable, and like my life passed me by. The pain of drinking was more than the pain of quitting, or so I thought at the time.
In 2013 when I quit, I was the gal who liked to brush everything under the rug and pretend it wasn't happening. I knew that I had a problem with alcohol for years, but I tried to pretend that I could moderate and be a normal drinker.
I placed ridiculously stringent rules on myself as a way to torture my inner soul.
I LOVED to drink copious glasses of wine; I had no business telling myself that I could only have two, on Saturday, after 6:00 pm.
My final night of drinking was the first time I can remember where I pulled myself out of my bullshit and into my reality without trying to make a deal or justify my behavior.
The awareness came from the fight, but it came because I was finally so tired of cheating myself out of life because of ethanol.
If you feel like you are trying to make alcohol work and you know it doesn't, I want to encourage you to be brutally honest with yourself and ask yourself, how can I continue to drink when I know it's not working.
Your answer to that question deserves your attention. Don't let your self-awareness fade away, grab hold of it, and ditch the alcohol.
Also, in hindsight, I was right about the pain of quitting vs. continuing to drink.
Once you have self-awareness in your grasp, find someone to talk to about how you feel. If you don't have anyone, please email me.
Support, accountability, and someone who will cheer for you and cry with you and tell you that you will be okay is key in staying sober.
I'm not telling you that you need to have someone hold you accountable because you can't do it on your own, but this is hard stuff getting sober. Having someone in your corner, whether it be AA, a group, coach, or a friend, will make a big impact on your life.
In the beginning, you may not feel the belief that it takes to power through days where you feel like the only solution is to drink, and that's okay. It's normal to feel shaky and unsure initially; I did for the first year to two years in my recovery.
For this reason, support in a community or with one person will help you stay on track until you have more belief in your ability not to drink.
It's imperative to your happiness and future to ask for help. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed; you are not alone in this.
This one is the hardest of the three and crucial for staying sober. If you are like me, you want the quick-fix, which is why alcohol and drinking are easy choices.
To ride out the bad days filled with cravings and stress and all of the things that make you want to drink takes time and, yep, patience.
The patience that you may not have now, but you will once you keep going alcohol-free. Patience is like a muscle; you need to exercise and stretch and take time to recover.
Practice patience by taking the pressure off of yourself and stepping into the benefits of sobriety. Start to embrace how you feel alcohol-free and let it ride!
Soon enough, you won't feel impatient; you will feel enlightened and free.
Lastly, please remember the time it takes to get sober is the same time it will take if you continue to drink.
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