How To Stay Sober For Life
Whether you have been given the ultimatum about never drinking alcohol again, or its a decision that you have consciously made and want to keep, then coping with the unknown is probably one of the most frightening parts. Situations that are all too familiar, will now have to have a different approach. Attitudes, and responses, to peoples reactions to your now tee-total lifestyle can be a daunting experience, and one that will not come naturally. By preparing yourself, beforehand, with ways to react, what to say, and taking control, is key to successfully sticking to your promise.
Human beings are comfortable with automatic responses. Over the years that it takes to develop as a person, and for many years after, we learn to do things automatically. They then become locked in to our behaviour, and we start to react on those automatic responses, before we have even given it a moments thought. Even if the behaviour is excessive, or damaging to ones health, or even illegal, we start to justify it in our own minds rather than consider the alternative of change.
AVOIDANCE: If we think that putting ourselves into a situation is going to unduly test our resolve, or introduce a temptation that is going to be to difficult to resist, then the best solution if possible is to avoid the scenario completely. If only in the short term after deciding to be alcohol free. If we think that we will be "sucked" into the drinking culture again, and until we feel strong enough to say "no thanks" to the alcohol, then don't put yourself in the risk category. This doesn't mean living a hermit life, or cutting off from friends and family, but the first few days & months are going to be the most testing, so give yourself the best chance of making it to the next week alcohol free. If you used to go into certain shops to buy alcohol, then refrain from those and try others for a few weeks. Disturbing the pattern, or scrambling the programmed behaviour, will make you more self-aware, and able to just "buy the newspaper", not "a bottle". If going to the pub was an accepted work event, then make some excuses for the first few times. You may be persuaded to drink alcohol, especially if other people are unaware of your commitment to being alcohol free. It may be easier to say "yes", rather than explain why your are in a pub and not drinking.
VISUALISE: Unfortunately, you will find yourself in situations where alcohol is present, and where people are encouraging you to drink. They may not know of your abstinence, or they may not like the "new" you, and want you to join them in the drink environment. Knowing this before you set foot into the scenario, means that you can "program" your responses. Close your eyes, and visualise a typical situation that would have involved drinking alcohol. It could be at the pub during a group of people watching football, or a nice sunny afternoon soaking up the rays in a beer garden. Now visualise that exact same scene, but with the glass on the table missing. Is the sun any less hot?; no, Is the smell of the fresh cut grass any different?, no. Is the football any less enjoyable? no. Your expectations are that they should be, or that they will be, when in actual fact, they are no different. You don't have to have alcohol to enjoy those things. You don't have to have alcohol to be confident. Visualise yourself being confident. Visualise yourself joining in. Visualise yourself relaxing in the sun, and all the while soak up those feelings in the knowledge that alcohol is not playing any part of those feelings. It doesn't have to be, and you don't want it to be. Once you realise that alcohol is not a requirement to live. That everything you think it creates, is perfectly achievable without it, then you will feel more confident in being in situations that it may be a temptation.
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