You might have reached a point in your life that you have decided drinking is not for you. If so, here are some tips for how to remain sober:
- Create a positive attitude about not drinking and by that I don’t just mean considering the pros of not drinking but viewing it as a healthy way of life that is free from any negative thoughts and feelings. Clients often ask “How do I tell people that I don’t drink.”
- There appears to be a level of embarrassment and/or shame associated with having to tell people one does not drink. If you have a positive attitude about not drinking this will be a non-issue. You can simply tell people that alcohol does not mix well with your health.
- Often people refer to themselves as being in recovery when they give up drinking. I prefer to refer to sobriety as a practice and a lifestyle. The statements “I practice sobriety” or “I choose a sober life” are empowering ways of referring to the process. They implies intention, choice and action.
- Do it for yourself and not to appease others. If you give up alcohol half-heatedly and/or resentfully, it will possibly backfire. No matter what prompted you to become sober, empower yourself and make it your choice. No one can “make” you give up alcohol although the mind might want to think that if you have felt pressured by family or friends to do so.
- Often people consume alcohol as a lubricant for socialization. Let go of expectations and the pressure you place on yourself to present yourself in a certain light. In the worst case scenario, you may present as less social as you would like to.
- Alcohol is also consumed as a way to cope with stressors, to quiet the mind, or to numb difficult emotions. There are numerous healthy ways to cope with stressors such as exercising, reading, cooking, meditating, and most importantly learning how to modify and manage thinking patterns that lead to stress and negative thoughts. If you are not sure how to achieve this, speak with a therapist especially one who specializes in addictions.
- Choose who you surround yourself with. If your friends are drinking buddies, you might want to consider finding other friends.
- Choose activities that do not involve drinking. You might have gotten used to associating most of your activities with drinking. You might either want to choose new activities or be very intentional about dissociating certain activities from drinking. For example, you might have been drinking while golfing and you are not willing to give up golfing. Plan on going with someone who also does not drink and take drinks that are refreshing and non-alcoholic.
- The bargaining voice might creep into your head trying to sway you to have a drink. The voice might justify drinking, minimize it’s negative impact, glorify it’s positive affect, make you believe that you can moderate now, you have tools and skills to avoid over consumption, and etc. All of these voices have one intention in mind “sabotage.” Catch it and stop it before it takes hold. Call a support person if you need to.
- If you absolutely are not able to stop drinking on your own, make sure you get the appropriate help and possibly check yourself into a residential facility followed by an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).
Author: Dr. Seda Gragossian
Dr. Seda Gragossian is the Clinical Director at the Talk Therapy Psychology Center. She has worked in the mental health field in clinical leadership roles in private practice, at multiple outpatient facilities, as well as at large psychiatric hospital settings.
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