Weekends are rough. Especially when you first decide that you want to quit drinking, you have to think about how you are going to fill your weekend. Your friends are going to a Craft Beer Festival both days and you forgot you had a ticket. It cost $50 bucks per day and everyone is excited for a big party weekend.
Can you go and Just taste like everyone is supposed rather than getting trashed? If you were anything like me, its probably a 80/20 chance for getting trashed. Especially when supplies are abundant, especially when its free, especially when Im with my closest pals would I over indulge to a point of becoming a sloppy idiot.
You might be reading this and thinking Sloppy Idiot is bush-league drinking. A lot of seasoned drinkers can drink heroic amounts more than I ever could, and hold their shit better too. Even when I was a well behaved or only a charming moron I always paid for it the next day. I was spared most of the worst drunken embarrassment and/or tragedy but hangovers could fuck up my entire weekend.
At only 25 I had developed the ability to drink quite heavily, which is a skill that my peers and I became quite proud of. Its funny because thats a skill that doesnt really impress anyone else, and has directly negative consequences. The hangover really ruined my day, and as a consequence I felt really guilty. I got to a point where feeling like garbage for twelve hours wasnt really worth the party the night before.
The worst was the nights when it wasnt much fun, or some weird combination of booze made the hangover much more severe than the evening would have indicated. You realize the money you spent and what you did and you lay in your bed and your physical pain becomes emotional pain. Hurrah! What a great way to start a weekend.
Rewind, back to the Craft Beer Festival and realize youre going to have to make a bunch of hard choices. You can bail on the event and hermit yourself in your home, you can attempt to stay sober at the Beer Festival (maybe pick up the designated driver duties), or you can try to moderate yourself.
I have never had any luck with moderation when it came to alcohol. The inhibitions that usually curb my consumption are usually the first to go, and after a few small tastes my brain is able to justify a few more. It never worked for me, and Id never try to attend something like a Beer Festival as long as I thought I wouldnt be drinking.
You can usually avoid these situations with some planning. Like I said before, youre going to have to make some hard choices. You might have to hermit yourself for the first few weekends, but you dont have to sit around bored.
Netflix Marathon, Pizza Party, Games (Board/Video), Reading, Working out, all things that helped me get through some of those tough first weekends. In the first few weekends its going to be hard to be in a place with alcohol and not want to drink. Sure you can sweat it out, but is the anxiety and mental anguish worth it?
Ok, youre going to bum some of your friends out. Maybe thats not the worst thing in the world. Your own personal health is more important than how your sobriety affects the good time of a friend. Its not selfish to want to take some time off from the party scene.
Maybe youre a home drinker, and staying at home is going to trigger you and make you feel anxious. Number one I would suggest ridding your home of booze. Give it away to your friends if you cant stand to pour it out, but I suggest having a dry home if youre attempting to go dry.
If you really need to get out, go to a casual restaurant and dont sit in the lounge. Or look for a place that offers activities that arent centred around getting drunk. Ive had some luck with comedy clubs, since I spend a lot of time watching and performing comedy. Its been pretty easy to keep your mind off of alcohol while you listen to jokes.
Other places you can find fun activities: Local newspapers usually have an events section on their website. Here in Calgary there is Swerve and FFWD. Seeing a play or a dance performance may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but a relaxed theatre is going to be easier to handle than a giant mall cinema complex packed with screaming kids.
The bottom line: distract yourself. Not drinking is about tackling each day as it comes. Youre going to have temptations, and on the weekend its going to double. Its not showing weakness to bow out of high-risk situations where you think you might not be able to fight the temptation. Just excuse yourself, make alternate plans and take the weekend one day at a time.
Once youre through the weekend it should be easier to distract yourself. Just keep reminding yourself that casual drinkers get drunk on weekdays and you just might make it to weekend #2.
So while youre in watching Sherlock on Netflix and drinking soda water on a Wednesday instead of going out for wings your buds, crack open a newspaper or your computer and find something stimulating to do. Even if its not that great, you can enjoy the feeling when you wake up the next morning and think to yourself;
I have the entire weekend ahead of me, and I FEEL GREAT
Thanks for reading this post. Check out the first post, and the About Page for more info on what this is all about. My advice and anecdotes are to be taken as entertainment and for inspirational purposes (definition: Im NOT a doctor or addictions professional). If you think you have a serious drinking problem please visit a doctor. If youre worried about telling a family doctor, you can always try a walk-in clinic or try this resource for help with substance abuse in Canada.