#SoberOctober day 17 – Addiction

Addiction is no joke! Today is the day in 2018 when Canada legalized marijuana for recreational consumption. If you choose to spark-up today, that’s your choice and it’s understandable. In moderation cannabis use can have a less intoxicating effect on users. Fatal over-consumption is rare compared to alcohol or other drugs, but a dependency is still a dependency. Especially in the eyes of many recovery advocates, using marijuana to replace alcohol is NOT a good idea.

I’m assuming you’ve decided to experiment with Sober October because you have issues with drinking alcohol, but substances, behaviours and people can all be addictive and toxic elements in your life. While someone is abstaining from alcohol, I don’t suggest full-blown abstinence from all vices and habits. Coffee, cigarettes, masturbation and eating are all habits I’ve seen and heard people attempt all at once.

In my opinion this is too much, too soon. Just over halfway through the month, less than 20 days in to sobriety, I don’t suggest tackling all your demons at once. This from of abstinence is a slow and steady approach, where we slowly acclimatize ourselves to a lifestyle free of certain addictive substances. In this case we take a month off of alcohol in order to prove it’s physically possible, and then we make incremental steps to create a life where the dependency on alcohol lessens with time.

Of course, if you are in the throws of a full-blown drug addiction, Sober October is not the path to take. If you are struggling with addiction, seeking professional help always beats the random advice of a blogger. Below are some resources for addictions in a few countries:

Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-use/get-help/get-help-with-drug-abuse.html

USA: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states

UK: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/drug-addiction-getting-help/

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Want to read more about sobriety and other stop drinking solutions?

Where are you in your journey?

Are you afraid of 9am?

3 signs you have a problem with alcohol

Killing Yourself to Live

#SoberOctober Day 16 – Self Reflection

It’s easy to get lost on this journey towards sobriety. Even if you’ve decided to only quit drinking for the month, Sober October can leave a person lost and lonely. Quitting one of our culture’s most social activities can leave you isolated physically and mentally. If you’re not drinking, what are you supposed to do with your hands? If you’re not drunk, what are you supposed to do with all these thoughts in your head?

We’ve talked in previous blog posts about prayer and meditation as a coping mechanism. Since prayer and meditation are different for everyone, it also might be helpful to do some more casual self reflection. Journalling, or keeping some type of diary are both excellent ways to get the contents of your head out in to the world so you can reflect on them. It can be as simple as going to a coffee shop by yourself and thinking about your life.

You can ask yourself questions like “Why do I drink so much?” “Why did I think I needed to quit?” “What are the triggers in my life that make me binge?”

In Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the steps is a “Fearless Moral Inventory” which asks the member to write down everything awful they’ve done under the influence. This doesn’t need to be an exercise in shame, but if you choose to embark on this project I believe you won’t want to drink to excess once you write out and reread all the downsides to drinking.

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Want to read more about sobriety and other stop drinking solutions?

Where are you in your journey?

Are you afraid of 9am?

3 signs you have a problem with alcohol

Killing Yourself to Live

#SoberOctober Day 15 – Don’t stop me now

At day 15 you are just shy of 50% complete your challenge. You may be getting a second wind, or you may feel like the winds are pushing against you. The pressure inside, both physical and mental might be building up now that your body is realizing this experiment in abstinence is longer lived than anticipated.

This is exactly why you shouldn’t give up.

The pressure is what makes coal in to a diamond. Adapting to pressure is what differentiates good from great. When you hear about how it’s “Not the journey, it’s the destination” this is what they are talking about.

If you’ve been putting off self-care, now would be a great time to start. Yoga, meditation and gratitude can sound like fairly-tale magic until you get to a point where nothing else seems like a viable option. Here is where the pressure gets turned up, and coping tools are the release valve.

Don’t give up now!

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Want to read more about sobriety and other stop drinking solutions?

Where are you in your journey?

Are you afraid of 9am?

3 signs you have a problem with alcohol

Killing Yourself to Live

#SoberOctober Day 12 – Weekend once again

So what have you learned so far? It’s hard to quit drinking? It’s easy to quit drinking? You miss the beverage? Or maybe you miss the social experience? Whatever it is that is bugging or not bugging you lately, you can push that aside thinking about how you’ve almost hit 2 weeks without alcohol. It’s impressive enough to say no to a drink once, but it’s a whole other thing once you’ve said it 5 or 6 times.

You may start to think “If I can make it 12 days, do I really have to prove I can go all month?” or “If I can go twelve days this easily, I never really had a problem in the first place”. This type of self talk isn’t wrong or taboo, it can be dangerous, but on your journey you will have many conversations with yourself and others about this very thing.

If you’re coming up against questions like this, perhaps it’s time to go over a few of the reasons you wanted to quit in the first place. Revisit the pros and cons list, and add new ones that you’ve discovered in the past twelve days. You’re also not quite at half-way, so if you can’t even make it half-way… maybe you DO have a problem…

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Want to read more about sobriety and other stop drinking solutions?

Where are you in your journey?

Are you afraid of 9am?

3 signs you have a problem with alcohol

Killing Yourself to Live

#SoberOctober Day 9 – Keeping your head above the water

While some self-help authors and speakers preach a system of tapping in to your inner superhero, I take a more laid-back approach. I don’t think that any of us are particularly super, and I don’t think you can quit drinking by doing power-poses, positive thinking, or self-confidence alone. Alcoholism is a serious issue and treating it like the protagonist in a Marvel movie isn’t fair to those who struggle with it every day.

If you’re anything like me, at this point you may be barely keeping you head above the water. Neither going forwards or back, sinking or pulling yourself out, just staying the course. This is not the bad thing some make it out to be. Consider a functional alcoholic that is the head of a Fortune 500 company… on paper they may be moving 100 km/h and progressing their career in a way that makes them look like a real winner. Below the surface, there is a different story, one that doesn’t usually have the happiest of endings.

For us regular people, we can hold our heads high. Even if our chins are barely out of the water, and we wish we could start swimming toward our goals. We can take comfort in knowing that the longer we keep our heads dry, the stronger we become. The stronger we become the easier it will be to start the stroke that takes us from treading water, to swimming.

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Want to read more about sobriety and other stop drinking solutions?

Where are you in your journey?

Are you afraid of 9am?

3 signs you have a problem with alcohol

Killing Yourself to Live

#SoberOctober Day 8 – Giving Thanks

Here in Canada, today happens to be Thanksgiving. A day off of work to eat a giant meal with family is usually the type of thing where beer and wine flow freely, but for those of us who abstain it can be a mine-field of drama. Don’t feel bad about avoiding drunk relatives by taking frequent autumnal walks, or by being the sober person that can drive a few extra minutes to grab a few groceries at the one open store that’s across town.

Even if you don’t celebrate a holiday in early October, it’s still a good time to give thanks. Gratitude, prayer, meditation and mindfulness are techniques to help deal with the mental challenges that are sometimes associated with sobriety. Writing down, or saying out-loud all of the things that actually make your life worth living is a great way to remind yourself why you wanted to quit drinking in the first place.

So why not give some thanks? Unlike buying a round of drinks for your buddies, giving away thanks is completely free!

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Want to read more about sobriety and other stop drinking solutions?

Where are you in your journey?

Are you afraid of 9am?

3 signs you have a problem with alcohol

Killing Yourself to Live

#SoberOctober Day 7 – A Week Down

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You’re officially a week down! No matter when you’re reading this, you’ve survived at least most of a weekend, for us in 2018 it’s Sunday so this post is going to be a bit of a rest. This is because rest is extremely important for your recovery. More than just a challenge of your willpower, quitting drinking for any amount of time is hard on your emotions, and mental capacity.

If you’ve been journalling, going to meetings, exercising and distracting yourself for the past week, you deserve some time to breathe. Quitting alcohol is a challenge, but it doesn’t need to feel like running a marathon. The only thing that you need to do to be sober is to NOT DRINK alcohol, so as long as you are doing that much, you’re winning.

So consider cheating on your diet a little, sleeping in, or skipping a gym session. Pray, meditate and take it easy. You’re doing great and you can being week 2 with more energy than if you had kept sprinting through today like a racehorse.

Not feeling strong enough to break your routine? That’s ok too! Do what YOU need to do, don’t listen to me if it doesn’t feel right.

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Want to read more about sobriety and other stop drinking solutions?

Where are you in your journey?

Are you afraid of 9am?

3 signs you have a problem with alcohol

Killing Yourself to Live

#SoberOctober Day 4 – Get in the Groove

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Are you getting in the groove of things yet? Is your sobriety something you don’t need to think about? You may feel yourself wanting to slump back in to old habits, or being pulled toward temptation, this is normal. For some people who quit drinking, temptation follows them for decades after they quit. We live in a culture of alcohol consumption, so it’s hard to escape temptation when everyone is offering you a drink.

You get in to a groove the same way you get in to a rut (which may be why you decided to quit drinking in the first place): you do the same things over and over.

For you, this might mean changing your work commute so you don’t pass your favourite liquor store. You may need to mute the group-text convo where everyone is talking about how excited they are to get wasted this weekend.  You might want to start a new good habit to replace an old bad habit.

Speaking from experience, if you decided you needed to quit drinking for a month, there’s a good chance you have an addictive personality. Take that weakness and turn it in to a strength by pouring yourself in to a new hobby, activity or other outlet for the energy you’d normally expend drinking. I got my Fitbit around the time I quit and I loved smashing those step-goals! That lead to going to the gym more, and before I knew it I was in a groove.

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Want to read more about sobriety and other stop drinking solutions?

Where are you in your journey?

Are you afraid of 9am?

3 signs you have a problem with alcohol

Killing Yourself to Live

#SoberOctober Day 3 – Getting Through

Day 3 might be the hardest day for you so far. Some people say that if you can get through the 3rd day, you can make through the rest of the month. There’s a chance you’re starting to feel normal again, like it’s no big deal. If you’re reading this in 2018, it’s only Wednesday, so you might not have had much temptation to go out. This is actually an enviable situation, you have a few days before the weekend comes and starts to make drinking feel like an obligation again.

Got a social event coming up on the weekend? Maybe a wedding with an open bar? In my first month of sobriety I cancelled these weekend plans and avoided social events like the plague.

“After work happy hour… I’d love to but I’m going to the gym”

“Your band is playing at the pub… sorry I’m seeing a movie that night”

“You’re watching the game… I’ve got to wake up early tomorrow for work”

Sure these excuses are lame, some people won’t accept them, and even some folks will know you’re lying. All that doesn’t really matter when you’re trying to reach a goal that’s this important. If you need to cloister yourself away in your house with a pizza and Netflix, or if you need to head to an AA meeting or to a church group, whatever you need to do, don’t feel badly blowing off your drinking buddies.

If you can get through the temptation of social obligation you can get through anything!

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Want to read more about sobriety and other stop drinking solutions?

Where are you in your journey?

Are you afraid of 9am?

3 signs you have a problem with alcohol

Killing Yourself to Live

 

#SoberOctober Day 2 – Quit Drinking for Life

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In the post about Sober October Day 1, I said you don’t have to quit drinking forever… just get through a single day without drinking. Getting through Day 1 is one of the hardest days, taking the plunge is one of the hardest parts. However, when I say  “Stop Drinking for Life” I don’t mean that you need to commit to stop drinking for the rest of your life… I mean quit drinking so you can ENJOY YOUR LIFE.

Assuming you’ve already dumped all the beer, wine and spirits in your home, I suggest going for a walk, going to a movie, hitting the gym, and literally anything else that breaks the old habits that led to drinking in the first place. Think of sobriety as life, and drinking as death. Think of all the quality experiences you had to miss because you were wasted, or worse yet… the experiences you ruined, or don’t remember because you were wasted.

Prove to the monkey on your back that your life is more than drinking.

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Looking for more resources on how to quit drinking? Read more:

So you’ve decided to quit drinking

What is alcohol doing to your body?

3 signs you have a problem with alcohol

Are you afraid of 9am?

Where are you in your sobriety journey?