I recently celebrated 8 years of sobriety – getting sober at 63 was probably the best decision I ever made. It took lots of attempts and plenty of mistakes, but it finally stuck.
If you want to try an alcohol-free lifestyle then make sure to avoid my 8 mistakes!
I knew I had a problem, but I was in denial for years, convincing myself that I wasn’t that bad. I couldn’t possibly be an alcoholic because I was holding down a responsible job and raising a family. An alcoholic was that homeless man in the park who had lost everything – that wasn’t me!
I spent a decade stuck in the Moderation Trap. Once I’d learned that the low-risk limits of alcohol are just one and a half bottles of wine a week, I decided that I would drink within those limits. It was only when I tried (and failed) to do that that I realised just how dependent I had become.
I almost never got started on this life changing journey because I believed I would fail. I just couldn’t imagine quitting alcohol, never having a drink again. I knew that I had tried (and failed) to moderate my drinking again and again. Surely it would be even harder to quit completely?
Peer pressure is powerful. I was trapped in my drinking because I couldn’t bear to peel away from the herd and be different. As an introvert and a people pleaser I didn’t want to be the centre of attention as I was bombarded with questions about why I wasn’t drinking.
As a teenager I believed that alcohol was cool. Wine became the essential parenting aid as I joined the mommy juice culture. Mid-life challenges needed wine as did juggling a career with family life. Retirement gave me time to relax and drink even more wine!
I had relied on alcohol to make me feel good for such a long time that I missed those chemical highs when I stopped. During my first few months of sobriety, I didn’t change anything in my life. I just didn’t drink. I expected to feel happy because I was sober. But I didn’t, I felt flat and rather depressed.
I had to quit for health reasons and was horrified at the prospect of an alcohol-free life. I imagined that an alcohol-free life would be a grey and boring existence. Alcohol had become so entrenched in my life that I had no idea how I would socialise, relax or have fun without it.
I thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t be happy with just “one glass” of wine like some of my friends. I tried (and failed) to quit over and over. I was ashamed of my drinking problem and wanted to fix it myself. I didn’t want to reach out for help or join a community.
Alcohol dependence is like an elevator, and it’s only going down. The longer you leave it the worse it will get, so if you’re worried about your drinking – take measures NOW!
If you could moderate, you would have done it by now. People who can moderate just do it naturally. They might have a glass of champagne at a wedding, but alcohol is not really on their radar.
Making progress should be your strategy. Some people have many Day Ones, but the important thing is to keep trying. Do it in stages. A week, two weeks, 30 days, 100 days, 6 months and then a year.
Get an Annual Tracker from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just smile and say, “I’m taking a break from the booze because I’ve not been sleeping well,” and remember it’s not your responsibility to make other people feel comfortable about their drinking!
Reflect and question the limiting beliefs you hold about alcohol. Do you really need alcohol to have fun, to relax, to console yourself for a difficult day? Explore new ways to manage these situations.
When you quit drinking, you can’t just leave everything the same. You’ll need to change your routines and get new interests. New hobbies and a new community will keep your happy brain chemicals triggered.
Get excited about this life changing opportunity! You are going to look better, feel better, sleep better and be full of energy. Ditching the booze is the best thing we can do for our health and happiness as we get older.
The joy of connecting with others on this journey is that we realise we are NOT alone. 20% of social drinkers will become dependent over the years. There is such power and relief in sharing our stories with others in a community like Tribe Sober.
From 5-9th June Tribe Sober will be running a Bootcamp on the Sobriety Bootcamp Facebook Group. Daily tasks, trainings, articles and connection.
Have you ever tried to cut down or quit drinking? Did you make any of my 8 mistakes? Have you ever been in denial about your drinking? What kind of hobbies and interests do you have now that you are retired? Do you drink more than a bottle and a half of wine a week? Are you aware of the health risks of alcohol for older people? Which was the most helpful of the 8 tips?