monkey off my back

One guy's experiences as he quits drinking

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Good days & better days

I have heaps of different types of sober days. Some are good and some are not so good – but all of them are better than the hung-over alternative.

My days range from:

  • I don’t think about drinking and don’t feel like it
  • I am too busy to think about it
  • I have strong temptations and really struggle until it passes
  • I was close to giving in – but couldn’t because I drove to the event

But my favourite type of day is when the thought of drinking crosses my mind but it’s not overwhelming or uncomfortable. I’m just able to internally say “thanks but no thanks” and I remind myself about my medium term goals.

Clear and practical goals are really useful for me in the early months of not drinking. I like physical activity goals which usually involve training for a future event. I find that they help me because:

  • They give me a preferred alternative to drinking
  • They keep me physically busy in the evening when I’m most likely to be tempted
  • They keep my mind busy and focused on something else
  • The physical activity helps burn up some of the anxiety which happens in early sobriety and helps me sleep better
  • The activity is energising and I feel alive and cheery (which contrasts well compared to feeling hung-over, moody and sluggish)

Last week I typed up a 10 week training program and printed it out. Then 2 days later I was having some slight temptations so I looked at my program and thought “I’d rather focus on this”. The temptation passed within a couple of minutes. It was empowering (I hate that word) to make an active decision and not struggle with it for an hour. I felt like I was in the driver’s seat rather than my drinking.


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Something different

I just wrote the most boring blog post about drinking and then deleted it.

So instead I’m going to write about something lovely that happened late last year. I had my 6 month oncology check and my cancer marker came back ‘undetectable’ (that’s really good). It wasn’t expected so it came as a real surprise.

For a couple of years beforehand the cancer marker had been increasing (that’s bad). The increase wasn’t dramatic but there had been a slow and steady trend going in the wrong direction. Then in the middle of 2015 it plateaued and at the end of the year it crashed to such low levels that the blood test couldn’t detect it.

Since then I feel like I’ve been on holidays from the low-level anxiety it caused. I’ve stopped fixating and thinking about it. One day I hope that I’ll get to that point with my drinking too.

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Well the good news is that I got through Christmas without any problems. The bad news is that New Year wasn’t so successful. Friends, celebrations, fireworks… one thing lead to another.

I’m trying not to wallow about it – beating myself up about it doesn’t help me ‘get back on the horse’.  I’m trying to just be matter-of-fact and to focus on making this evening another Day 1.

It really is amazing how quickly the sense of compulsion comes back. At about 5pm some quiet thoughts start – and then by 6pm it’s a sense of racing urgency.

I wish there was a magic button I could just push… But there’s not so I just need to suck it up and start over.