Let me start by saying this: I’m not here to proclaim that my life has magically transformed into a utopia since I stopped drinking alcohol. I don’t claim to possess all the answers or preach that sobriety is the only path to happiness. Instead, I want to share my personal experience and the practical steps I took to give up drinking.
For too many years, alcohol has been a daily companion in my life. It was intertwined with social gatherings and celebrations. But mostly, it was my friend for the more mundane moments. Contracting COVID, which turned into Long COVID, was the formal line in the sand for sobriety; however, my curiosity about giving up started well before.
My Relationship with Alcohol: Recognising the Patterns
Here are some of the things I noticed about my drinking:
- I drank wine every night, starting around 5pm, whether I wanted to or not.
- It was often the first thing I thought about when I woke up – an inventory of how much I drank the night before and if I needed to shop for more to ensure I had enough for the coming evening.
- My resolutions to drink less or have a DOG (Day Off Grog) Day always evaporated come 5pm.
- I didn’t like others to know how much I was actually drinking.
- It was not giving me the instant relief that it once did.
- Drinking was no longer serving me.
My decision to quit drinking wasn’t fuelled by grand promises of a flawless existence or an extraordinary transformation. Instead, it was a deeply personal choice to regain control over my life, prioritise my health, and age well.
Practical Steps on My Journey to Sobriety
In this blog, I want to share the practical steps that helped me give my mummy wine time. These strategies, techniques, and mindsets empowered me to make lasting changes. It is my sincere hope they can serve as a source of inspiration or guidance or simply provide an alternative perspective for those contemplating a similar path.
Remember, everyone’s journey is unique, and what worked for me might not work for you. The purpose here is not to impose my views but rather to share practical insights that helped me navigate the complexities of giving up alcohol.
Educating Myself: Book Recommendations and Insights
I read many books, listened to podcasts and trolled the internet for how to give up drinking, all without ever sharing this with anyone. My drinking felt like a dirty secret cloaked with shame that I had let “it” get out of control.
These are my recommendations to get started:
- “Quit Like a Woman” by Holly Whitaker
- “The alcohol experiment” by Annie Grace
Both of these books started me intellectualising my dependency on alcohol. They helped me understand why the term alcoholic did not resonate with me – I rarely had blackouts, my life was not a shambles, and alcohol was not, by society’s standards, ruining my life. I was drinking much the same as my peers and exactly how all the marketing campaigns said I should.
Exploring This Naked Mind: A Practical Approach
Annie Grace’s online program, This Naked Mind, was good for the practical move away from alcohol. I have dabbled before with drinking less, but I found it mentally exhausting. All the rules to keep myself within the limits that I set for myself. And then, after a couple of glasses of wine, I didn’t give a fuck anyway.
Her first recommendation is just to be curious. Start to notice others who don’t drink when out. Even if they are strangers at a table next to yours. These people exist. There are plenty of people who don’t drink and who manage social occasions. So, I started to ask myself in social occasions (when I was drinking) what would it be like if I was not drinking. It sounds a little weird, but it is like flirting with a new self-identity. Imagining that you are trying on some new version of you.
Overcoming the First 20 Minutes: Managing the Intensity
And then came the physical crunch of not pouring a glass of wine at 5pm. All resolutions for change could be undone by 4.59pm. So, I continued to drink, but I noticed how long it took before the compulsion/longing/desire to have my first drink took to go away. By playing with my start time, I worked out the intensity of my desire to drink subsided around the 20-minute mark.
You can do hard things for 20 minutes. I can handle my teeth being drilled (something I really, really hate) when I know exactly how long it will take. Knowing that the feeling would subside in a specific time frame was reassuring in those early days of giving up.
Replacing the Ritual: Discovering Alternatives
I don’t really like sweet things. My drink of choice was dry white wine. So, I had to find alternatives to pour into my usual wine glass. My favourite is Adapt drinks. Wine was no longer giving me the relaxation that I craved, however, Adapt drinks contain adaptogens that do. They are pretty magical. The other one I enjoyed was Savvy drink – again the ingredients the important here. And I am also pleased to report that a fantastic range of non-alcoholic beers is now on the market – perfect for a hot sunny afternoon at the pub with friends or family.
Now, my main drink of choice now is sparkling water. I have a very sexy soda stream and now I even dehydrate my own organic lime slices.
Navigating Social Situations: Handling Firsts as a Non-Drinker
Part of the reason it is so hard to give up drinking is imagining the things that you normally do that are habitually associated with alcohol.
- Hanging out with dear friends where it is usual to polish off a few bottles within a fun-filled, silly drunken evening / afternoon / whenever.
- Christmas, New Years, birthdays, and any other celebrations
- Travelling – I always started any travel with a glass of champagne at the Qantas club and never refused the drinks on the plane. It was 5 o’clock somewhere in the world, right?
- Lunch or dinner at a restaurant
As I am nearing a year in on my sobriety, these firsts get easier. And I feel more comfortable with them.
I am no longer imagining my life as a non-drinker.
I am a non-drinker.
Looking to the Future: Health, Menopause and Designing a Fulfilling Life
This question is often asked of me – will I drink again. And to be truthful, I try not to spend too much time thinking about it. My answer can waver between – I am just not drinking today. But as time passes, my resolve to not return to the mental gymnastics of all my self-imposed rules to drinking acceptably gets immeasurably stronger. It is so much easier to be a non-drinker.
And finally, as you know, dear reader, I talk a lot about menopause and women’s health. I know full well what the risks are around women and alcohol (read this blog to find out), and to continue to drink is loading the gun of health roulette. As for menopause, I believe it to be like a gateway to the next third of your life. It is a surprise to age and feel and see your body ageing, and you cannot deny the effects of menopause. I want to design the next third of my life to be as healthy and active as possible so that I can travel, be there for my kids (possibly grandkids) and continue to have lots of dirty weekends away with my husband.
If you enjoyed this blog…. you might also enjoy these ones.
Just click on the image below!