Five Ways To Keep Yourself Sober When You're Feeling Compelled to Drink
As the Alcoholics Anonymous literature says, alcohol is "cunning, baffling and powerful." When you've been sober for a few weeks or months, you sometimes start feeling overconfident. You think you've resolved this problem forever and that the desire to drink will never bother you again. When this happens, alcoholic thinking tends to sneak in, causing you to start feeling compelled to drink again. Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to keep yourself sober when you're feeling tempted to drink.
Remind Yourself Where Drinking Will Lead
When you feel like drinking, it often starts to seem like a good idea. You tend to focus on the positives that you associate with alcohol when you're feeling compelled to drink. For example, you might think about how good it feels to get buzzed, how much you miss your drinking buddies, or how much you enjoy your favorite drink. These types of thoughts are unhelpful because they don't reflect the reality of where drinking has led you to in the past. This type of distorted thinking is an example of how alcohol can be cunning; although on some level you know that drinking can get you into all sorts of trouble, it starts looking like a good idea to you.
The way to break alcohol's hold over you in this type of situation is to remind yourself of the truth. It's often helpful to have a friend to talk to when you're feeling compelled to drink because that friend can remind you of things you'd rather forget. For example, drinking might cause you to argue with your spouse or significant other; might cause you to drive drunk and get a DUI; or might land you in the hospital with a life-threatening injury that could have been prevented if you were sober. It's harder to remember this on your own while you are in the throes of addiction than it is to listen to a friend tell you about it.
If you don't have someone else to help you remember why drinking isn't a good idea, sometimes you can keep yourself sober using visual reminders. For example, you might look at your paperwork for your DUI arrest or a video showing how you behaved when you were drunk in the past. These reminders can also help you to realize that it's in your best interest to keep yourself sober.
Look At The Positives Of Sobriety
Another reason you may be feeling compelled to drink is that you've forgotten the benefits of sobriety. When you're stressed out or things aren't going well, this type of problem often sneaks up on you. You may feel like there's no point to sobriety or that it would be easier to get drunk than to deal with whatever you're dealing with at the moment. When this happens, you need to remind yourself of why staying sober is good for you.
You need to make a list of all the positives associated with your sobriety. It's best to do this while you're in a good mood, but you might be able to think of some positives even when you're feeling down. Again, having a sponsor or friend to help you can really make this process easier. Your friend can remind you of some of the reasons you want to keep yourself sober. Once you have your list, read it over when you're feeling compelled to drink. Ask yourself whether you really want to give those positives up. If you have strong positives on your list, reminding yourself of them may be enough to break the compulsion and stop you from drinking.
Rely on Your Support Network
If you choose to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, you should have several people you can turn to for support, such as your sponsor or friends you make in the program. Even if you don't attend Alcoholics Anonymous, you should still develop a support network. Nobody can stay sober every time he or she feels compelled to drink without help from others.
Your support network should consist of people who will not judge you and who are willing to listen calmly to you. When you are feeling compelled to drink, call someone in your support network. Just telling someone you trust that you feel like drinking can help loosen alcohol's hold on you. In addition, people in your support network might be able to ask questions or offer suggestions based on their personal experiences that can help you decide to stay sober.
When the urge to drink hits, you may be able to distract yourself with something else. Get busy reading, engaging in a hobby that you enjoy or talking with people online. Sometimes when you involve yourself in doing something you enjoy, the urge to drink passes on its own. Just make sure that your hobby or other distracting activity doesn't take place around alcohol. For example, don't distract yourself by talking online with wine enthusiasts.
Distracting yourself is often a more temporary solution to your problem, as the desire to drink may return when you stop doing the distracting activity. However, it does give you temporary relief from the problem and allows you to enjoy yourself without resorting to drinking. If you want to drink because you're bored or lonely, the distraction may be enough to resolve these feelings.
Write in Your Alcohol Journal
Keep a journal that you can write in when you feel like drinking or when you sober up after a slip. Your alcohol journal is a safe place for you to express your feelings related to drinking. You should keep it private so that you feel comfortable writing whatever you need to write in it, although you may want to share parts of it with your sponsor, counselor or other person who is attempting to help you keep yourself sober.
When you start feeling compelled to drink, it can be helpful to free write in your journal. Pick up your pen and write as quickly as you can. Don't censor yourself while you are writing. This technique can help you access deep feelings that may be bothering you and contributing to making you feel compelled to drink. In some cases, this may help kill the compulsion altogether. In other cases, however, you may feel even more compelled to drink because of the pain you just uncovered. If this happens, call someone in your support network for help.
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