Are you afraid to stop drinking? Getting sober can seem like a scary step. Here, some common fears and how to overcome them.
If the very word sobriety puts a pit in your stomach, you’ve got plenty of company. For those of us with complicated relationships with alcohol, the idea of getting sober can be scary. Not many people want to get sober; it is a matter of needing to get sober. If you are thinking of all the ways that drinking is keeping you from achieving your goals and all the problems that sobriety would solve, but you feel paralyzed by fear, that’s a good indicator that you need this change.
So how do you move forward when these anxieties have you frozen in place? Face your fears. Explore the questions that make your palms sweat. The answers may offer surprising comforts. We’ve rounded up a few of the most common fears that surround sobriety and tactics to help you overcome them.
If you think you might have a problem, but you aren’t sure if it requires giving up alcohol altogether, it is easy to play the game where you compare your drinking to your friends’ habits. If Murphy, who drinks a lot more than you do, doesn’t think he’s an alcoholic, then surely you aren’t either. But everyone has their own personal relationship to alcohol, so look at your own life. Is drinking keeping you from being your most productive self? Is it standing in the way of your goals? Is it interfering with your relationships? Are you generally unhappy? Think seriously about that one: are you unhappy? If so, it may be time to make some serious changes.
Guess what? That’s fine. Just trying at all is a huge step towards achieving sobriety. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. It doesn’t need to be a black and white line between success and failure. Yes, you need to decide to stop drinking. Make that decision and take it one step at a time from there. If you make a mistake or you relapse, you can learn from it, and keep growing and developing on your path to sobriety. Don’t let fear of failure keep you from trying.
I’ll be bored.
You may find yourself wondering how long one lame conversation can last. And yes, it will seem longer sober. There’s no way around that. But rather than drink your way through dull events, maybe you can stop going to them. Rather than pounding a beer to survive a conversation with your awful friend Doug, just don’t hang out with Doug any more. The clear light of sobriety will help you decide how you want to spend time and who you want to spend it with, freeing you from the loop of drinking to get through situations you don’t want to be in.
I won’t know what to do with myself.
In theory, extra free time will help you stay focussed and achieve your dreams. Learn a new language. Spend quality time with quality friends. Get ahead at work. Go to the gym. Read. And eventually, that’s exactly what you’ll do. But when you are first getting sober, it can feel like there is a void that is hard to fill. For most of us, there’s a reason we are drinking to begin with: issues we are avoiding and feelings we don’t want to face. The quiet clear-headed time that used to be filled with the din of drinking can be daunting at first, so here are some distractions to help you:
- Find a new TV show to follow. We like Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Wire, but find your own flavour.
- Sign up for a physically active class, ideally around the time that you usually go out drinking. We like Muay Thai or pilates.
- Try meditating. If you are looking for guided meditation and mindfulness sessions, try downloading the Headspace app.
- Stop by The Cabin Melbourne. Our team of psychologists, psychiatrists, and addiction counselors will help you develop a recovery plan.
I’ll lose all my friends.
Drinkers often feel like the life of the party. You are probably the one buying shots, telling jokes, showing off your amateur breakdancing skills. The part of you that is fun won’t die off because you aren’t drinking. It may be a little harder to access without booze, but it is still there and you will find new and better ways to coax it out. And, let’s be honest, nobody was as impressed by those breakdancing moves as you thought. Your friends who were big drinkers and drug-users may be disappointed that you aren’t boozing any more, and those aren’t the kinds of people you should hang out with while you are in recovery. Try to surround yourself with people who respect your decision. Alcohol is a drug that distorts your judgement and alters your personality; you shouldn’t have to justify why you want to stop doing it. Your friends who love you will support you..
I’ll be left out of all the fun.
We all have FOMO (fear of missing out), and if all your drinking buddies are out at Seven-Tequila-Shot Sunday without you, it may be hard to resist. Here are a few ways to fight the FOMO:
- Think about what are you are really missing out on. You’ll drink way too much. You’ll do the same things you always do. You’ll wake up, your head pounding, with spotty memories and a vague feeling that the whole night went sideways. Did your boss show up? Did you say something that could get you fired? Where did that bruise come from? Where is your credit card? How did you get home? Ask yourself if what you are missing out on is more rewarding than your sobriety. The answer will be no.
- Challenge their fun with your own. Try to drum up a sober alternative to what they are doing so you aren’t sitting at home checking Facebook for pictures of their shenanigans, which, by the way, are not as fun as that filter makes them look. If you focus on your own enjoyment, it will be easier to let go of what your friends are up to.
- Accept that you can’t have it all. Nobody can. Try to savour what you have and cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
- If you feel a really deep sense of longing, assess what that might be about. It likely isn’t about the drinking. Maybe you are missing other aspects of socializing and should find time to spend with your supportive friends and family.
I’ll be a dud.
Even more important than other people see you, is how you see yourself. If you struggle with drinking, you’ve likely made it a big part of your life and daily routine. It will take you time to adjust to your new reality so be patient with yourself. If you relied on alcohol to give you the courage to talk to people and make bold moves, you’ll need to find other ways to tap into your tenacity, but if you are brave enough to stop drinking, you’ve got a well of strength that runs deeper than you realize. The longer you spend sober, the better you’ll get at it. You’ll be more present, exciting, engaging and wonderful to be around than ever before.
I’ll have to explain my sobriety all the time.
We live in a society where sobriety is a counterculture lifestyle. Just having to explain that difference can be exhausting. If you want to share the details of your sobriety, great, but if not, here are a few simple things you can say if questioned about your personal choices:
- No thank you, I’m not drinking.
- I used to drink, but I don’t anymore.
- I drank for a long time, and it was really fun. Then it wasn’t fun anymore, so I stopped.
Overcoming Alcohol Addiction
If you are worried that you can’t cope without drinking, the best course of action is to seek the help of addiction treatment professionals. The Cabin Melbourne offers innovative, effective treatment for alcohol addiction using our own unique Recovery Zones method. Contact us today to find out how we can help you get sober for good.