Stopping Drinking At New Year

I hope you all had a good end to 2014 and saw in the new year safely. I had a quiet evening in and watched the amazing fireworks from the center of London through the window, I get a great view, no need to have the TV on! I woke up this morning and feel quite positive about 2015, although I am sure there will be challenges to face. I don’t worry about drinking or addiction any more and although I do keep contact with some online recovery groups to keep in touch with some newcomers, which helps keep me grounded. Drinking has little importance in my life today and that was certainly not the case in the past. I often aimed to stop drinking on New Years day and always failed.

New Years day used to generally be spent with a monumental hangover, sweating and generally feeling dreadful. I knew I had a drink problem for many years and attempted to stop many times on New Years day, but it generally did not last long. In all those years when I attempted to stop on my own, I never bothered to find out any information about alcoholism and ways to get support. I was actually afraid of living without drink, although I realised I was causing myself problems by not stopping. When I was in my mid twenties I stopped for a while then went on a binge. I felt a great sense of relief when I had that first drink, had a few more, and then drank half a bottle of scotch, when I got home. I then felt really guilty, and a failure. I had attempted to stop and had failed, and quickly went downhill. This was before I knew anything about the ideas of AA, about powerlessness, so I was not influenced by that, it was just what I did, and this repeated several times over the years, until I linked up with other people in recovery, and changed my ways after learning about the illness.

I managed a year of not drinking on one occasion in my thirties but then started again, when out with friends. I felt the physical improvement in not drinking but had not done much about the mental side at this point. I would plan to give up on a certain date, but that would generally not work. One of the craziest ideas I had, was to spend the money I would normally spend drinking in January on a new guitar rather than on drink, so I went to Denmark Street in London and bought the black Telecaster in picture on New Years eve. That method failed as well, but I did get a good guitar, which I still enjoy!telecaster _black

A lot of people will try a dry January, and some of them will struggle. If you are one of those then it is a good idea to look at the reasons why and do something about it. People with a month of alcohol free time should feel some physical improvements which can motivate them to change their ways for the future. This depends on how much they were drinking though, as it took me about three months to improve when I decided to really stop for good. Many may try moderating, which can help, but often brings people to the conclusion that they need abstinence as moderating can actually be harder if you are a typical British “binge drinker”.

There is no one way to stop drinking successfully. It generally takes some trial and error to get there and a modification of approach along the way. I had to do a lot of work to stop about eight years ago, and my sobriety date is sometime in March, so things did not go well after yet another broken New Year resolution. Eventually I just gave in and said enough was enough. I decided to stop for ever and after a short period when I found it difficult (although I did not drink), I went to AA for a while. I did not bother to do much reasearch into other solutions or bother to find out if AA was suitable, I just joined and I think this is something most people do. Although I did not think much of the “Big Book” or the steps I did learn some important things from the sharing, about panic attacks and depression, and most importantly I learned to ask for help. In my case, the help that worked was out side the rooms of AA and I moved on. I realise now that the spiritual/religious solution was conflicting with my personal values, and was probably not the group most suited to me. On the other hand it had the most meetings and it was doing something in those early days that broke the habit of drinking that really helped me. I got competitive with other newcomers, and felt part of a community.

There are many other alternatives to AA these days and I mention them in other posts. If you are one of those people who cannot remain abstinent or moderate safely, then the Sinclair method may be a good solution for you. Smart recovery is growing all the time and has a great Handbook and CBT based support, which could be a great starting point for many, or could be combined with other solutions. There are also online groups such as Soberistas, which are mainly women supporting each-other. I think it is worth trying a few methods to see which suits you. If you do not want to join a group, (I resisted joining one for years!) then there are plenty of books that can help and I mention some good ones in the book section here. You probably won’t find much in your local shop but amazon or Ebay can provide a great solution.

Anyway I hope that which ever way you approach recovery from alcoholism, you have a great 2015!

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