Dear Sober Mom,
I can’t stop drinking. I’m going to meetings but soon won’t be able to. How can I stop then if I can’t even stop now?
I am glad you reached out—it took me years to build up to that point so I am full of admiration for you. I genuinely believe it’s the bravest but also most important thing you can do when you get sober.
Find Your Tribe
I’m by no means a sobriety ninja with all the answers, but I have found that the aspect of my sobriety that eclipses everything else is my tribe. The people I know via my twelve-step meetings, online forums, and social media groups are the people I know I can turn to. I tell them the crazy ass shit my alcoholic brain is trying to make me do. They laugh with me as they know exactly how that feels. My tribe showers me with wisdom, support, and advice.
Find Your Tools
I have discovered that we all seem to find our own way. I know people who swear by a rigid following of the twelve-step method. I also know people who couldn’t do twelve-step and people who champion (or oppose) the myriad of other ways there are to get sober. At the end of the day we’re all human and there is no “one size fits all.”
You mentioned meetings, so I wonder if perhaps you may need to find other tools to add to your sobriety arsenal. Your new tools may either work alongside meetings or even replace them. Personally, my toolkit seems to be a mish-mash of a bit of everything.
One thing I know for certain is that you CAN stop drinking. Bold statement, isn’t it? If meetings aren’t enough or not right for you, you need to find what is! Is it a particular twelve-step meeting you’ve been going to? Maybe you should try a different one! There are lots of other alternatives. Some people use different forms of therapy, which seems to be particularly useful if your reasons for drinking is numbing painful feelings. Perhaps there is something in the past you need to make peace with. Some people in recovery keep journals or blogs. The ways and methods of getting sober seem to be as many as there are people in recovery. To each her own, I say.
Find Your Reasons
Finding the reasons for my drinking was the clincher for me. I could only stop drinking when I truly saw no reason to drink anymore. Sure, I wanted to stop for a long time, but I also wanted to drink! I knew all the reasons why I should stop but I needed to figure out why I drank in the first place. No amount of meetings would have helped me if I still wanted to drink. I’d crave a drink because of all the various benefits I thought it’d bring—relaxation, fun, make me less shy/nervous/scared etc. When I looked closely, I discovered drinking did none of that. I discovered that not only did alcohol NOT make fun times more fun, it also made crappy times much crappier. The benefits to drinking all but disappeared and of course once I had no reason to drink, well…
Looking at the reasons why YOU drink might unlock some useful strategies for you.
It’s also important to remember that alcohol is a highly addictive substance as well as a powerful depressant. If we ingest a depressant, we will end up feeling depressed. It puts you in a really shitty place and then makes you think it’s the solution. Voilá—you’re exactly where it wants you: depressed and vulnerable and firmly trapped in a vicious circle.
Don’t Keep It In
My first sobriety tool whenever I feel a twinge of wanting to drink is to reach out. Saying it out loud—to my husband, sending a text to a friend or posting it to a sobriety group—immediately diminishes alcohol’s power over me. Verbalizing it almost makes it go away completely. My addiction shrinks when I snitch on it.
So that’s my advice here based on my own journey so far—find your tribe, find your tools, understand alcohol is your enemy and make a habit of snitching on it! You’ve already done the absolute scariest bit by reaching out and that makes you a CHAMPION, lady! I know what the hopelessness and despair feel like when we don’t see a way out of our addiction, but it exists and you will find it. Keep talking, keep sharing, keep on reaching out. You’ve already come so far by doing exactly that.