General Question

truecomedian's avatar

What are some tips on staying sober?

Asked by truecomedian (3922 points ) October 30th, 2010

Coming from a background of drug and alcohol use, and having a high propensity for relapse.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

41 Answers

stardust's avatar

The first thing & perhaps the most obvious would be to surround yourself with supportive and understanding individuals who’ve experienced/are experiencing something similar, i.e. AA/NA
Ensure that you’ve a solid routine and stick to it.
Be completely honest with yourself – keep a journal to track your thoughts/shifts in moods/feelings, etc
Talk.
Get a sponsor.
Avoid things that will trigger you (whatever they may be. I’m sure you’re aware of your own triggers)
Believe that you can do this
Take each day one at a time.

wundayatta's avatar

Well, the obvious answer is don’t drink. But I gather you don’t have the control for that. One thing that helps is to stop hanging out with people who drink. Change your friends. If you can, change your family—or stop going to see them so much. If you are of the religious bent, you might consider becoming Mormon or Muslim.

lillycoyote's avatar

What I was going to say is what @wundayatta already mentioned. Stop hanging out your drinking buddies, that’s for sure. One good tip I think.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Here’s what worked for me. I’ve heard from lots of friends that it worked for them too.
1. Join a 12-step program
2. Get a sponsor.
3. Work the steps like your life depended on it.
4. Go to lots of meetings.
5. Read the Big Book.
6. Pray even if you don’t believe.

Give it a shot. What have you got to lose?

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @wundayatta that being with people who don’t drink can make it easier, the optimum being people who don’t drink because they simply don’t, rather than because they are recovering alcoholics. I could be wrong, because some might say the recovering alcohol will get where you are coming from psychologically better, but I think most alcoholics have no idea there are many of us out there who simply don’t drink, or can take it or leave it easily. I don’t drink, and I am not Mormon or Muslim, I am Jewish, and not religious, and my husband and I laugh at how much money people throw out on alcohol, such a waste.

Also, I recommend finding a new habit that is more productive, like exercise, or painting, meditating, writing, something that will fill your brain when you are stressed, unhappy, bored, whatever it is that causes you to want to drink. And, definitely avoid situations that are triggers, don’t get all cocky and feel like you should be anle to handle it, why even torture yourself.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Having a number of friends who have been sober for a long time, AA is the only way to go. If alcoholism runs in your family, counseling may also help level set what normal social interactions without alcohol are like; it certainly helped my best friend, and transformed his life.

While I probably don’t drink as much as @JLeslie doesn’t drink, I have never ordered a full bottle of wine in a restaurant, and probably drink at most 10 – 12 drinks in a whole year. I like the taste of bourbon, but I just don’t drink it.

The one thing that probably stops me from drinking is that when you drink, alcohol controls you. I had enough of control from my mom growing up, that I don’t want anything controlling me, especially when it doesn’t have my best interests at heart.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Um… don’t drink? Just a thought.

truecomedian's avatar

@CaptainHarley
Geez, been trying to do that for ten years. I don’t drink much now, but switched to other things, prescription drugs. I am prescribed a popular stimulant, and I go through a months supply in a few days. Then I drink to calm me down. It’s been going on for awhile because I found other sources for the drug and Ive been doing it for months. It’s pretty mild, I’m not a hardcore junkie yet. Ha, thanks for the response.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@truecomedian, if you’ve replaced drinking with something else, then you really need to double team the issues that are at play, and learn how to manage the need to fill the hole in another way.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh my. This does change things a little. You really are not handling it well yourself. Stopping drinking, but using other chemicals to handle life is not really doing any better. Many people are dual diagnosis, have other mental issues they need to address, and the chemical dependency is a way to self medicate. If this might be the case for you, a psych evaluation could help you tremendously. Of course, it is possible you simply have an addictive personality, or your brain is wired in a way that makes you predisposed.

jaytkay's avatar

I agree with previous posters, don’t hang around with drinkers. They may be lovely people, they may be close family, they may be your best friends, they may not abuse alcohol – but you have a health problem which they aggravate.

@CaptainHarley Um… don’t drink? Just a thought.

I guess you haven’t had substance abuse problems in your family, and I am happy for you.

Like depression, alcoholism is a disease which is sometimes regarded as a moral failing. There is a huge mental/behavioral aspect, but it is a disease nonetheless, and moralizing & lecturing are not effective treatments.

JLeslie's avatar

Who is saying it is a moral failure?

jaytkay's avatar

@JLeslie Who is saying it is a moral failure?

I wrote that, I think simple admonitions to “do not drink” are accusations of weakness & moral failure.

JLeslie's avatar

@jaytkay I disagree, but I can see how the sarcasm might feel that way to the person who is having a tough time trying to overcome their addiction. I don’t know many people who associate addiction with morality. I guess some people might see it as a weakness, is that what you mean? I think the majority of people understand it is very difficult to quit.

jaytkay's avatar

@JLeslie I think the majority of people understand it is very difficult to quit.

And yet we have heard in this thread that the solution is “don’t drink”. That is what I was addressing.

JLeslie's avatar

@jaytkay as I said, I perceive it as sarcasm, I could be wrong. Meaning I think the people answering know it is not that easy. I myself, the first thing that popped into my head was don’t drink, but I realize that is easy for me, but difficult for the OP. @wundayatta summed it up well, stating basically exactly that.

Coloma's avatar

Think of your liver, all that booze and other drugs…poor little over worked liver.

Read up on what it’s like to die from liver disease, look at pictures of diseased livers, work a program, and yes, avoid ‘friends’ that tempt you.

jaytkay's avatar

@JLeslie I perceive it as sarcasm

OK, I will take it as that. Better for my blood pressure, anyway. Thank you.

JLeslie's avatar

@jatkay I understand really. It’s that you are in a place where you are very sensitive to how people might view alcoholism, cometely understandable, and other people, who mean no harm, don’t realize how the words impact you. I see this in conversations on race and religion all of the time. A person does not have mal intent, but says something that they think is a little pebble, and it falls like a boulder on the other person.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I suspect that some of you on here are seriously underestimating your ability to exercise self-control. You have willpower, whether you believe it or not. My comment was not intended as sarcasm, it was intended to illustrate that whether you drink or not, whether you use drugs or not, whether you abuse sex or not, or any of the hundreds of other addictions, you DO have control over yourself! And anyone who tells you that you don’t is full of crap!

chyna's avatar

Not to be an ass, but @JLeslie and @jaytkay, you have both stopped being helpful to the poster and seem to be arguing amongst yourselves.

Pandora's avatar

Figure out why do you have the desire to destroy your life. Its not enough to quit and change friends or your whole life if you don’t understand what needs to change and why you give in to your addiction.
Otherwise you can quit and you will rebound back. You need to find the source of your addiction. Its not the drink that is your real weakness, its your desire to run from something else. Alcohol just makes it possible, and makes it so you don’t have to face it.
Some people drink because they always felt they were a loser. So it was easier to drink and hide behind the drinking as a reason to their failure than own up and have to really work hard for the things they want out of life.

jaytkay's avatar

@chyna OK, point taken, I am outta here

JLeslie's avatar

I stand corrected, it seems @CaptainHarley has little empathy. Although, I am not sure it still counts as a moral failing from his point of view.

judochop's avatar

@JLeslie I stand with @CaptainHarley. You’d be surprised at what you can do when you really want to do it.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna Well, I had hoped I could reassure the poster people understand it is difficult during that back and forth. I didn’t think it was a total waste.

@judochop I too agree that the OP can do it, that he can overcome his addiction. I am not trying to coddle him. But, portraying it as easy is not helpful in my mind. If he slips, then he has to feel like total shit about himself, how is that helpful? We all have struggles in our lives, showing some empathy for the struggle helps a person know they are not alone, not less than. Your attitude and @captainharleys is dismissive.

YARNLADY's avatar

Drink lots of lemonade mixed with Sierra Mist or other Lemon-lime soda. When you are at parties, drink only sodas. If you want the high you get with alcohol, run hard for an hour or more, or jog for a couple of hours.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@truecomedian Do you have children?

johlucmoha's avatar

Trying to stay sober is hard when you are around people that drinks.
Reading “ONE DAY AT A TIME IN AL-ANON” helps a lot.
and also “THE LITTLE RED BOOK” the twelve steps.
If you can, read it everyday it helps. Try to work the steps
Google has groups you can join online, that is another source of help for recovery
for a better you. It works if you work it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Here’s a different tact. Think of the money spent. How many $ per day are you sending into the toilet? Now multiply by 30 to get per month. What else could you be doing with that money?
Do a simple math problem. How much would that monthly payment be worth in 10 years if it was invested at 3%. The answer is shocking.
Good luck to you.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@JLeslie

There are many, many people who would take great issue with that. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for people may be to wake them up to the fact that they can do far more than they thought.

JLeslie's avatar

@CaptainHarley I think we can do both at once.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Of course.

JLeslie's avatar

@worriedguy that is why I took vacations in college and my friends didn’t. 8 weeks of drinking was the same as a flight to FL and some spending money.

wundayatta's avatar

@CaptainHarley How do you know people can do more than they thought? How can you be so confident that this generalization is true? Sure, some people have surprised themselves, but to make the leap from some people to say that all people are capable of more than they thought—that’s an awfully big assumption.

Generally, to tell people they are capable of more than they thought can be even worse than useless. For people who try hard to quit, and fail, and they know everyone else could quite because they are all capable of doing more than they thought, means that you are not just an ordinary drunk; you are a failure as a person because you can’t quit just by deciding to. Makes you drink twice as much, actually.

Tough love may work with a few people, but I think its effectiveness is vastly overrated. What most successful stop drinking programs do is they help the person take the pressure off themselves. AA even says that the first step is to admit your are powerless. I.e., you can’t stop yourself. It’s not in you.

But that’s ok. No one else can stop themselves either. So give up. Stop trying to stop. Just live and start living as you want to live. Take it a day at a time. You’re not quiting. You’re just not drinking today. You can handle that. Just today. We know you can’t quit. We know you have no self control. That’s ok. No one else does either. Just today, though, we’ll do something else other than drinking.

People who are failures require acceptance and understanding. They do not need to be told that if they just tried harder, and if they just developed a little bit or morality, they’d be able to quit. That just judges them and labels them as complete fuck-ups.

People can perform quite fine when the pressure is off. But taking the pressure off is almost impossible in a moralistic and judgmental society such as the one we live in. And another funny thing. If you let the pressure off, people relax and hey! Guess what? They don’t need a drink to help them relax—at least not today.

So many people have no clue what kind of pain their fellow humans are in. At least, I don’t think they would say “you can do more than you thought” if you had any idea what kind of pain requires lots of drugs to make tolerable. People don’t become addicted just for fun. They become addicted because it’s the only thing they know that can give them enough sight of absence of pain in order to be willing to live for another day.

What people in pain need is forgiveness. They need to know they are ok as they are, and they can stop trying to perform—trying to look normal. When you give up, you can start to be yourself without hating yourself. Then you can begin to deal with all the crap that turned you into a failure. Which is only an idea, but such a powerful idea.

Failure is a hell of a place to be. It may be hard, but some, maybe even many of the most accomplished people believe themselves to be failures. Us less accomplished people can’t even begin to compare to someone who can actually do something good, so we must be even more of a failure than they are. Ah fuck. What’s the point? I’ll get me a gun and blow my head off.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Thought you might find this of interest.

Study Says Alcohol More Lethal Than Cocaine or Heroin:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=12018645

CaptainHarley's avatar

You have to trust me when I say that I DO know what sort of pain people are going through!

YARNLADY's avatar

@wundayatta good answer – PEOPLE read his answer.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Everyone has courage. Everyone has willpower. It’s just that some have learned where it is and how to use it better than others have. I realize it’s hard. Nothing worth HAVING is easy! But once you find yours and begin to use it, it becomes more and more easy. Your mind is a marvelous creation. It can sense the difference between who you truly are and who you have been forced to become. Introspection will reveal the strength within if only you can push past all the crap! When you look inside and find something negative about yourself, repeat “cancel, cancel, cancel” until you can push past it. Eventually, you will FIND the courage that is buried deep within.

I KNOW this is all true, because I had to do it myself! You HAVE to believe that you are a worthwhile human being with all the same capabilities others display. If another human has done whatever you want to do, then YOU can do it TOO! Have faith in yourself. Believe in yourself! God does NOT make junk!

Charles's avatar

Try this. At quitting time, around 5–530PM, middle of the week, like Tuesday or Wednesday, drive to a local liquor store, sit in your car in the parking lot and watch the people walking into store. Some of them will be random consumers. But a lot of them will be alcoholics. Depressed looking, maybe red faces, black circles under the eyes. They aren’t drinking because they’re depressed. They’re depressed because they drink. Look at them. Ask yourself if you want to be like them.
In the morning, driving to work hungover, feel your liver. Is it a little sore? Does that scare you?
Go for a routine physical. Ask your doctor if any of your blood data indicate liver damage. There are several biomarkers (AST/ALT (SGOT/SGPT) of liver problems. He’ll know.

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