How to Quit Drinking and Stay Sober
These tips on how to quit drinking will help you stay sober because they’re from people who struggle with alcoholism or problem drinking. The best way to battle this addiction is to learn how others quit drinking – and then find what works for you.
I always feature a book at the top of my articles, so readers can get more information. One of my Twitter friends, Maija H, told me about The Easy Way to Stop Drinking. and I’m stunned at the hundreds of positive reviews.
Here’s what one reader said about this book: “I was a confirmed alcoholic, deep into my drinking. I tried AA, was in-patient rehab twice, and in out-patient chemical dependency treatment once. Alcohol wreaked havoc in my life. [The ways to stay sober] never worked for me, and even seemed to create more urge to drink. So I viewed Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Drinking with great skepticism. This would not work, after all none of the “conventional” methods had. But, this book systematically changed my thinking. I realized I no longer had any desire to drink. I know it seems crazy that a book could do so much. But it has. I am now a non-drinker.”
If you need ways to stay sober – other than the 12 step Alcoholic Anonymous programs – get The Easy Way to Stop Drinking. It may not work for every alcoholic, but it can’t hurt…and it just might save your life.
8 Ways to Quit Drinking
Here’s the reader’s comment that inspired me to write this article:
“Hi Laurie…thanks for your words of wisdom. If there were more responses here, I would give my 2 cents. I was actually searching for alternative ways to stay sober, and to not feel so empty.” – from How to Stop Being Lonely.
Embrace the emptiness – it’s unavoidable
Existential angst leads us to keep drinking. I don’t think it’s the alcohol that’s the original problem. The alcohol was the solution that became the problem…and the original problem was the pain and emptiness of existential angst.
Every few weeks, I’m overwhelmed with feelings of what I believe is existential angst. What am I doing here – what’s the purpose of life? What does it all mean? Why are we getting up, trudging to work, and coping with the same old sh*t every day?
I deal with my feelings of loneliness and emptiness by writing in my journal about how lonely and empty I feel. I also veer into binge eating sometimes and drinking sometimes…but mostly I just feel empty, sad, and lonely. I think feeling empty and lonely is part of being a human who is in touch with his or her soul.
Find people who are cut from the same cloth
My husband and I can’t have kids (infertility caused by azoospermia). Spending time with friends with kids is bittersweet – mostly it’s fun because we play with the kids and don’t have to worry about discipline, health, money, bullying, or the thousands of other responsibilities that children bring. But sometimes it’s sad and depressing, because we really did want to have kids.
My favorite people to spend time with are other couples who can’t have kids – and who aren’t morose or depressed because of it.
How does this relate to your urge to drink? I think you need to spend time with people who feel the same way – who are cut from the same cloth. But not just any old alcoholic will do! Find people you respect, admire, like, and enjoy spending time with. One of the best ways to stay sober is to surround yourself with people who have been there, done that – and succeeded.
If one of your loved ones can’t stay sober, read How to Help Your Alcoholic Brother or Sister.
Be honest about how hard it is to stay sober
Here’s what Dick, a lawyer in recovery, says:
“But I will share a hard moment recently during a night out for my wife’s birthday at a nice Italian restaurant, watching other diners enjoy their wine. “Ah, a glass of nice red Italian wine would be nice, I thought…” So the disease is always just below the surface, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. My wife asked me if I was ok, and in the past I would have gnashed my teeth and said I was fine. But I was honest and said, no I wasn’t ok, I was have a hard time. I felt bad for her because she doesn’t know what it’s like. But fortunately the food came shortly after and the hand-rolled pancetta tortellini with cream sauce wiped out that craving completely! They say food kills the appetite…and in this case, the craving.” ~ from The Sober Lawyer.
Every day, you live with the fact that staying sober is brutal – and some days are worse than others. Instead of swallowing the pain, be honest about your craving for a drink.
Soothe yourself in other ways – not with alcohol
I’d love to have a glass (or two of wine) every evening while I cook dinner, but I worry about slip sliding into alcoholism. I have to force myself not to drink every night, even though some health experts say a glass of red wine a day is fine. For me, it’s not fine. Sometimes I start thinking about that glass of wine at noon, and that bothers me.
I’ve found that my favorite way to stay sober is to make plans that extend into Happy Hour. I schedule late meetings, late dog walks, and early movies. I’m not sure “distracting yourself” is the most alternative of ways to stay sober, but it really works for me.
Or, I could soothe myself – that may be a good way to distract myself from drinking. I found a good list of self-soothing practices on Louise’s Letting Go (a blog about recovering from alcoholism).
Figure out what need alcohol fills
Why do I love to drink every evening? For many reasons! Sometimes I’m starving at 5 pm, and a glass of wine cuts my hunger so I don’t snack. Sometimes I’ve had a hard or sad day, and like the lift wine brings. Sometimes I’m exhausted – like last night – and drink wine because it perks me up.
If you’re looking for a way to stay sober, maybe you need to figure out what alcohol did for you…and find other ways to fill that need. Sometimes it’s a family issue that leads us to problem drinking, as described in The Favorite Child is Less Likely to Use Drugs and Alcohol.
Feel and deal with your emotional pain
Here’s Mrs D’s take on being sober:
“So take away the booze and what helps with dealing with that emotional pain? Sometimes it’s nothing. Sometimes you just have to feel the g**damn pain and let it out. For me this means I cry a lot more (I’m getting used to not caring if people see me cry. Not much chance of hiding my tears lately). This also means I’m angrier more and am less tolerant with my kids (especially at the end of a long day). I hate this, it makes me feel really guilty and I’m trying hard to quit drinking while also trying not to beat myself up about it. ~ from Mrs D Is Going Without.
Are you drinking to avoid your past, present, or future? It’s time to feel that pain. Feel the loneliness, emptiness, existential angst, and bleakness that life brings. Better to feel the pain of how you really feel, than deal with the hangover.
Find alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous
I’ve never been to an AA meeting, but when I was reading through the readers’ comments about The Easy Way to Stop Drinking, I discovered that the infamous 12 step program doesn’t work for everyone! That surprised me – I really thought AA was the solution.
When you’re trying different tips on how to quit drinking, remember that what worked for Joe won’t necessarily work for you. The book about quitting drinking worked for lots of people, but it may not help you.
Make a list of reasons you want to quit drinking
Mrs D made a list of things she doesn’t miss about drinking – they range from hangovers to guilt to obsessing about how much wine is in the house. Have you done that? Make your list in the comments section here, on your iPhone, or a piece of paper. Read it every time you’re lonely, bored, and craving a drink.
I like this idea. I made a list of reasons I shouldn’t binge and purge (bulimia), and it helped me reign in my addiction to emotional eating. It doesn’t stop the craving, but it does help you stay sane. Sober.
I welcome your thoughts on how to quit drinking. I can’t offer advice, but writing may help you gain insight and clarity.
May you find the ways to quit drinking that work for you, and may sobriety embrace you like a glove.