Written by Talitha Cummins
Have you ever woken up after a night of drinking and felt that awful feeling of shame and embarrassment over something you said or did?
Did you go out and do it again? Why? Do you know why you drink? Is it for fun, to give you confidence, to relieve stress, forget about problems or self medicate your mental illness?
These are all important questions in understanding your relationship with alcohol and whether or not it’s a healthy one.
Mine wasn’t. The wheels had fallen off and I was skidding along on the rims for years. Until I was forced to stop. And it all began with Hello Sunday Morning.
I took 12 months off. It’s now 20 months and I haven’t picked up a drink. And I hope to never drink again.
That’s because every area of my life has greatly improved – in this time I met an amazing man and married him in New York, trained for a marathon, lost weight, gained fitness – and am slowly winning back the respect I lost from family and friends – after the stupid and shameful things I did.
I no longer feel anxious about going to work, I have more confidence, I have savings in my bank account and I haven’t woken up wearing a kebab since I stopped drinking.
Why would I risk all of this to go back?
A period of abstinence helps you take control of your life and really assess the role alcohol plays in it.
It’s not easy – but nothing worthwhile is. But believe me, when you achieve your goal it’s incredibly gratifying – and you feel like you can tackle anything.
A couple of tips:
Start a journal and write down ten bad experiences you’ve had relating to alcohol. It can be something embarrassing you’ve done or said or even a killer hangover that kept you in bed for two days. It was such an important tool for me. Use it as a reference during your HSM – it’s a powerful tool if your resolve weakens. If like me you had some awful experiences, it’ll turn your stomach and stop you from picking up a drink.
Replace alcohol with something else. I suggest exercise. Whether it’s walking, running, training for a marathon or cycling. It doesn’t matter, the important thing is you introduce it – and have goals attached to it.
The question so many people ask me is, how do I not drink when all of my friends are?
Don’t put yourself in that situation – recovering gamblers don’t hang out in casinos.
Arrive early, leave early. By 10 o’clock people are usually talking Spanglish – cue to leave.
Explain to friends what you’re trying to achieve before a social engagement.
But most of all, recognise this is something you’re doing for yourself and you don’t need to answer to anyone.