How to Stop Drinking on your Own | Without AA or Rehab
Want to Stop Drinking Wine every day?
I did too. Since beginning this series 5 years ago, I’ve heard from many of you. You want to stop drinking wine every day. You just needed a nudge. You were grateful to learn that you weren’t alone in your thoughts and concerns, but you wanted ideas to stop drinking on your own.
First, I am not a doctor nor do I play one on the internet. If your body is physically dependent on alcohol, if you quit suddenly, you can have seizures and die. If you found this article in a moment of clarity, and you are dependent on alcohol, you do need medical help with it. This is not for you.
This is for the average adult who is not happy with their drinking habits, but finding it hard to stop.
And, if you’re like me, you do not like the AA message. Honestly, I’m glad it has helped so many. But first, I do not identify as Christian. Second, I do not identify as powerless over alcohol. Sobriety is something I have chosen and have power over. I found it challenging to change my behavior, but I did not need rehab.
Moms and Alcohol
You know you’ve seen it in your Facebook feed. The red faces, droopy eyes, sloppy smiles, and a raised glass. You see it and wonder if you’d be drinking if you were at that party or outing. For most suburban moms, our Facebook feeds are filled with wine. Right?
You want to stop, just not sure if you can. How do you not give in to the pressure? It amazes me that I’m almost 50 and there is still peer pressure, but there is. How can Moms can stop drinking wine if there is wine everywhere?
I participated in the “Cosmopolitan trend” of the 1990s and 2000s. Drank more than my fair share of vodka during those years. But this wine trend seems to have more staying power and feels more prevalent.
While I didn’t have kids back then, I don’t see myself getting out the shaker and whipping up a Cosmo while I fix the kids dinner. But boy-oh-boy, I’ve certainly poured many glasses of wine doing that same chore.
Think of the mom-friendly wine events that are constantly on our Facebook feeds:
- wine tastings
- wine pairings-cheese, cupcakes, chocolate, Easter candy (yep, saw it)
- wine and painting
- wine and pottery
- wine and playdates (yes, really)
- girls night out with lots of wine
- wine and bird watching
- wine festivals
- wine fundraisers to support any and every charity you can imagine
Need I go on? Ok, I will.
And keep in mind, this is just shirts. Don’t forget the dish towels, purses, tchotchkes to put around your house, beach towels, jewelry, hair things, hats and visors, glasses, mugs, decanters and more. If you want a wine-mom meme on something, you don’t have to look very hard to find it.
Everywhere, it’s everywhere.
In the Suburban Mom culture, Wine is Everywhere.
So what can you do? You want to stop or cut back on drinking wine. Hey, the reasons why are yours and yours alone. (ok, maybe your family too) But you don’t owe that explanation to anyone.
I don’t care to know if you think you have a drinking problem or not. That’s up to you. But if you want to quit and are finding it hard because it’s all around you, then this is for you.
Please note, I am not a doctor nor do I play one on the internet. There are some real and fatal risks to quitting alcohol if your body is truly addicted to it. Ugly stuff like seizures and death. If you think that you are addicted, please seek professional help.
I was just a casual drinker who stopped drinking. For me, it was about my personal health, my weight gain in my 40s, my family history, and other things.
Because I’ve heard from many of you. Many who were encouraged and happy to know they weren’t alone. Many who aren’t physically addicted, but having trouble stopping because of their environment.
Despite having nothing to do with IEPs, my posts about my drinking are some of the most read posts here. So let’s get started.
Just a reminder: I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on the internet. I was not chemically addicted to alcohol. Mine was behavioral. A true chemical dependency on alcohol requires medical supervision. Please seek help if you need it.
How to Stop Thinking about Alcohol
The first year is the hardest. You have to go through every normal holiday and season without alcohol. I made it through the Christmas holidays and then it was summer.
Summer means we drink at the beach! I had to relearn how to enjoy myself at our rented beach house.
While I really don’t agree with the AA protocols, I do find comfort in the saying “One day at a time.” The reason I don’t like AA is because their philosophy is that we are ‘powerless’ over alcohol. I am powerful! Not powerless.
But “One Day at a Time” resonates with me. If I get the feeling about alcohol, I do a few things.
- Remind myself that this feeling will pass.
- Envision what it looks like waking up with and without a headache.
- Look forward to the day when I am just “not drinking” and alcohol does NOT take up any more of my thoughts. Ever.
Alcohol is a known carcinogen! There is no safe amount of alcohol.
I do not want it occupying my thoughts anymore, but I will settle for “just for today.” I don’t want to stop drinking wine “every day.” I want to not drink wine today. Just today.
How to Stop Drinking
How do you stop drinking, when it seems to be everywhere?
First, when the urge comes on, go through the motions in your head. No one ever wakes up sober and says, “Gee! I sure wish I had a bad headache or hangover right now.” Think about the headache, the hangover, being groggy, sluggish, tired…whatever it is.
Appeal to Your Own Vanity
One night when I had a few glasses of wine, I caught sight of my reflection. I didn’t like what I saw. So, I took two pictures of it–one with my glasses and one without.
I keep them and sometimes I revisit them–sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. (And hell no, I’m not sharing them.)
But when I see them, I see my alcoholic father. I look tired, drawn, droopy, sloppy, overweight, and much older than I actually am. I don’t look like that now–but I did.
Seriously, go look at sober hashtags on IG for before and after pictures. And take a before picture. Keep it as a reminder.
Tips to Stop Drinking
- You are not the only one. Let’s go back to what I said earlier in this post. First, this audience is 96% female and 95% of them have kids. This is a mom-blog, through and through. And I hear from you. Many have thanked me for speaking up about it because they felt so similar. So that is Tip 1. Know that you are not alone even if feels that way.
- Calculate the costs. Sit down with your bank statements from the past 90 days. Add up all your alcohol purchases. What do you think? How is that for an incentive? Now, think of something that costs half that amount. In 90 days, put half into savings. The other half-buy yourself/family a healthy splurge.
- Surround yourself with Sobriety. On Facebook and IG, follow all the hashtags and sober sites that resonate with you. For me, it serves as a constant reminder that there are lots of other people out there like me–who do not want to drink alcohol. As I scroll through my feed and see my favorite sports teams, I am constantly reminded that I am a choosing a healthy, sober lifestyle. Follow sober hashtags and people on Twitter and Instagram. Like #SoberLife #SoberCurious #SoberMom #SoberLiving . These provide inspiration and reassurance that I am not the only person who is doing this. On social media, you’ll see it referred to as “Sober Lit,” short for literature. Read it when you need it!
- Ask your spouse, friend or even an app to join you for support. If they won’t, you can do this on your own. Yes, there are apps! I use Quitzilla, and I Am. Sure, I don’t read every notification every day, but even when I ignore them–it serves as a reminder to not drink.
- Make it harder for you to get alcohol. For me, when I go grocery shopping, all I have to do is leave my driver’s license at home. In PA, you cannot buy alcohol without it, no matter your age. I have no choice but to only buy groceries and resist the temptation if I’m having a bad week.
- Consider changing your habits or environment until you are secure in this. It might mean turning down social invitations until you are more confident in saying no. When I’m doing something that normally would have had a glass of wine attached to it, it’s hard. I still want that wine sometimes, but have a weight loss goal. And the money goal.
- Read articles about the health benefits of not drinking alcohol. Remind yourself why you’re doing this. I have some book recommendations below. And, This Naked Mind also has a podcast which helps.
- Think of your kids. No, really. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. But I don’t have great childhood memories because there was always this fog of alcohol around everything we did as a family. I don’t want that for my kids. What memories are you leaving? Ask your kids how they feel about it. One reader said she was surprised when her 10-year-old admonished her with “Hey! you said you were going to stop drinking wine!” She didn’t realize how much it was bothering her.
- We’ve been lied to. For decades we’ve been told that a “moderate” amount of drinking is not bad. Hell, it’s even good for you! It’s not. Dig deeper, be smarter. Really look at studies, who is behind them and what the results were. I 1000% believe that in 50 years we’re going to look at alcohol the way we look at smoking now.
- Have a plan for Wine-O-Clock. Mine is to leave the house. For me, a huge deterrent is having to drive. I do not drink and drive. So if I’m not home, I won’t drink. Now I run more errands in the evening. When going out, offer to be the designated driver.
- Read and Listen. There are great podcasts and books out there all about this new Sober Curious movement. “This Naked Mind” is one of my favorites. Start there, and you’ll hear about others.
- Find a replacement. For me, it’s been an herbal tea. Granted, when it was 90 degrees out, wasn’t that enjoyable. So I switched to seltzer. Sometimes, when I get the urge to sit on my back patio with a glass of wine, I grab a dog leash and go for a walk instead. By the time I return, the urge has passed.
- “I need a hobby to stop drinking.” I hear you! What have you given up since having kids? I’m focusing on my health and spending time at the health club. I’m also reading more at night. But find something that ignites interest in you and pursue it.
- Have a canned response ready. You’re still going to be asked. So have a response ready. Anything from a simple “No, thank you” to “I’m cutting carbs.” Whatever works.
- Be you. You are an individual and you can do this. For whatever reason, you’ve decided that you want to stop. And you can, regardless of what is going on around you.
Good luck, and I love hearing from you!