When will I stop craving alcohol?
Every so often a beautiful soul will ask me:
“Bex, do you still crave or miss drinking? I understand that time helps make it easier, but how long did it take until you didn’t miss or crave it?”
In Chapter 9 of A Happier Hour, and all throughout Sexy Sobriety, we often talk about the way ending our relationship with alcohol can feel like the heartbreak of ending any other relationship.
I swear I cried more in the first two months of sobriety than I ever had in my entire life. I cried because I missed it; I cried because I couldn’t imagine the rest of my life without it. It felt devastating that something so stupid could have such an incredible hold over me.
But just like with any breakup, it gets easier. At each milestone – one month, three months, six months – I felt increasingly bigger shifts.
As much as I wish I could tell you it happens quickly, the whole process is more of a slow healing. Some days might feel amazing, like you’ve escaped a poisonous relationship and are free to start again. Others might feel like a long, slow drudge.
Personally, although I had some fabulous days in between, it took a good eight months or so before I started to notice that I didn’t even miss alcohol anymore.
But if I had to do it all over again, I know there are five things in particular that really help the process along:
1. Let Go.
Deep down, I knew that my relationship with alcohol was toxic, but that didn’t stop me from pining for our life together.
Sadly, so much of my prolonged suffering was the result of me wanting to keep one foot in my new life (sans alcohol) and one firmly in the old one (stuck in my ridiculous old love-hate relationship with drinking).
It’s only natural to grieve for a relationship that may have formed when you were still just a girl; a teenager. It’s normal to see other people drinking (ie: hanging out with your ex) and feel resentful. But resist the urge to romanticise or glamorise the love affair you had.
Remember instead all the crap that relationship put you through – all the times you fell over, lost things, said things you regret, woke up in strange places, and argued with the people who meant the most to you. Remember the morning-after downwards spiral of shame, nausea and paranoia.
Avoid ‘Facebook Fantasyland’ and any other social media channels that display a highlight reel. And ignore your ex (alcohol) when they promise, “It’ll be different this time.” Of course it won’t. It’ll be the exact same drama they’ve always put you through. It always is.
One way to move forward more quickly and minimise your suffering, is to well and truly let go. Make up a little breakup ritual if you’d like to. Remove all alcohol bottles and accessories from your home altogether. Restock your fridge with entirely new drinks and snacks. Signify the end of a relationship that did not serve you.
A break up doesn’t mean it’s the end of our lives; it simply means it’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of potentially an entire new story. Where will your new story take you?
2. Take Great Care of Yourself.
It’s a well-worn trope that the newly-single often treat themselves to a new hairdo, but sometimes these things are cliched for a reason! Do whatever makes you feel your best. Now’s the the time to experiment with a new look, or a new routine.
It’s okay if you eat more junk food or sugar in the first few weeks of sobriety (I certainly did). But eventually you’ll crave a change, and the thing is – the more you look after yourself, the more you’ll want to.
Lavish your broken heart with self care, in any and every form. Sink into a bubble bath, take yourself to a day spa, or get a massage. Hire someone to help you with your finances, delegate some tasks at work, or bring someone in to clean your home. Nourish your body with healthy food, find movement you love, and give yourself the gift of early nights.
Do whatever you need to to ensure you feel well cared for and loved. Remind yourself, with every little action, of this incredible new life you’re creating for yourself. Because there truly is so much to look forward to.
3. Shake it Off.
A fun and savvy trick that can also help the process along? Breakup songs!
As two of our Sexy Sobriety Members shared:
“ Associating drinking with a bad relationship helps me greatly. I’m a huge music fan and love ‘angry chick songs’ about bad relationships.
My favorite thing to do when I’m singing along at the top of my lungs in the car is to replace the ‘boyfriend’ with the bottle or alcohol! I tell ya, it works for every breakup song and helps to get that angst out and remind myself that I am a badass!
The absolute best song to switch out the person with alcohol is Fighter by Christina Aguilera! So empowering. Listen to every word, it totally works! ”
“ I actually built a whole Spotify playlist for this purpose! I call it “Roar,” and over time it has grown to over 150 songs.
I started by only adding songs with upbuilding lyrics. The way I see it, singing is like repeating affirmations over and over, so might as well make them a positive message! ”
I love this concept so much, and they’re right – it absolutely works! I like to picture the face of The Beast (or the Wine Witch!) whenever I sing:
- Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Pat Benatar (okay, so this one probably ages me, ha!).
- I’m Still Standing – Elton John
- Since You’ve Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
- Stronger – Kelly Clarkson (I mean, pretty much any of Kelly’s songs, right?)
Give it a try! Pick out a few favourite songs and discover how empowered they make you feel.
4. Try New Things.
Let’s face it, going to the same places as your ex, with the same old friends who all worship your ex, is going to make it that much harder to move on.
A great post-breakup strategy is to shake up the way you socialise (and avoid seeing your ex altogether!). Rather than meeting friends at the pub or catching up over a bottle of wine, make plans to meet for a scrumptious brunch at a cafe with a view, or organise a fun daytime activity you can do together, like long beach walks, a ceramics class, or yoga.
A relationship that we’re unhappy in (thank you very much, hangovers, shame and regret) can be a huge drain on our time, money, and attention. Embrace the chance to channel all that energy into trying new things.
What are you passionate (or even a little bit curious) about? Maybe you’ve always loved to write, draw, paint, scrapbook, take beautiful photos, redecorate, cook, or play an instrument.
Make a plan to fill those hours you would have normally spent drinking. Switch up your routine. Go for a walk before making dinner, if that’s a time you’d usually drink. Take the dog or kids to a new park. Experiment in the kitchen by cooking up a storm or baking. Read (or listen to) a book.
On the weekends, if you’d usually sink into the couch with a few drinks in front of the TV, head out to the cinema or to see a live theatre show instead. Or change things up and watch a movie in bed with some fancy chocolate and a cup of herbal tea. Travel to a new place (day trips count too!).
You’re only limited by your imagination!
Trying new things, taking on new challenges, having a purpose, and having something to look forward to, all boost our self-esteem, fulfilment and happiness. They make it easier to remain focused on what we’re gaining, rather than what we fear we’ve given up.
So write a list of things you’ve always wanted to do, and head on out and try them!
5. Trust the Process.
Oh boy, do I remember how impatient I felt in those first few weeks and months of early sobriety. How frustrated I was at the sheer amount of emotional work it took to heal my relationship with alcohol and myself.
How I wished for the hard part to be over so I could just get to the good part, for crying out loud!
It felt so scary to be making so many huge life changes with no guarantee that it would ever pay off.
It’s only now, with hindsight, that I can look back and see that those challenging days were the ones that changed me the most.
Those days, full of tears and frustration, were where the magic happened; where I built the strong foundation for my present reality. They taught me so many lessons, including trust, self-kindness, and resilience – traits that have come in handy no end in the years since.
Within those darkest days, the true healing happened.
Trust the slow pace, angel. The healing is happening within, even when you can’t see it or feel it. Even if it takes longer than you want it to.
Anything worthwhile in life takes time, devotion – and a whole crap-ton of patience. Keep going. You WILL get there.
You are amazing, and so much stronger than you know.
PS. Which of these resonates with you most? Come share with me on Facebook or Instagram!
And if you need some help to go deeper into your sobriety mindset, I have a ton of resources for you!
Start by watching a free special screening of one of our most popular coaching videos – Why Sobriety vs. Moderation.
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