...But you just can't seem to do it. Here are some simple recommendations I was given in my first few weeks of sobriety that kept me from the automatic hand-to-mouth I'd been doing with a beer can for fifteen years; The pre-programmed autopilot that was deeply installed in my hippocampus driving me to associate drinking with waking, eating, socializing, leaving the house, coming home, camping, shopping, etc., etc., etc.
1) Go To an AA Meeting.
There's no magic word that is going to snap you out of the disease, but alas drinking and using are just symptoms of other problems. AA, at first, will help you be somewhere safe where people will be more than willing to help you steer clear of the demon on your shoulder. Unfortunately, there are some really shitty meetings with folks too self-absorbed to help another person suffering and those meetings will drive you to drink. Luckily, there are tons of meetings at all times so if you go to a shitty one, leave and try another. And remember it's not you, there are people in AA who are not perfect, but no one, no matter who they are or what they've done, deserves to be turned away from trying to get better. Over time, however, AA will help you get to the root of your issues and deal with the daily battle of shame, resentment, entitlement, gratitude, fear, etc. through connection and the Twelve steps.
2) Play the Tape
By the time you are reading material about how to quit drinking you usually have a good roster of unfortunate situations you've brought on yourself. Play the tape means you think beforehand of having that first drink, then think about the second and so on. Play the tape all the way through to the next day. If you pick up a drink where will you be tomorrow? In jail? In a gutter? Next to a stranger? In the hospital? As alcoholics our perception is skewered so we have to try to stop our thoughts of having a drink NOW and replace them with doses of reality if we can allow them to filter in. If you desire having a drink think loudly or scream, "Play the tape!" The little guy running the projector in your mind just might do it for you.
3) Call someone designated to help you
It could be a sponsor or it could just be someone you respect and trust. As one Tedtalks I watched suggested 'addiction is the opposite of connection'. Our diseases were isolating and made us tell ourselves all kinds of things about how people don't love us and how we have no one. Many times we are the ones who have alienated ourselves and made it impossible for people to be close. Many people when honestly approached by someone in dire need will be willing to help at least to be available for a phone call. I'm not gonna say this 100% because there's some really miserable people out there. Keep in mind if someone can't help you, you probably don't want their help to begin with.
4) Go online to some sobriety chat rooms
AA has some message boards, but there are many others. I know it sounds trite, but recovery is a constant. Just like drinking was a constant, you now have to fill all those drinking hours with deprogramming, unwinding, reprogramming and learning how to walk again. These chat rooms are always available so if you can't make it to a meeting and play the tape isn't working, you can get on one of these and announce you're having a hard time. It happens frequently and that's what these sites are for. Tell them you are a newcomer and they will be all over that.
5) Message me!
I was once in the same spot so no judgement. Message me through the board and let's see what we can do. I know it's hard to reach out, but it's absolutely necessary if you want to stay sober.
Life does get better, but it takes a blind jump and a lot of faith before you get to see that. Remind yourself everyday that things are going to get better. The first month is extremely difficult. Every month after gets a tiny bit easier.
A writer living in Portland, OR looking to meet Chuck Palahniuk. Single mom to 2 boys, sales agent and lawyer-in-training.