At one time I had one year of sobriety under my belt from November 2007 to November 2008. When I stopped drinking at that time, I had no cravings or desire to drink alcohol again. Life was great. I was having lots of fun and did not miss it at all. I did not even think about it. It was like I had never had alcohol before. Everything was great. So why did I start drinking again you ask? I was on a business trip with some co-workers and they had all ordered an alcoholic drink with dinner which wasn’t unusual. I was used to haging out with people who drank a lot. All the sudden the thought occured to me that I hadn’t had the taste of a good beer in a while. Heck I had not drunk alcohol in a year, and now I knew what not to do. I knew to never drink like I had before, so this time would be different. Before, I was drinking a six pack to 8 beers every night or 2 bottles of wine a night. It had taken a lot of prayer and a miracle from God to stop, and I knew to never drink like that again.
I decided that I could drink in moderation. The official definition of moderation is no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. At the time, my personal idea of drinking in moderation was “drink as much as you want one weekend a month”. So for me that meant like 3 beers Friday night, a six pack on Saturday and another six pack on Sunday. I thought, yes, I can do this once a month no problem. It sounded like a great idea to me…and for a while this worked.
The first four months were great as I was able to stick with drinking just one weekend a month. Then the next four months I decided it was ok to drink two weekends a month…no big deal right? Then it became ok to drink three weekends a month…and you can see where this is going right? Its classic. By the fall of 2009 the Renaissance festival near our town was the place to go on the weekends, and of course you got to drink the tasty beer there in your medieval costume and leather or glass-blown mug. So I started drinking ever weekend, and then added Thursday to my weekends. Well by the time 2010 came around I was full blown back to my old drinking habbit that I had sworn off. I was drinking every night again. I was so very displeased with myself. How could I have let this happen again? After a while beer or wine weren’t enough for me and I switched to Vodka. I couldn’t imagine going back to drinking only one weekend a month. My alcohol consumption just got worse and worse and my need of it more and more. I was unable to get sober again until November 25, 2013.
Now that I have over 2 years of sobriety, I know exactly what will happen if I decide to drink alcohol again. I much prefer my sober life then the hell of drinking again. I want and need to stay sober for my physical and mental well-being. I hope you decide to stay sober too.
During my first year of sobriety, I dedicated most evenings to researching and developing my own personal recovery plan. Having completley surrendered myself to the AA program before and it not working, I knew I would need to tailor a recovery plan just for me. In this day and age there are thousands of resources from books to web sites and youtube videos all dedicated to addiction recovery and staying sober. I poured over these readily available resources to find the right recovery plan for me. Between that, work, and my work-out routine I didn’t have time to think about drinking. Now that you are not drinking, spend an hour every night working on your recovery plan. If you do go to AA and it’s working for you then by all means keep to that program. It doesn’t hurt to add on to your AA 12 steps with other tools that you find helpful in your recovery.
I didn’t just focus on researching sobriety, I also researched “success”, “grit”, and “gratitude”. You could research “achievment” or “reaching goals” or whatever else comes to your brain. You are smart and don’t need to be spoon-fed, so think for yourself. Your worst thinking may have brought you do this low point in your life, but your best thinking can start now and help you recover from addiction. As you research, write down what strikes you as relevant to your sobriety. Soon you will come up with your own formula. Then start implementing your new-found formula as your recovery plan.
Be open to new ideas as you research. At first I didn’t think I would use “gratitude” at all in my recovery and then it ended up being a key element in my plan. So don’t hesitate to try new things and if it works great, if not then throw it to the side for now and maybe come back to it later. You will learn and grow a lot by researching all the resources about achieving sobriety.
The Four Keys to Sobriety; Putting MAGG into practice as my recovery program.
In my previous posts I wrote how I formulated Motivation, Acceptance, Grit and Gratitude(MAGG) as my keys to long-term sobriety. I will now tell you how to put MAGG into practice.
First, write down in a list everything that motivates you to stay sober. They can be simple as-
1. I want to be there for my family.
2. I want to stay physically and mentally healthy.
3. I want to take classes for my degree.
You can also write down in a list everything you will lose if you drink again.
1. I don’t want to lose my job.
2. I don’t want to lose custody of my kids.
Also imagine yourself drinking again and where it will lead. It doesn’t get better. It will always lead back to where you were when you quit and worse. It will lead to your deathbed.
Put these lists on your refridgerator or anywhere else that will help remind you of your motivations for not drinking.
Your second step will be to write down a gratitude list. Write down everything you are grateful for right now. Keep it handy and jot more grateful things down when you think of them.
Think about the term acceptance and what it means to you in staying sober. Do you accept that you will never drink again? I didn’t want to at first. I grieved a lot that I was having to stop drinking alcohol. But I let myself feel that grief and let myself cry and whine that it wasn’t fair. You can also accept that you are a strong person. You don’t need alcohol to cover your feelings. You are strong enough to feel your feelings with out alcohol or any other drug. You also don’t need alcohol to have fun. Accept that you are a wonderful one of kind great human being.
This takes us to Grit. If you don’t have grit, just decide to have grit. You are very strong and powerful and smart. And if you don’t believe that then you need to start beliving you have all those qualities. You can maintain your goal of long-term sobriety through having the perseverence and strength even amid setbacks and failures. Although it will be very frustrating at times, everyone goes through setbacks in their persuit of sobriety. Be patient with yourself. When you have a craving, look back at your motivation list. I also used a journal to jot down things each day to keep busy and on track and balanced.
That is how I put MAGG into practice in my life. I hope it can help you too.
Motivation, Acceptance, Grit, and Gratitude
The 4 keys to Long-term Sobriety
One can list many motivations to not drink alcohol. After a period of sobriety, one of the biggest motivations I use is “thinking it through”. What will happen if I ever do drink an alcoholic beverage? I play the whole movie in my head and it never ends well. After 2 years of sobriety the thought of having an alcoholic drink doesn’t come into my head much at all, but this motivation is what I come back to every time and it works for me. It helps to right down a whole list of motivations and look at them every now and then.
After 2 years of sobriety I still accept that I won’t drink alcohol again. Being sober is my new way of life now and I accept what comes with that. I accept that I am strong enough to feel real feelings and not need alcohol to numb them. I allow myself to feel grief of not being able to drink, or jealousy that others can drink and I can’t. I feel those feelings and move on. I allow my feelings to happen and not feel guilty about them or that they are wrong.
Having the character of Grit helps me maintain my never-ending goal of sobriety. I have the perseverance and tenacity to pursue my goal of sobriety through failures, disappointments and hardships. Grit is a key to success in any goal you are pursuing. It is so easy to give up or ask yourself if sobriety is worth it. It is worth it if you don’t want to be on your deathbed. You are stronger than you think. Sobriety can be a seemingly long, tiresome, emotional process with new things popping up that you don’t expect and have to deal with. Its ok to feel frustrated about it. You will also learn new things and new insights that will add tools to help you progress through this process and down the road you will turn around one day and see how far you have come. Be proud of your successes weather its 30 days or 6 months of sobriety. Reward yourself.
Gratitude. Maybe you can’t drink alcohol any more, but there is so much you have and so much you can do with your life. Write them down. Look at all the things you have to be grateful for. And what new things would you be interested in trying now that you are not spending so much time and money on booze? When I first got sober, I did not have much gratitude. I was more angry that I could not drink anymore and getting myself in that position in the first place. After 2 years of being sober, I have so much to be grateful for. Having gratitude is comforting and brings a sense of peace and happiness in my life.
Guide to long-term sobriety
The equation for Long-Term Sobriety is Willingness to Change which is a given, then (Motivation x Acceptance) + (Grit x Gratitude) = Long-Term Sobriety
Willingness to change is a given in getting sober. You have to have that.
I believe you need one big motivation or several of them to want to stay sober. My motivation was keeping my job. I didn’t want the embarrassment of losing my job to this stupid drug. Maybe your motivation is your health and peace of mind or your family.
I define Grit as having tenacity and persistence to keep going amid challenges and great adversity on a path that is a long-term goal in one’s life. Grit is key to success in anything you peruse.
I believe grit and motivation are 1 huge key to success and long-term sobriety.
The Second big key is the 2nd part of the equation mentioned above.
One needs acceptance in their belief of not ever drinking alcohol again. This can be one of the hardest parts to quitting alcohol. This could involve going through the grief process. After all its like your best friend and lover just died.
Gratitude is necessary too. It is key to happiness which you need in sobriety. If you are miserable in sobriety then what’s the point? Of course life will always have adversity and challenges. Sobriety doesn’t make life automatically wonderful. One may be going through divorce and dealing with huge debt and a lot of relationship and job problems when getting sober. One needs to be grateful in what you do have in life.
I am sure having a great support network can be helpful. I am not a people person so I get support from the internet recovery sites and videos. Some of the sites are SMART Recovery- which includes practical help to stop drinking along with worksheets for you to fill out. Livingsobersucks.com offers the humorous side to quitting alcohol. There are a lot of videos on youtube that have free advice for quitting alcohol too.
Also one needs to find new sober activities to do. You can go bowling without drinking beer. Find a sport you are interested to do. Try painting or another craft that would be fun for you. Find replacement drinks like tea, coffee, and some other non-alcoholic drinks. I personally like drinking sparkling water with a bit of cranberry juice in it in a wine glass. It tastes refreshing.
The final important thing is to believe in yourself. You have the power to quit alcohol. God believes in you and loves you.
The alcohol stop chart – immediate, 6 moths and one year effects of not drinking
What happened when I stopped drinking?
Immediate effects of me not drinking:
I stopped crying every single night
My blood pressure went back down to normal.
I was clear headed at night.
I started working-out more and spent more time on hobbies.
The extremely intense morning anxiety went away.
The being in an “alcoholic fog” in the mornings went away.
Grief of not drinking started running its course
Feeling sorry for myself that I could not drink anymore happened.
Intense craving and urges to drink occurred a lot.
Found great motivation to not drink.
Thoughts of suicide started to disappear.
My hopelessness and despair dissipated.
Research and thirst for knowledge to stay sober.
Effects of not drinking for 6 months:
All anxiety disappeared.
All of my depression almost disappeared.
Intense craving and urges to drink disappeared.
Great feeling of emotional and mental balance.
I lost 15 pounds.
This “heaviness” in my spirit disappeared.
A feeling of “brightness and lightness” in my spirit emerged.
Feeling physically excellent.
A desire to stay sober for the long-term got very strong.
My husband is not worried and stressed out about me anymore.
Feelings of new hope and positivity for the future emerged.
A new found confidence in me emerged.
Developed new goals for the future.
Going for a week or more without thinking about alcohol.
Only small cravings to drink alcohol twice a month or so happen and don’t last long.
Learning that all the activities’ I did while drinking are just as fun with-out drinking…like bowling, golfing, going out to eat, visiting Christmas markets and other festivals.
Replacing alcohol with new hobbies and other types of non alcoholic drinks.
Leaving my alcohol problems and sins in the past and moving forward to the future.
Gained feelings of acceptance in not drinking again and finding gratitude in each day.
Effect of not drinking for one year+
I don’t think of alcohol anymore even going out to a restaurant for dinner.
I am so much more mentally and emotionally stable.
No thoughts of suicide or hopelessness.
Positive out-look on the future.
Other people drinking alcohol around me does not bother me anymore.
My eyes don’t look so tired and sunken-in.
I feel much younger and look like 5 yrs younger than I did before.
Small feeling to drink alcohol again only happens maybe once a month and doesn’t last for more than a minute.
Developed the equation to long-term sobriety and have desire to help others struggling with alcohol.
My friends and family are so proud of me and respect me.
My husband is so happy and proud of me.
I am so happy and grateful to not be a slave of alcohol anymore, and I don’t think about it… I am enjoying moving on with my alcohol-free lifestyle.
I always want to remember how great I feel now compared to before so I don’t get tempted to drink again.
I tell myself that I don’t need to poison my brain with alcohol to have a good time. I have a great time without drinking alcohol and I can sit with other people who are drinking and not be envious.
Hi everyone. Happy new year 2016. It has been a while since my first postings. I am now over 2 years sober and have more insight into what it takes to stay sober long term. I have been in a learning process as to what works to keep me sober. I haven’t been to any AA meetings. I have read books and researched the web to develop my own personal recovery process. I have come up with my own long-term sobriety program called MAGG(Motivation ,Acceptance, Grit and Gratitude). My next post will be my starting to develop MAGG which I first called my equation for long-term sobriety. Then I will post more about MAGG which developed over my 2 years of sobriety. First this next post will reveal how stopping my drinking affected my mind and body.
It has been close to 4 months since my last drink right before Thanksgiving weekend of 2013. My husband and I spent Thanksgiving on the Canary Island of Tenerife. I had initially envisioned this vacation as my last fling with drinking exotic sangrias on the beach watching the sunsets. But due to unforeseen circumstances this vacation would be a sobering up one. I did miss the sangrias a little bit, but the vacation was relaxing and turned out fun anyways. I probably didn’t miss out on anything by not drinking. Unlike a lot of people I never got hangovers no matter how much I drank. I wonder if I would have sobered up sooner if I had been in pain with hangovers….maybe not.
I started seeing an addiction counselor and going to AA to help me stay sober. I had done the whole AA rigamarole thing before and had attended at least 794 meetings over a 2 year period. I really had wanted to quit and sincerely worked the 12 steps with a sponsor and did everything I was supposed to do…..well, it just didn’t work for me. I had been very thorough and honest going through all the 12 steps, and I prayed everyday to have the cravings for alcohol taken away from me. Then I decided maybe I was just going to too many AA meetings. I went to see my pastor instead. We found out what I needed to pray for, and I started saying this prayer every day. I totally quit going to AA meetings. I discovered when I did not go to AA, I did not think about my alcohol problem and started exercising more. Finally after a while of not going to AA at all, my alcohol cravings just vanished and I didn’t have a single alcoholic drink for a whole year. I credit this with the Holy Spirit kicking me and by not going to AA meetings. Naturally after a year of being sober, I thought I could drink again as most normal people do….just having one glass of wine with dinner on a weekend.
So this is my 2nd time of staying sober. I went to AA meetings about 3 times a week for my first 3 months and got my 3rd month sobriety chip. I never did talk at any of these meetings. I am a very quiet and shy person. I just didn’t see how AA was going to really help me this time since it never had before. This time AA did not get me sober. Again God and the possibility of losing my job took away most of my alcohol cravings. My addiction counselor told me to be proactive, and so I decided to make my own recovery plan that would work for me. I started looking into other recovery programs like Rational Recovery and SMART recovery. Also I started reading a lot of books on success and adding their ideas into my recovery plan. I bought some small memo pads and started a “good habit tracker” in which I list all the good habits I am doing like running/playing music ect… It helps me be accountable to them.
Now that I have been sober for over 3 months, I feel mentally a thousand times better. I don’t feel depression or anxiety anymore. I feel much better physically. I have stopped gaining weight….lost a couple pounds and hope to lose some more. My hair stopped falling out. My blood pressure is very good now. I am starting to feel more confident. My cravings are becoming less and less. I hardly think about to have a drink anymore. I have replaced my wine, vodka and beer with lots of tea and water…and a little more chocolate. I am eating a lot healthier as well. My thinking is clearer…it’s like I am coming out of an alcoholic fog. To be continued….