12 tips for your first 90 days of sobriety
We’re coming up to our ‘Life without Alcohol’ event and if you are considering trying on sobriety for size – first of all, congratulations! Secondly, this isn’t easy we know, and we’ll talk about that in more detail on the 30th of June. Finally, there are some things to note before you start – it’s thought that a new habit takes at least three months to kick in. The first month will be the hardest and it gets easier from there. There is work to be done and I have put together a list that might help you get the best out of your first 90 days. From there it can only get better.
1. See your doctor. Make sure the levels of alcohol you are drinking do not need to be medically monitored. Alcohol detox is much more dangerous than heroin detox. Tell them if you are experiencing anxiety and find out if there are any options to see a psychologist in your local medical centre. If not, find out if you can be referred to one.
2. Take a look at doing a 4 week ‘getting started’ course at CADs. CADS NZ employ people who I think are absolute angels on earth. Dedicated and knowledgeable about addiction, their groups are educational, sometimes hysterical and best of all welcoming for everyone. It’s easy to pop in there and register and you won’t regret it. It’s surprisingly enjoyable and it will get you to look at difficult times in life that mean you drink a little more than you should. It’s a gentle way to give yourself some space.
3. Create a safe environment for yourself. The healing process requires that you feel secure at home. This means that you need to clear out anything that’s related to using —no booze in the house!
4. Sleep. Quit the late night computer games, Netflix binges and set a deadline of when lights go off. If you have to have your phone to scroll through fb one last time, make sure you set a timer so ‘nightmode’ comes on about 10pm all the way through to 7am. In the first week or two, you’re likely to not sleep well. You might even have a few nights where you have a couple of hours sleep or less. This is perfectly normal as your brain adjusts to being ‘clean’. Or sometimes conversely you end up sleeping all, the, time. Don’t be scared of either because by about the 90-day mark you’ll start to regulate.
4. This ones is a personal choice, so don’t feel like you have to do this – for the first 90 days, Stay home. You might not feel strong enough to say ‘no’ to people when they offered you a drink. You might be different so do whatever feels right to you.
5. Reward yourself, this is really important. Every single week without booze, buy yourself something. Movie tickets, massage, something for the house, travel, hotels – anything that fills you with joy. Buy it! Don’t be scared of spending that money you otherwise would have spent on booze on something else that you love.
6. Drink!!! – Lots and lots of water!!! Rehydrate that poor liver and clean out all of the toxins. Have sparkling water if you can’t deal with plain tap water. Make sure you go through at least 2 litres a day. Not all at once though!
7. Exercise – Yep I know it sucks but this is your number 1 tool. Anxiety is a build up of adrenaline and cortisol and the only way to burn this off is to work it off. Get some cardio in, running, jogging or swimming. Stick with this and you’ll start to get a natural high off of the endorphins.
8. Eat - Blueberries, turkey, grape juice, and green vegetables. Eat them. Drink them. Healthy mind food. Also, give your body good lean foods. Chicken and turkey and vegetables. This, along with exercise and lots of water will REALLY help. Don’t neglect your gut! Your stomach has a direct line to your brain. They interact. If your gut is feeling crappy, your head will feel crappy, too.
9. Hot baths, hot showers. This one is my absolute go-to when I just can’t handle the stress of the day. Somehow the heat just takes the sting out of wanting a quick fix. I also use steam rooms and saunas the same way. There’s something so satisfying about knowing your body is sweating out and clean of all toxins.
10. Chocolate – this is a hard one if you are trying to cut sugar back. My main advice is that you should quit one thing at a time so don’t try it. Alcohol is pure sugar, so when you stop, after about a month your body starts to say, wtf? Where’s my sugar and you will eat a shit tonne of the stuff. So what? Just carry on, deal with that later. Load the house up with it.
11. Educate yourself – THIS one is important. Get yourself a copy of Jason Vale’s – Kick the drink. It’s not the best-written book but the information you learn will 100% make you think differently about alcohol. The damage it does to your body even by ‘normal’ standards is incomprehensible. Also, I urge you to watch Louis Theroux’s doco on alcohol and if you’ve got the stomach for it, ‘Rain in my heart’ all on YouTube. There are many, many resources out there if you want a list of them just let me know.
12. Set goals, bring it down to weeks. Or even days if you have to. And reward yourself when you reach them.
You don’t have to do all of this at once, but try and set yourself a routine. The reason why I recommend 90 days is because that gets you out of the ‘whiteknuckle’ stage. By that I mean if you did it for a month, you’ll spend the whole time wishing it was over before you drink again. 90 days gives you a chance to see how good life can be without it. It gives you the chance to be resilient in the face of peer pressure and it also gives you a chance to work out what works for you. If hot baths and showers don’t work but exercise does, you’ll be doing more of that by the end. If you can’t fit exercise in because of work (which I think is just an excuse anyway) but eating chocolate and watching Netflix makes you feel good, then do it. Remember this isn’t a torture technique; this is to find out who you really are and what you really love and drinking stops us from doing that. The first month will be hard but I promise, by the third, things will have shifted massively.
Good luck and if you need any help, get in touch.
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