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Scared Newby: Day 1 of Sobriety

Old 03-29-2010, 09:31 AM
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Scared Newby: Day 1 of Sobriety

Well, this day has been a long time coming.

First, a little background on me and my situation.
I am 44 years old and am what one refer to as a "highly functioning alcoholic". I have a very well-paid, though stressful, job, a wonderful and supportive wife and two beautiful little kids.
I probably have the reputation of occasionally having a "few too many" but, to outside appearances I appear to be a pretty normal guy (I could be totally off base on that but, I really don't think so).

I've been drinking since high school so say for about the past 28 years. I don't drink every day but, I'd say what has been happening more frequently over the past year or so is that if I have two or three drinks then it just triggers something in me where I want more and more and then end up consuming 6 or 8 of 10 drinks.
(Another mitigating factor is that I take Ambien for insomnia and if I don't have my wits about me because I have had a few drinks I might take one of them to "get a jump" on getting to sleep. That has resulted in some truly bizarre and regrettable behavior such as incoherent conversations or crazy typo filled emails sent out at strange hours. None of which I remember the next day. That issue is something else I intend to tackle but, one battle at a time. Also the sleeping pills on their own aren't the problem it is the combination of sleeping pills with alcohol that is the problem. The alcohol is the root of the issue because I can get drunk more of ten than not and not even think of the insomnia medication).

No one huge incident has set me off on this mission to quit drinking, just a number of small incidents and embarrassments and too many mornings waking up feeling like hell.

I recall a quote from Winston Churchill where he said something along the lines of "I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me."

Well, in my case, I believed that for a long time. I look back on all the fun times with my buddies, the enjoyable Friday after work cosmo's with my wife, having a nice cold beer after a long day of mountain climbing or just mowing the lawn, getting a nice buzz on and listening to my music on my headphones etc. etc. etc.
I have a lot of fond memories and experiences where alcohol played at least a supporting role. Alcohol has been an integral part my life and I won't lie, I do enjoy it.

Anyway, getting back to the Churchill quote I can no longer claim that I am getting more out of alcohol than it is taking out of me. It is beginning to take a LOT out of me; I don't bounce back from a night of drinking like I used to (I'm 44 years old), it has caused strains in my marriage, I have embarrassed myself on several occasions, I don't want my kids to grow up having a drunk for a dad, it is not good for the health of my body and mind.

So that brings me to this crossroad.
I believe I need to give up drinking for several reasons (I tried the moderation technique and that worked for a little while but, I got complacent and slipped back into old habits).
However, I am scared. Like I mentioned alcohol has played such an important role in my life it has almost become part of who I am.
So, I ask the group (and myself) IF I am successful at quitting drinking then what???
Will I be a happier & healthier person?
How do I fight the urge to order a drink when I walk into a cozy bar and hear the buzz of conversation and the familiar clinking of glasses?
What are the benefits you think I will realize (besides the not making an ass of myself or waking up with a hangover)?
What do I replace a cold beer with as a reward for say mowing the lawn on a hot day?
What am I going to do with all my spare time when I am not drinking?
What do I tell my friends when I go over and they offer me a beer and I say no thanks?
How do I have fun when I go out with a bunch of people to a bar?
I'm a generally shy person and admittedly have used alcohol as a "crutch" in social situations. How am I going to overcome that and conquer my fear without alcohol?

My wife, says to me this morning, after we talked about my plan, "it is almost like you are talking about losing a limb". Well, in a way yes, that is an apt analogy.
At this point (Day 1) it seems like I am embarking on a radical makeover in "who I am" and that has me very scared.

Any thoughts, perspectives, coping strategies, book recommendations from those that have been through this very beginning stages of sobriety (which I assume is most everyone on the site) would be greatly and sincerely appreciated.

thanks very much in advance for your support.

Jack
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:41 AM
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I used to believe in the term "highly functional alcoholic" until I actually quit drinking, got sober and realized that I was really not functioning at all (let alone highly) or at least up to my potential as an important part of the Universe, that there is no such thing as a "highly functional alcoholic" it's just a misunderstanding on the part of the alcoholic, almost a thinly veiled excuse, or denial, but wait until you get sober and you will see what "highly functional" is really all about, and IMO it cannot be achieved under the constant influence of a depressant drug, the ultimate destroyer of senses. An alcoholic is not functional at all, in fact it's one of the ultimate human dysfunctions, in any case; Welcome to SR, congrats on your decision, and good luck!! This is a great forum, it helped save my life and I have learned ALOT here from many great people, many of whom will be along shortly I am sure to welcome you as well.
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:43 AM
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Jack -

I am on day one as well, and while I'm only 27, I have some of the same characteristics you mentioned in your story above. I'm a former college party girl and now I have a very nice, well-paid job. I generally keep my drinking to the weekends, but when I start, I can't stop. I get to the point where I black out, say and do things that are not good for me or my relationships. I have a wonderful boyfriend and I've made things very difficult between us with my binge drinking. One problem is that our friends all like to go out to bars, but none of them have a problem like I do.

My father was an alcoholic and I don't want to end up like him. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's responses because I have many of the same questions.

It is comforting to know that I am not the only one starting at day one.
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:55 AM
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Welcome to SR! As far as how your life may change when you stop drinking... I found I had to make a lot of changes and some of them were difficult. However, the sober life I now live is worth the effort it takes to change. I hope we can help you in your wish to be sober.
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Old 03-29-2010, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by jackfrost View Post
So, I ask the group (and myself) IF I am successful at quitting drinking then what???

Then you start actually LIVING. You become a GREAT example to your kids and somebody your wife can continue to be proud of. You earn self-respect and the admiration of those who understand and respect how difficult your choice is.

Will I be a happier & healthier person?

I cannot for the life of me see how you wouldn't be.

How do I fight the urge to order a drink when I walk into a cozy bar and hear the buzz of conversation and the familiar clinking of glasses?

You avoid cozy bars.

What are the benefits you think I will realize (besides the not making an ass of myself or waking up with a hangover)?

Let's just think about the money saved.

What do I replace a cold beer with as a reward for say mowing the lawn on a hot day?

A cold glass of water? A cold glass of green tea? The satisfaction of a job well done and life free from alcohol? Time spent with your kids. You can fill in the blanks here. There are so many ways to rewards one's self that do not involve alcohol.

What am I going to do with all my spare time when I am not drinking?

Read a (BIG) book, learn about alcoholism & recovery, post here on SR, hit the gym, spend time with your kids, talk to your wife, help another person who is struggling with alcohol...

What do I tell my friends when I go over and they offer me a beer and I say no thanks?

I have found the truth to be both powerful and liberating.

How do I have fun when I go out with a bunch of people to a bar?

Again, you don't because you don't go to bars anymore.

I'm a generally shy person and admittedly have used alcohol as a "crutch" in social situations. How am I going to overcome that and conquer my fear without alcohol?

You will avoid all those places for a while until you feel comfy coming out of your shell and then you will gradually work your way back to some of those places always being mindful and vigilant of who you are and what is at stake.
Hope that helps.
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Old 03-29-2010, 10:24 AM
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Welcome to both of our new members....

Congratulations for seeking a better sober future!
Recovery is an awesome adventure
I'm so pleased you are here ...

Here is a link to a sticky post in our Alcoholism Forum

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...influence.html

It's from the book that convinced me to finally qit.
I hope you will find it useful too.
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Old 03-29-2010, 10:55 AM
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Hi Jack... Great post. Welcome.

I can relate to so much of your post. I don't even know where to start!!!! I do have experience with ambien that is nearly identical to yours. Bizarre, regrettable behavior... yep. Funny thing is now, I sleep like a baby with nothing except a warm bed! Alcohol really screws up sleep. Once the alcohol was gone, so was the insomnia....

Anyway, I am 52, in a highly technical and stressful career. I too thought I was highly functioning... I found out that was a lie. You may find out the same thing.

I still hike big mountains (up your way in VT,NH and ME), ski, whitewater, bicycle... and yea, I used to associate those activities with a beer, or other stuff, at some point. But not anymore, and I have just as good a time... in fact, I can do anything I want, except drink.

I also liked those cozy bars and drinks with the wife in front of the fire. I don't do bars anymore, well occasionally, but only for good reasons, but I am still happily married.

I had all the questions you did. I found that the answers came, but not all at once, but they did. First things first!!! ya know? Quit drinking... and your answers, your truth, your life, will come to you....

AA had many of the answers I needed. Have you looked into it?

Keep posting.

Mark
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Old 03-29-2010, 11:54 AM
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You can make it!

Greeneyedlady,

This is my first attempt at a reply so I hope I don't mess it up. Anyway, I don't have a lot of advice about exactly how to proceed at this point as after all I am only on Day 1 too. I hope to find some ideas from this forum (and wow, after just a couple of hours I already have).

I just wanted to say to you that I find I also find it comforting that someone else is out there starting on this new sobriety journey on the same day as me. Also, my dad was an alcoholic too (he quit 30 years ago).
I will be rooting for you.

Not to discourage you at all but, I think back to when I was 27 and I was in the same predicament you are in. I would be out EVERY Friday and Saturday with a group of friends and drinking was always involved. Now I am much more "domesticated" so drinking isn't as prevalent in my life if I choose for it not to be.

That's a tough situation you are in but, I think you have a couple things going for you:
1) Your boyfriend. Sounds like a decent guy and you mentioned he has been embarrassed by some of your behavior (as has my wife with mine) so I would think he would be supportive of you, especially in those large group drinking situations. And maybe for the first couple weeks of sobriety could beg off from going out and being tossed into the lion's den as it were (just say you have a cold, we're going away for the weekend or whatever).
2) You mentioned you have a history of binge drinking in those situations so I would think that several of the people in the group probably recognize you have a struggle with alcohol and if you said you are "taking a sabbatical" from drinking (even if you really intend to quit for good) I think they would be understanding and supportive. If they are not then just how good of a friends are they??

Stay strong, good luck and keep us posted.

Jack



Originally Posted by greeneyedlady View Post
Jack -

I am on day one as well, and while I'm only 27, I have some of the same characteristics you mentioned in your story above. I'm a former college party girl and now I have a very nice, well-paid job. I generally keep my drinking to the weekends, but when I start, I can't stop. I get to the point where I black out, say and do things that are not good for me or my relationships. I have a wonderful boyfriend and I've made things very difficult between us with my binge drinking. One problem is that our friends all like to go out to bars, but none of them have a problem like I do.

My father was an alcoholic and I don't want to end up like him. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's responses because I have many of the same questions.

It is comforting to know that I am not the only one starting at day one.
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Old 03-29-2010, 12:04 PM
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Hi Jackfrost,

Welcome!

Stopping drinking is the first step, but it's what comes after that, that is really hard. For me, recovery meant changing from the inside out.

I shook myself loose from my past beliefs about myself and began to rebuild and move forward. I stayed away from people and places where alcohol was being served. It was way too stressful for me. It took a long time before I was able to do that.

I decided that telling the truth was going to be a big part of my recovery, so I didn't make up stories about why I wasn't drinking. Nor did I offer an explanation when people asked why I wasn't drinking. It's my business and I owe no one else an explanation.

I'm still kind of shy in groups of people and that's fine with me now. It's a part of me that I have accepted, and it's far better than the me who would drink to fit into social situations.
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Old 03-29-2010, 12:06 PM
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Thanks much

getr345,

Thanks for taking the time to answer my original post. That was very inspirational and sound advice. It helped lift my spirits.
As they say "Every great journey begins with a single step." I'd gauge I'm about two steps into my personal journey at this point but, my spirit and commitment is strong.

I've got two big "trials" coming up in the next month:
1) a three day ski trip this upcoming weekend. Oh how nice a glass of Cab would be in front of the fire after a long day of hitting the slopes. But, I will persevere and
2) a week long trip to Cancun near the end of April. Again, a nice cold margarita on the beach sounds great but, again I will desist.

Someday I hope that experiences like that won't automatically trigger the "Man, wouldn't a drink be great right about now" response and I suppose in time they won't. I sure hope so.

thanks again,

Jack
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Old 03-29-2010, 12:17 PM
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Thanks Mark

Thanks Mark for your support and your shared experiences. It is good to know I'm not in this alone and that others have gone through similar challenges.
I think you are right. Just stop the drinking first and let life come to me. See how I feel differently, see if the fog lifts at all.
You've inspired me to keep a journal of what I am going through, how I feel, future challenges I face, all because I want to remember why I chose this path in the first place and how my life has changed from where I am now to where I will be in the future.
I have not gone to AA, have done some research on it about the when and the where. From online sounds like it works for some people and not for others. I'm willing to give anything a shot and if it is not working for me then find something that does.
thanks again,
Jack


Originally Posted by Mark75 View Post
Hi Jack... Great post. Welcome.

I can relate to so much of your post. I don't even know where to start!!!! I do have experience with ambien that is nearly identical to yours. Bizarre, regrettable behavior... yep. Funny thing is now, I sleep like a baby with nothing except a warm bed! Alcohol really screws up sleep. Once the alcohol was gone, so was the insomnia....

Anyway, I am 52, in a highly technical and stressful career. I too thought I was highly functioning... I found out that was a lie. You may find out the same thing.

I still hike big mountains (up your way in VT,NH and ME), ski, whitewater, bicycle... and yea, I used to associate those activities with a beer, or other stuff, at some point. But not anymore, and I have just as good a time... in fact, I can do anything I want, except drink.

I also liked those cozy bars and drinks with the wife in front of the fire. I don't do bars anymore, well occasionally, but only for good reasons, but I am still happily married.

I had all the questions you did. I found that the answers came, but not all at once, but they did. First things first!!! ya know? Quit drinking... and your answers, your truth, your life, will come to you....

AA had many of the answers I needed. Have you looked into it?

Keep posting.

Mark
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Old 03-29-2010, 12:55 PM
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jackfrost....thanks for your sharing; you've created a great thread.

you can do this. with your attitude and loving wife and other blessing in your life you can do this. You may add blessings of some recovery friends at aa meetings. i will give you a suggestion here...if you try AA, then go to a few different meetings and make up your mind after going to 3 or 7 meetings or something. now if you like the meeting you went to of course go back to that one.

Honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness are 3 spiritual principles that are often heard around AA. you sound full of all 3 of them.

thanks
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Old 03-29-2010, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by jackfrost View Post
getr345,

Thanks for taking the time to answer my original post. That was very inspirational and sound advice. It helped lift my spirits.
As they say "Every great journey begins with a single step." I'd gauge I'm about two steps into my personal journey at this point but, my spirit and commitment is strong.

I've got two big "trials" coming up in the next month:
1) a three day ski trip this upcoming weekend. Oh how nice a glass of Cab would be in front of the fire after a long day of hitting the slopes. But, I will persevere and
2) a week long trip to Cancun near the end of April. Again, a nice cold margarita on the beach sounds great but, again I will desist.

Someday I hope that experiences like that won't automatically trigger the "Man, wouldn't a drink be great right about now" response and I suppose in time they won't. I sure hope so.

thanks again,

Jack
Glad to help if I can and when I can.

It's really important not to romanticize your past (or future, or ANY) drinking experience and hopefully you will find a way to get that under control. Maybe try to focus on what your drinking has cost you, or some of the "less than great" experiences you have had with alcohol. It's not all sipping wine at the ski lodge, right? If you are as you claim (an alcoholic, highly functioning or otherwise) you MUST have such experiences and feelings with regards to alcohol, yes? I'd get in touch with them or I can almost guarantee you will find that Cab and/or that Margarita in your hand in no time.
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Old 03-29-2010, 01:09 PM
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Welcome to SR, Jack! You'll find a lot of support and info here..the people are really great. Hope you stick around and best of luck to you!
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Old 03-29-2010, 01:16 PM
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Point taken

You make some good points and yes, in addition to the "good times" there is a very deep pool of "not so good" experiences related to alcohol to draw from. I will keep that in mind the next time I am tempted. Very good advice, thank you.

By the way, I am not a fan of the "HFA" terminology either and don't want that one sentence from original post to distract from what drew me to the site in the first place; a place to find support and comraderie in this difficult struggle.
Finally, I am as I claim to be. Why else would I be here?

thanks again,

jack

It's really important not to romanticize your past (or future, or ANY) drinking experience and hopefully you will find a way to get that under control. Maybe try to focus on what your drinking has cost you, or some of the "less than great" experiences you have had with alcohol. It's not all sipping wine at the ski lodge, right? If you are as you claim (an alcoholic, highly functioning or otherwise) you MUST have such experiences and feelings with regards to alcohol, yes? I'd get in touch with them or I can almost guarantee you will find that Cab and/or that Margarita in your hand in no time.[/QUOTE]
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Old 03-29-2010, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by jackfrost View Post
Finally, I am as I claim to be. Why else would I be here?
By that I mean "alcoholic"...a somewhat misunderstood term to say the least. When I came to SR, I actually thought I knew what it meant, boy was I wrong. I have since come to learn what the characteristics of true alcoholism (or a true alcoholic) are; very interesting indeed. I used to think it meant, but was not necessarily limited to, somebody who drank a lot for a long time. Turns out that does not necessarily make you an alcoholic. There is so much more to it. In any case...

I'm not suggesting that you are anything other than what you say you are and only YOU can determine if you are or are not an alcoholic (sounds like you have determined that you are, OK)...BUT, as most alcoholics will tell you, there is a huge difference between the legitimate cravings they suffered for alcohol and quaint romantic thoughts of how nice a wine would be by a fire. There is a huge difference, so I am trying to get you to think about the type of symptoms you have experienced, and the type of drinking and behaviors you have engaged in that causes you to conclude that you are an alcoholic.

What are they, if you don't mind me asking?
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Old 03-29-2010, 01:53 PM
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I really have to agree with what Getr345 has to say in regards to the romanticizing the good times with alcohol. The "nice glass of wine or margarita" and all that crap. That is the disease, or rather the "evil conscience" sitting on your shoulder. Oh, one drink won't hurt you, it would be so nice, you deserve this, etc etc. It is all crap! If alcohol was all nice and fuzzy, none of us would be here. You have to get rid of those thoughts, and over time they do disappear. I too am going to Puerta Vallarta Mexico the first week of May to an all inclusive resort for a week. Usually I had taken full advantage of those trips as an opportunity to drink as much top shelf liquor as I could to "get my money's worth". But in reality I was just drunk and sick the whole week I was gone. This time I am going to enjoy early morning coffee on the ocean, workout on the beach, swim, snorkel, go on excursions, zip-line, parasail...... ALL the stuff I couldn't do before because I was either drunk or getting drunk or thinking about getting drunk. How much fun will a vacation be when you can truly take in the peacefulness of the location without alcohol clogging your mind?

I hope you find the great support on this site like so many of us have. Stick around, this site is great. I found it is a great supplement to my recovery. I needed more (AA) to truly make my sobriety stick.
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Old 03-29-2010, 02:57 PM
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You're exactly where I was three months ago (and your story sounds very familiar), Jack!

A couple of things I learned from my experience that I hope can help you through this:

How do I fight the urge to order a drink when I walk into a cozy bar and hear the buzz of conversation and the familiar clinking of glasses?

Stay out of the bars for at least a month if you can. The call of the of the clinking glasses is very real and can be a very frightening sound. I waited almost 2 months before going back into a bar. The other thing I did was to avoid going with some of my heavy drinking "friends", who, as luck would have it, have started falling away now that I'm not out getting blasted with them.

What are the benefits you think I will realize (besides the not making an ass of myself or waking up with a hangover)?

You will see EVERYTHING more clearly - the good, bad, and ugly. Once the fog starts lifting (I can almost guarantee you'll notice you really were in a fog you didn't know existed) you'll appreciate everything more.

What do I replace a cold beer with as a reward for say mowing the lawn on a hot day?

Tough one - I took the drastic step of removing all alcohol from the house and guess what? I found out after awhile I didn't even miss it (in my case my 10PM wind down beers on days I didn't hit the bar).

What am I going to do with all my spare time when I am not drinking?

Anything you want! You'll find that that bar time was sucking the life out of you. I work out more - I have so much more energy now that I'm sober its crazy. I'm also more excited about doing things with my wife and family than I was and (after making amends with him) spend a ton of time with best friend and we're more inseparable than ever and having even more fun than we did before.

What do I tell my friends when I go over and they offer me a beer and I say no thanks?

Nothing. You'll instinctually know what to say to people, but if you're not drinking, it's none of their business. Again, you'll find some of the hard core people will be uncomfortable - good riddance.

How do I have fun when I go out with a bunch of people to a bar?

You're going to have a blast. Once I started going out again, I found out I had just as much fun as before with the added benefit of staying out later and actually being functional the next day - you'll love it! In my case, I love seeing bands and now I enjoy them more. As I've said repeatedly, you might to lose some friends (I'm going through that now), but you'll find new ones and also find that the booze was just as you said a crutch and you really don't need it. In my case I found out some mutual friends didn't want to be around me drunk and now actually want to spend time with me.

Hang in there! It's going to suck but after the short 3 months I've been sober, the positive totally outweighs the negative!
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Old 03-29-2010, 03:23 PM
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Hi to Jack and to greeneyedlady as well

lots of good advice here already...giving up alcohol is scary - there are a lot of what ifs, a lot of fear...but I found the best way was to accept that it was a good move (I don't think anyone can really argue it's not a good move) and just take my life and my future a day at a time for a while...that's all any of us need do.

I drank for 20 years...I've never regretted giving it up. I'm not richer or smarter or braver or more handsome, but my life is better, my relationships are better, my health is better, and I'm better for it.

You'll find a lot of support here, guys. You're not alone.
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Old 03-29-2010, 04:16 PM
  # 20 (permalink)  
hps
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: London UK
Posts: 86
Welcome! I believe I have a similar age/job/family to yours, but am now about 18 months sober. I found the initial few months being sober quite hard, an emotional roller coaster (you can read up on PAWS). So you may want to prepare for this and also consider a support network such as AA meetings.

Below are my answers to your questions:

Q: Will I be a happier & healthier person?
A: I feel a lot better about myself. Life has been tough for me lately, so not sure whether I'm happier, but I'm much more able to deal with the stresses. Plus I have a huge feeling of accomplishment for kicking the booze habit.

Q: How do I fight the urge to order a drink when I walk into a cozy bar and hear the buzz of conversation and the familiar clinking of glasses?
A: I just order large glasses of Diet Coke or Sprite. I actually enjoy bars more now (though frequent them less) because I don't have to be anxious about getting booze, getting enough booze, or getting too much booze into my system.

Q: What are the benefits you think I will realize (besides the not making an ass of myself or waking up with a hangover)?
A: Self-esteem, self-respect, ability to manage stresses and problems.

Q: What do I replace a cold beer with as a reward for say mowing the lawn on a hot day?
A: Cold soda works for me.

Q: What am I going to do with all my spare time when I am not drinking?
A: I went to lots of AA meetings initially, which helped fill the spare time, and more importantly helped me cope (as I no longer had booze to help me cope). Now I just tend to do more of what I did before, cooking, reading, talking to my kids...

Q: What do I tell my friends when I go over and they offer me a beer and I say no thanks?
A: I'm not drinking, or I'm on Diet Cokes at the moment.

Q: How do I have fun when I go out with a bunch of people to a bar?
A: Because I don't have all the booze anxieties, I am more relaxed and can talk to people more.

Q: I'm a generally shy person and admittedly have used alcohol as a "crutch" in social situations. How am I going to overcome that and conquer my fear without alcohol?
A: I am pretty quiet myself. But now, instead of getting anxious about my quietness, I no longer worry about it. If I have one or two interesting conversations in an evening, I figure I'm doing pretty well. And if sometimes I am quiet and am not talking to people, that is ok too. This is where feeling good about myself helps out as well.
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