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Here I Go Again On My Own

Old 10-18-2017, 08:24 AM
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Here I Go Again On My Own

Hey, guys!

This is only my second post in two years because, though I've been lurking on and off for much longer, my initial cry for help was merely a half-assed attempt at sobriety (I realize in hindsight).

I made it to three months sober. I attended a few AA meetings, tapered a bit and then quit cold turkey, was diligent with therapy, and when I hit that 3-month mark -- just about 90 days! -- I said to myself, "Okay, I reset my body; now I'm good to drink moderately."

It started innocently enough; my liver functions and other lab results were stellar, and one glass of wine was enough to give me a pleasant buzz. But over the course of several months, well, that "one or two glasses of wine with dinner" crept up to "a shot of whiskey during the 3 p.m. blood-sugar crash" followed by "eh, a dash of Kahlua in my 8 a.m. coffee."

So here we go again. Luckily, this time, I'm recognizing I have a problem with alcohol BEFORE I have to deal with physical withdrawal symptoms. I can tell myself, "This is it" and go days without a drop, no shakes, no headaches, no nausea; I feel fine. But after each 4-to-5-day sobriety stint, I give in to a mental craving. Sometimes it's stress, and sometimes it's boredom. Sometimes it's just habit. Whatever it is, even though my body hasn't yet reached a state of physical dependence, I can't find the willpower to defeat the psychological craving.

I did a search of the forum on "cravings" and it seems like when these end, and whether they even end at all, is highly individual. Still, for those of you who have seen a significant and meaningful reduction in cravings after a period of sobriety, how long does it take and what is your trick when all you can think about is a drink? It's driving me crazy. I've never once tried a cigarette; experimented with marijuana in college but lost interest quickly; have taken narcotics as prescribed for dental procedures but not become addicted -- yet alcohol is the one substance I can definitely admit has deprived me of my power.

Someone please tell me that if I can grin and bear it through a week or two of mental cravings, it'll be easier from that point on...


--A
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Old 10-18-2017, 08:48 AM
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I am only 16 days in. I'm over the shakes and headaches, but boy would I sure love a delicious glass of wine. I find the "mental" craving hits me when I'm engaged in activities that I would typically drink through before. My strategy is to quickly put a glass of something else, anything else (non-alcoholic of course) in my hand and get busy doing something else. I have post-it notes around the house with my Top 3 Reasons for quitting listed on them as reminders of why it is so important I stay sober. SR has also been very informative and supportive.
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Old 10-18-2017, 08:54 AM
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Thank you, MetalRose! Congratulations on 16 days. Ahhh, that sounds like an eternity. I've been trying to replace the glass of wine with a mug of hot chocolate and have bought some chewing gum as well. It's still so tempting when the wave of depression and anxiety comes on, and you just want to numb out. I'm recovering from a number of traumas, and that's going to take a ton of time, so the "quick fix" of making the feelings go away is just so overpowering.

I'm going to go for a run...see if the cardio endorphin rush helps me out a little. Thanks again!
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Old 10-18-2017, 09:25 AM
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You can do this.
You already have, so I know you can.
Good luck and good thoughts.
When I accepted, truly and openheartedly, that I could not drink like other people and that my only way forward was abstinence, my life got infinitely easier.
Acceptance is key.
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Old 10-18-2017, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by alexandrav View Post
Thank you, MetalRose!
No problem. I'm happy to support others on the same journey. I've just joined SR a few days ago and already am feeling the positive effects of the support from this community. Reading the threads in the "Stories of Recovery" forum is so powerful.
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Old 10-18-2017, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by alexandrav View Post

I can't find the willpower to defeat the psychological craving.

I did a search of the forum on "cravings" and it seems like when these end, and whether they even end at all, is highly individual. Still, for those of you who have seen a significant and meaningful reduction in cravings after a period of sobriety, how long does it take and what is your trick when all you can think about is a drink? one substance I can definitely admit has deprived me of my power.

Someone please tell me that if I can grin and bear it through a week or two of mental cravings, it'll be easier from that point on...


--A
Write out a detailed plan of activities that you will do when you are bored, stressed, and simply have down-time. Also come up with things to do that break your habit. For example, I used to sit on the couch in the evening and drink while watching TV. Well, I immediately stopped watching TV and went to my list of other activities. This broke up my routine on day one.

You may need to write these out hour-by-hour if needed. Keep your mind active and thinking of other things. Go for a walk, go to a movie, go to the store, go read a book, etc., It's good to have a hobby or something where you can concentrate and have your mind totally focused on other things. Photography/Photoshop, etc., has been a great diversion for me.
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Old 10-18-2017, 10:55 AM
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It will definitely get better, but having patience will help.

To deal with mental cravings, I think it's important to know that there is more to recovery than stopping drinking. Stopping drinking is the beginning, but it takes lifestyle changes to make long-term recovery work.
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Old 10-18-2017, 11:11 AM
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I've been drinking A LOT of coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker though, and I take mine black and dark as possible. It's disgusting, but it handles my cravings. If you would mix with your coffee, maybe not a good idea though.

I've been asked why I'm drinking coffee at 9:00pm, thankfully caffeine doesn't keep me awake otherwise I'd be in trouble.
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Old 10-18-2017, 11:17 AM
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Alcohol is definitely cunning, baffling and powerful. I can relate to the mental obsession you describe. What helped me in those 1st few weeks with the cravings was.
Identifying my triggers - Write them down
When a urge comes, ride it through and occupy yourself with something positive - again, write down some positive things you can do.
Log onto SR regularly and make that 24hr commitment
Change your routine - take a different route home from work, go for a walk ect. Again make a list of routine changes and write them down.

Every time you make it past a craving, each time you beat it, you become stronger and it's the start of retraining your brain. Each time the cravings will lessen. Time is the greatest healer..

You can do this
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Old 10-18-2017, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by alexandrav View Post
Hey, guys!

This is only my second post in two years because, though I've been lurking on and off for much longer, my initial cry for help was merely a half-assed attempt at sobriety (I realize in hindsight).

I made it to three months sober. I attended a few AA meetings, tapered a bit and then quit cold turkey, was diligent with therapy, and when I hit that 3-month mark -- just about 90 days! -- I said to myself, "Okay, I reset my body; now I'm good to drink moderately."

It started innocently enough; my liver functions and other lab results were stellar, and one glass of wine was enough to give me a pleasant buzz. But over the course of several months, well, that "one or two glasses of wine with dinner" crept up to "a shot of whiskey during the 3 p.m. blood-sugar crash" followed by "eh, a dash of Kahlua in my 8 a.m. coffee."

So here we go again. Luckily, this time, I'm recognizing I have a problem with alcohol BEFORE I have to deal with physical withdrawal symptoms. I can tell myself, "This is it" and go days without a drop, no shakes, no headaches, no nausea; I feel fine. But after each 4-to-5-day sobriety stint, I give in to a mental craving. Sometimes it's stress, and sometimes it's boredom. Sometimes it's just habit. Whatever it is, even though my body hasn't yet reached a state of physical dependence, I can't find the willpower to defeat the psychological craving.

I did a search of the forum on "cravings" and it seems like when these end, and whether they even end at all, is highly individual. Still, for those of you who have seen a significant and meaningful reduction in cravings after a period of sobriety, how long does it take and what is your trick when all you can think about is a drink? It's driving me crazy. I've never once tried a cigarette; experimented with marijuana in college but lost interest quickly; have taken narcotics as prescribed for dental procedures but not become addicted -- yet alcohol is the one substance I can definitely admit has deprived me of my power.

Someone please tell me that if I can grin and bear it through a week or two of mental cravings, it'll be easier from that point on...


--A
My advice is to seek some therapy, perhaps? Good luck on your journey 😊
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Old 10-18-2017, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Maudcat View Post
You can do this.
You already have, so I know you can.
Good luck and good thoughts.
When I accepted, truly and openheartedly, that I could not drink like other people and that my only way forward was abstinence, my life got infinitely easier.
Acceptance is key.
Thanks so much for the encouragement! My problem is that I'm stubborn and like to be in control, so the concept of "powerlessness" and that I "can't" do what other people can is tough for me. I keep trying to find a solution (like my pretend-moderate drinking) that doesn't make me feel like I'm weak. I know that abstinence is my only way, but I'm fighting against acceptance with all my heart and soul.



I've managed to be a functioning alcoholic for the most part, and I don't usually drink to the point of stumbling-drunkenness, but not having a true rock bottom is maybe what's keeping me in limbo. I'm slipping through by the skin of my teeth. Yet I am still a slave, because alcohol is always on my mind. This is such an insidious disease. I need more willpower.
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Old 10-18-2017, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Frank14 View Post
Write out a detailed plan of activities that you will do when you are bored, stressed, and simply have down-time. Also come up with things to do that break your habit. For example, I used to sit on the couch in the evening and drink while watching TV. Well, I immediately stopped watching TV and went to my list of other activities. This broke up my routine on day one.

You may need to write these out hour-by-hour if needed. Keep your mind active and thinking of other things. Go for a walk, go to a movie, go to the store, go read a book, etc., It's good to have a hobby or something where you can concentrate and have your mind totally focused on other things. Photography/Photoshop, etc., has been a great diversion for me.
Thank you, Frank14! I'm trying to incorporate a bit more mindfulness into my life, and the focus involved with mindfulness necessitates that one be sober and aware during the practice. The funny thing is that I'm also an endurance runner, logging 100-120 miles per week, running several half-marathons, marathons, and the occasional 50-mile race per year. I do pretty well and wish that my alcohol consumption was enough of a hindrance to stop, but it hasn't slowed me down. I think your idea of an hour-by-hour schedule may be my key, and it will indeed involve lots of reading. That's a hobby I always cherished as a child, before alcohol took over my life (I didn't have my first drink until I was 18, and wasn't alcoholic until 27 -- I'm 34 now, with a goal of living happily sober by my 35th birthday in ~6 months).

I think becoming active in these forums might become part of my daily routine, too. Distraction is a technique that works well for me. I may not forget entirely that I'm craving a drink, but I may get over my craving by the time I've finished writing a few posts!

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Old 10-18-2017, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Anna View Post
It will definitely get better, but having patience will help.

To deal with mental cravings, I think it's important to know that there is more to recovery than stopping drinking. Stopping drinking is the beginning, but it takes lifestyle changes to make long-term recovery work.
Thanks for reiterating that point. It's hard -- I already have a very physically active lifestyle, as an endurance athlete, and the friends who enjoy that with me are the type who pop open a beer at the finish line every time. The difference is that they don't have to do it every day, and they don't have to use alcohol as a way to self-medicate emotional pain. I struggle to replace people, places, and things because I truly love my current passions, and they keep me healthier than the average person despite my alcohol consumption.

Such a double-edge sword. In order to separate myself from the activities I associate with alcohol, I'd have to drastically change my otherwise fitness-focused lifestyle. For me, if I sat at home all day watching TV, I'd never crave a drink and probably be sober because I see alcohol as a reward. But at the same time, I'd turn into a couch potato. Neither is ideal.
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Old 10-18-2017, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by SaturatedSeize View Post
I've been drinking A LOT of coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker though, and I take mine black and dark as possible. It's disgusting, but it handles my cravings. If you would mix with your coffee, maybe not a good idea though.

I've been asked why I'm drinking coffee at 9:00pm, thankfully caffeine doesn't keep me awake otherwise I'd be in trouble.
Thanks for the advice! I hate the taste of coffee, but I am learning to replace alcohol cravings with a cappuccino (extra cream, I can't do black!) when they arise. I only mixed the Kahlua with my coffee once, earlier this week, and it was the first time I had alcohol in the morning. Luckily, I didn't want to repeat that...yet.

I'm a naturally hyper person, so I could never drink coffee after even noon or 1 p.m.! I had a psychiatrist once suggest I might have ADHD because of my hyper energy, and he prescribed Adderall in a controlled setting. After two days, he took me off of it and told me never to consent to trying another stimulant. I didn't even notice it, but apparently I was bouncing off the walls at an insane level. Haha! I couldn't even handle Sudafed when I was a kid. Maybe alcohol is my brain's sedating response to all of this hyper-natural energy.... which is why I can run marathons with a substantial BAC?
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Old 10-18-2017, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Hats View Post
Alcohol is definitely cunning, baffling and powerful. I can relate to the mental obsession you describe. What helped me in those 1st few weeks with the cravings was.
Identifying my triggers - Write them down
When a urge comes, ride it through and occupy yourself with something positive - again, write down some positive things you can do.
Log onto SR regularly and make that 24hr commitment
Change your routine - take a different route home from work, go for a walk ect. Again make a list of routine changes and write them down.

Every time you make it past a craving, each time you beat it, you become stronger and it's the start of retraining your brain. Each time the cravings will lessen. Time is the greatest healer..

You can do this
Thank you! I have a list of websites I usually log into before I start any work, and I'm going to make SR among the first. Instead of Facebook. I'm actually taking a break from Facebook, I think, and focus more on the SR forums for the time being.

Changing my routine will be the biggest hurdle, because I'm not the "stereotypical" alcoholic who spends time at the bar or at parties. I actually am an endurance athlete who manages to run 100+ miles a week while working full time and pursuing a second graduate degree. My drinking hasn't directly interfered with my performance. I actually drink LESS when I am out with friends, and more when I am by myself, alone with my thoughts and fighting the crippling effects of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

I just started twice-a-week trauma therapy and am taking an anti-depressant, along with an anxiolytic as needed, to kick-start my recovery process. I'm hoping that alcohol becomes less and less a priority in my life. When I'm bored, having that first drink is all I want to think about. I want to get to the point where it's just a flicker in my mind, if that.

Thanks for the helpful comments, all!
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Old 10-18-2017, 01:07 PM
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I heard a woman mention the other day that her therapist had her write a long list of things she could do when restless. Not big deal things, but stuff like color, play solitaire, clean out a drawer. She says she's checking things off the list and having fun with it. To me, having a schedule is also very valuable. Even if I don't do what's on the schedule, I do something different that is NOT what I was doing while drinking.

I don't think you need more "willpower" and would like to offer that "I don't understand why I can't do this" is your addiction Not Wanting to do this. You most certainly can stay stopped - you've already done it many times.

This is a gift from the universe - recognizing that you must stop before you are physically dependent. You run; think of this as a marathon and get going.

O
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Old 10-18-2017, 02:49 PM
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Hi Alexandrav - it's great to see you again. You definitely sound motivated this time . There's no doubt you can do this!
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Old 10-18-2017, 03:09 PM
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Obladi: Thank you! Intellectually, I know I want to do this, but you're right -- it's my *addiction* saying I don't have the willpower. I hate being addicted, but my brain chemistry is such that alcohol and I will always be enemies, not friends. Sobriety is a marathon, not a sprint, right? If I think of it like that, it seems a bit easier. I remember when 13 miles seemed like a crazy distance to run, and now I could do that in my sleep.

My therapist had me make a list of sober fun activities as well, but they're all hardcore things you have to be sober to endure -- and then there's a nice cold drink at the finish line. I guess I need to replace the reward of a drink with something else and re-train my brain. Maybe a delicious ice cream sundae (although I'm an ice cream addict, too...)

Anyway, thanks again for the wisdom. I need to...JUST DO IT. Joining the forums here is a good, gradual step.



Originally Posted by Obladi View Post
I heard a woman mention the other day that her therapist had her write a long list of things she could do when restless. Not big deal things, but stuff like color, play solitaire, clean out a drawer. She says she's checking things off the list and having fun with it. To me, having a schedule is also very valuable. Even if I don't do what's on the schedule, I do something different that is NOT what I was doing while drinking.

I don't think you need more "willpower" and would like to offer that "I don't understand why I can't do this" is your addiction Not Wanting to do this. You most certainly can stay stopped - you've already done it many times.

This is a gift from the universe - recognizing that you must stop before you are physically dependent. You run; think of this as a marathon and get going.

O
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Old 10-18-2017, 04:40 PM
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Hi and welcoem Alexandrarav

There are some great ideas for dealing with cravings here:
https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...-cravings.html (CarolD's tips for cravings)

I really plugged myself into this community when I got here.

The constant support and understanding really help me turn my life around - and stopped me thinking that time off my drinking might somehow reset me to 'normal' drinker.

I was never a normal drinker and I had to accept that.

D
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Old 10-18-2017, 07:07 PM
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I recognize a lot of what you write, I had a lot of similar thoughts and experiences. I also hated the concept of "powerlessness", and still do. Instead, I related to the ideas of rational recovery, the concept of AV, and the saying "I will never drink again and I will never change my mind" finally brought me peace. I've come to find a lot of power and freedom in it. Wishing you well on your journey! Abstinence is the only way out of this vicious circle. Good luck!
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