Alcohol: Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It
Is it hard for you to imagine life without alcohol?
It's no surprise that the thought of not being able to celebrate and mark occasions like birthdays and weddings and funerals, and feeling awkward at BBQs and social occasions, comes to mind at the thought of giving up drinking. Alcohol is part and parcel of New Zealand culture for better or worse, and not being part of that it means missing out on certain experiences.
But what about if you ask yourself these questions about your drinking?
What if drinking has become more of a hazard than a pleasure?
What if it is affecting your health and the hangovers are increasingly hard to handle?
What if your relationships are suffering?
What if your drinking has increased and you can't slow down when you know you should, or would like to?
What if alcohol is taking you away from work and the things that you love, like hobbies, sports and spending quality time with family and friends?
What if these things just aren't worth it anymore?
Life without alcohol
There's no doubt about it, when you first get sober, living life without alcohol can be difficult. You may find some friends and even family aren't as supportive as you would expect or need them to be. They may distance themselves from you and for a while, your social life may look very different.
Going to social events when everyone else is having a drink may also be really hard, especially if you're still craving alcohol or feeling vulnerable to resisting the urge to drink. Some people will unknowingly – or sometimes on purpose – offer you drinks and even insist on your partaking. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be happy that you're not going to drink with them anymore.
The reality is, you may have to stay away from social occasions for a while, until you're established in your sobriety with the right support systems and tools in place to keep yourself safe.
And finally, the ways that alcohol might have served you, like helping you to relax, open up emotionally or socially and bond with people are gone, and that can be a challenge. Doing life sober is real and raw and takes practice and patience.
It does get better
The good news is, there is a way to navigate the transition from being a drinker and a sober person. To be brutally honest, life will never look the same again but that's the point: you don't want it to.
Socialising with people who are sober is a good place to to start. You might be surprised at how many people you know don't drink a lot and are quite comfortable and even prefer not to drink at all. You'll also also meet new people when you join a sober community. Many newly sober people find it easier to hang out with those who understand the journey, and who can support each other.
Life also starts to become bigger and richer as your sobriety gets established. Hobbies, interests, sports and exercise you may have neglected can be revisited, which all bring back the joy and satisfaction that heavy drinking can steal from you.
You'll also discover that relationships with family and friends become more meaningful when you're sober. Ditching booze and interacting in more healthy ways – such as taking a walk, seeing a movie or meeting for coffee or dinner – can be much more satisfying that getting drunk and talking rubbish that you can't recall then next day as you suffer through a brutal hangover.
After a while of creating and living a sober life, another amazing thing happens: you can't imagine existing the way you used to. You realise that instead of not being able to image alcohol in your life, now you can't imagine living with it.
If you're worried about your drinking or about how someone you love is drinking, call Elaine for a confidential chat on 027 573 7744.