Whether the goal is a week, a month, a year, or a lifetime, getting sober from alcohol can feel intimidating at first. Drinking is intertwined with our customs, ceremonies, sorrows, and celebrations, all of which make it harder to quit.
However, if a break from alcohol is what you need to make improvements in your life, then you should feel empowered to take one. Keep reading for crucial information that will help you stay in recovery.
Getting Sober from Alcohol
Taking a break or quitting alcohol has countless physical benefits, from clearer skin to improved heart function to simply breaking unhealthy coping mechanisms. The effects of quitting drinking can also be enlightening, and individuals may discover new parts of themselves without drugs or alcohol clouding their minds.
While this indicates that the road to sobriety will be worth it, it does not mean that it will be easy. Getting sober takes determination. And oftentimes it takes reflection, intentional decision making, and resolve as well.
If you’re considering sobriety, the information below explains a few things that you can expect when you stop drinking. Keep in mind that what to expect when quitting alcohol will be different for everyone, as the timeline is not the same between people.
1. Plan on Some Bumps in the Road to Sobriety.
When you stop drinking, you can expect good days and bad days. A common opinion is that in the beginning, the days can pass slowly, but quickly add up to weeks and months. While each sober journey is unique, many people reported feeling agitated in the first few days. After a week or two, however, reports of calmness, clarity, and a sense of well being were reported.
2. Alcohol Cravings can Be Intense, but Pass Quickly.
Cravings for alcohol are normal when you reduce your alcohol intake (or quit drinking entirely). Urges to drink are generally described as external triggers (places, people, or time of day) or internal triggers (feelings or thoughts that inspire drinking). While both can disrupt your mentality, take solace in the fact that they pass quickly (within about 15-30 minutes) and will ease with time.
3. Sugar Cravings May Arise!
Research indicates that sugar and alcohol affect the same area of the brain causing a release of dopamine, the feel-good chemical that keeps moods elevated. Most people in early sobriety are happy to swap out alcohol for sugar until they feel settled in their new routines. Be mindful, though, that if sugar is used too frequently, that it may be the next habit that needs breaking.
4. Sober Life Gets Much Easier with Time.
Whether you’re starting with a week off, a year, or are making permanent changes, sobriety gets easier with time. Expect to deal with some difficulties and to face whatever you’ve been able to set aside by drinking, but know that in time things will improve. It is recommended that you focus on short-term goals and not worry about future events or holidays just yet.
5. There’s Money to Be Saved by Getting Sober.
Whatever money was being spent on alcohol can be pocketed for another venture. Depending on how much you were drinking, this can be a sizeable sum! Consider all of the things you could spend a few extra dollars on if you stop paying for alcohol.
Curious about how much money you’re spending on booze? Try this alcohol spending calculator.
6. Prepare For a Shift in Friendships While Getting Sober.
One of the hardest things to prepare for when getting sober is the reaction from others. While you may find that many of your loved ones support your decisions regardless, others may express resistance. If your old drinking friends pressure you to continue drinking or avoid you altogether, it may be time to let go of this relationship. And remember, their problems with your sobriety may actually have nothing to do with you at all.
On the flip side of this is the improvement of relationships that most people experience. Without any blurred memories or drunken misunderstandings, many abstainers enjoy a deeper bond with the people around them.
7. Making a Plan for Getting Sober Is Imperative!
Deciding to quit drinking is an excellent plan, but without a strategy in place, you may be surprised by how easy it is to get derailed. Therefore it is highly recommended to plan for temptation and not to rely on willpower alone.
For example, know what you will order at a restaurant instead of an alcoholic beverage. Alternatively, stock up on alcohol-free mocktails for the upcoming dinner party. Whatever the scenario is, think about potential triggers ahead of time in an effort to avoid them.
8. Overconfidence Is a Trap.
Time and time again, individuals find themselves back in the cycle of drinking after a “just this one time” mindset. Be cautious not to congratulate yourself with a drink during a time when sobriety is important to you. Similarly, it is not recommended to try to moderate drinking by “having just one” as it can be a slippery slope to relapse.
The overwhelming consensus is to always be on guard while getting sober and to treat every day as day one.
9. Relapse Is Not Failure.
Getting sober requires some trial and error, and it may take a few tries to learn how to stay sober. For most people, relapsing is part of long-term sobriety. If you give in to temptation and drink again, don’t beat yourself up. Use relapse as a learning experience and get back on track.
10. Without Working on Mindset, Change Will Be Challenging.
To make lasting changes, a shift in your mindset about alcohol may be necessary. Look at staying sober as an opportunity rather than a punishment and you will find peace in recovery goals.
For many individuals, once they let go of the misconception that alcohol is beneficial and opened their minds to living a sober life, they were able to stop counting the days and simply live. It is recommended to focus on the benefits that mean something to you, whether it’s improving your physical and mental health, athletic ambitions, or simply quieting the inner dialogue tugging at your subconscious.
When It’s Time for Help With Alcohol Addiction & Getting Sober
If you’re tired of attempting sobriety alone, we can help. At the Vance Johnson Recovery Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, we understand how difficult getting sober and staying sober can be, and our team of experts will guide you towards your recovery goals.
Our drug and alcohol rehabilitation center offers the best inpatient and residential rehab programs for addiction to alcohol, opioids, prescription medications, meth, cocaine, and many other substances. In addition, the Vance Johnson Recovery Center will soon offer drug and alcohol detox as well.
Wherever you are in your journey, we are here for you every step of the way.
Located in dynamic Las Vegas, Nevada, the Vance Johnson Recovery Center (VJRC) a 44-bed facility is run by a skilled multi-disciplinary team of medical and behavioral health professionals that includes nurses, counselors, and doctors, along with complementary and alternative medicine specialists to provide our clients with a transformational experience that encompasses mind, body, and spirit. Our approach is holistic and grounded in research and evidenced-based best practices that help people develop the awareness and skills required to achieve and sustain recovery.