So You Want to Quit Drinking…
Time to Lace up your Tenni’s
Ask anyone who has been sober for more than a few years and they will tell you that sobriety isn’t a destination, but rather a marathon. Like a marathon, you have to constantly be training. The longer and harder you drank, the more training you will need. Unlike a marathon, sobriety does not have a finish line. You never reach a finish line. The thoughts of drinking will never completely go away. The number of times you think about drinking will decrease in its cadence, but it will never fully disappear.
It’s a Marathon
Let’s imagine what it’s like to truly train for a marathon. First and foremost, you have to ensure that you can truly endure this long of a race. 26.2 miles is a lot. I’m not a runner, in fact, I hate running. I have ‘run’ my fair share of 5Ks, but I cannot imagine running 26.2 miles, it’s bananas to me. But I digress. People do it and it’s the closest thing I could think of that resembles the sobriety journey. Many people consult with their physicians before signing up for a marathon. Others are born runners, but they still have to train, sometimes for months.
So let’s say you signed up for a marathon, you need to get yourself in shape. You need to eat right, sleep well, hydrate, and most importantly, you’ve gotta run! People join running groups, they wake up at 4 a.m. and run with people that are also training for an endurance run. They download apps on their phone that track the miles and average pace they are running. These apps even suggest week by week how they should be increasing their distance and/or speed.
I view training for a marathon just like living life sober. There is a particular mindset you have to carry to complete a marathon as well. Training for a marathon requires you to believe in yourself, to have the discipline to get up every single day, rain or shine, and run. Running a marathon is also about being able to control your mind. When it’s just you and the pavement, there is a lot of silence and your mind can really take over. You begin to hear voices telling you to just give up, to turn around, go back home and plop on the couch.
You Can’t Just ‘Show Up’
While many people will quit cold turkey with no training beforehand, I do not recommend it. Let’s talk about what would happen to a runner if they committed to a marathon that is set to take place in 4 weeks, but did not train. What do you think would happen on race day? They would likely be extremely nervous. Their mind would be freaking out, “what the hell are we doing here!?” When the gun goes off initiating the race, they might start strong and keep a fast pace for 2 or 3 miles. The rest of the group is far behind them because they know the exact pace they need to maintain in order to finish. Our runner is feeling pretty good, but they are thirsty already, so they stop off and down a cup of water.
Further along in the race, at mile 4 or 5, their legs are starting to burn. Runner’s block kicks in, where their inner-voice is screaming for them to stop. The inner-voice is saying, ‘no way you can do this, this is insanity’. Then around mile 6, the pain in their side begins. The runner feels defeated, they haven’t even made it halfway and are already considering quitting. The runner’s pace slows dramatically, and the rest of the group begins to pass by. Exhaustion is quickly setting in at mile 7 and the runner begins to walk. The runner’s side is hurting so badly, breathing is very difficult and their legs simply cannot go on. The runner gives up and sits down, essentially quitting the race.
It may seem obvious that to run a marathon, one needs to train for the said marathon. The same can be implemented when you are trying to give up alcohol. For people like me, I was drinking every single day. If I had a raging hangover, and it was the weekend, hair of the dog for me. My body wasn’t physically dependent upon it, but my mind was. I was like our runner, I didn’t train. I didn’t think it would be as hard as it was. I didn’t realize that I had to change my mindset. I didn’t realize I had zero coping skills. My negligence of not asking for help or support, lack of hobbies, no motivation to create new habits, and zero interest in creating a new outlook made me relapse. I was just an average gal with no experience trying to run a marathon.
What the Hell DO I do?
So you might be asking, how does someone train to quit drinking? How long does it take to train? What sorts of things are involved in training to quit drinking?
I’m glad you asked!
My relapse is what led me to build up my sobriety stamina, to train for the lifelong journey. There are so many different avenues a person can take that will give them the confidence that is necessary to remain sober. The toolbox you have to build up in order to gain that confidence is what I have found to be the key to my sobriety. Through trial and error, I have created a toolbox that works for me. I have the ability to open it up at any given time, during any given situation and combat the urges to drink. If you want to create your own toolbox, visit this page to download your free worksheet.
And now it is my time to pass that knowledge on to you. Together we can create a toolbox that you can carry with you from now on. You will learn to adapt your tools to different scenarios. You will retire tools as you no longer feel you need them and adopt new ones as you continue to grow. Training for sobriety is unique to every individual, their commitment to succeed, and their determination to invest in their future.
While we likely won’t be sweating together, we will be training together so that when the day comes in which you decide to step up to the starting line, you will be more than ready to run!