5 Things To Do Instead Of Drinking Alone

You don’t need to avoid your vice. You just need to control how you deal with the urges to satisfy it.

Photo Credit: Sam Howzit

The last time I drank was the weekend of my birthday. It’s tradition to get turnt up on your birthday. Except this time, the turn up was different.

After years of seeing drinking as an excellent emotional anesthetic, I made the decision to pump the breaks on my relationship with alcohol.

I never hid bottles in closets or cupboards. I never drank to the point of memory loss or waking up in my own bodily fluids. I never drank daily. It didn’t affect how I did my job nor how I dealt with clients and co-workers. But it did affect my relationships. It hindered my ability to let people in. It damaged my self-worth.

I watched the self-destruction, knowing the end would jolt me out of this zombie-like state. As someone who used alcohol to cope, I can tell you that being backed into a corner is the best thing that can happen to you. It forces you to do something — anything — before it’s too late.

It was through action that I got a handle on drinking. It’s been 134 days since I’ve had alcohol of any kind. I’m not an alcoholic so this became a personal challenge. Therefore, no meetings. No counseling. No excuses. I did it by doing other things in the times that I would have poured a drink.

  1. Go to sleep. Before your body chemically shuts down, there’s many signals sent to your brain. If you’re drinking, you’re drowning out that silent noise. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll look and feel when you develop a normal sleeping pattern. You’ll thank yourself for those power naps during lunch too.
  2. Meet new people. While social drinking is acceptable in most cultures, the art of just enjoying company is lost. I took a boxing class and signed up to be a referee for a rec league this season. I’ve learned to not let distrust be an automated setting in social interactions. I’m developing new friendships with great people. The more time you spend around quality personalities, the less likely you’ll feel the need to use alcohol as an “escape” from the monotony.
  3. Write. One of the ways I was able to confront my vice was to write about its negative effects. Writing is the method upon which you can have valuable introspection. Whether it’s keeping a daily journal or blogging somewhere, the act of getting your thoughts out clears up usable space in your mind for more productive, positive things.
  4. Do a massive clean-up. What I noticed in cleaning out one of my closets is that I’ve been carrying items around, apartment to apartment, that I had no need for. I got rid of clothes that didn’t fit, sneakers that were out of style, and miscellaneous cords. Once I trashed or gave away some things, I looked in my closet with a sigh of relief. I’m no longer dragging around literal baggage.
  5. Talk to someone. And I don’t mean a therapist or a licensed clinician. We all want someone to listen. We want to be understood. Many of us are the soundboards in our families or social circles. If you identify as an empath, you’re probably a receptacle for everybody’s feelings. Rarely do you have an opportunity to unload. As I dealt with anxiety, I never wanted to open up because I didn’t want my “stuff” to later become ammunition. What I’ve learned though is that it’s not easier or better to keep everything bottled up. We all need one person who is a safe place. People in your life are willing to be that if you have the courage to ask.

Being alcohol-free doesn’t have to be a permanent change. For me, it was all about finally having clarity. It was a time in my life to get clear on what I wanted, where I wanted to be, and the best way to get there. I have that purpose now. Questions were answered. So the next time I’m drinking will probably be at a New Years’ Eve brunch to celebrate the excitement of a clean slate n 2016.

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