Catch up with the top ten posts in “Exploring Sobriety” this year.

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I’ve been writing more than ever this year and want to thank each of you for reading. As the year wraps up, I’ve gathered the ten most popular “Exploring Sobriety” posts of 2020 into the list below.

If you’re a new reader, this list is the perfect starting place. If you’ve been following me for a while, it’s a great way to catch up on any posts you missed or wanted to read again. I hope you all enjoy these and find them interesting or helpful.

10. Why Addicts Do Endless Mental Math

“One of the things that non-addicts rarely realize about alcoholism is how much planning goes into it. This is especially true among so-called ‘high-functioning alcoholics.’ My drinking days required constant calculations, as I tried to balance law school and work with getting drunk every single night.” …

As a recovering alcoholic, I don’t feel any nostalgia for my heavy-drinking past.

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Missing Alcohol

When I quit drinking, I felt like I was giving up my favorite thing in the world. Although I knew that alcohol abuse was damaging my health and interfering with my life, I also thought of drinking as one of my only outlets for fun and relaxation.

During my first year sober, I missed drinking — a lot. I got cravings for alcohol all the time, which would send me into ridiculous daydreams about going back to beer.

I was definitely looking at beer through rose-colored glasses. Even though I had experienced first-hand how alcohol had ruined my social life, I still thought of drinking as a way to meet friends and party. And even though sobriety had helped to lower my anxiety levels, I still had myself convinced that drinking on my couch was a good form of relaxation. …

This well-intended phrase isn’t helping anyone get sober.

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Ever since I quit drinking, I’ve loved reading other people’s sobriety stories. Early on in my sobriety, they provided the motivation, inspiration, and guidance that I needed to keep going. These days, I read them simply to take joy in my fellow recovering alcoholics’ successes.

As much as I love these stories, I do have one pet peeve: the phrase “If I can do it, you can too.”

Although most writers mean for it to be a source of hope, it can easily come off as condescending. …

My alcoholism left me jaded, but I eventually found reasons for optimism.

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My first attempt to get sober came at a very young age. I was 22, just one year out of college, but my drinking habit had already consumed my life.

I lived alone in a small apartment, getting by on freelance work that I did from home. I rarely stepped outside in those days, aside from regular trips to the grocery store to restock on beer and cigarettes.

I made these trips often, because I was tearing through beer more quickly than at any other point in my life. I’d start drinking the moment that I woke up, and wouldn’t stop until it was time for bed. …

High stress levels are a surprisingly great reason to give sobriety a try.

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Dry January is an annual event in which participants give up all alcohol for the month. Dry January is most popular in the United Kingdom, where it originated, but each year it spreads further throughout the world.

A poll by Morning Consult found that 13% of Americans are participating this year (up from 11% last year). This number is particularly impressive because the poll also discovered that 73% had never heard of Dry January. This means that nearly half of Americans who have heard of the event chose to participate.

Why is it so popular? For some participants, it’s about starting the new year off healthy. For others, it’s a chance to explore what sobriety is like as they consider making the leap to quitting alcohol altogether. This year, about half of American participants said it was because they had been drinking too much due to Covid. …

The famous actor has an important message for the new year.

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Life or Death?

Shortly before the new year, world-famous actor Anthony Hopkins posted a short video to Twitter celebrating his 45th year sober. His message included words of hope for fellow alcoholics as well as anyone who has struggled throughout the past year.

Hopkins acknowledged that it had “been a tough year, full of grief and sadness for many many many people,” but hoped that his own story could encourage others to “keep fighting.”

45 years ago, Hopkins had been in a destructive state, “drinking himself to death,” when he experienced a sudden wake up call. …

Heavy drinking was damaging my health and I didn’t even notice.

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Heavy drinking is notoriously unhealthy. It’s well known that alcohol abuse can cause liver damage. It also increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, and strokes. In the United States alone, excessive drinking causes 95,000 deaths per year. (Source)

However, alcohol also causes many health problems that aren’t nearly so obvious or life threatening. I used to be a daily, heavy drinker. At the time, I believed that because I had never ended up in the hospital from drinking, alcohol must not have had any impact on my health.

The truth is that although I was lucky enough to escape the most serious health problems associated with excessive drinking, my habit still damaged my health in many subtler ways. I never ended up in the hospital, but I still have to acknowledge that alcohol led me to an unhealthy lifestyle. …

To protect my sobriety, I had to stop doing these three things.

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I struggled to quit drinking. My sobriety was initially a start-and-stop process. One day I’d swear off alcohol for good, the next I’d find a way to talk myself back into drinking.

With each relapse, I was tempted to throw in the towel. Every time that I failed to quit drinking, I became further convinced that it would be impossible for me to ever make my sobriety last.

Despite these feelings, I kept trying to quit, and I did my best to learn from past relapses instead of beating myself up over them. …

This is what I wish I had been told when I quit drinking.

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Getting sober takes an immense amount of courage, and it deserves to be celebrated. Although this seems obvious to me now, I sure wish that someone had said it to me when I first quit drinking. I could have used the encouragement.

When I think back to my first few days sober, I don’t remember any feelings of pride. I was fighting harder than ever before to take back my life from addiction, but I was still overwhelmed with embarrassment and shame.

Even as I was worked to change my life, I remained obsessed by my past. I couldn’t stop dwelling on all of the years that I had wasted with drinking, and how much damage I had done to myself. Instead of giving myself credit for the giant step I was taking towards a healthier life, I beat myself up over past mistakes. …

How do we resist alcohol when the world gives us every reason to drink?

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We’re living through tumultuous times. Our world is in the midst of a global pandemic, and the United States is experiencing unprecedented chaos as false claims of election fraud escalate to an attempted coup.

As a mob of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol yesterday, I was interested to see the reactions of everyday Americans on Twitter. The need for alcohol was a common theme.

Many people made casual comments about needing a bottle of wine to deal with their anxiety. …


Exploring Sobriety

Reflections on life without alcohol.

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