In recovery from alcoholism, it’s common to have thoughts about drinking again. When problems arise or when your mood is low, it can be tempting to dull the pain with alcohol. Sometimes, even when you’re happy, your sobriety can be at risk. Seeing others drink ‘normally’, curiosity, and wanting to ‘celebrate’ can all be reasons to think about returning to the bottle. Here’s some helpful self-talk for those moments when you are at risk of relapse.
“Alcohol won’t solve anything.”
If you’ve got problems and are feeling negative, remind yourself that there is no way alcohol can solve your issue. If you’re going through a breakup, for example, drinking will not magically resolve that relationship. If you’re mourning a death, alcohol will not bring that person back.
There is literally no situation that alcohol can do anything about. Alcohol has no answers to tricky questions. Booze can't take steps to sort out your problems. It’s just a liquid. Alcohol may soothe negative emotions in the short-term, of course, so let’s move onto the next thing you must tell yourself.
“Drinking will make everything worse.”
When you feel tempted to dull bad feelings with alcohol, remind yourself that drinking will worsen the situation. If you have an issue to sort out, you can not take action to improve it if you are drunk, hungover, or in alcohol withdrawal. You can only do that sober.
Whatever the reason you’re tempted to slip, if you do drink, you will have a load more negative things to deal with. Self-loathing, feeling ill, perhaps having to deal with the aftermath of anything dumb you did while drunk. Remember the last time you had a drink and exactly how that ended up if you want concrete proof that drinking alcohol will just make things worse.
“This will pass.”
In life, everything changes. Sometimes things can switch in a second while other things may take a little longer to change. But, things will change. That is a fact. You only have to look at the weather to see that it is the nature of things to never stay the same.
Tell yourself that your alcohol cravings will pass, because they will. Your temptation to drink will pass. Your low mood will eventually brighten. Even if you have depression or anxiety, you will not always feel at your very worst. Whatever situation you’re dealing with will pass too, in time. Everything will pass. Make this your motto for dealing with living sober to help you tackle tricky times.
“I treasure my sobriety.”
While you can momentarily feel hacked off with being sober, remind yourself how much better sobriety feels most of the time. Remember how proud you are of what you achieved by getting sober. Think about the freedom you now have compared to when you were deep in your alcoholism.
Concentrate on all the wonderful gifts of sobriety. There may be external benefits, such as better relationships with family or friends, a better job, or better health. There will certainly be internal benefits, such as a sense of integrity and more peace of mind. Remind yourself how much you treasure sobriety whenever you think about having a drink.
“I can only live sober.”
If you’re an alcoholic, there is one thing that is for certain: drinking, for you, is always out of the question. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy, sad, or somewhere in between, you can not drink. This rule does not change because it’s your birthday or Christmas. The fact still stands when you’re sad or angry. You can not drink.
You know, deep down, where drinking always leads you. If you’re an alcoholic, one drink never means one drink. It means unbearable cravings for more and more, and this can go on for days, weeks, months, or years until you can get sober again. This is, above all, why you must stay sober.
Luckily, sobriety done the right way is wonderful. So it’s not a bad thing that you can only live sober. In fact, it can be one of the greatest gifts of your life. Remind yourself of that all the time, whether you’re craving or not, because it’s so very true. This will also help you stay content, grateful, and happy to be sober, which is exactly what you deserve.
by Beth Burgess, Therapist and award-winning author of The Recovery Formula, The Happy Addict, and Instant Wisdom.