Sobriety – the Stages of Grief?

If your journey to alcohol-free living seems anything but straightforward then check out this guest blog sent to us by Hynotherapist Belinda Roxburgh

Alcohol has been your best friend forever?! She helped you through those tricky teenage years and has supported you ever since. You look forward to spending time with her, she understands you and she is always there for you at the end of the day, in good times and bad. She is there when you socialise and the best Netflix companion when you’re alone. She helps you celebrate the highlights of life and numbs the pain when it’s all too much. She helps you cope with those family get togethers, boring work functions and scary first dates. Or maybe she’s been your life saver through the stresses and strains of marriage and motherhood.

What a big role she has played throughout your life which means it comes as quite a shock to discover this friend is false, dangerous and toxic. The stats are piling up and the truth is hard not to see. But even so, choosing to let her go is not completely obvious, nor easy, and the reality is that most of you will experience some or all of the Stages of Grief (Kubler -Ross). These stages can occur in any order and often overlap backwards, forwards and sideways.

Denial: this can go on for years as you slowly become aware of the negative effects of this relationship. You may try to moderate, put rules in place, stop on and off, compare your drinking with others that drink more to make yourself feel better and justify carrying on with it for any number of reasons. You are so determined not to be an alcoholic because you enjoy it too much to have to stop.

Anger: At yourself for not being able to moderate, for overdoing it and feeling hung over. Angry at everyone else who doesn’t need to stop, angry at friends who say you don’t have a problem and have no reason to stop. Angry because you get the feeling they only want you to carry on because it makes them feel better about their own drinking. Angry when there are no alcohol-free alternatives in restaurants and work functions. Angry that you started drinking in the first place. Angry at being so gullible to have bought into the brain washing that drinking alcohol means a good time. Also angry at all the time wasted in your lifetime numbing your brain, being miserable, not being true to yourself… blurred memories and missed opportunities, knowing that you haven’t been the best you could have been because you chose to drink. It’s possible in this stage to also feel judgemental towards others and especially critical of those who are close to us and appear to be oblivious of the dangers and ill effects that are now so clear in your own mind. And ironically, this can be because they remind you of you.

Bargaining: After a period of abstinence the voices become more persistent. You are doing well now, proved that you are not in fact an alcoholic because you have managed to stop for a period of time. This means you can moderate, right? Starting with a drink or two when out with friends, then weekends, then more often. You have been so good you deserve just this one? Oh what’s the point, life is no fun without it, everyone else is drinking..? Knowing that this stage is to be expected means you can experience it with awareness and listen to that voice with a healthy dose of skepticism. You know deep down that going back to an abusive lover always has the same outcome.

Depression: After being alcohol-free for a period of time it seems it is quite common to experience a very flat period, almost an anti-climax after the excitement of discovering all the many benefits of being sober. This can be a danger time as it takes one back to the bargaining stage and the f***it why not? Be prepared in whatever way is going to help you through this. (Refer to your toolkit – connecting with friends, nature, counselling, anything creative, exercise, charity work, yoga, meditation and hypnotherapy!) Know that it takes 14 months for the dopamine system to normalise. Any psychologist will tell you that after divorce it takes 2-3years to feel completely yourself again so patience is essential. While your mind readjusts emotionally and psychologically there are a myriad of changes taking place on a cellular level, healing, regenerating and balancing of chemicals and neurotransmitters. This is why it takes time to lose weight and also for sugar cravings to subside. Cultivate the voice of an encouraging parent as you give yourself recognition for every small step in the direction that feels good for you!

Acceptance: Acceptance doesn’t mean instant happiness but rather that your powerful subconscious is finally in alignment with your conscious mind. It is a sense of relief and also the start of the new chapter, a new reality. Everyone’s journey is different which means your path to this stage will be taken in your own sweet time and your own direction. The numerous alcohol-free benefits start to become a reality which means you naturally choose to leave the toxic relationship behind. The new neural pathways are becoming stronger and stronger and everything becomes so much clearer and easier. Life starts to become more fulfilled and purposeful. There is much self- discovery and insight into what is important to you. And much excitement when contemplating all there is still to do with this gift of time and better health.

How can hypnotherapy enhance and ease this process? Feel free to contact me at for more information.


The 11 Year Fact

Did you know that the average dependent drinker will struggle alone for 11 years before reaching out for help?

Don’t wait for 11 years – join Tribe Sober today!