These tips to avoid day one – again – relate to many drinkers who thought they could moderate. But then something triggered them, and they drank again. Knowing how to deal with triggers is the bottom line when it comes to avoiding day one – again.
What do I mean by day one – again? Giving up the booze takes enormous courage and often the drinker who has decided to go without is not 100% ready. But they don’t know this, and they have to find out. When a good intention goes out the window, it can be devastating.
Stopping alcohol is a huge step for people who love to drink. And if you are one of the drinkers who tried this and relapsed, don’t be so hard on yourself. There are many similar people out there, fighting the good fight.
Slips or Relapses?
Statistics suggest that up to 80% of people who try to quit have at least one relapse before achieving long-term sobriety. There are degrees of alcoholism and degrees of relapsing. A confirmed alcoholic who relapses has a much harder time quitting again and justifying the reason for the slip. It can also be dangerous to his/her health in the long term. A social drinker who gives up for a 30-day challenge and relapses can still pretend to wipe the slate clean and start all over again – at day one.
The common denominator here is regret, shame and guilt. The same feelings which drive addiction. A small slip can be corrected immediately and the drinker usually wants to act fast. A bigger relapse is harder to manage and can take a longer time with more intense resources required to assist.
I remember thinking I was invincible that I could stop drinking any time, give my body a break, then start again. I took many breaks which simply were my excuse to drink again – the vicious cycle of detoxing and then drinking again. When I stopped drinking for 8 months, I thought it was the end of my drinking. BUT my mind disagreed with my heart and I had a slip. There I was, back to square one within a month. Five months later, I gave up for good, experiencing my last and worst slip.
Starting at Day One – Again
How many times have you restarted at day one? This can be demoralising. All that counting. All that trying and succeeding – only to fail – again. Time to find out how to conquer those triggers and find out why we slip up.
According to Elizabeth Hartney on VeryWellMind, “It is not enough to commit to quit; you need to explore the reasons behind the slip and to understand what triggered it in the first place. Without some serious soul-searching, you will be less able to avoid another slip should the same issue return.”
She adds that it is best to move forward quickly. Leave the guilt behind and try even harder to stay sober. Leave the shame behind and face your mistakes, acknowledging them for what they are, and looking out to avoid them in future. Recovery is about moving forward and away from the hurt and the pain.
“And, most importantly, remind yourself that the only true failure is giving up on yourself. Do not give up.”
The biggest problem for the “Starting Day One Again” crowd is how big the slip is. Is it a full-blown relapse where all caution is thrown to the wind and the drinker dives straight back into alcoholism and alcohol abuse again? Or is it a one-day affair that can be remedied with will power and other professional resources so that sobriety wins?
Triggers Needing Taming
Starting day one again can be the result of a trigger that was not dealt with. And maybe the drinker’s motivation to quit was low at the time and he/she is not 100% committed – yet? Addiction is a wild beast to tame and can take a lifetime. Conquer those day ones again, now!
Let’s look closer at the triggers that are the catalyst for so many day ones – again:
- Times of celebration or mourning – weddings and funerals, the death of a pet or a loved one. Feeling happy can bring on that need to drink and feeling sad can also reinforce the desire to drink. It is a good idea to take a sober buddy to these events who can guide you to make the right choices. We fail to think rationally at happy or sad events anyway, so when there are triggers, it is even harder.
- Stress in all its disguises – stress at work, at home, in the car, being alone – stress is there with us all day and every day and knowing how to deal with it becomes an art and a honed skill. Learn mediation and yoga, go walking in nature, have an exercise outlet and mix with people who make you happy. Do your best at work and in the home and if your best is not someone else’s best, so be it. Move on and feel good about who you really are.
- Feelings of negativity and inadequacy – a sense of failure as a mother, wife, husband, worker, colleague, son or daughter can induce the need to drink. Positive affirmations and mantras can rewire your brain away from these damaging negative false beliefs. Make some real beliefs come true for you.
- People, places or rituals connected to the drinking – avoid these places, staying at home away from social events. If the trigger IS home, then manage it another way. Try another ritual that replaces the ritual of pouring a drink, take up a hobby that keeps hands and heart happy, or start studying something scintillating.
- Seeing or sensing the object of the addiction – the favourite wine glass or wine, the smell of the wine, the effects of the wine on someone else. Avoid these things by changing the way you spend your day and who you hang out with.
Ask yourself a few questions around your drinking and your need to drink:
- Where is my inner child, the real me?
- What is my greatest fear?
- What is my greatest achievement?
- What are my resources (for recovery and future goals)? These can be people, institutions, hobbies, activities or feelings.
- How am I feeling? (Ask this all the time and find out why you are feeling like that).
- Who can I connect with today?
Chat to your Tribe Sober recovery coaches today and find out more about your drinking habits. Find out what drives you and how you reconnect with others similar to you.