Published On: August 16, 20221672 words8.6 min read

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to take the first steps to quit drinking.  There are so many sober communities out there that you can join – connect for support and to learn from others’ experiences.  Read the quit lit.  Find a “sober buddy” to be accountable with – I am fortunate to have a sober buddy whom I met through Tribe Sober.”

Kay is 58 years old and has decided to stop drinking. She says it is for good. I believe her. Kay knows her own mind. She is a woman of integrity with good values: as an honest, loyal, respectful, and kind American citizen, she cares about getting sober.

Right now, Kay is experiencing her early days of sobriety, for the third time around.

Getting Sober is a Challenge

“I am very new in my journey – Day 10,” noted Kay when this article was written. “I just completed the 5 Day Sober Sprint and have now started the new online Kickstart program. I may be new on my journey but I’m doing the work and determined to become completely AF.”

She will do it. Kay was never the kind of drinker who drank her whole life. In fact, her first few sips of alcohol at the tender age of seven did not turn her into a raging alcoholic. She was a true moderator during her formative, high school years – enjoying a few glasses with friends on nights out and maybe feeling a bit under the weather the next day.

Remembers Kay: “I wasn’t a drinker in high school – I didn’t go to parties with the ‘cool’ kids.  After high school friends and I would go to the local bars on Friday and Saturday nights.  Some nights I’d overdrink and may have a slight hangover the next day but then I’d be off the stuff.  Some weekends we didn’t drink.”

But this all changed in 2016, a mere 6 years ago. Kay was already in her 50s. That was the year that Kay had major, life-changing surgery.

“In 2016, I had bariatric surgery.  We were strongly advised NOT TO DRINK any alcohol from then on due to the high chance of a shift from overeating to alcohol.”

Bariatric Surgery and Alcohol

In fact, there is now “strong empirical evidence showing that individuals who undergo bariatric surgery are at an elevated risk of developing problems with alcohol, ranging from increased alcohol use to alcohol use disorder (AUD),” according to an article in Current Psychiatry Reports.

Samantha Stavola adds that is usually advised to avoid alcohol for six months after bariatric surgery. “When you undergo bariatric surgery, the large fundus, or reservoir, a portion of the stomach has either been totally bypassed or removed from the rest of the GI tract.  Because of this, alcohol enters the body more rapidly for processing, which can increase your risk of developing alcohol poisoning.”

This means that one drink is equal to three or four drinks and this kind of effect can increase the patient’s risk of developing a stomach ulcer by eroding the lining of the stomach wall. Remember that the intoxicating effects of alcohol occur a lot sooner than before surgery, and alcohol can slow down weight loss.

Kay was told that alcohol slides too easily down the throat when you can’t eat any great amount of food.  She was fearful about this, and she wanted to heed the advice but one of her colleagues also had the surgery and proclaimed that she was drinking alcohol and it was not so bad!

“So, about 8 months after my surgery, I slowly began testing the waters, so to speak, to see how the alcohol would affect me. “

The Wheels Fall Off After Surgery

Needless to say, the alcohol did go down super easily – Kay did not get deathly ill, and it made her “feel good!”.  So, Kay would then go out with friends and have a glass or two of wine.  A glass or two for someone who has had weight loss surgery is very different because “it affects us a lot quicker, and it doesn’t take much at all for us to become intoxicated.”

Kay says that eventually, she started drinking more nights a week until it came to the point that she was drinking at least a bottle of wine a night or more, and maybe a can or two of beer.

That was when Kay started to search sober podcasts and blogs because she was concerned about her drinking. Quite by chance, she found the podcast featuring Janet on “To 50 and Beyond” and then she listened to podcast Episode 182, “Getting Sober over 60 Janet Gourand”.  Some things happen for a reason, it is our destiny, for sure!

“I feel very fortunate to have caught this episode.  I was very interested in what Janet had to share and speak about.  I found her very comfortable, so I immediately looked Tribe Sober up and joined The Tribe soon after. I learned that I was drinking for emotional reasons due to stress and to numb out any feelings.”

Right now, Kay is on a personal mission to stop drinking. She is practical about it and admits that she has reached two months sober on two Tribe Sober challenges.

“The first time I stopped by participating The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace of This Naked Mind.  The second time I participated in Tribe Sober’s January 2022 Fundraiser and was AF for 66 days,” says Kay.

She recently completed Tribe Sobers 5 Day Sober Sprint (successfully) and immediately joined the Online Kickstart program.

Finding the Shift

“This time around, my mind is shifting the way I’m seeing the effects of alcohol.  During the 5-Day Sober Sprint – for the first time – I actually DID the work!  I wrote down my “Why’s” – being very honest with myself and was amazed at how the words just flowed down on the paper.  It really lit a flame under me and really has motivated me to keep going.  I have “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace that I’ll be re-reading but right now I’m listening to “Alcohol Explained” by William Porter and I am getting so much out of this book.  Things are just really clicking and I can feel it tying in with what Tribe Sober is talking about.  I feel like I’m on the right path and not “white knuckling” it like before.  I don’t have the strong desire to drink now.”

This is such good news and just shows that we all can persevere and get through the walls and troughs that life throws at us. How can we have highs in life if we don’t have the lows?

Kay can giggle at some incidents when she was drinking: “Once my son and now ex-husband and I were on a weekend vacation, staying in a hotel.  I had a little too much to drink and went to bed.  The next thing I heard my son saying “Mom, that’s not a door! What are you doing?!”  I “came to” and found that I was trying to get out a window – thinking it was a door!  Thankfully, our room was on the first floor.  Ugh!  How embarrassing! The next morning, my son had to remind me of what I did.  Of course, I laughed it off but really, I was very ashamed.  It was awful!”

Kay is an ordinary woman, just like you and me. She works at a community college, she loves reading true crime books and watching true crime shows. She is divorced and lives with her 21-year-old son.

Great Tips for Fellow Drinkers Wanting to Quit

Kay has some tips for people who are just giving up alcohol right now: “Just take that first step – not drinking for one day.  That, to me, is the hardest step – but also the most courageous step because it can be so scary.  Then make the choice not to drink on the second and third day.  Once you get a few days under your belt you start to feel a little more confident and prouder of yourself.  You’ll look back and not want to have to repeat those days.  I’d also say join a community such as Tribe Sober where there are people just like you and the group is so supportive.  Also, listen to different podcasts.  One podcast or podcast episode may not resonate with you but then you listen to a different one and … BAM … it settles into your brain just right and you feel like you’re starting to “get it” a little more.  It “clicks!”.”

In a nutshell, Kay urges all of us to DO THE WORK. She urges every one of you reading this blog to do the work or exercises suggested or provided in any challenge you take on and don’t just skip through that part and think that it is just for everyone else to do, and not you.

Connection is the opposite of addiction and that’s why it is SO difficult to quit drinking alone. While you may manage to get sober by sheer willpower it’s almost impossible to stay sober without connecting with others on the same path.

Are you Doing the Work?

Do you chat daily on Slack  – share and listen to wisdom from others?
Attend the Zoom Cafe – every Saturday at 4.30 pm SA time.
Are you reading the Quitlit and listening to the weekly podcasts?
Have you done the WHY exercise and are you using your tracker?
Have you used your DrinkNil discount voucher?
Have you attended a workshop?
Have you tried our online yoga class and had a nutritional consult?
Have you taken advantage of your complimentary coaching, hypnotherapy, and root cause therapy sessions?

An AF life is so much more than you can imagine. Try it.

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