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Practical tips on how to not drink

(23 Posts)
hangingoutattheendofmywick Wed 15-Jun-16 09:12:47

I have accepted this morning that I have a drinking problem. I've tried not to accept it for a long time but I know I do.

I drink as a self medication for depression and anxiety. I am on anti depressants now and I want / need to stop drinking. I'm a SAHM and the days are so long that all I do to get me through the day is envision that bottle of wine at the end of it.

However lately it's got out of hand. Drinking more and more and more and even at lunch some days.

So I'm stopping.

I would love any practical tips on how to not drink ... Obviously other than don't buy any. Wine is my reward for getting through the day - and if I don't drink in the evening I get severe anxiety and can't sleep.

Any ideas on how to not drink when my urge sets in? I'm thinking alternatives / things to divert my attention.


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lljkk Wed 15-Jun-16 09:42:19

You need a support system; online is good, but compliment that with real people in real life. Are you the only adult at home? Other people don't all have to know about the alcohol, but some should know. You need to start thinking about what problems you're trying to stuff down & ignore, and trying to take baby steps towards making peace with those issues or sorting them out.

Do you normally stop off somewhere on way home to buy some booze? What about going home a different route so you don't pass by any off-licenses.

If you signed up to do some voluntary work in the day, that would give you people to talk to & keep you busy. Need to change routines, too.

hangingoutattheendofmywick Wed 15-Jun-16 09:48:57

Thank you. It's me and my husband at home. Husband doesn't drink by choice and he never thinks it's bad that I drink - he never mentions it. I've told him today that I'm stopping but if I've mentioned having a problem before he has said I'm over reacting. I've told my mum today too.

I get it from any shop I can - not one in particular but I just need to not buy it.

I don't know why I need drink - think I use it to quiet my brain. I have two young children so I can't do anything in the day like volunteer because I'm looking after them. If I could go to work I think I'd cope better but we can't afford it yet.

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rosie1959 Wed 15-Jun-16 09:56:00

There is a great little book called Living Sober full of helpful tips

lljkk Wed 15-Jun-16 10:06:42

Have you ever talked to a GP about the anxiety?
NHS mental health crisis services are in crisis (sorry for repetition); that said, some services do still exist. If you can be honest about the drinking as a side effect, you will be prioritised to get some NHS support.

Is your husband a useless confident about what worries you?

tribpot Wed 15-Jun-16 10:08:34

The book that really helped me was this one. I would urge you to download and read it today.

I also found it very difficult to sleep without alcohol - my brain would whirr and whirr until 2 a.m. and then I'd be up again at 6. However, even on just four hours I could feel that the quality of sleep was so much better than when I was drinking - but I couldn't face the thought of being up until 2 a.m. every day with my brain going round and round.

Bizarrely, when I stopped (because I had made myself very ill) I found I could fall asleep quickly almost immediately.

I think you've got an uphill battle on your hands here. You're alone every day and thus unaccountable for hours at a time. Your DH doesn't believe you have a problem, which actually isn't helpful. The more people you can tell the better, but only if they're going to believe you and support you.

You'll need to start listening to your brain when it gets triggered. My main one was cooking tea - it seemed so obvious to open a bottle of wine whilst cooking. Another odd one though was getting off the bus, my brain would loudly clang 'wine o'clock' even if I wasn't on my way home from a day at work or anything like that. So you need to stay alert and listen, anticipate those triggers as much as you can. If that means a month of microwave meals so you're not put in the situation of cooking with its triggers (let's say), that's what you do. This has to be the most important thing to you, you must stay committed to achieving it or it's too easy to slip.

You need to stop seeing wine as a reward and start to view it as poison. I hate being around it now, the smell particularly. I never walk through the booze aisle in the supermarket, I deliberately blank it out wherever I see it.

You're right as well that a distraction, both for your hands and your taste buds, is essential. I started drinking herbal teas and ginger beer (not together, urgh) as I needed tastes that weren't too sweet. For my hands, when I was really poorly, I used to play Animal Crossing on the Nintendo, and then as I got better I got into knitting. Now I have an even more ruinously expensive addiction but at least it's not going to kill me grin.

Since we are (in theory at least) in the summer months, can you get yourself out for a walk in the evening once your DH is home? I think you're using wine as a retreat from the non-stop demands of family life, and you need to find other ways to have downtime. If not in the evening I think you and your DH need to prioritise money to enable you to get some free time during the day to clear your head.

I would also advise going to your GP and disclosing your concerns about your alcohol use. This is scary because it makes it real. Your GP may want to run a liver function test (although these can come back in normal range even for heavy drinkers, so may give a false sense of security) or point you to alcohol advice services and support. You need to make this real; it will be too easy to backslide otherwise.

I hope that doesn't sound too scary - you're making the right choice to tackle this before it gets worse.

hangingoutattheendofmywick Wed 15-Jun-16 11:38:27

This is wonderful advice and I'll re read. Again and again.

Just to point out my husband is wonderful and listens to all my complaints and concerns with love - he's especially good with my depression. He doesn't see my drinking as an issue because I think society generally don't see anything wrong with drinking wine every day with a meal ... It's very accepted so he probably doesn't view me as the typical vision of an alcoholic. He's probably also trying to make me feel better about myself - like don't be so hard on yourself type thing. But he's wonderful and if I told him how serious I felt I know he would support me.

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tribpot Wed 15-Jun-16 12:40:59

Sounds like job number one is to tell your DH how serious you feel and how much you need him to support you in addressing the problem, not make you feel better by minimising.

As you start to research, I think you'll find there is no 'typical' alcoholic. You're right that society wants to see drinking alcohol as normal (remind yourself the majority of the world's population do not drink!) and people like underplay other people's drinking problems rather than admit their own - obviously not the case with your DH!

I should have said, MN can provide some support and accountability via the DRY threads, but you really do need support in your real life as well.

Lottapianos Wed 15-Jun-16 12:53:41

Huge enormous well done for recognising that alcohol isn't working for you anymore. Having a drink every day is such an easy habit to form and the amount you drink tends to creep up almost without you noticing.

Here's what helps me to stay sober:
- get some nice soft drinks in for yourself. I actually really enjoy a glass of sparkling water (something a bit posh like San Pellegrino) with ice and a slice of lime, in a nice glass. I also have tons of herbal teas in, which I also really enjoy. Some people recommend tonic water with ice and a slice, but it may be a bit too reminiscent of a G&T for some people
- replace wine with a different type of evening treat - chocolate, hot bath, an episode of a new box set, whatever you like so long as its not boozy. It won't feel as exciting as wine to start with, but it will give you something concrete to focus on in the early days
- if you can, plan something nice / interesting to do the next morning and then notice how good you feel while you're doing it. I go running or go to the gym in the morning sometimes (both of which I love) and while working out, remind myself that exercising with a clear head feels better than any drinking session ever did!
- the first 2-3 weeks are the hardest. By the time you're a month or so in, you will be starting to form a new habit, where alcohol is not involved

Good luck and I'm really glad you have such a supportive husband x

wigglybeezer Wed 15-Jun-16 13:09:12

I reccomend listening to recorded books on my phone as a good distraction for an over active mind, especially good at bedtime as you can put them on a timer to fall asleep to. I have depression and anxiety that varies a lot, don't drink much but can easily imagine how it could become a crutch ( it's the internet I have a problem with.)

hangingoutattheendofmywick Wed 15-Jun-16 13:09:27

Thank you - these are wonderful tips. I do think I need to replace it with something else. I need a hobby or something because (sad and pathetic as it sounds) drinking has always been my hobby. My enjoyment!

I wish I could knit but can't. But something like that...

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ImperialBlether Wed 15-Jun-16 13:41:23

Do you have friends who are also at home in the day? It can be a bit lonely if it's just you and the children.

Could you join a gym and go there or swimming in the evenings?

hangingoutattheendofmywick Wed 15-Jun-16 14:14:59

Not really - re: friends and yes I'm so lonely. I would be so much happier if I could work but it'll be next year before I can. Loneliness is a factor.

I would love to join a gym in the evening - there aren't any near by and I don't drive. It's hard.

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ImperialBlether Wed 15-Jun-16 14:35:18

Are there any mother and toddler groups in the day? They saved my sanity when I was on maternity leave.

Why don't you spend the money you spent on alcohol on driving lessons? You could learn in the evenings. How much (be realistic!) were you spending?

tribpot Wed 15-Jun-16 14:43:35

I would say you're probably both lonely and bored, which is not a great combination when fighting off a drink problem. I really would encourage you to look for hobbies you can do - if you don't fancy knitting there's always crochet grin I'm kidding, but we do have a very active yarnie community on MN so there are lots of people to help, and lots of projects to contribute to whilst you're learning. In terms of exercise, what about a running club?

Is it worth rethinking the decision not to work? I appreciate the maths may not stack up at this stage but again, investing in your sobriety is not a trivial thing.

How about some distance learning, maybe? There are loads of MOOCs out there (this is a real thing, it means massive open online course).

hangingoutattheendofmywick Wed 15-Jun-16 16:55:36

Well driving unfortunately is completely out of the question - I suffer from severe anxiety which means I can't pass a test. The two I've done were the worst experiences of my life and have almost made driving into a phobia now (I know I sound like a loser) - I was spending an absolute fortune - all my money basically was on wine & bad food.

I'll be better off - but we can't afford for me to work. If I work we lose our tax credits and i would have to earn twice my salary for us both to afford 2 kids in the nurseries around here. Even when eldest goes to school we will be unable to afford the nursery fees of youngest but I'll go anyway. But two kids there - i don't earn enough and my husband is on a pittance. We are very heavily supported by my family. It's not an option.

Running is a good idea if I can build up the courage to get out.

Drinking is just the tip of the problem - I have depression and anxiety and it's a vicious circle. However I know not drinking will help with those things.

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hangingoutattheendofmywick Wed 15-Jun-16 17:09:28

Also I've bought the book you linked to - thanks for recommendation

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Wolfiefan Wed 15-Jun-16 17:16:27

You absolutely do NOT sound like a loser. You sound like someone really suffering and looking for a way forward. What about couch to 5k?

ChickyDuck Wed 15-Jun-16 17:22:56

Firstly, well done! What a fantastic positive change you are making.

My tip would be: find another drink that feels like a treat. For me this is elderflower cordial with fizzy water, or coconut water, both really cold with lots of ice. Put it in a wine glass so it feels nice a special and grown up. Don't worry about cost (although these are rather £££ as far as soft drinks go, they are cheaper than wine!). When you really fancy a drink, have one of these. Sip it slowly and savour it.

By the time you have done all this, you will still feel rewarded, and the urge to drink probably will have passed! Good luck smile

hangingoutattheendofmywick Thu 16-Jun-16 09:30:35

thanks everyone for your support yesterday. I got through the first night - it was hard. I drank herbal teas and coconut water and resorted to doing a puzzle. You have all been great.

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tribpot Thu 16-Jun-16 09:38:01

Good - you're doing all the right things, you've just got to keep going. Did you talk to your DH?

hangingoutattheendofmywick Thu 16-Jun-16 10:23:14

i didn't talk to him but eerily (as though he had read this thread) he came home and told me he was really proud of me for not drinking and he knew it would be hard and that he supported me.

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ChickyDuck Thu 16-Jun-16 11:56:26

Hurrah! Well done OP and I'm glad your hubby is being so supportive too smile

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