You’ve had enough and it’s time to act. Quitting drugs or alcohol is an important decision and the next few days are critical in changing your course and putting you on a trajectory towards recovery. Today the Help Me Stop team are providing advice on how to navigate these important days safely and successfully. You don’t have to be completely physically or psychologically addicted to benefit from this advice. If you have noticed that your use has increased, or even if you just want to take a break, going sober even for a few months can be profoundly beneficial.
Please be aware that alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be fatal. If you are planning to quit drinking ‘cold turkey’, please get in touch with your GP or with Help Me Stop on 0208 191 9191 or by email. We will offer advice on how to proceed safely and can signpost you to medical services to help manage your withdrawals safely. For information on our intensive non-residential Dayhab programme, please visit this page of our website.
The importance of planning and a strong frame of mind.
At this important time, you have a choice before you. The mental frame you are in during withdrawal will either help or hinder you, making a positive attitude vital in increasing your likelihood of success. Always remember that sobriety isn’t a sacrifice; it’s instead the very thing that will open you up to new opportunities as part of a new, better and more vibrant life. When you first decide that you want to change, it is helpful to set out some intentions and visions of what you want your new life to look like.
Chris Cordell*, Help Me Stop’s General Manager says “Changing your relationship with alcohol is a lifestyle change. Your social life may change, you might change the people you surround yourself with, you may change your routine or hobbies. You also need to work out what role alcohol was playing for you. Was it an opportunity to relax, was is a method of bonding with people, does it have a role in increasing your self-confidence? Generally, if you can identify what kinds of needs were being met, you can then find ways of achieving this without alcohol”.
You might also be feeling some real anxiety. This can even manifest physically; many adults preparing to quit drinking will physically sweat and experience mood swings. This is OK. Once more, if you are worried about your health and wellbeing it’s important you contact a treatment professional.
Preparing a sobriety plan.
At this point, you’ll want to create what is known as a ‘sobriety plan’. This is both an emergency kit and a prepared routine you’ll try to follow to help fill dead time and occupy yourself. Do your best to plan out what you’ll do throughout the days ahead; is there any work you need to do? Shows to watch? Places you can walk to fill the time? While you don’t have to pack your days out with activities, it’s important to have things ready to avoid lulls in the day where you are left idle in the face of your cravings and urges.
This touches on a particularly important aspect of sobriety and abstinence from drugs or alcohol. It’s easy to attribute any failings we make in our efforts to achieve abstinence to our willpower alone, but it’s often only part of the picture. As humans, we are influenced mentally by many different things in life. Sleep, food, exercise and more all come together to affect how we experience cravings and how we manage discipline and our lives. If you’re worried about failure or haven’t managed to quit recently, be kind in your view of yourself and look to these other areas of your life as an opportunity for improvement that will subsequently support your efforts to stay sober.
Nutrition and ‘the witching hour’
You’ll find the days ahead easier if you eat nutritious foods, so try to avoid unhealthy options and consider stocking your fridge with meals and ingredients that are nutritious. This is an important aspect of withdrawal and recovery. At the same time, having some treats on hand will help, particularly in the evening; between 4pm and 8pm is what is often referred to as the ‘witching hour’, which is when people quitting drink may experience stronger cravings for alcohol. This is usually a sign of low blood sugar, which you can correct by eating something with sugar in it.
It’s important to be aware of the connection between our sugar levels and our cravings. Many adults who try to quit alcohol mistake this time in the day as them being weak or lacking willpower, whereas, in reality, it’s simply their body influencing their cravings independently. By knowing this, you can empower yourself with another degree of separation from your urge to drink.
We’re here if you need us.
Quitting drugs and alcohol is a worthy and admirable thing to attempt. Always remember that it isn’t all about the severity of your use. If you only drink or do drugs occasionally but can’t stop, or you are finding that your use is increasing, you have an issue that is legitimate and deserving of professional support.
The Help Me Stop team is here to chat about your issues and look at treatment options at no obligation. For a friendly talk today, please get in touch on 0208 191 9191 or by email using our contact form.