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  • How do I deal with the urge to drink?

    Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in Australia. Join this forum to discuss issues and find support relating to alcohol use and recovery.
    Junior Member
    Posts: 1
    Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2021 2:30 pm

    How do I deal with the urge to drink?

    Sun Oct 17, 2021 2:49 pm

    Hi. I'm just wondering if anyone has advice on how to deal with cravings/the urge to drink? I am a weekend binge drinker and have very little self control. On many occasions I drink until I vomit. I want to stop. I managed to not drink at all last weekend but failed yesterday. I was thinking about drinking during the afternoon and gave in. How do I not have that first drink? My goal is to quit alcohol for 3 months at this point.
    1 x
    Peace Dove
    Community Builder
    Posts: 372
    Joined: Mon May 03, 2021 9:22 am

    Re: How do I deal with the urge to drink?

    Mon Oct 18, 2021 11:00 am

    Hi @FallenMagazine,
    Welcome to the forums! It's great that you've reached out for support as this can often be one of the hardest steps, so well done!
    You can look at some of the strategies to deal with urges and cravings in our Let's Talk!: Urges and cravings post here. There's some other information you might also be interested in reading, such as Dealing with Guilt and Shame and Lapse and relapse.
    Well done on managing to not drink at all last weekend and please don't beat yourself up for giving in the day after. This is a journey of ups and downs, and every lapse/relapse can be turned into a learning opportunity/experience.
    It's great to hear your goal is to quit for 3 months. The best approach is to take one day at a time.
    I'm going to tag our peer workers @ScorpionPW and @PnorkelPW.
    Please keep us posted on how you're travelling.
    1 x
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 316
    Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am

    Re: How do I deal with the urge to drink?

    Mon Oct 18, 2021 8:46 pm

    Hi @FallenMagazine,

    Thanks for being so open and sharing your struggle with us...I struggled with something very similar to this for a long time.

    I didn't even particularly like alcohol but found myself turning to it more often when I would stop using other drugs. It got to the point where I would always set myself a limit of how much I was going to drink or how often but as time went on I increased the limit and the frequency because I knew I couldn't stick to a small amount until I just let go of trying to control it at all.

    No matter how I approached it, I would always end up in that same cycle of trying really hard to control it, succeeding in a very limited way, whether it was an amount of time I would stop drinking for or an amount of drinks I would stick to, until it would just spiral and trying to control it became too hard.

    For me, the first thing I had to do was accept that I couldn't succesfully use any drug, alcohol or otherwise in any kind of manageable or safe way for any significant period of time. Once I accepted complete abstinence there was then the task of, ok so how do I not pick up the first one when I go into compulsion?

    The answer for this for me was to just not pick up one day at a time. All I needed to worry about was my head hitting the pillow at the end of the day having not picked up. Approaching it in this way allowed me to structure each day to be recovery focused and to not put myself in vulnerable situations. Of course there were some days where I really wanted to pick up and it was a real struggle, but just chunking it down, telling myself "Just for today I'm not going to pick up" and doing whatever it takes to achieve that each day was how I got through. I would fill my days with new connections from people in 12 step groups in the community and tried to find a new way to live.

    In time, it got a lot easier to live without drugs or drinking and the days, months and years accumulated. I am over 12 years clean now and still doing it a day at a time. 3 months is a great goal but maybe chunking that goal down into more bitesize pieces is a good way to go about getting there? As @PnorkelPW would say, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

    I hope you continue to share your journey with us here :)
    0 x
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 324
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: How do I deal with the urge to drink?

    Mon Oct 18, 2021 9:53 pm

    Hi @FallenMagazine ...........thanks for sharing with us. Something I learnt the hard way is that the only way I'm able to control my drinking is to not drink at all. Once I started I didn't stop. Unfortunately I learnt that the hard way...........over and over again. I made a lot of mistakes along the way and as time has gone on I've understood that there is no such thing as failure when it comes to trying to walk this path.

    What did you do last weekend that enabled you not to drink??

    I think your goal of 3 months is cool...........but try not to put too much pressure on yourself at the same time. If you have a slip up try not to beat yourself up over it. Instead, look at why you ended up drinking and see think about what you can do next time to prevent it happening again. And if it happens again???? What will you do next time??

    I've learnt a lot along the way and one of the biggest lessons has been that I can't do it alone. I don't have all the answers so I have to have people in my life that can help me. Reaching out on here is a great move from you and I hope you can find some tips from others along the way. Would you expect to be able to play the guitar the first time you ever picked it up? Cook a fine dining banquet the first time you ever cooked??? Then why should not drinking be any different?????

    There's no one simple answer to this but I can tell you a few things that have helped me and others that I know. Planning and routine play a big part. Filling your day with activities you enjoy is a good start..........and remember to give yourself some down time in there too. If it's sport, art and craft, hiking or underwater knitting.........whatever it is you plan to do has gotta make you feel good in one way or another. Whether it's a sense of achievement at doing something new or a a sense of enjoyment you get from doing something fun..........fill your day.

    Connection will play a big part too. Surrounding yourself with people who support you in your goal is going to be important. Your mates need to understand that you're trying not to drink for three months so it's important they don't try to wear you down and keep offering you drinks...............becuase it's not easy to keep saying no. Your GP can help too and may be able to support you in a number of ways...........have a chat to them.

    Focus on your goal each week and try not to put yourself in situations where you're likely to drink or where it's going to be hard not to. Take it day by day and set your intention each morning........"today I'm going to do what I can not to drink".

    Structure, routine, healthy eating, exercise, a good night's sleep, support from GP, supportive friends, positive environments, focus on your reasons for wanting to stop..........you may even want to check out an AA meeting.........I've found them helpful.

    Above all..........remember to go easy on yourself. Changing your drinking habits over the next three months can be a big achievement too. The progress you make might not be the progress you had planned but it could still be progress. If you manage to figure out a few things that work and some that don't then that will be a successful use of your time.

    It's not easy not to drink..........but it's easier than trying to stop once you've started. Stay focused on your goal a day at a time.........and it'd be great if you could keep us update as you go. Maybe we can help you figure out what might work for you...........because you can't do it alone.
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