I want to share something I read recently: an encouraging and brave letter of advice and support copied from:
"My last drink was four years ago. Since I don't post often, I figured I'd use this as an excuse to share some of the things that have worked for me. This is basically just collective stopdrinking wisdom that I've shamelessly stolen adopted over the last 4 years.
Keeping myself busy was crucial in the first month or so. And I don't necessarily mean productive busy. Just having TV shows, movies to watch, mindless projects to work on. Idle hands and all that. It's ok to be bored. Sobriety can feel boring at first. Thankfully it doesn't stay that way.
Staying away from drinking environments as much as possible for the first few months. I didn't go to a party or social event unless I felt 100% confident I wasn't going to drink (and had an exit plan). Staying sober was about making smart decisions, not about making foolish ones in order to test myself or to prove that I'm a special snowflake. I waited until I was really ready, and even now I don't enjoy those types of environments much, so I limit my time in them.
Delaying. It's ok to have cravings and not act on them. Cravings don't tend to last very long, so if I could delay drinking for a short time, they would go away. This is where "one day at at time" or "one hour at a time" can be quite useful. At times I've told myself "I can drink tomorrow if I still want to, but today I won't drink, no matter what". Tomorrow isn't that far away, so that usually helped me get through the day. By the next day, I didn't want to drink and I was always so glad and proud of myself for not giving in. P.S. the important part of this tool is to use the same strategy if cravings return the following day and not actually drink. ;)
Spending a lot of time reading r/stopdrinking: learning from other people's mistakes, observing patterns, watching the people who had the kind of sobriety I wanted and modeling my behavior after them. Commenting to encourage others, even if I felt like I wasn't experienced enough to give advice. You don't need to have a certain amount of time sober in order to be supportive.
Actively creating new associations and habits. Usually leave work, stop at a liquor store, and start drinking? I'd plan a new enjoyable routine for when I got home and drive a different way. Or drive the same way and flip off or laugh at the liquor store as I drive by. Whatever floats your boat. Tend to drink on Saturdays out of anxiety or boredom? I'd designate that as my day for a new or old hobby. I'd make plans and break up old routines to do things I'd been meaning to do but never found the time. I actively tried to reprogram my brain: stopping romanticized thoughts about alcohol as they happen and replacing them with new, more rational, pro-sobriety thoughts.
Openness and willingness to try new tools. If what I was doing wasn't working, I had to be honest with myself and do something different. If I was 9 months sober and having daily cravings, to me that meant something wasn't working and I had to do something different or step it up a notch. While I don't do AA or SMART or any formal program, I was open to using them if SD didn't seem to be enough. I never ended up feeling like I needed that in-person support, but I learned about a lot of AA and SMART tools (mostly through SD members) and incorporated some into my own recovery. The more tools in my toolkit, the better.
Sober community/friends. I didn't have sober friends IRL so it was a godsend to find this place and specifically the chatroom. I have a place I can go any time of the day to chat with people who get me and understand. Some of them I've known for years. Without my irc people, I don't know where I'd be. (Probably back to drinking... :/ ) I luv you guys.
Perspective/gratitude. It can be easy to forget how bad it was while I was still drinking. Checking in with this community, even though it's not as often these days, helps remind me and keeps things in perspective. Is my life perfect? No. But I don't want to take for granted how much better it is since I quit drinking.
Continuing self-improvement beyond just not drinking. Now that I'm sober, I have the clarity, time, and energy to work on whatever issues I was trying to cover up or avoid with alcohol. This one isn't very glamorous or fun, but I think it's important for long-term success. If I drank because of underlying depression, I need to address that depression eventually. If I notice myself replacing alcohol with other harmful habits, then I have to be honest with myself about those and work on them if I deem that they really are harmful. In early sobriety for example, I think it's fine to eat whatever you want if it helps combat cravings. But I don't want that sort of thing to be a long-term habit I use to cope with life, so I address that when I'm no longer "newly sober" and feel ready for a next step. This is a journey and I'm never going to be perfect, but I don't want to be stagnant either. If I get too stagnant, I'm in danger of apathy and slipping backwards.
For those of you in your early days, I wish I could show you how much easier it gets. It gets better and it gets easier. Keep it up and you'll see for yourself. :)
Thanks for being here, SD. "