Change is inevitable, but growth is optional. As time goes on, we’re ultimately responsible for determining what we make out of our lives. We might not always control the circumstances thrown our way, but we do have the power to react and make new choices. This feels particularly true as we embark on a new year.
You might be thinking about the changes you want to make in the new year. Maybe you want to let go of old stories and damaging habits. Maybe you’re ready to redefine your relationship with alcohol. Thankfully, you’re not alone. In fact, January is one of the most popular months to go dry. Millions of people are doing—or have done—the same thing.
Even if you’ve tried before, the promise of a new year offers us an opportunity to consider new ways to embrace sobriety. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way to help you on your journey to recovery.
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1. The willingness to think differently is key.
Most of us go through life with a certain, well-trodden path in mind. For some, that means working a full-time job and partying hard on the weekends. For the most part, society has conditioned us to accept this as normal. If this sounds like you, you’ll have to be willing to open your mind up to a different lifestyle.
You might have considered quitting drinking before but didn’t give it up because you felt as though you shouldn’t have to stop. Everyone drinks, right? What makes you different? In actuality though, there are tons of people who don’t drink, and every day, more and more people are waking up to the fact that spending their lives hungover or chasing the next drink is a waste of valuable time.
Alternatively, maybe you’ve been conditioned to think of sobriety as a tedious, woeful way to live, devoid of enjoyment and a social life. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. When you’re sober, you can redesign your social calendar and the way you experience joy—filling it with people and activities that feed your soul.
There is a big, beautiful life waiting for you beyond alcohol; you just need to be open and willing to change.
2. Understand that quitting drinking may mean a season of sober exploration.
There’s an uncomfortable truth about quitting drinking: it’s tough to succeed on your first try. It might take several attempts before you get the hang of it. Although this isn’t the case for everyone, it’s totally okay—and more common than you might think.
Many people need time to gather information, explore different sobriety methods, make sure moderation doesn’t work for them, or go through periods of abstinence and drinking before making sobriety a lifestyle. Honor your journey and understand that sober exploration is part of the process.
3. There’s no “right way” to quit drinking.
Many people believe that getting sober is only achieved and sustained when you attend a treatment center or go to AA Meetings. But that’s just not true. In fact, there’s no right way to get and stay sober. You can define your own recovery, try different recovery modalities, and decide which components work for you. It’s even possible to find sober support completely online.
The important thing is that you find solutions that help you feel safe, empowered, and inspired to continue on your sober journey. Don’t give in to the pressure that there is only one way out there that works for everybody. You must allow for experimentation and forgive yourself when “mistakes” happen. We live and learn, and then we adjust.
4. There’s no time better than right now.
My partner and I talked about me not drinking before the last trip we took together (during which I drank). I came up with every excuse as to why I didn’t want to quit before this big trip. I said that I didn’t want to face my friends sober, have to explain why I wasn’t drinking, or lead anyone to believe that I was pregnant. The trip was all-inclusive, and I wanted to show that I could handle the situation, but just like all of the times before, it didn’t work.
The truth is that there’s no better time than right now to quit drinking. It’s easy for us to get hung up on dates in the not-so-distant future, especially as the New Year approaches.
Think deeply about the benefits of waiting, especially if you know deep down that sobriety is right for you. Will waiting really make it easier on you? Or are you just pushing off the inevitable? Honor the place you’re in, of course, but also be honest with yourself. You want your relationship with alcohol to change. The resources available to help you do that are accessible all year long.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.
This is a simple, yet important, piece of advice. I was afraid to ask for help when I first got sober. I thought it made me look weak, messy, and incapable. I thought that if I couldn’t do it myself, there was something wrong with me. The truth is that making a big life change is hard as hell, and it’s human to be scared. It’s even normal to feel shame or guilt. But addiction is so common. So many of us have been through what you’re going through right now, and there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
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Quitting drinking can seem like an impossible task, but it’s not. The scariest moment is before you dive in and make the commitment to yourself that you’re done, and ready to start a new, booze-free life.
Remember that recovery isn’t one size fits all. It’s totally okay if it takes a few tries, if you need to experiment with different recovery modalities, or if you find your sober people online.
The beauty of your recovery is that it’s yours. And there’s no better time to start the process than right now.