5 Things To Tell Yourself When You Want To Drink

This was originally published at The Fix. 
A few weeks ago, I stood in front of my fridge with an unopened bottle of beer in my hand, pondering what would happen if I twisted the cap off and took a drink after more than four years of sobriety. My boyfriend keeps alcohol in the house, which truly has always been okay with me. But lately it’s been irritating for some reason. I found myself standing there, thinking that drinking it seemed like such an easy thing to do. No one was home. No one would know except me.

In the end, after a plethora of thoughts crossed my mind, I tossed the bottle back in the fridge and muttered, “What the hell are you doing?” And the truth is I don’t know what I was doing. All I know is that sometimes it’s really tough to be sober. Sometimes I want to drink. Sometimes I want to be like other people. That’s hard to admit, but it’s the truth. And I know I’m not alone in it.

In situations like this, there are various phrases I’ve found to be helpful when it comes to putting that bottle down. Here are a few:

  1. “It’s not worth it.” Truly. It’s not. Whatever is going on that is making me want to drink is not worth giving up four years of sobriety and recovery. My recovery is one of the more important things in my life. If I lose focus on that, I have no doubt my life would go downhill fast. Whether I am hurting, or anxious, or restless or just plain bored, alcohol will not fix things for me. I have a better shot at fixing whatever is going on by walking away, regrouping and making a new game plan. And that’s likely the truth for every single person in recovery.
  1. “What would you tell friends, family and followers of your journey?” Maybe this isn’t the case for everyone, but I know people would pick up on it if I began drinking again. And more than that, the guilt would eat at me. I would have to come clean to them. I have been very public about my journey in recovery, so I would likely be public about a relapse as well. It’s always scared me to think about letting the people in my life down by drinking again. Usually just thinking of their reactions is enough to bring me out of my desire to drink, and I have a feeling this is the case for other people as well. It feels good when our family and friends are proud of us and our choices, and continuing to make them proud is a good reason to maintain sobriety.
  1. “Think about your health.” This one is enormous for me when it comes to convincing myself not to drink. When I was drinking, I was the unhealthiest I have ever been. I gained weight and had a yellow, bloated look to my skin. I look back at photos sometimes and cringe. I have no idea how I didn’t realize how my health was so affected by drinking, but then again, that’s the power of the disease. Had I kept drinking at the rate I was, or if I were to return to drinking, I have no doubt I would cause great damage to my liver. Drinking also led to numerous incidents for me, in which I ended up covered in bruises or cuts. I was constantly a mess. But today I am in the best shape of my life and I am learning to love myself where I am at. Drinking again is not worth undoing all my progress, both physical and mental.
  1. “Consider how you will feel tomorrow.” Sure, right at this moment it may seem like an okay idea to drink. But more likely than not, come tomorrow, I know I would regret that choice immensely. There’s something about thinking hard about waking up in the morning with a feeling of guilt clouding everything that makes me not want to drink. I remember so clearly the feeling of guilt and shame every time I drank after promising myself I would cut back or stop. The night before was never worth the feeling waking up that morning. Not to mention, the hangovers were killer. Some of the sickest moments of my life came in the form of hangovers, and that is something I never, ever want to return to.
  1. “What about the future?” One of the biggest battles I have with myself is thinking that I could drink like a normal person today. Sometimes I try to convince myself that I have learned my lesson the hard way and that I could have one or two drinks today and stop there. And maybe that is true. Maybe that’s what would happen the first time I drank, or even the next time. It could even happen for a few months. But I know that eventually I would drink the way I used to drink. I would black out. I would say things I didn’t mean. I would hurt people. I would hurt myself. I always need to remind myself to think into the future rather than focus on the present moment. I have so many hopes for my future and I know that drinking would negatively impact each of them. There is nothing about drinking again that would aid in bettering my future.

Though it goes without saying, everyone’s journey in recovery is different. It’s likely these phrases may help some people, but you may also find that you need to tell yourself something entirely different in order to stay sober. And that’s okay. What’s important is that you find something that works for you and makes your recovery a priority

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