I've been receiving many messages and emails asking what I did to get sober. Many people have asked me if I've gone to AA or if I followed a certain step program or went to treatment. My answer might shock some. I have done none of the above. My answer is I have no sobriety secret or fool proof way to get and stay sober. I only know what worked and didn't work for me. I was not physically dependent on alcohol, therefore detox was not necessary for me. Although even if I was, in my circumstances I think I was determined and willing to deal with sobriety on my own. (This is not recommended for those who need detox. Do not endanger your health!)
When I decided to quit for good it was because I had tried everything else. It was also because I realized I was hurting people who loved me. I was making my family worry about me constantly. They would sit around waiting for the next phone call telling them I had a drunk injury, lost my purse, or worse. Fer was going to break up with me because he had had it with my drinking. I finally wanted to change.
Here are the steps I took to get sober:
1. I declared to myself that I was not taking another sip of alcohol until further notice. At first I wasn't sure when that further notice would be, but I knew it would not be soon.
2. I thought about what I knew about not drinking and the first thing that comes to everyone's mind is Alcoholics Anonymous. I had nothing to lose so I joined a bunch of AA chat rooms online and signed up for some women's AA email chains. This was good at first as it kept me occupied and I had meetings to attend online. However, I didn't feel like I really belonged. As we all know the 12 step program of AA is centered around a higher power, which many attendants refer to as God. This concept was foreign to be because I am not a spiritual person. I felt nervous and lost in these online meetings and then people in the chat rooms began to single me out and ask me why I had never been to a face-to-face meeting. The only reasons I had for not going to face-to-face meetings were that I lived in Cancun and didn't know where to find one in English, and because I was scared. The people in the rooms didn't seem to be interested in getting to know me personally and didn't really seem to even acknowledge my sobriety because I had no AA chips and had not been to F2F meetings. I also didn't have a sponsor and wasn't officially working the steps. I got tired of the harassing questions and I quit the online meetings and took myself off of the email chains.
I have not totally ruled out AA and I know that it works great for a lot of people. Maybe it just doesn't work for me.
3. I read and researched all I could about addiction, alcoholism, and sobriety. I found Facebook pages, blogs, websites, and books to read that helped me understand how I was feeling. I have learned a lot and I continue to read these types of publications. I searched and continue to search for people who are like me.
4. It was important to me that I not miss out on anything. I knew that I would need to be able to say no to drinking in public settings because I refused to avoid situations where alcohol may be present. When I go to a party, club, or bar I make sure I always have a drink in my hand so I don't feel different or out of place. These are sometimes non-alcoholic cocktails, soda, or just water.
5. When I first stopped drinking and people would ask why I wasn't drinking, I would simply say I just wasn't drinking that day or at that party. As the months went on and I felt happier and more comfortable being sober, I would explain that I no longer drink, my life works better sober, or that my body doesn't accept alcohol anymore. Simple and straight to the point.
6. Lastly, I chose to share my story. I refuse to be ashamed or embarrassed about being sober. For me and many others, being sober is cool! It works for me. I think sharing my story has inspired others and lets them know they are not alone, which is exactly what I have been searching for myself.
There are no easy tricks in the journey to sobriety. Mostly it's about being real with yourself and facing reality. I am still growing and learning everyday. I am still exploring other types of meetings and step programs.
How did you get sober? What worked for you? Let me know in the comments below!