PREPARING TO QUIT
Whether you’ve done 'dry' challenges before or this is your first time, here’s some tips for getting yourself prepared to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding...
"it's all in the preparation..."
1. List your reasons
In order for you to stick to your goals, it’s helpful to know why you’ve set them in the first place. So before you get started, try making yourself a list of the reasons why you signed up i.e. why you are here? Why have you decided to take on this challenge?
Writing down your reasons now is a great way to stay on track later. Some things to consider:
What in your life is not working for you?
What needs to change with your habits and behaviour?
What have been the consequences of your drinking habits?
What will you gain from changing your relationship with alcohol?
Why is it just not an option for things to stay as they are?
Some examples may include:
I’m sick of what alcohol does to me and to my health
I’m tired of wasting money / I want to save up for a ....
I want to get fit and feel energised
I am not a good parent to my children when I drink in the evenings
I have things I want to achieve and always feel tired / never have any motivation
2. Find your support network
You can of course go it alone, but achieving a goal is much easier when you have people around to help and support. If you have someone who you can share this journey with... all the better! Perhaps a friend, family member or work colleague may want to share this experience with you?
If you don't want to shout loud and proud about the challenge you're taking on, try to confide in just one person... your partner, a member of your family, a friend, a work colleague, or a stranger you 'buddy up' with in an online quit forum, app or Facebook community.
3. Download an App
There are quite a few apps out there to help you quit the drink. Many offer daily motivational quotes and inspirations to help keep you on track, but more importantly you're able to monitor your health by inputting your weight, heart rate, blood pressure, measurements etc.. some let you input calories, some will automatically count the calories for you. There's lots available with or without the bells and whistles. Here's some to get you started:
Try Dry - the free app from Alcohol Change UK. Available in the App Store or Google Play. Track your drinking for Dry January and beyond, including units, calories and money saved, your current and best ever dry streaks, drinking health quiz and much more.
I Am Sober - Free app to track your sober days, help build new habits and provides ongoing motivation via a network of people.
Quit Drinking - helps people to quit drinking using a buddy system. Offers help and resources.
Drink Tracker - Monitor your alcohol consumption, calorie intake and spending. Track zero-alcohol days to see if you're giving yourself a regular break.
Drink Free - Drink Free is for people who like a drink but want a simple and easy way to remember to cut down.
AA Speaker Tapes & 12 Steps - Listen to hundreds of hand selected AA speaker recordings from AA meetings around the world. You get 12 speakers for free with paid for options available.
Less Alcohol Tracker - Simple, intuitive tool to help people who drink do so more mindfully.
Apple Health - Or if you're just interested in tracking your health statistics, the free Apple Health app on iPhone is ideal! (Android will probably do their own version too).
4. Reading material ('Quit Lit')
In the early days of quitting alcohol you'll probably find that you can't stop thinking about drinking, which is perfectly normal and to be expected. Indulge your thoughts to motivate, inspire and educate yourself by reading as many books on alcohol as you can.
Quit literature, popularly known as ‘quit lit' is a mixture of memoirs, self-help, and psychological or scientific study books about different relationships with alcohol, and what it takes to stay alcohol-free.
Quit lit supports those who want to readdress their relationship with alcohol, allowing the reader to see things from new perspectives, offering tips, tricks, and reassurance that you are not alone in your quest for a healthier lifestyle.
Here's some recommended reads:
The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, Catherine Gray
This Naked Mind, Annie Grace
Alcohol Freedom, Kevin O'Hara
The Sober Diaries, Clare Pooley
Love Yourself Sober: A Self Care Guide to Alcohol-Free Living for Busy Mothers
Sober: Football. My Story. My Life., Tony Adams
Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety, Sacha Z. Scoblic
Blackout (remembering things I drank to forget), Sarah Hepola
Kick The Drink... Easily! Jason Vale
How to Quit Alcohol in 50 Days, Simon Chapple
Further information on all the above books is available on my blog: Best Books to Read When Quitting Alcohol.
5. Drink plenty of water
During the first week off the booze you'll likely feel a real thirst for water. Your liver is working overtime to clear the toxins from your body during the first few days of stopping drinking. Without the immediate need to cleanse your body of alcohol (your liver works on the alcohol first to prevent poisoning your body), your liver gets a chance to focus on all the other 500 jobs it has to do. You may also experience bloating during the first week or two.
By drinking plenty of water, your body will also begin to restore the sodium balance which will help to relieve any bloating and reduce water retention. Water helps to flush out your system which improves daily bodily functions, meaning your body can process what you eat more easily.
Treat yourself to a new water bottle like the Hydrate Motivational Water Bottles pictured below and keep it with you. If you have a drink to hand, you're more likely to keep hydrating!
#buylocal Polar Gear Tracker Water Bottles currently at Aladdin's Cave at £6.99
6. Replace your 'Wine O'Clock'
Are you used to getting home from work and pouring a glass of wine or opening a beer? Has the routine become your 'beer or wine o'clock'? Can you try doing something else during this time instead? Take up a class, go to the gym, try a new hobby, teach yourself something new, cook up some delicious ready meals for your freezer, read with the kids or spend some quality family time.
Keep yourself busy with distractions. Make a list of things you want to do / been meaning to do over the last few years but never got around to it. Here's some ideas:
Books you want to read
Things to do around the house
Sort through your wardrobe
Declutter the kids toy cupboard
Paint and decorate the spare bedroom
Empty out and organise ‘that’ cupboard / drawer
Fix the things you’ve been meaning to fix for years
Recipes you want to try
Organise your freezer
Make your task list as long as you dare and when you start to tick things off (which you will), you'll feel a real overwhelming sense of achievement 🙌
7. Stock up on alcohol-free alternatives
You're going to need to find yourself alternative things to drink. Stock up on soft drinks to ensure you have something to reach for. Try to avoid fizzy drinks that are crammed full of sugar and go for sugar-free cordials, sparkling water, soda or tonics.
There are also plenty of alcohol-free drinks widely available on the supermarket shelves these days including beers, ciders and wines. You can also buy non-alcoholic gin and other spirits such as brandy, rum and tequila. You really do need to try them out as it's very much personal preference... especially the wines!
There's an argument that replacing your regular tipples with non-alcoholic versions retains your regular drinking habits and makes it easier to sink into temptation at a later stage. But in the early days and weeks, if you're craving a beer, wine or a gin.... then go for the alcohol-free version!
8. Eating well & supplements
Eating the right foods will make your alcohol-free journey much easier whilst boosting your energy levels, improving your mood and improving your general health. Check out this link for ideas of the types of foods to aim for - 10 best foods to eat during an alcohol detox.
Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast. You may have skipped this meal during your drinking days, but your appetite will return and you WILL be hungry in the mornings now so be make sure to stock up on healthy breakfast foods you can fill up on to avoid those sugar cravings creeping up on you later in your day.
Get yourself organised with some healthy recipes. There are heaps of apps and online recipe sites where you can create an account and save recipes to your folders such as Yummly, MyRecipes, BBCGoodFood.
Take some time to plan your meals ahead and make yourself a shopping list before heading to the supermarket. TIP! to avoid cooking every day, batch cook your favourite homemade meals and put some in the freezer for another day 👍
Depending on how much you drank previously, you may also benefit from vitamin and nutrient supplements. Alcohol can prevent your body absorbing certain nutrients and vitamins. Deficiencies of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc are common. Vitamin deficiencies of vitamin C (which you need for iron absorption), B12 and vitamin A are also common. Milk thistle is also good for liver detoxification.
Nutri-Advanced offer a wide range of vitamin and nutrient supplements which contain greater doses of the essentials your body needs during alcohol detox. The multi essentials for instance contain 500ug Vitamin A (RI of 63%), 400ug Vitamin B12 (RI of 16000%), 250mg (313%) Vitamin C, 5mg Iron (RI 36%), 20mg Zinc (RI 200%).
9. Be kind to yourself!
During your first week off the booze, you're likely to feel really tired, dehydrated, headachy, and bloated (water retention). So go easy on yourself! Go to bed early, drink plenty of water (like LOTS of water), take a bath, read a book... just relax and let your body adjust to it's new environment. And remember to take vitamin and mineral supplements if you think you need them.
Stopping drinking suddenly can be very dangerous especially if you are dependent on alcohol. If you experience any withdrawal symptoms such as seizures (fits), hand tremors (‘the shakes’), sweating, seeing things that are not real (visual hallucinations), depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping (insomnia) you should not stop drinking suddenly and should consult with a GP.
10. Help & Support
If you think you need additional help or support at any time during your challenge, remember that help is all around you. You DO NOT have to do this alone and there is absolutely NO SHAME in seeking help. There are various support groups here in Guernsey including:
In-Dependence - A Guernsey based charity offering help, advice and support for anyone that thinks they have a problem with alcohol. Not all problem drinkers are alcoholics and In-dependence are able to help with support on cutting down your drinking. They also have a great online Self Screening Tool. Tel: 01481 729000, Email: email@example.com
Guernsey Alcohol Advisory Services (GAAS) - GAAS provide a friendly, relaxed environment where anyone can call in for a chat. Dave is very friendly and has 28 years experience helping people with addictions. If all you need is a friendly reassuring voice, give them a ring. Tel: 01481 723255, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Action for Children Guernsey - a confidential service providing help and support for young people aged 16-25 and their families. A friendly team providing support through the ups and downs of life in a safe, constructive and non-judgemental way. Tel: 01481 700218, Email: email@example.com
Alcoholics Anonymous - A fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. With over 14 meetings every week, AA is a thriving community here in Guernsey. Tel: 01481 713480, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or speak to your GP.