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Living Without Alcohol – A diary of life outside the pitcher plant

LIVING WITHOUT ALCOHOL – A diary of life outside the pitcher plant.
Guest Post by Steve. G

Although I have given up drinking many times in the past (I guess that statement alone tells me that I had a drink problem) the longest being for just short of six months, somewhere along the way I always manage to convince myself that I am missing out on something, that I am denying myself something, that I am bored, and from there it is just a short step to having a drink again, with the intention of it just being the occasional evening, or just on weekends, which then within a couple of weeks turns into a nightly ritual, and shortly afterwards to wondering why the hell I started again at all.

I am fed up of feeling like shit for several hours when I get out of bed, and of all the other negatives that alcohol brings, physically, mentally emotionally and socially.

I have also experienced the benefits of sobriety, the feelings of improved physical and mental well-being, and know that life as a non-drinker is far, far better than that of a drinker.

This time I intend to stop drinking forever. I am beginning this diary on Day 8, I actually gave up the booze on March 1st 2016, but only decided today that I would keep a diary, something I have never done before, but I think it may be an interesting change to write down any thoughts or feelings I have along the journey.

My first major milestone is September 1st. That will be 6 calendar months without alcohol, the longest I will ever have gone since the age of 16, 47 years ago.

March 8th 2016.
Eight days in and I have gone through the initial annoyances. I always have nightmares when I first stop drinking, those vivid ones that seem to hold you just on the threshold of sleep so when you wake up you feel like you haven’t been to bed at all. I’ve gone past that now, last night I had a good night’s sleep for the first time since I quit. I was feeling a bit irritable too, and tending to be a bit snappy with people but I think that I’m through that stage too as I am feeling much calmer today.

The almost constant heartburn and acid reflux I suffer from have almost become non-existant,and should disappear altogether soon. I have noticed my bowel movements are less runny, and I don’t need to go as often as before.

Already I feel slightly more self confident, never being a very self confident person in my life I find that every little helps.
On Day 1 I started exercising again, 90 semi sit-ups a day with feet off the floor, 3 sets of 30 with a 10 second hold at the end of each set. This will tone my stomach muscles, and the exercise will just improve my physical and mental well-being in general.

I have been through all these stages several times before, and so know what to expect, but this time I am keeping a diary and so will have a history of how it unfolds and progresses.

Just a few observations that I learnt from my sober times before:-
Drunks are boring, noisy, repetitive, and quite often obnoxious people.
Neither drinking, nor drunk people have any endearing qualities.
Being drunk never solved any problems, or brought true happiness to anyone in any situation.
Alcohol is a liar and a sham, and any benefits people think it brings are illusory.
(These are only my opinions, other people may disagree with them.)

Dr Allen Carr who wrote the books “The easy way to stop smoking” (Buy on Amazon US/GB) and “No more hangovers” (Buy on Amazon US/GB) likened the addiction of alcohol to being a fly trapped inside a Pitcher plant, a very good comparison in my opinion, and so I am going to use this as one of my catchphrases…

I GOT OUT OF THE PITCHER PLANT, AND I’M STAYING OUT !!

Onwards and upwards…

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Summer Days – A Drinks Recipe To Help Keep You on the Straight and Narrow

So here comes the summer, probably one of the hardest times of the year for anyone thinking or already given up drinking. It’s the time of year when opening a cold beer is was probably one of the most satisfying feelings. Advert upon advert on the TV reminds us of this feeling. Getting home from work on a hot summers day, I’d almost be reaching for the cold beer cooling in the fridge without really thinking about it. I’d be on autopilot and would have probably just drunk that one quite quickly before settling into the next one.

But, those days are long gone and now summer is here I’ve poured myself a new favourite (Mocktails & Other Non-Alcoholic Drinks ) and this is it. Reach for a cold glass, a really cold one. The Spanish keep their glasses in the freezer- great tip! Now get a lime and cut in half, squeeze half of the juice into the glass and slice the rest up and also put in the glass. Now top up with cold sparkling water. You’ve got yourself a great, cold, refreshing drink that is not just healthy but so much better than a beer as you’ll have a clear head and none of that tipsy & drowsy feeling that comes with drinking. It even looks like a gin + tonic, so if people give you a hard time because you’re not drinking (as they tend to do), you can have them believe that this is a G+T.

Life’s too short to spend it recovering from hangovers. This is the one thing that I came to realise about 6 months into giving up the drink. I’d found that once I’d got past the 6 month stage I’d begun to find new things to do in life, new reasons to live and new hopes for the future. I think this is the one thing that you don’t really appreciate if you drink from weekend to weekend – in fact you could argue that your system is never really empty of alcohol and really what you’re doing is just topping it up. But once it’s out, you think differently. It’s refreshing and it’ll feel like someones taken the blinkers off you and you start to see the world around you. You could think of it as seeing the world in colour for the first time – it really felt like that for me.

I’m now in my 8th year of sobriety and now have a family of my own and the thought of life with drink again just makes me shudder, I’d be giving up so much new freedom and it’s this thought that keeps me on the straight and narrow.

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The Best Thing About not Drinking Alcohol

Finding my true voice has been the best thing that has happened to me since giving up drinking. Before I always needed a drink especially if I was going out on a date, meeting my friends in a club, I’d always have a beer before hand to give me the courage to take on whatever came my way that evening. Now I get an even bigger high, by knowing that I don’t need to rely on that shit anymore.

I look back on the times when I was so drunk because the beer took over and I just got so drunk binge drinking that I’d end up missing a great evening. Now, when I walk into a party I’m confident and smiling. I’m being myself, finally. Before then I was shy. Alcohol made me into the ultimate ‘party animal’. I was there at the start and at the end, I was the one to liven things up and make everyone laugh. Sober, I was just this quiet and shy person, drunk, I was on fire. Seriously funny at times and capable of talking my way into situations I think would be impossible to do sober.

Till then, drinking alcohol had been a huge part of my life. At school, in college and later in jobs working alongside work colleagues who hit the bars straight after work on a Friday night. I was there. In fact there wasn’t really any time to sit back and think that life could be better without alcohol, I was having just the time of my life. Sure there were times when I hit the bottle too hard and during the hangover the next day I wondered why it was that I needed to drink so much. But at that point I felt that drink was some kind of life vest and it was almost alien to think of going out without it. I couldn’t imagine a life not drinking alcohol!

When the time came and I decided not just cut back alcohol, but actually stop drinking it, finally being without drink came as a shock. How was I going to manage not being the party animal, make people laugh and be the life and soul of the party? Well, It was strange at first to walk into a bar and ask for water or orange, or coffee. It was strange for other people to hear me say, ‘I don’t drink’. Some people accept it as not being anything odd, others saw it as a threat. And some, after they’ve got drunk, will lean over and say that secretly, ‘[they] wish they could do the same’.

Giving up drinking has given me a new lease of life. Read my 5 steps that I found totally helped me to overcome my reliance on alcohol and eventually find the confidence to give it up.

Something happened to me that finally made me think and it was losing a good friend to leukaemia at 33. At the time he was the same age as me, and it made me realise that life is short, hard and totally not to be taken for granted. Life is for living and reaching the end, before looking back, smiling at some of the stories and knowing that you’ve sucked the marrow out of life, leaving no stone unturned. I couldn’t do this continuing to drink and get myself into a sorry state. I feel I’ve been put here to do some good, and not that I’ve stopped drinking I feel I have so much more to offer the World.