Ok so firstly I’ve just got to say I hate the term ‘Triggers’!!! It sounds so extreme, like the millisecond moment of weakness that sends you on a three-day bender and finds you waking up in a different country, with no recollection of how you got there!!! (I know this may have happened to some people but thankfully I was nowhere near that level of drinking!)
Basically a ‘trigger’ is something that takes you off your track of sobriety (or diet, giving up smoking/drugs anything you’re trying to give up) It can be a certain time a day, an event, a person, a feeling, the weather, anything that gives you that urge and desire to have a drink.
One of the reasons it took me so long to stop drinking was that I would predict the urge to have a drink, and sort of talk myself out of ‘not’ drinking before I had even started. It’s only now that I realise how crazy that was! So for example even if I had a quiet weekend coming up, but the weekend after we would be having a night out with friends I would think ‘well I may as well drink this weekend because there’s no way I could go out next weekend and not drink’! I would already be feeling anxious about going out and being the only one not drinking, I had already given in to the trigger of a night out that was two weeks away!
Yesterday I hit nineteen months of not drinking, and I can honestly say I’ve possibly had less than ten times when something has triggered me into wanting a drink. Instead of calling them triggers I prefer to think of them as the drinks I missed, but didn’t miss it enough to pick up a glass and give in.
The first was in the December after I had stopped in the November, so it was early days. I had put the Christmas tree up with the girls and we had decorated it together. Now normally, my tradition would be to have a glass of mulled wine once we had finished, and then I would slowly carry on for the rest of the day. That’s the first time I had the urge to drink, my first trigger, but instead we decorated the tree then walked down to the local café for cake and hot chocolate, walking back when it was getting dark and seeing the house all a glow with lights was lovely. Something I will never forget and something I would definitely not have done after a bottle of mulled wine!!!!
Obviously Christmas and New Years are a big time for drinking but I was already reaping the benefits by then of not drinking and was feeling good so I didn’t want to spoil that. Plus it was a novelty to feel so fresh and full of energy over Christmas and New Years and make the most of the time together as a family.
Birthdays and celebrations are a big trigger for some people, although I haven’t really found this a struggle. My birthday is in August so I already had ten months of not drinking under my belt by then, so I wasnt going to ruin that. Birthdays are also a great time to remind your other half how much money you’ve saved by not drinking! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge!)
Holidays are a biggie, because it’s a time when you probably drink more than normal, this can be when people given into temptation. We had a beach holiday booked In my first year, luckily it wasn’t all-inclusive so that sort of helped! The hardest time was the night before we went on holiday because normally that’s when the wine would be flowing, in full on ‘Holiday mode’ I struggled because I was so excited and just wanted the night to pass quickly so we could set off (bit like being a child really!) but I just kept myself busy and the feeling went away. I’ve done a past blog on sober holidays which you can read here, Happy, Healthy Holidays! so I won’t go into too much detail but I got through the holiday with no problems. This year we did go all-inclusive and I didn’t have one thought to have an alcoholic drink. Something, that nineteen months ago I would have thought impossible!
Surprisingly camping holidays hit me harder than a beach holiday!! Once the tent is up and we are unpacked I would religiously sit down with a beer. The first time I went camping that really made me want to crack, but a Becks Blue sort of quenched my thirst and then I got more involved playing with the kids and it passed, any campers will know there’s always something that needs doing!
I have found that two of my main triggers are boredom and people! I have to be with people who I can laugh with, have good chats with, people who I can be myself with. And I do not enjoy being bored or lazy, sat talking rubbish, or watching garbage on the tv whilst I down a bottle of wine! As a result I’ve got true friends who get me and I get them and I love being in their company. And I’ve now got a really active lifestyle, taking on more challenges and filling my life with more than I’ve ever done.
I have realised that a lot of the times I wanted to drink were linked to traditions and habit, what I would ‘usually’ do. But think of the saying ‘if you keep on doing what you’ve always done you will keep on getting what you’ve always got!’ This is so true. Yes it was hard to deal with those triggers, it was difficult to do something differently. But it’s only the first time or the first few times that its hard, it then becomes the norm. The new, sober you becomes the normal you, and you will do all of those things sober and believe me you will enjoy them so much more. It feels like a whole new world, you’re experiencing things in a different light and the best part is…….. you get to remember it all!
So if you’ve struggled with a certain trigger whatever that may be, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just put it down to experience and move on, knowing that next time you won’t let it defeat you. I think feeling anxious is normal, but just literally talk yourself through it a minute at a time. Just breathe and tell yourself you can do it, and you know what, YOU CAN!
What have been your triggers? How do you deal with them? Any tips or advice for others?
Hope it’s a happy, healthy weekend for you!!