Congratulations ! If you are reading this you may be taking your first steps toward a new and exciting life as a sober individual. Your courage will be rewarded ! But a strong warning - go to see a doctor, your body needs attention, you are physically ill and you need medical support. Unassisted withdrawal can be dangerous, and even fatal!
At this moment, you may be plagued with fear, anxiety and self-doubt. You will, also, probably be feeling lonely, guilty, paranoid and depressed. On top of this you feel like shit physically. You may be dehydrated, shaky, sweaty, hypersensitive and unable to sleep properly and generally exhausted. You will wake up in the middle of the night soaking wet from perspiration. You will feel hot and cold all day. All this will pass. You are ill ! Your body is ridding itself of toxic substances which have saturated your body for a long time. It is an uncomfortable and sometimes torturous experience, but one which is unavoidable and temporary. If you are working, take a week off. Remember you are seriously ill and you are saving your life ! ! !
An important point of warning - seek medical advice and help. See your doctor or get to a detox clinic, if possible. If not, make sure you have someone supportive with for as much of the day & night, as possible. A cold turkey can sometimes be very physically dangerous and even mortal, especially if your alcohol/drug abuse is chronic. The body might react with a withdrawal fit, similar to an epileptic fit. So if you are not able to get medical supervision, try to have someone with you and/or have emergency numbers ready, just in case.
If you are drying out, with or without medical support, try to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Clear the house of all alcohol/drugs. Give your money or cards to a trusted friend. You will have a tremendous thirst, so stock up on water, fruit juices, tea ( not coffee - it worsens dehydration) and get easily digestible foods, soups, etc. You may also want a bucket handy. Cravings for sweet things are common, (especially if you are an alcoholic), as your body demands carbohydrates. If you donít like bananas, get sweets and chocolate - donít worry about your figure or teeth for the moment, deal with that later. Anyhow, its probably less sugar than you got through alcohol.
If you smoke, it may or may not be advisable to try to stop that at the same time. While stopping smoking would be a good thing, there is also a danger that you can just overload the demands and pressures on your system by trying to quit now. One thing at a time, may be better for some. Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself, and also get advice from some medical people.
Remember you are not quitting alcohol as a way of punsihing yourself or of ritual pirification. You are doing it to save your precious life. In fact, find things to treat, reward and distract yourself. Get in videos, books, magazines, etc., Eat snacks and sweet things that you used to like. Keep yourself as rested and distracted as possible.
If you are at home, plan and organise to stay indoors for 1-2 weeks. If you must go out, do not pass bars, supermarkets or liquor stores, or old hits or haunts. Plan outside tours carefully and where possible do them in the company of sober close ones or others longer in recovery. Even going to a recovery support group ALONE can be dangerous for some in the first few weeks.
At times the physical discomfort and urges to drink/use will become horrendous. Remember this will pass. What do you do when you have a bad flu ? Dig in and sweat in out, no. Well this is more like pneumonia or malaria, right ? But it doesnít last and the resulting relief is beyond belief.
Get emotional support to if possible. Your partner will need to know what to expect, and must have the patience of saint, but it will be worthwhile for him/her as well. They must understand that you are seriously ill and in serious discomfort. Your life is at stake !
You probably also feel weepy and worthless. Donít hold it in, cry like a baby, youíll feel better. You are not worthless, this very act proves your worth, your courage and your strength. Only weak people avoid this and they die miserably. It takes a lot to do this and youíve got it. Recall times when you won against the odds before. Think about your plans for the future, free from the chains of drink/drugs. Dream, scheme and be positive. Think about the benefits of sobriety and not the illusory ę loss Ľ of giving up.
However, you will NOT succeed, unless
you do two things.
Donít look at the months and years in front of you, it gets easier once youíre through the first days, weeks. Do it one-day-at-a-time. Get to as many support meetings as possible. Some areas have many SOS meetings, almost every day. Others may not be so frequent, and so go to any recovery meetings, as long as they are for abstinence. Take what you can. Also get the phone numbers of supportive friends within the recovery movement. If you are having a difficult time phone them. But phone also when its going well. Get into the habit. These people have been there and canít be shocked. They will understand and support you.
Each day you will begin to feel a little better, and after 4-7 days the worst will be over and you will start to feel the best you have in a long time. The sweats and shakes will disappear, your sleeping patterns and appetite will normalise and positive and more coherent thoughts will come more easily. You may be a little absent-minded, but donít worry you are unlikely to have dementia or brain damage. This will pass, also. But donít get over-confident, you are still only just recovering. Going sober can be like loosing a loved one or a treasured friend - you feel a sense of loss, grief, jealously, etc., Remember, it was a false friend and an enemy, not a lover. Be gentle on yourself and be careful !
Make a Daily Plan :
1) Your daily "Sobriety
2) Practice ę
Closing the Gap Ľ -
3) Avoid all drinking/using places and acquaintances.
4) Get to a meeting once a day, if possible.
5) Keep a list of phone numbers with you at all time.
6) Reward and enjoy yourself in sober ways
- this is not penance, you are getting a life. Use it !
7) Read as much on the subject as possible ; ę knowledge is strength Ľ (see books)
8) Eat regularly and have non-alcoholic tricks to hand, as thirst may remain for a while.
9) Do your sobriety a day at a time, or a morning, an hour, whatever suits you.
10) Take care of yourself - you are
precious - believe it !
So get to an SOS meeting NOW!
Why not use the article
to start a discussion in your group?