Making the decision to abstain from alcohol is a tremendous first step. Reaching that milestone is worthy of recognition and admiration. Maintaining the resolve to continue along the path of sobriety is another ballgame. While the decision to avoid alcohol consumption does become more solid, over time, there tends to be a middle period where the temptation to return to old habits can seemingly arise from nowhere.
Becoming aware of the most common factors which prompt a temptation to drink is taking a preemptive approach toward sticking with your goal of abstinence. Having options in place for behaviors to engage in, in place of drinking, is a proactive one. Both the insight, and the plan, work together to support your long term success of sobriety.
Know Your Triggers
Whether your temptation is drink alone, or with others, it is important to have a good grasp on what it is which prompts you to consume alcohol. For some, it can be a certain environment which is linked to the desire. For others, it can be certain feelings or thoughts which activate that old thirst. Whatever it is that you can identify as immediately proceeding your temptation is likely a trigger for you. Once you are able to decipher what those triggers for your drinking are, you can take purposeful steps to avoid placing yourself in that position or mindset.
Involve Your Support Network
Becoming sober is a great way of finding out who your true friends are. Even if those in your social circle aren’t making the same decision to abstain from alcohol, those who are truly concerned for your best interests will make necessary adjustments in their behaviors concerning you. A true friend will respect your healthy choices, and won’t be one to put the temptation of drinking in your face.
Of course, if your friends and family are regular drinkers, it would be unreasonable of you to expect that they will suddenly exclude the behavior from a majority of their gatherings. It might even be the case that you find yourself to be the excluded one, as friends attempt to show their support for your sobriety by no longer asking you to join them. If this becomes the case, it will behoove you to work toward building a new, sober, social circle. Being surrounded by others who have made the same commitment to sobriety can be one of the biggest factors in sustained recovery.
Increase Your Responsibilities
One of the easiest ways to slide back into bad habits is to be lacking in good reasons not to. When we are not expected by others to keep to a schedule, deliver results, or maintain productivity, it is all too easy to let ourselves slide. Accountability for the success of others can work for the benefit of one who is looking to avoid the temptation to imbibe. The old saying that, “Idle time is the devil’s playground” has merit for the person in recovery.
It is much easier to say no to a nightcap when we know we have to be at work early in the morning. It is easier to excuse ourselves from a tailgate party when we know that we have reports to write. Replacing the leisure time that you once spent on drinking with more productive pursuits can work to keep you focused on your new priority of sobriety. You may need to fill more of your time with endeavors such as adding a new job, gaining membership in a charity group, or returning to school.
Excessive drinking is most often associated with sedentary gatherings. Drinks are consumed while sitting around the bar, conversing at a table, or chilling out on the backyard patio. It isn’t often that you notice a drink in the hand of someone who is hiking a trail or swinging a tennis racket.
Staying away from the temptation to drink in a social setting may come down to the types of activities you engage in. When planning a weekend, or a night out, consider choosing options which will keep you up and moving. Even if engaging in aerobic exercise isn’t your thing, there are plenty of options which require your active engagement. Visiting a museum, window shopping at the mall, or taking a road trip will all give you that forward motion which works as a deterrent to sitting around and sipping.
Get To the Root of the Problem
Up until this point, the suggestions toward avoiding situations involving alcohol have focused on behaviors and external triggers. While these solutions are very good to apply in the short term, longer term motivation often depends on addressing the emotions and cognitions which threaten to override our own, healthy, decisions. Working toward fixing the core problems which you seek to avoid through engaging in substance abuse provides the best stability.
Earlier in life, the role of peer pressure can be a major player in our decisions to drink. We see all of our friends doing it, and we want to be included in their fun. Later in life, peer pressure tends to take a back seat, as it is replaced by factors such as stress, guilt loneliness, or social discomfort. We may be tempted to drink as a way of escaping the current problems of our work or personal life. We may drink as a way of attempting to numb painful memories of our past. We may drink to gather up the courage to say things that we don’t feel empowered to say, otherwise.
All of these types of motivations involve using substances as a substitute for making genuine changes. As long as we are allowing these types of issues to remain in the background, our resolve toward abstaining from alcohol is at risk. Consider engaging in therapeutic support toward working through any underlying, unresolved, issues. As you find more peace in your daily life, thoughts of drinking can become less of a temptation, and more of an unwanted nuisance.