I remember the day specifically. It was a bright, warm summer day. I was in the middle of a run, and passed by an old restaurant I used to drink at, and the strong craving for a cold beer came out of nowhere. I was almost 6 months sober at the time so it surprised me.
As of today I am 474 days sober, (it feels crazy to even say that!) and I still struggle with this from time to time, specifically when summer is around the corner. The idea of meeting friends on a patio with a good drink sounds so tempting.
On top of wanting to drink I struggled with feelings of jealousy, and anger because in my heart I knew I couldn't have "just one". I'd lived that story out many many times, and it didn't end well. I imagine I'm not alone in this, so I put together a list of things I do when I want a drink.
Think through the drink. Simply put: look back on your past and remember what it was like when you were drinking. How did it feel? What happened? I remind myself of all the times I went out and what it felt like to come home drunk, ashamed and hungover the next day and it helps me see that it's just not worth it.
Honor your feelings. It's ok to be angry or jealous or whatever you may be feeling. To be honest it DOES suck that I can't have just one. I get angry about that to this day. So, I let myself feel all the things, process them and try and move on. It'd easy to say, "I shouldn't feel this way," but the truth is whatever you're feeling is valid.
Euphoric Recall: Ok, this one is powerful, it's something I learned in treatment. Euphoric recall is, "a psychological term for the tendency of people to remember past experiences in a positive light, while overlooking negative experiences associated with that event." Boy! Do I relate to this. It's similar to think through the drink. Basically means we tend to look back on our drinking days and forget the bad things like the hangover, fights, etc. So keeping this in mind helps me stay sober.
Tell Someone. This was huge for me. Having the craving for a beer in sobriety can be scary and often come with feelings of guilt. It's totally normal, but I would definitely tell someone. I told my sponsor, and my husband and it helped to have people keep me accountable.
Celebrate Every Milestone: In the recovery community we often tend to focus on time spent sober. But, I'm here to say celebrate all your sober milestones. If you made it to a barbeque or party sober, that's something worth being proud over.
Find a new activity/make new memories: All of my adult summers until the last two were filled with booze soaked weekends. I remember in early sobriety wondering how I'd vacation, party or go to the beach without alcohol. Since getting sober, I've tried new things. I started an improv class, started roller skating and boxing. I'm creating a new life for myself and it's better than anything I could've ever imagined.
Make a list of what you love about sobriety. I actually have a list of all the things that sobriety has given me in my purse that I pull out when I'm craving a drink.
Know your triggers: This is so important because cravings often do pop up out of nowhere. Do the deep work of recovery to know what caused you to drink in the first place. Some of mine include: boredom, feeling alone or inadequate, or anxious.
Take care of yourself: I actually have a party today that will involve copious amounts of alcohol, so before I go I'm going for a run, I am meditating and making sure I'm in a good headspace before I leave.
Know How To Say No: I've been offered drinks many different times throughout the past year, and I've had to find what works best for me. It varies for me but I usually keep it simple and say no thank you, or that I don't drink. Along with this bring you're own alcohol free options so you aren't stuck.
Find sober support: I know it can be hard to find sober support locally, but there are tons of options online to make friends! I've used We Are The Luckiest, Tempest, you can also follow @1000hoursdry, @retiredpartygirl @boozefreebabes for inspiration!
Above all remember why you chose this life, and you can do this!