Other ways to recover?
November 12, 2012 3:25 PM   Subscribe

What things help with your recovery besides meetings and aa? Please share some examples of how you recovered without aa. I want to try a different way, but dont think it will work because the aa is the only way saying has been drilled in my head.
posted by Truts83 to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My husband quit drinking with the help of therapy from an addition specialist, and no AA. From what I know about his therapist's approach, it's pretty different from AA philosophically as well.
posted by drlith at 5:43 PM on November 12, 2012

Yesterday was my 365th consecutive day without drinking alcohol, since my last binge. I have never been to an AA meeting. I did some things that I wouldn't recommend, like not seeking out a relationship with a counselor, but I have been successful to this point, so I hope I can be of some help.

The first thing is, you need to be truly motivated, but I think that is true for 12-step recovery, too. Getting sober has to be your top priority.

I got very active in an online support community, that was founded, to some extent, as a forum for people who were not doing the 12 steps, although all are welcome there, and the board has become a lot more AA-oriented over the last year. This is not a bad thing: AA, for all my reservations about involvement in it, has a lot of good aspects, and a lot of people who know a thing or two about staying sober, and I have had the benefit of their advice. Some of them don't really have much to say except go to meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps, but that is by no means universally true. In particular, the AA concept that your task is simply to not drink today has been of great value to me.

A few months in, a good friend and drinking buddy of mine also got sober, which has been another good support system. You need some kind of support system, you really do.

A thing I did early on that was very helpful was to think a lot about what kinds of situations or events that would make me want to drink were coming up, or were bound to come up one day, and to form plans for how I intended to deal with them. That plan might be going straight to bed after a bad day at work, until the liquor store closes, it might be calling someone, going online to talk to other recovering people, it might be working out, or leaving a party where you are uncomfortable, anything. After a few months, this kind of crisis, where I badly wanted to drink, became much rarer and easier to cope with. I planned for feeling let-down and sad in the days after a big milestone like 30 days without a drink, when the excitement and pride faded and I was back in daily life. When it happened, I said, "Oh, this. I thought this would happen, and I don't have to drink because of it". This kind of thing was really critical for me.

At the outset, I stopped even thinking about whether or not I am an alcoholic. I started thinking of myself simply as a person who really, really needed to stop drinking. You will have plenty of spare time to think about what alcoholism is and what is your situation as the days turn into weeks and months.

If you see, like I did, that you are at a point where there are only 2 ways to go, and you want to choose the way that avoids the horror of advanced alcohol addiction and abuse, I would urge you to not hesitate. Talk to your doctor - I cannot give you medical advice about how to actually stop (I was not a daily drinker and I did not have much detox issue at all, but everyone is different).

While AA is the mainstream of recovery in the US, it is indeed possible to stop drinking without it. I wish you success and I promise you that you will not regret it. If you really need to stop drinking, you will not believe the change it makes in your well-being and your life.
posted by thelonius at 5:47 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

Some things that made my life easier after I decided to stop drinking:

I got more health-conscious. So, rather than drinking only coffee and booze, I discovered my love for water (esp bubbly), tea, juice, almond milk, smoothies, etc.

& took up yoga, which has a ton of benefits: mind-body synergy, classes at various times per day...

I realized I was saving a LOT of money by not drinking. Easily 1/4 of my paycheck went to partying. So, having an eye toward an expensive purchase or a vacation can be motivating.

I pared down my friend group to just "decent people" which made life better. You realize who your friends are.

Really, I underwent a lifestyle shift. Everything changed, all for the better. Things I thought I would miss about the old lifestyle have been easy, no-brainers when I encountered them in real life (for instance, I once thought it would be a shame not to split a bottle of wine with a date at a restaurant because isn't it romantic-- No, it's overrated and overpriced!), ultimately because I love the clarity of sobriety, feeling comfortable in my skin, and feeling good about my choices.

In that vein, this is me; but, I altered my consciousness at every opportunity from puberty until age 30. And, now I find that Real Life is an awesome trip and I do not want to dull my experience of it!

Kick its ass, Truts83, and memail me if you want more!
posted by little_dog_laughing at 6:28 PM on November 12, 2012

I've heard that folks have had good luck with Lifering. You still have a group of people with a similar goal but there's no god talk or anything.

The old AA canard is that you have to change your playpen, playmates, and playthings. I think that's going to be true for a while no matter what avenue you take towards sobriety or any big lifestyle change.
posted by small_ruminant at 7:23 PM on November 12, 2012

Moving to a new city and making new friends who I had other things in common with, and who didn't have an image of me as a drinker. This allowed me to stop having an image of myself as a drinker. Finding new hobbies, interests, and standards. Changing the things that I told myself about using.

Watching drunk people from my bedroom window. They scream, cry, puke, fight, and say/do dumb, regrettable shit. Realising that it didn't actually look like fun. Realising that after one or two, it ISN'T that much fun, regardless of what the world tries to tell you.

Remembering my natural reaction to booze the first time I tried it. I hated it! Why? Because it's poison! Realising that I didn't want to poison myself so that alcohol manufacturers could get rich off me. If I'm an ant, booze is raid. It's a motherfucking trick! We only think it's fun because ads convince us that it's fun
Fuck that.

Looking at what booze has done to people in my life. Realising how disgusted I feel around drunk people, how I just want them to get away from me, because they smell and they're all fucking wobbly and their eyes look kind of glassy and dead and it's creepy.

Always, always, always having a glass of water with me and drinking from it more often than the alcohol. I like to fidget, so the water glass is a good placeholder.

Going to a bar and having one water after every drink and limiting my drinks to two. Realising that nothing bad happens if I choose not to get drunk, and I actually feel way better the next day. Physically and emotionally.

Going to a bar and only having soda and it being totally fine.

Working on my social skills and social anxiety until I got to a point where I didn't need to hide behind booze any more. I still don't have amazing social skills, but they've gotten a lot better. And not drinking has helped me do better in social situations because I don't get hammered and make an ass of myself.

Avoiding people who drink a lot or talk about drinking a lot or want to drink a lot.

Learning to say these things:
"I'd love to grab a bite/ get tea/ play badminton/ hang out/ whatever sometime, but I don't really like bars/ clubs/ drinking" when someone suggests drinks. Or, joining everyone at the pub but ordering food and soda.

"I'm not much of a drinker"

"No thanks, I don't really like to drink"

"I'd rather have juice, thanks"

"Nah, I don't really like the taste of booze"

"No thanks, wine gives me migraines"

"Could we ___ instead?"

"Nah, I used to drink, but I don't like it much anymore".

But the most important ones for me were "I'm not much of a drinker" "I don't feel like drinking" and "I don't really like to drink". The thing is that I said them to myself, often, like I believed it, but without making a big deal out of it. Because I changed my life pretty dramatically, there was no one around to make me feel weird about my new identity. I show up as a person who doesn't drink much and hang out with people who don't drink much and it's fine. And at this point in my life, I honestly, genuinely, don't really like to drink. It grosses me out, and pretty much the only time I take alcohol is when I'm in a situation where it would be rude not to. And then I still don't really drink it, it just kind of sits there. There's a beer around here that I've had for at least 3 months, because I don't want it.

Antidepressants and realising that booze was a) making my depression worse, b) I don't have to feel bad all the time c) I can make my life better no matter how badly I have fucked up so far, but ONLY if I stay clean and face the problem instead of hiding and d) that drinking is now physically dangerous for me in a way it wasn't before.

God helped me a lot but I am not going to try to convert you or anything. I'm just telling you that becoming Christian had a big, beneficial impact for me. If you want to know more about that, feel free to memail me, but I'm not posting here to preach at you.

There are various organizations other than AA which believe that drinking can be managed or stopped in other ways. I believe one is called Rational Recovery or something like that. More importantly, there are people who learned new habits and behaviours withou AA. Some will claim that if you can stop without AA, you're not a "real" alcoholic. To this I say, good! Who the hell thinks it's some badge of honor to be an alcoholic? If not being a "real" alcoholic means I can take control of my life, sign me the fuck up. Y'all can go be alcoholics over there; I'm busy learning how to be free. You CAN be a recovered alcoholic. I am one.

I've never been to A.A, though i have read some of their literature. I don't believe in telling myself that I have an incurable disease will help me get better. I believe in changing my habits to make me better.
posted by windykites at 8:40 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh! Also, I spoke to an addictions counsellor ( she pushed AA but also forced me to talk honestly about my drinking and the things I had done and face the reality of my past instead of hiding from it), and I have a therapist helping me cope with the shit that got me started in the first place. Talking to a real human about this, out loud, in person, is important.
posted by windykites at 8:43 PM on November 12, 2012

i'm not sure I understand windykite above me. you still drink a little? you drink water with every other drink? that doesn't sound like the best advice to be throwing around to people trying to quit.

I haven't drunk for over a year now. My main go to was my doctor. She was by no means an expert in addiction counselling but she was someone for me to work with and I was able to have my health monitored at the same time.

My go to drink for a while was root beer. I drank cans and cans of the stuff. After a few months I switched out to club soda. I still drink a couple of cans every night. I found that having something to crack open every night was important. I drink coffee like a fiend.

I also made great use of http://www.reddit.com/r/stopdrinking/
posted by Frasermoo at 9:51 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Frasermoo, the point I was making is that those are various techniques I have uses at various times to manage/ control my drinking, and also that I think it is possible to go from "alcoholic" to "responsible drinker" for many (not all) people. I'm in a place now where I don't need to drink, and it's not a big deal. It's a good place. I've had times of complete sobriety and my current position is that I do occassionally drink, but rarely and with no cravings or desire to get drunk or continue drinking the next day.

If I am in a scenario where there's drinking, I ALWAYS have water AS WELL AS my drink. If I choose to have more than one drink (rare, but occasionally I will have two), I order a glass of wayer and drink it gradually before having my second drink.

The OP asked for people's experiences on how they dealt with their problem without AA, and that's what I provided. The fact that you don't like it doesn't change that my approach worked for me. I don't neccessarily believe that "recovery" is the same thing as "never drinking again" for everybody.
posted by windykites at 11:46 AM on November 13, 2012

It's been almost a year since my last drink. Allen Carr's book actually worked for me.

That, and realizing that drinking didn't make me more fun to be around. I didn't fully realize until I was sober that drinking doesn't make anyone more fun to be around. (There are really no exceptions, especially the people who think they're the exceptions.)
posted by 4bulafia at 2:54 PM on November 13, 2012

Research has produced evidence for decades that some alcoholics could return to moderate or controlled drinking. However, Alcoholics Anonymous and other influential and powerful groups have tended to define an alcoholic as a person who can never drink in moderation. Thus, their conceptions and definitions have caused them to reject this mounting evidence. For example, they tend to argue that if researchers identify alcoholics who can now drink in moderation, that simply means that the alcoholics were falsely diagnosed and really weren’t alcoholics or they wouldn’t have been able to drink in moderation. Source

windykite - I'm not disputing your points, but I would say your situation is not common and should be seen as an exception. I know that one drink would set me off on a monumental bender.
posted by Frasermoo at 1:44 PM on November 14, 2012

windykite, the alcoholics I know usually have tried your technique first, and failed in spectacular fashion multiple times. (And yeah, if it had worked, they wouldn't have considered themselves alcoholics. I'm okay with that definition, myself.)
posted by small_ruminant at 8:20 AM on November 15, 2012

« Older College senior still trying to figure out what I...   |   The Morality of Hit and Run Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.