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New Year's Resolution, Get Sober, But How?

New Year’s Resolution: Getting Sober, But How?

Quick Summary

  • When it comes to New Year's Resolutions, this is a good one to have, but often, it isn't just as simple as quitting, but creating this mindset at the beginning of the year is a great start.
  • This means, in the first 4-6 months, you want to remove (or make as invisible as possible) everything (or as much as possible) that would be perceived as a trigger, or I better describe it as a substance-cue.
  • It can be really easy to be so laser-focused on our New Year's Resolution, our sobriety journey that we don't fill the void that was once filled with alcohol-induced activities.

Often on the top of the New Year’s Resolution list for every individual struggling with an addiction is to get sober, and quit booze or drugs forever.

When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, this is a good one to have, but often, it isn’t just as simple as quitting, but creating this mindset at the beginning of the year is a great start.

In this article, we will discuss some key actions to begin the sober journey when you move into the New Year, and how to keep your New Year’s Resolution sobriety promise.

Get Accountable First (Burn the Bridges)

This should be at the absolute top of your to-do list when you decide to take that first step (or re-step) into sobriety.

Getting accountable essentially means telling others, letting close family, friends or even community groups that you’re deciding to live an addiction-free life.

We can never quit on our own strength, especially when addiction already has such as tight grasp, in fact, it’s one of the top mistakes people do when they get sober.

As easy as it sounds, it’s true that this can be the hardest step because you’re also openly admitting to others that you may have a problem.

Don’t make this step complicated, you can simply tell people you are not drinking this year. Something simple as accountability burns the bridges, and it drastically reduces our risk of ever turning back.

Remove The Cue (Make it Invisible)

This second step relates to one of the laws of behaviour change, which is discussed extensively in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book comes highly recommended, and if you have a spare $30, stop now, click the link and pick yourself up a copy.

The first law of behavioural change is to make it obvious, but in this instance, we want to do the exact reverse.

This means, in the first 4-6 months, you want to remove (or make as invisible as possible) everything (or as much as possible) that would be perceived as a trigger, or I better describe it as a substance-cue.

Substance-cue’s are quite simply described as opportunities for relapse, familiar scenarios where your body associates them with either the addiction or the feel-good sensation that results.

Some examples include

Stress trigger
High-stress day -> having alcohol in the house -> drinking alcohol to cope.
Solution: Remove alcohol from the house.

Attention allocating trigger
Not planning your day -> depletes daily willpower -> Self-control is reduced.
Solution: Create more structure in our day

Perceived opportunity trigger
Going out to the pub with friends -> alcohol availability and familiar environment -> intense cravings and relapse.
Solution: Share accountability with these friends.

Of course, these examples won’t work for everyone, and not all will be easy, but over time, we can get better at managing these substance-cues, and the habitual link of drinking slowly fades.

Create Good Habits (Filling the Void)

It can be really easy to be so laser-focused on our New Year’s Resolution, our sobriety journey that we don’t fill the void that was once filled with alcohol-induced activities.

Getting sober is one thing, and understanding our substance cues is definitely important too, but if we aren’t covering some basic foundational habits, such as our health, our journey can be much harder.

I discuss 5 simple habits you should be doing to sustain long-term sobriety here.

You’re probably asking, what’s a basic foundational habit? These are habits that optimise our overall wellbeing, habits that give us purpose and keep us grounded.

Most will fall into 1 of 5 categories, Connection, Nutritional Health, Physical Health, Relaxation and Purpose.

Some example habits include:

  • Daily physical activity (Physical Health)
  • Consciously eating a balanced diet (Nutritional Health)
  • Planning our schedule (Purpose)
  • Making time to connect with friends or community groups (Connection)
  • Meditation or stretching (Relaxation)

The list could go on, but ensuring we incorporate these types of good habits daily creates a smoother journey away from an addicted life.

The Takeaway

Although I’m never a fan of setting New Year’s Resolutions, Getting sober can be high up on the resolution list with any individual struggling with an addiction.

If we implement the right actions and steps, such as getting accountable, removing substance-cues and creating good habits, we can create sustained long-term sobriety.

If you have any questions regarding this article, reach out.

References

  • Avena, N. M., Rada, P., & Hoebel, B. G. (2008). Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 32(1), 20-39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.019
  • Mutlu, E. A., Gillevet, P. M., Rangwala, H., Sikaroodi, M., Naqvi, A., Engen, P. A., Kwasny, M., Lau, C. K., & Keshavarzian, A. (2012). Colonic microbiome is altered in alcoholism. American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 302(9), G966-G978. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.00380.2011

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