Featured post

Day 1: Welcome To Dryuary 2019!

“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.” 
– Robert G. Ingersoll

 

Welcome to Dryuary 2019!

We’ve all come here from different destinations to which alcohol has taken us. All of us have different expectations of what the next 31 days will bring us. All of us are excited, all of us are afraid, and all of us have real doubts about whether we’ll succeed at the task we’ve set before us.

One thing we have in common is that alcohol has caused consequences in our life, consequences that are of enough weight that we desire to take a step back, to clear our head, to get a clear-eye and clear-mind look at those consequences. To take stock of the damage. To put alcohol at arm’s length and lessen its hold. To figure out, without the distraction of alcohol, who we are and who we want to be. To fall a little out of love with alcohol and a lot more in love with ourselves.

In this first week, we’ll be spending a lot of time assessing where we are right now in our relationship with alcohol. At the end of Dryuary, we’ll be asked to make another assessment and compare. We do this every year and from past participants’ responses, the discoveries and changes are significant. So, today, with that knowledge, I want you to take several minutes, close your eyes and, in your mind, pick up a camera and take a picture of that future you, you at the end of Dryuary. Then, pick up a pen and a sheet of paper and write a description of what you see in that picture- you with all the consequences of Dryuary on full display and no consequences of alcohol to be found. Dryuary isn’t plastic surgery, but, again, based on past experiences, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the changes in physical appearance. But, let’s go beyond the surface. What changes do you expect or want to see on the inside? Remember, leave all consequences of alcohol out of your picture.

Are you sitting by a fire with a steaming cup of coffee or tea in one hand and a good book in the other? Your posture relaxed? A look of complete ease on your face?

Are you at your desk at work 15 minutes early because you’ve got a great idea and can’t wait to get to work on it? Eyes clear. Brain alive and humming?

Are you the first one on the slopes looking down a run of fresh, untouched snow, the sun just peaking over the mountains turning it pink? No hangover. No anxiety. No impatience for the day to be over and happy hour to start. Just that endless slope of pure, clean snow and all the time in the world.

 Are you belly-laughing real laughter (Believe me there’s a difference between real laughter and inebriated laughter, you’ll see.) with your kids as you watch some silly, animated feature during  popcorn and movie night. Comfy pajamas, worn out slippers, scratchy afghans and all.

Take that snapshot with you on this journey, tuck it in your pocket for those times you feel like the journey is too long or not worth it. Pull it out and remember where you are heading and where you want to end up. Change it and enhance it as necessary. Add a bonus onto that picture of you at your desk. A perfect run on those slopes. A wonderful dream after you fall asleep reading that book or with the kids on the couch during movie #3.

I wish I could say that for the next 31 days, alcohol will be of no consequence to us, but it will. Its presence will linger. In the first few days, its ghost will be at its most powerful when we find ourselves longing for it at certain times of the day and when we realize that we’ve come to depend on it a little more than we thought.  Just hang on. You’re not alone. It get’s better. Together, we will get through this. We’re going to learn lessons we never learned or have forgotten. We’re going to be exposed to information and points of view that are new. Some of it might hit a little too close to home and some of it will be way off target. That’s okay. What doesn’t apply right now, may apply later. The good news is, we get to take all the knowledge and these experiences with us, and, even if we resume drinking on February 1, we cannot unlearn the knowledge or undo the experiences.

The writers who have generously shared their knowledge with us, also come from different destinations. Some of their beliefs and recommendations might conflict with other writers’ recommendations or our own beliefs. That’s okay, too.  Our differences won’t hinder us on this journey, in fact, the different perspectives each of us bring will enhance our experience and provide us insight we can’t find on our own.

Let’s get started. Got your paper and pen? Close your eyes. All together now, say, “Dryuary 2019!” CLICK!

Now, get on over to the Dryuary forum, and tell us about that picture you just took, or share in the comments below!

Post Submitted by: Mary Reid aka Kary May Hickey
Mary Reid is the Program Director of Moderation Management and the author of Neighbor Kary May’s Handbook To Happily Drinking Less or Not Drinking At All, Quite Happily: With the help of online recovery community

Featured post

Day 2: Stuck In Wanting

“Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose – and commit myself to – what is best for me.
― Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

For years, I would tell myself the same thing after a night of drinking one too many: When I’m 30, I’ll finally have this all figured out.

I had no idea how it would happen, but until then change could wait. I was sure that once I reached that milestone my life would just magically fall into place.

Unsurprisingly to perhaps no one but me, things didn’t exactly turn out that way.

My 30th birthday came and went, and I was no wiser than I had been the day before. Yet again I marked the occasion by drinking too much and saying things I wished I could take back. The next morning, soaked in regret and shame, I lay in bed trying to piece together the night.

From the time that I started college at 17, alcohol was by my side whenever it came to having fun. The insecurity that gnawed at me before going out disappeared. The hang-ups whispering in my ear dissolved. When I was drunk, I was carefree, confident, and outgoing. I didn’t want to mess with a good thing.

By my twenties, a part of me worried that I took things too far. I didn’t need a drink to get through the day. I wasn’t tippling from a secret flask. I drank socially. I drank at parties. I drank at bars. I drank a lot, but so did every twenty-something around me. Yet most of my friends seemed to get to a point where they called it quits. I, on the other hand, seemed to have a broken off-switch.

My drinking wasn’t the only problem. I was expert in self-loathing. Everywhere I looked, I saw unmet expectations. I had so many flaws. So many things to fix. I was terrified of failing and obsessed with measuring up. I felt broken. All I could see was a litany of problems that I had no idea how to tackle. But I knew one thing: relief was always waiting for me at the bar.

Of course, the temporary respite I got from a drink (or three, or four, or too many to remember) only led to more problems and more shame. Again and again, I came back to the same questions: Why couldn’t I drink like everyone else? What was wrong with me?

I desperately wanted things to be different. I wanted alcohol not to be an issue. I wanted to drink like a “normal” person. I wanted to be the funny, confident, outgoing version of myself without needing a glass in my hand.

I was stuck in wanting. The problem was that wanting required nothing of me. All I had to do was sit back, stew in self-pity, and wish that things were different. All the while wondering: Why me? Why did I have to deal with this?

I didn’t know it at the time, but I stayed stuck in wanting because it was safe. I didn’t have to take action or risk feeling uncomfortable. When all was said and done, although I swore up and down that I was desperate to change my drinking, I was terrified of the discomfort necessary to make change a reality.

I didn’t want to feel the restlessness of saying no to my desire. I didn’t want to brave a party sober. I didn’t want to answer people’s questions about why I was drinking club soda. I didn’t want to feel awkward, insecure, or judged. Wanting was a security blanket that got me nowhere.

What I needed was commitment. If I truly wanted to create change in my life, I needed to commit to doing things differently. A commitment to take action. A commitment to venturing outside of my comfort zone. A commitment to say no, even when saying no felt anything but easy. I needed to embrace discomfort, the very thing that pouring a drink had for so long helped me avoid.

And that’s what I did. I shifted from wanting to committing. Less than a year later, I took a break from drinking. As I crossed days off a calendar, I promised myself that I would finally understand why I felt like I needed a drink in certain situations and more importantly how not to. If I really wanted to learn how to be carefree, confident, and outgoing on my own, I had to practice showing up that way without a drink. Along the way, something amazing happened: the more I stopped running from discomfort the more I discovered I was a lot braver and stronger than I ever thought possible.

Reaching some arbitrary milestone or sitting around and wanting things to be different was never going to magically fix what wasn’t working in my life. True change required commitment and a willingness to be uncomfortable. I had to move toward the things that made me want to run and hide so that my brain could learn they weren’t nearly as scary as I thought.

It wasn’t always easy. Commitment asked me to keep showing up for myself even when my brain insisted it was too hard to continue. Even when I was consumed by worry, doubt, and fear. Commitment urged me to keep going even when I didn’t feel like it and a little voice inside of me declared that today had been too hard, I was too overwhelmed, and that one drink wouldn’t hurt.

What I discovered transformed everything. My drinking wasn’t a sign that I was broken or an indication that something was wrong with me or my brain. I had unknowingly taught myself to use a drink to cope with how I felt because no one had ever shown me another way. Alcohol quieted my merciless self-critic. It put me at ease in social situations. It let me blow off steam after a hard day’s work. It gave me permission to throw caution to the wind and actually be spontaneous. But the more I relied on a drink as a quick fix, the more I depended on it to feel better. Suddenly, my drinking made perfect sense. I was simply doing the best for myself the only way I knew how. Now it was time to do better.

Today when my birthday rolls around I’m no longer hoping that my life will magically fall into place, because I’m committed to creating a life that way more exciting and fulfilling than anything found at the bottom of my glass.

Post Submitted By: Rachel Hart
Rachel Hart is a master certified life coach, the host of the podcast Take a Break from Drinking, and the author of the book Why Can’t I Drink Like Everyone Else?: A Step-By-Step Guide to Understanding Why You Drink and Knowing How to Take a Break. You can learn more about her work at rachelhart.com.

Featured post

Day 3: Get A Baseline

Inspirational song: Silence. Really — no audio, no video, just five minutes of listening to your own breath.

“Life is just so painful and messy and hard and worth it and all that stuff.” – Robert Downey Jr.

Many people can benefit from a break from alcohol. You may notice subtle health issues you never connected to alcohol. Get a baseline of your physical and mental status today, so you can compare later this month, to see how taking a break helped.

Mood/cognitive/energy: Are you anxious, irritable, sad, hopeless, distractible, restless, arrogant, impulsive, depressed, easily defeated, or low energy (dishes piling up, take-out too often)? Have you felt shame or guilt recently?

Sleep: Do you need alcohol to get to sleep? Do you wake in the middle of the night? If you use something like a FitBit, do you notice a difference in how you sleep when you drink?  Do you have a hard time waking up?

Physical: How does your stomach feel? Any irritation in upper or lower tummy (e.g., heartburn)? Gas or bloating? Allergies?

Appearance: Are there dark circles or bags under your eyes? Skin blotchy or dry?

Interpersonal: How are you getting along with your loved ones? Are you less patient the day after you drink? Do you over-react? Less predictable?

This month is about seeing what happens in these areas when taking a break from alcohol.

If something pushes your buttons, and you find yourself really wanting a drink, try “urge surfing.” Harm-reduction pioneer G Alan Marlatt noted that urges for substance-use rarely last longer than 30 minutes. If you can “surf” the urge – observe it without acting – you can usually ride it out. Try it: When you notice an urge to drink come up, don’t slap it down. Watch it. Mentally pick it up and turn it around, looking at it. Listen to what the urge tells you, without acting on it. See how you feel one hour from now. Did the urge subside like a wave? Was the need to act on it as urgent as it seemed to be at the peak of it?

This month is an experiment to see if taking a break from alcohol helps you achieve more of your goals. Many people find it to be a very worthwhile investment. I find I’m much more productive during the months I don’t drink.  Others find they have more time and renew hobbies that have fallen aside.  And many are surprised at what the break did and didn’t do for them. See what it can do for you.

Post Submitted By: Donna

The Baseline Post has become a Dryuary tradition. We’ll ask you to do another assessment at the end of the month. It is always an eye-opener for Dryuary participants when they witness how much change takes place in a few weeks. See you at the end of Dryuary!

Featured post

Day 4: Urge Dirge


Alert: Video contains language that some viewers may find offensive.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
– Marianne Williamson

“One of the most difficult things about reverting back to “normal” or moderate drinking after the excess of the holidays is getting yourself to a place where your brain is back to optimal operating mode for good decision-making. Here’s where Dryuary can help…”

Hypofrontality is a condition of the brain which arises out of high, binge, or daily consumption of alcohol.  This condition exists because mother nature protects the most conscious part of the brain from neurotoxins by reducing blood flow to the prefrontal cortex to less than 15%. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkOl7QIXxlQ). The only way to fix this is to give the brain a rest from drinking, allowing blood flow to return to maximum levels and feeling the brain fog begin to lift.  Nearing the end of your Dryuary, the pay-offs are going to begin to show through clearer thinking, the ability to find solutions faster, think critically, and catch the nuances of conversations and facial expressions. This is what the prefrontal cortex does. It’s vital for navigating through life.

You can manage cravings in at least 4 different ways: distraction, tolerance, extinction and tapping.  Distraction is probably the most familiar and recommended method for managing cravings. The problem lies in that this only works for so long. After a while, you become a human-doing rather than a human-being which leads to feeling overwhelmed and giving up.

The second method is tolerance. This method requires that you white knuckle yourself through cravings and urges, counting down the days (or hours) until your next drink.  Focusing on the idea of “I can’t drink today” only causes you to run towards that which you do not want. You are better off focusing on the “things you CAN do today”which probably includes a list longer than you can imagine that is more fun too. White knuckling is the most difficult of the three because willpower depletes throughout the day. The later in the day it is, the less likely this method will work.

The third method is extinction. This is permanent, it works, and is easier than you think. Psychological extinction means rather than distracting yourself from the craving or just surviving it, you use it as a detective uses clues to solve a case. Here’s what to do: The next time you have a craving, sit down and go into it. Describe it using your 6 senses – Hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and feeling. Write it down or say it out loud. Where is it in your body? Try to describe its shape, color, texture, and location. Stay with it. Don’t be afraid of it. You can’t die from being present in the moment. Then, notice something. It’s gone!  Repeat this method until you no longer have cravings. You’ll know it’s working when cravings happen less intensely and less frequently.

Pharmacologic extinction includes the use of a drug called Naltrexone in the Sinclair Method. Rather than take the prescription once a day in the morning (which affects more aspects of your life than maybe you want),you take it an hour before you plan on drinking and over the course of the next 6 to 9 months it is 78% effective in reducing or eliminating the desire to drink. You can find more info on the C Three Foundation website. (I have no affiliation with the C Three Foundation).

Lastly, tapping is the use of energy psychology to stop an unwanted feeling in its track. Learning how to do this is easy and there are literally hundreds of Youtube videos on “Tapping for Cravings.” What this does is send signals to the brain to disrupt emotions and change your response to the craving. For North American’s this seems a little airy fairy but it’s free and worth trying. If it works for you, you’ll be glad you checked it out.

So, what comes next? Once you master the art of managing cravings you get to a space of freedom, personal growth, and discovery. Ironically, alcohol IS the distraction. It distracts you from who you are and who you are meant to become. Alcohol fights the evolutionary impulse within all of us to transcend and transform into a better version of ourselves. Taking a break from drinking allows your brain to come back online maximizing your potential to rise.  It creates a beginning to becoming part of the flow of positive change on the planet.

Afterall, this isn’t about drinking at all, its about growing as a species into our full potential. Its about common goals, sticking to a commitment, helping a friend, not letting yourself down, and learning to really accept and love yourself.  It’s a chance to wake up and smell the coffee and choose anew what you really want for yourself. It is the awakening of consciousness. It’s realizing we are powerful beyond measure.

Post Submitted By: Michele Perron, PhD, LADC, CCSAC, ICADC, CAPP

Michele is a private international addiction consultant and has
been in the field at all levels of care for over 12 years. She is the author of
“Tools for Life.” To hear more about Michele, a Wellness podcast can be found at
https://wellnessrenpodcast.com/podcast/episode-43-drinking-for-a-lifetime-in-a-healthy-way-with-michele-perron-phd/

Featured post

Day 5: Celebration

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” –Oprah Winfrey

I was 61 years old and had been over drinking for about ten years at that point. (Truth be told there were definitely warning signs much earlier in my life, but the true overdrinking started at about the age of 50.)

I had also been relatively fit all my life (dance, hiking, backpacking), but with kids and jobs and just plain old life stuff, the last ten years had also left the door open for, ahem, shall we say, a bit of lethargy.

I started running about the same time I finally decided to do something about my drinking. It had not escaped my notice that both overdrinking and under exercising crept in concurrently.

Right off the bat I noticed similarities between my newfound running routine and my newfound attempt to gain some control over my drinking.

I had made several attempts in the recent past to start running and stop drinking, but was not terribly successful at either. My first runs were slow, I couldn’t run very far before I had to walk, I got bored, and, ultimately I quit because, surprise, I couldn’t run five miles. In this same vein, I also would cut back pretty well on my drinking for a few days, then overdrink one night and say, “Forget it. See? I can’t do this.” Yeah, I know.

For whatever reason I came to the “Aha Moment,” that I was going to change my thinking about running. Maybe it was my age, and that this was kind of a turning point in my life. I honestly don’t know to this day how my brain made the logical switch. Somehow, someway, I finally cottoned on to the fundamental action I had to take to make this my new norm, and that is I had to fully and honestly celebrate my attempt and intent. I had to focus on the fact of me donning my running clothes and shoes and stepping out the door. Everything after that was gravy. If I only walked to the end of the block and back, then I would celebrate the fact that I got my butt out the door that day. If I ran one minute and walked five, I would celebrate that.

In fact, the true difference was noticing, observing and honoring my intent. And you know what? The change in my thinking was truly liberating! My thoughts were not the heavy, dreary, dark ones of why I wouldn’t be able to run a marathon. Instead, they were light, confident, cheerful thoughts of how cool it was for me to be outside taking steps. And when my thoughts were lighter, I could run farther. Pretty cool, huh?

Needless to say, this change in thinking about running has formed my change in thinking about drinking.

It’s a lot easier to focus on and honor a single day of abstinence than to mentally haul around guilt, shame, fear and loathing of all the times I didn’t abstain. When my thoughts are lighter, I am less apt to turn to alcohol to help me carry the burdens of guilt and dread.

Honestly, the switch in mindset has been the key to success in both areas of my life: running and gaining control over alcohol.

Okay, so all’s well and good. I’ve got the old brain change thing going on, I’m tying on those cute little running shoes, getting my behind out the door, some runs are better than others, and then… and then… Something Happens.

I wreck my knee and need to take a couple of days off; I have to work 12 hour days all week and no time to run; my evening run is derailed to help my son with his homework Which he has known about for three weeks and is due tomorrow and he’s just starting it; I need one single full day in front of the laptop to get these projects done and a run just isn’t in the cards that day. Then after a few of these events get strung together, I start to slide ever so gently towards Ugh I’m Not Really a Runner and It’s Been Five Days So What’s One More. That way of thinking leads inevitably to, you guessed it, The Land of Guilt and Dread.

Same goes for abstaining. I have every intention to abstain and then…Something Happens. My friend brings me a glass of champagne from the bar at the wedding reception; my work day is so, so, so hectic and frustrating that my willpower to resist a cold gin tonic is reduced to nil; I come home to a delicious homemade lasagna that just begs for a glass of good red wine. Even if I cave to just one of these events, I can slide oh-so-quickly towards Well, I Blew It Today So Might As Well Keep Drinking. And again, you know where that path leads: The Land of Guilt and Dread.

So, how to affect a course correction before ending up the TLOGAD? Just in case it’s not obvious, refer again to Step One. Put on your running shoes, open the door, step outside and celebrate the heck out of that one step. Put down the glass, take a breath, step away from it, and give yourself a big high five. Just take that one step and then celebrate. Yahoo! This is your celebration!

Post Submitted By: HorseLover, MM Member

Featured post

Day 6: Out Of The Closet

Out of the Closet was previously published at jasongarner.com. Reprinted with permission of Jason Gardner.

I got angry with my wife this week for being too happy. It feels strange to write that here where I share so much about loving others and ourselves. But it happened and I thought it would be cool to share in the vein of “we’re all human,” but also like, “what the hell’s wrong with me?” Which, perhaps, are two ways of saying the same thing.

My wife, Dr. Christy, is almost always happy. She doesn’t let a day go by without telling me how much she loves our life, our home, our children, our dogs, the garden, the trees, and even my occasional crabbiness. When we met, I assumed her giddy nature to be the product of the Minnesota sun, of Midwest values, and of the simplicity of the small family farm on which she was raised. That was superficial of me, my geographical bias dictating her experience of life. Her happiness is, in fact, hard won, a resolve to find the light that’s endured divorce and single motherhood, patients who’ve suffered and some who’ve died, and a cruel world that often didn’t understand the woman with a fierce mind and tender heart who spent her days caring for the sick while longing for a safe place to rest her head at night. My wife, an accomplished woman in so many ways, is a child at heart. A dreamer, a romantic, a little girl in a field of sunflowers looking for a playmate to hold her hand and invite her to dance. So she smiles and laughs and tries her best to remind the world, and me in particular, to lighten up and play a bit. Often when I go off and write she’ll appear with a giggle and a shake and say something like, “I just had a love burst and I needed to kiss my husband,” before giving me a smooch and floating away again. Her happiness is a way of drawing me out into her light so she knows that I’m okay and that we’re still connected.

My means are slower. I brood a bit more and let life seep in. I like when things drip deep inside and touch my nerves, raw and with a tinge of pain. Pain, for me, has been a gateway to the unrefined rhythm of life — the primal bass line hidden within synthesizer beats. So I meditate, and contemplate, and slow dance clumsily with the stuff that’s not safe to carry on my sleeve as I waltz down the street. Then I go off alone, behind the door of my bedroom or amongst the tall oaks in our garden, and write it all down. And then I’m happy. But my wife skips all that method acting and just gets right to the happiness.

The other day I forgot that I enjoy the contrast: “Stop being so happy!” I said, and then stomped away to the closest place I could find to stew, which turned out to be my bedroom closet — the place I store my hoodies and linen pants and, on this day at least, the place I went to pout and to be alone. I sat for a while, in self-imposed exile, wondering how she could be so rude with her smiley face and love bursts and kisses interrupting my loneliness. I closed my eyes and touched the pain where my loneliness lives, then I took out my iPhone and wrote down a few lines hoping to describe how it felt inside.

Loneliness is a state I have to practice regularly to maintain. It’s there, for sure, on its own, lurking in the corner, waving me over to commiserate in its solemn companionship. But on the way from where I am to that dark corner I pass a lot of other things hanging around too. Flowers, sunshine, children dancing in the yard, a wife who loves me, pictures of my family on the mantel, my dogs curled up on the floor, all the lovely things that live on the outskirts of the corners where loneliness resides. To be lonely I have to ignore them all, and look the other way. Loneliness, like everything else at which we’re proficient in life, takes intention and focus, requiring that we block everything else from our sight and just gaze at it until it consumes us, until we get really good at it, until it becomes a safe place to hang out in the pain.

The best I can tell, we’re all living in a closet of some kind; the place we hide all the messy stuff of life so the house looks clean when the neighbors come for a visit. We all have secrets, guilty pleasures and things we’re ashamed of. We’ve broken lovers’ hearts and our own. We’ve had sexual triumphs and embarrassments. We’ve tried to parent without really knowing how. We’ve cheated and lied, smoked pot and done lines in the bathroom with the lights turned low. We’ve stolen money from our bosses and had fights with our wives. We pull our hair, drink too much, and binge-eat Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream when life gets to be too much. And some of us have gone to Vegas with the boys when we said we were going to Boise to visit old friends. Or at least I have … done a little of all of that. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that we’re all the same. We think we have our secrets but that’s not quite true. What we have is our humanity, and that means I’m just like you — feeling lonely because I’ve lived a life I’m sometimes not proud of without realizing that you’re telling yourself the same lies as me.

I know this to be true because I write, which requires that I look inside this closet of mine and take inventory of my mind and then write it all down and have the courage to press send, something I do every few weeks wondering how it’ll be received. Wondering if you’ll still like what you read and if I’ll like what I see when I look in the mirror at the end of the day after baring my soul. Something funny happens in that process though: you write back to me and open your closet too. And that’s how I know we’re all lonely about the same things we’ve been hiding in the closet being afraid others might find out. Not exactly the same things. We have different things crammed in there. I’ve got a rug my dog peed on and you’ve got the cushion you burned smoking cigarettes while your wife was in the bath. But we share the reason we crammed it all in the closet in the first place. We have the same desire to be good, to be loved, to be accepted and understood. And we’re worried that we’re not. Not quite good enough, or worthy, or ever going to feel loved.

In that commonality we can find a call to connect. To practice sharing with one another. To come out of the closet and compare what we’ve got hidden inside. When we do, our loneliness doesn’t get pushed away or replaced with a sappy artificial grin. Instead, loneliness itself becomes the place where we intersect. We bond around our human vulnerability and all the juicy ways we’ve lived our lives.

This week I invite you to look in the closet and poke around. Ask some good questions, perhaps like:

Where does my loneliness live?

What beauty lies between here and there?

How might my stuff be like the stuff of other people I know?

Then share what you find with a friend … or two. See what you have in common. Experience the connection of shared humanity.

Solitude is inevitable. At one point or another we all will have moments when we’re alone. Loneliness, though, can be optional, a result based largely on what we choose to practice in life; when we get to know ourselves; when we look in the closet and get comfortable with what we find; and when we share around our human fragility. Then solitude becomes a place of solace, and our experiences — no longer secrets — become old friends.

Big hugs of love,

Jason
 
Post Submitted By: Jason Garner
Jason Garner is author of the autobiography, And I Breathed, about a FORMER FORTUNE 500 COMPANY exec’s journey from a life of matter to a life that matters. He shares the lessons gained on his rise from flea market parking attendant to CEO of Global Music at Live Nation, and (finally) learning to breathe while sitting cross-legged with timeless Masters of body, mind, and spirit in the book and at jasongarner.com

Featured post

Day 7: FOMO


 
“When was the last time you woke up and wished you had just one more drink the night before? I’ve never regretted not drinking. Say this to yourself, and you’ll get through anything“
– Meredith Bell, author of Seven Days Sober

FOMO – the fear of missing out – It’s what keeps us going to happy hour when we’d rather not. FOMO is why we find ourselves sipping wine at a business dinner when we know it’s going to trigger a migraine. Dryuary is a great time to avoid FOMO – since there’s others taking a break too – and see what life without alcohol can look like for you. The idea of Dryuary is to take a temporary break from alcohol and evaluate your relationship with it. You might re-frame that relationship or find that maybe alcohol doesn’t have space in your life anymore. You can always find a reason to drink and now you have a reason not to drink too.

My fear of missing out came primarily from my job. I worked in marketing where business and drinking were intimately linked. My FOMO was that my career would come to a grinding halt if I stopped drinking. It’s surprisingly common across many different professions. Doctors, lawyers, realtors, sales professionals, etc. From networking events, trade shows and business meetings to just hanging out and unwinding with coworkers, alcohol and business tend to go together so it’s normal to fear that change. You might think you can’t afford to stop drinking.

I did stop drinking while still in my corporate role. FOMO or not – it needed to happen. Dryuary is a great time to give it a shot because you’re taking a break for a challenge everyone can support. There’s no pressure or judgment involved. When asked you can simply say “No thanks, I’m taking a break for Dryuary” and move on. Keep attending happy hours or corporate events that are important for networking. Here’s a few tips to make those events easier:

* Arrive early and order a non-alcoholic drink (like a soda & lime). Many bartenders also love creating interesting and fun mocktails. Only you will know what you’re drinking.
* Having a drink in hand stops others from asking questions or offering drinks.

* You’re actually in a great position because you have a clear head and you’re in control. Imagine the networking and deals you can spearhead around those who are buzzed and fuzzy brained!

* Offer to plan events that don’t revolve around drinking. They will save your company money and also promote your career by showing initiative to take charge. That is a win/win!
* Have an escape plan. If you start feeling pressured to drink, have a reason to leave. Schedule a meeting or another non-negotiable obligation for the next morning. Your responsible nature will get you noticed.

Dryuary shouldn’t feel as if you’re depriving yourself of anything. Fun, career advancement – there shouldn’t be a fear of missing out on anything. You need to approach this change with the right mindset. Your perception creates your reality.

If FOMO is holding you back, create a list of what you can gain by taking this 31 day challenge and how it can benefit you. Weight loss, improved sleep, more presence, zero hangovers, more money, better productivity at work, improved health, etc. Now you have firm motivation and a reason to not only embrace change but also want to be successful at it.

If you find yourself really struggling to not drink during the challenge, that can also be an important eye-opener regarding your relationship with alcohol. Your career might be advancing but if your drinking is taking off as well (like mine was) is it really worth it? Just like we have assessments regarding work performance that force us to look at where we might need to make changes or improvements – we need those in our personal lives as well.

Why are you struggling with your break from alcohol? Is it the stress from your job? Are you feeling unfulfilled in your career? Would you be happier elsewhere or in a different field? I never imagined I’d one day leave my corporate job that I was excelling and accelerating in to become an author. In fact, FOMO would have definitely held me back but after getting over the fear of missing out and stopping drinking for good – here I am. Happier than I ever was in my field that made drinking seem like a line item on my job description.

So what if you get past the FOMO, get through Dryuary and realize that change wasn’t so scary at all. What happens when you think that maybe you really don’t need alcohol at all? How do you continue to advance professionally when alcohol is such a big part of business?

First off – don’t make a big deal out of it. People aren’t nearly as concerned with us as we think they are. Most aren’t worried about what you’re drinking or doing because they are thinking or worrying about themselves. You really don’t owe anyone an explanation anyhow. If pressured you can answer however you feel comfortable. “I’m driving tonight.” “I’m on a diet.” “I enjoyed Dryuary so much I’ve decided to keep going.”

Second – Take charge. If you have a boozy client or co-worker who will pressure you to drink, flip the script on them. Rather than a dinner meeting, make it a breakfast. Instead of golf and drinks after, suggest something new like cycling or horseback riding.

Finally – remember this is your life. You get to choose how to live it and what makes you happy. There’s plenty of people that drink and plenty that do not. Careers shouldn’t be made around what is in your glass. That also shouldn’t hold you back from any changes you want to make. Yes, change is scary but staying the same can be even scarier so kick FOMO to the curb and see where Dryuary can take you!

Post Submitted By: Annie Grace
Annie Grace is the author of This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life. Annie grew up in a one-room log cabin without running water or electricity outside of Aspen, Colorado. She discovered a passion for marketing and after graduating with a Masters of Science (Marketing) she dove into corporate life. At the age of 26, Annie was the youngest vice president in a multinational company, and her drinking career began in earnest. At 35, in a global C-level marketing role, she was responsible for marketing in 28 countries and drinking almost two bottles of wine a night. Knowing she needed a change but unwilling to submit to a life of deprivation and stigma, Annie set out to find a painless way to regain control. Annie no longer drinks and has never been happier. She left her executive role to write this book and share This Naked Mind with the world. In her free time, Annie loves to ski, travel (26 countries and counting), and enjoy her beautiful family. Annie lives with her husband and three children in the Colorado mountains.

This Naked Mind book link – https://thisnakedmind.com/purchase-naked-mind-control-alcohol-book/
The Alcohol Experiment book link – https://thisnakedmind.com/purchase-the-alcohol-experiment-book/
This Naked Mind webpage – https://thisnakedmind.com/
The Alcohol Experiment – https://learn.thisnakedmind.com/the-alcohol-experiment-registration
 

Featured post

Day 8: It’s Not Failure, It’s A Chance To Begin Again

“You can dance in the storm. Don’t wait for the rain to be over before because it might take too long. You can can do it now. Wherever you are, right now, you can start, right now; this very moment.”
– Israelmore Ayivor

I have been helping with Dryuary for three years and I know that right about now, a week into Dryuary, is when we start receiving the requests for cancellations. We never receive an explanation of why people are cancelling, but I imagine it is because they slipped and drank and feel that somehow they have “failed” Dryuary. And, really, they don’t need a reminder of their “failure” arriving in their email bright and freakin’ early every day.

I get it.

When I joined Moderation Management eight years ago, I had no intention of ever doing their recommended 30 day “abs” stint. I was just going to hang low and hope no one ever noticed. (By the way, the recommended 30 days straight of abstinence is not a requirement, it is a recommendation.) But, after only one month someone grabbed me by the lapels and said, a little adamantly, “I need to do a 30. Buddy-up with me.”

How could I say, “No?”

I made it 22 Days and then I fell completely off the wagon. So, I disappeared, never to be heard from again…until a few weeks later when I slinked back in. Now, you would think I learned my lesson, after all, I never planned on doing a 30 in the first place, but that 22 days did something to me, it awakened possibility. I hadn’t met my goal but I’d gone further than I’d ever been before on my own. If I could go 22 days without drinking, by damn, I could go another eight.

So, I tried. And, I tried. And, I tried again.

I repeated this scenario at least 6 times in my first year of trying to gain control of my drinking with the help of a support group. Oh, I’d tried cutting down on my drinking or quitting altogether on my own all my life and got nowhere but deeper into the bottomless well of my drinking problem. Hauling yourself out, hand-over-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder with others is a whole ‘nother ballgame.

Finally, the end of my first year of belonging to a support group rolls around and I am one big failure. Capital F. I failed miserably at moderating and I failed time and time again at going 30 days without drinking. I remember standing there feeling like I had a big “L” tattooed on my forehead, looking down at a calendar I’d kept for the whole year. I had marked each day with a letter, an “A” for abstinence, an “M” for moderation, and a big fat “D” for drunk. There were enough “D’s” to make me cringe, the “M’s” were in meager supply, but, when I started counting up those “A’s,” I found I had been abstinent 66% of the year. 66%!! Some people might say that 66% on the old grade scale is still a big fat “F” for failure but, you know what? If I had succeeded at that first attempt at completing a 30-day abs stint, I probably wouldn’t have attempted another 30, ever. No need, I’d proved to myself that I could do it. Had that happened, the number of A’s on that calendar would have been 30, plus a few more abs days thrown in- say 30, no 60-throughout the year to make a total of 90 days of abstinence for the year. 90 days of abstinence in a year would have given me a score of 25%.  25% for succeeding at my goal and making a fairly decent showing at getting some abs days in the rest of the year.

66%=F for Failure?

I don’t think so.

More like a humongous “S” for SUCCESS!” Even though I hadn’t succeeded at all at what I’d set out to accomplish.

My point? My point is that success is not found in completing 1, or 10, or 31 days or 7 years of abstaining from drinking or moderating our drinking successfully. Success is in never giving up on ourselves.

So, if you slipped and had a couple drinks or a whole lot of drinks last weekend or last night, don’t count yourself out. I understand the need to crawl off and lick your wounds and mutter, “Dryuary, what a crock of sh!+” But, I hope you don’t cancel your subscription, I hope you leave the door open for when you want to walk back in with your head held up high-no slinking allowed. If that’s tomorrow, “Hurrah!” If it’s a month or six months from now when you finally decide to open up all those Dryuary emails, “Hurrah!”

That’s when you step up to the starting line again.

That’s when you earn your great big “S” for success because you didn’t give up.

Post Submitted By: Mary Reid aka Kary May Hickey
Mary Reid is the Program Director of Moderation Management and the author of Neighbor Kary May’s Handbook To Happily Drinking Less or Not Drinking At All, Quite Happily: With the help of online recovery community

P.S. Apologies to my MM amigos who have heard this story like a gazillion times. Just because I quit drinking doesn’t mean I quit repeating myself. Oh, and watch the video-it’ll make you smile.

Featured post

Day 9: I Finally Found What Worked For Me: The Sinclair Method

“Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering ‘I will try again tomorrow’”
― Mary Anne Radmacher

I was addicted to alcohol for 10 years.

I had begun to accept the fact that alcohol was going to be a huge part of my life, even though I desperately wanted otherwise. Every day revolved around drinking— whether I was drinking or not. If I wasn’t drinking, I’d be thinking about it, wishing I was. And if I was, well, I’d often drink until I blacked out. The perpetual hangovers that made my body ache, the daily alcohol fog, and the overall unhealthy feeling started to wear on me. Every morning I’d wake up, swearing that tonight was going to be different—no drinking tonight, and if I did, it would be just one. Then, by the afternoon, I’d be thinking about alcohol, wanting it more with every passing minute. By the time 5 o’clock rolled around, I’d be racing to the store to buy the bottle of wine I told myself I wasn’t going to buy, knowing deep down the one glass I promised myself was going to mean the entire bottle. Yet again.

It was a nightmare that went on for 10 years.

Sure, I’d have bouts of sobriety—I went six months one time. Other times I’d go a week, a few days, or a month. At the start of all my breaks with alcohol, I’d feel inspired, sure that this was the time I was going to finally do it. I was finally going to give up alcohol for good. I was ready.

Then, a few days or weeks would go by and I’d begin to think of alcohol obsessively, triggered by the mere thought of a glass of wine or cold beer. Before too long, the cravings would become so intense that I’d cave in, convincing myself that I didn’t have a drinking problem. Anything to quiet the cravings and give myself the momentary relief from the constant mental chatter. The vicious cycle continued.

Alcohol was holding me back, keeping me small, and stripping away my potential. It was confusing to know that alcohol was hurting every aspect of my life, yet still be driven to drink by a desire that I couldn’t grasp or explain. The internal conflict was torture.

I had tried so many things over the years to cut back on my drinking. I tried different diets and listened to hundreds of hours of audiobooks and inspirational speakers on the topic. I attended spiritual retreats, meditated, went to group support meetings, and even read about all the horror stories and “rock bottoms” of other alcoholics. At times, I even prayed for my own rock bottom with hopes that, if something bad enough happened, it would trigger me to finally change. To finally get rid of this burning desire for alcohol that couldn’t be reasoned away.

Then, one day, a serendipitous moment came and everything changed forever.

I had been searching online for help with my alcohol problem when I stumbled across a TED Talk by actress Claudia Christian. She talked about the medication Naltrexone and how she used an approach called The Sinclair Method to overcome her own alcohol addiction. She explained that the medication blocks endorphins in the brain and helps you to drink less over time because you don’t get the same rewards from drinking. I was shocked that something like this existed and wondered why I hadn’t heard about it before. It made so much sense. I did hours of research online, and after being convinced that this was worth a shot, I started to call doctors in my area to see who would prescribe the medication.

And I was met with a cold brick wall.

Every doctor’s office wanted to admit me to rehab and require me to be abstinent. I didn’t feel like I was “bad enough” to require rehab, and I knew abstinence would not work for me—I’d tried it dozens of times. Most of them also hadn’t heard of Naltrexone and would not prescribe it. After calling more than 10 doctors, to no avail, I was devastated.

But I didn’t give up. Months went by and I continued to explore how to get this medication. I finally stumbled upon a doctor who used telemedicine and was familiar with Naltrexone and The Sinclair Method. Within a week, I had my appointment and got the Naltrexone prescription.

August 4, 2017 was the day my life changed forever.

I began taking Naltrexone before each drinking session. The first few times I felt mild side effects from the medication—mostly sleepiness and a bit of an upset stomach—but I began to notice that my drinking was decreasing. Normally I’d finish at least a bottle of wine in a night, and I was barely able to finish a glass. I couldn’t believe it. I knew this was how the medication worked, but the idea was not something I could grasp because my thirst for alcohol was never satiated before. For the first time in 10 years, my urge to keep drinking wasn’t there. I was shocked and felt more excited than I had been in a long time.

As the months went on, my drinking fluctuated, but overall I continued to drink less and less. For the first time ever I felt like a “normal” drinker; able to attend parties without worrying about embarrassing myself, and to go out with friends without obsessing over about ordering more drinks without people noticing. I started to feel in control of my drinking after it had controlled  me for so long. It was so incredibly empowering, and this feeling began to positively impact all areas of my life.

It has been more than one year since I started pharmacotherapy, and now, I don’t drink anymore. I’ve lost all interest in alcohol. When I started on this path, my intention was to be able to drink moderately—Naltrexone allowed me to do that for a while, and that felt great. I was able to easily stop at one or two drinks without even thinking about it. But as time progressed, I became less and less interested in drinking. And now I feel like I’ve returned to the person I was before I depended on alcohol. I prefer sobriety. I prefer clarity, and alcohol continues to become a distant memory for me. I feel free. I feel more like me than I ever have before. And for that, I am grateful.

Post Submitted By: Katie Lain
Katie Lain’s experience with pharmacotherapy for alcohol dependence has led her to being an advocate for medication-assisted treatments like The Sinclair Method. She works with Ria Health as the director of community outreach to spread the word about this option for alcohol addiction.

Featured post

Day 10: Am I Ready To Change?

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
– Jalal Ad-Din Rumi, Persian poet & mystic

Are you ready to do something about your drinking? The following Stages of Change model can be very helpful in determining where you are with your readiness to address your concerns about alcohol use. It can help to have an idea of where you are before you can move forward. Once you figure this out, you will have a better idea of how to achieve success.

James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente developed the Stages of Change Model in the late 1970s. They were studying how smokers were able to give up their habit, but the model is widely used addiction treatment industry for anyone trying to change a behavior. The two observed that change occurs through an individualized process of stages.

So, where are you?

Precontemplation: I’m not ready or willing to change 

If you are in the Precontemplation Stage, you may not consider your alcohol use a problem. You may not yet have experienced any negative consequences, or you may not be ready to acknowledge the severity of consequences that have already occurred. You are not prepared to admit that there is a problem or behavior that needs to change.

The goal in the Precontemplation Stage would be to explore the impact of drinking on your life and those around you, not necessarily to make changes. If you are here, it can be helpful to ask what the people closest to you think about your drinking. Take a look at the way your choices might affect your major role functions, such as keeping commitments, parenting, or performing at work.

At this stage, forcing someone to do something against his or her will often backfire because they may not see that there is a problem or that one could be developing. They may fight back, becoming more entrenched in their belief that nothing is wrong. In therapy, I ask a lot of questions without judgement, taking an exploratory approach. Sometimes people need time to see different perspectives before they can apply it to their own life. The Precontemplation Stage is about gathering information and getting honest about your alcohol use.

Sometimes more negative consequences occur or you see an unpleasant reality and move into the next stage.

Contemplation:  I’m thinking about making some changes 

If you are in the Contemplation Stage, you may be worried that you have a problem with your drinking. You may be thinking about doing things differently. Although you may have tried to cut down or modify your drinking patterns, you still may not yet be ready to make substantial changes. 

You may be ambivalent about taking any steps. A good friend or therapist can help you weigh the pros and cons of any modifications and develop a plan of how to deal with each. Consider these questions: “What am I worried about if I decide to change how I drink?”, “If I was to going to modify my drinking, what would it look like?”, and “What situations do I need to prepare for?”

People transition from the Contemplation Stage when they make a conscious decision to change their actions.

Preparation:  I am ready

If you are in the Preparation Stage, you are gearing up to alter your drinking and preparing to take action. Identify why you drink and have a plan to manage the reasons. Recognize risky situations and the necessary changes that need to occur. Will you cut down or stop drinking completely? When will you start?  How long will you keep it up?

In this stage, you should seek a support system and resources. Some of them may include scheduling an appointment with a therapist, learning about alcohol moderation, going to a mutual support meeting, talking with your doctor about medications, going to treatment, or finding a support and accountability person. 

The goal here is to identify obstacles to the change process and problem solve each one.  Identify your supports. And when you make positive steps, like cutting back on your amount of alcohol or going several days without drinking explore how you were able to do it. Then repeat it.

Action:  I’m doing it

You are making the necessary lifestyle changes when you are in the Action Stage. Great job! Your willpower and motivation will wax and wane. This is totally normal. I find that people who have the most success are the ones who add enjoyable activities and people to their lives, not just focus on taking away the alcohol. It is hard to live in a state of deprivation so I recommend having something to look forward to each day.

Over a lifetime, you may cycle through many of these stages. The coping skills that worked in the past may cease to help as new life challenges arise. Sometimes you may have the best intentions yet still struggle with maintaining new behaviors. The maintenance phase focuses on how to keep the changes going.

Maintenance:  I’m Persevering

The Maintenance Stage is when you have made the appropriate lifestyle changes for your goal. You will have consistently changed your drinking patterns. The goal now is to keep the healthy behavior going to prevent a relapse to the old behavior. Identify triggers and a plan to deal with them.  Keep doing what works and stop doing what does not.

Many of my most successful clients schedule regular check-in appointments with me. These people have worked long and hard to get to where they are in their recovery process and do not want to go back to where they were. Some of them have chosen complete abstinence, and some are working on drinking in moderation. Each person will have a different goal but it helps to have a support and accountability partner to maintain your progress and ward off any future problems.

Which stage of change are you are in? What would it take to get you to the next stage? Who and what can help you?

Post Submitted By: Cyndi Turner LCSW, LSATP, MAC
Cyndi Turner LCSW, LSATP, MAC is the co-founder and clinical director of Insight into Action Therapy in Fairfax, Virginia. She is the author of the book “Can I Keep Drinking? How You Can Decide When Enough is Enough” which challenges the traditional belief that all drinkers experiencing problems are alcoholics who must quit drinking forever.

Featured post

Day 11: Why Willpower Alone Is Not Enough… And What Is

“Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus.
Our bodies are our gardens to the which our wills are gardeners.”
– William Shakespeare, Othello

Willpower is an incredible tool. It works great in small doses, for an immediate effect.

Willpower helps me only eat ice cream in bed with my husband once or twice a week instead of the 3 or 4 times a week he suggests. By sheer force and discipline, I say no even though I want to say yes. Then I try to focus on something else until I’m no longer thinking about ice cream.

Willpower helps me get through the last five emails at the end of the day, and it gets me out of bed when I’d kill for another half hour of sleep.

You may be using willpower this Dryuary month. It can help you get through a moment, because we all have a moment’s worth of effort and grit available to us. But willpower isn’t likely to get you through every moment of each of the 31 days in this month. And it’s definitely not likely to lead you through a lifetime of sobriety (if that’s what you want).

Because it’s an easily exhausted resource, willpower is great in bursts but is a horrible strategy for long-term change. It leaves you depleted and the results don’t generalize. You can white knuckle your way through a “no, thank you” to one drink in one moment, but that’s helpful in that moment only. Not only does it not help you in the next moment, it leaves you emotionally and mentally spent so that there’s little energy left for anything else.

Using willpower is like cleaning up a leak by grabbing some towels and soaking up all the water, but ignoring the source of the leak. You cleaned up, but you didn’t exactly change anything.

Willpower is all about action…or inaction, as is the case when we’re wiling ourselves to abstain. It’s all about doing…or not doing.

But as we have all experienced, just doing thing differently doesn’t necessarily translate into lasting change. We’ve all gone through the motions of starting the new exercise or meditation practice, eating healthier, or getting more organized. But even with all the “right” information and action, those changes don’t always stick.

So what makes the difference? If behavior and action in and of themselves don’t lead to deep, sustainable change, what does?

A see-change. Said another way, a change in how you see who you really are and how your mind works. It’s about seeing things differently first, then letting your behavior naturally follow from there.

Here’s an example: Imagine you’re feeling overwhelmed by a strong craving. Your resources are being depleted by the craving already; it would take even more hard-to-come-by effort to muster the willpower to fight your experience.

But what if you didn’t have to fight?

What if, instead of changing, fighting, or overpowering your experience, you saw that all-consuming craving as simply experience passing through? What if you deeply, meaningfully knew that you were not that craving—that the craving was energy you were experiencing, but that it couldn’t truly affect you?

Imagine you knew that experience was a totally safe bundle of thoughts and feelings that you couldn’t hold in place if you tried. It has a fully self-correcting life cycle of its own.

Imagine you deeply and meaningfully knew that the thoughts, feelings, urges and cravings that arise within you are not personal. They aren’t “about” you, your weakness, your habit, your past, or your future. They are simply habitual thought and feeling arising now, in this very moment, brought to life only to soon wash away.

What if you saw them as a fleeting, conditioned responses that would come and go regularly, but are nothing you have to respect or act upon?

Imagine you saw all of your experience—even suffering, cravings, insecurity, fear—as weather. Human weather. You are the blue sky—always clear, always well, and your experience is like the weather moving across the sky.

Weather doesn’t affect the sky. Weather changes on its own. It doesn’t need discipline, force, or effort to change. It rolls in, does what it does, and moves out.

If you deeply, insightfully saw your own thoughts, feelings, preferences and cravings that way, it wouldn’t occur to you to rely on willpower for anything beyond a simple, in-the-moment nudge.

There would be no need for fighting or overpowering your experience. You’d see a new truth and from that place, a new set of behaviors would be natural and obvious.

It would be like waking up from a bad dream. Within the “reality” of the dream, running out of the burning house looks like the clear thing to do. But when you wake up from the dream and find yourself in your cozy bed, running outside no longer makes sense.

Seeing who you really are, beyond and far bigger than your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, is life-changing. You are the blue sky. Your brightness and clarity is always fundamentally untouched by anything moving through.

And your experience is like the weather. Temporary, safe, and self-correcting.

Personal insight into those truths is what leads to deep, lasting change; the kind of change you don’t need to work at or manage.

Willpower can get you over a hump or through a moment. It can help you say no to a drink or two, and get you out of bed some mornings. But it’s not the path to freedom.

The path to freedom is deeply seeing that you already are.

Post Submitted By: Dr. Amy Johnson
Dr. Amy Johnson is a psychologist, author, and speaker who shares a groundbreaking new paradigm that helps people find true, lasting freedom from unwanted habits via insight rather than willpower. She is the author of several books including The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit. In 2017 she opened The Little School of Big Change, an online school that has helped thousands of people find freedom from anxiety and habits and live a more peaceful life.

Johnson has been a regularly featured expert on The Steve Harvey Show and Oraph.com, as well as in The Wall Street Journal and Self magazine. Get her free ebook, Three Simple Ways to Break Free from Habits, Anxiety, and Addictions (Even if You’ve Already Tried Everything Else) here: https://dramyjohnson.com/freechangeguide/

Featured post

Day 12: Choices

Uh-Oh! Another Weekend!

Welcome to your second weekend of Dryuary! Still wondering what to do on the weekend when drinking is NOT involved? You are BORED? Remember this acronym and you’ll come through for yourself:

Be creative
Outside–go there!
Read a book
Exercise 30 minutes
Do something helpful!

Here are some ideas for things to do:

  • Find a beach or a forest or a park and just sit and listen.
  • How old were you the last time you pulled out your pocketknife?
  • Clean out a drawer or closet or your toolbox. Don’t wrinkle your nose like a 10- year-old. Less clutter is calming.
  • Find a funny movie and laugh. It’ll do you good.

You’re doing GREAT! Want to get a little more serious?


Choices

“Man’s power of choice enables him to think like an angel or devil, a king or a slave. Whatever he chooses, his mind will create and manifest”
– Frederick Bailes

After high school, I made a decision to attend a huge university 600 miles away from my home town, even though I had little travel experience. I knew nothing about a big university city, let alone living away from my parents or navigating a huge, diversified campus. Consequently, I spent my first semester in culture shock. I regretted my decision not to attend the small college near my home town where I could have avoided financial burden and stress by living at home.  At the large university, I lived with my sister, who gave me room and board for nannying help with my nieces while her husband was in Vietnam. One especially frustrating day, when I was bemoaning my university decision, she said, “Sis, you can always choose to go back home and enroll in the community college next semester, the decision you made to come here is not set in stone.” So simple a solution had never once occurred to me! That sudden knowledge that I had a choice gave me power to continue on the more challenging university path.

I’ve read that the average working adult makes about 12 decisions before 9:00 AM and around 70 decisions a day. Most have short term effects but a few may have serious repercussions. We often opt ‘not to choose’ and just let things happen because it’s easier. 99% of the time we have a choice in what we do on a daily basis, and, unless we are imprisoned, we are rarely “forced” to do anything. We don’t have to get out of bed, or go to work, or even brush our teeth every morning. We choose to do these things because, somehow, they warrant our efforts – we find value in doing them. We become healthier, function better, strengthen relationships, or have happier lives because we choose to do them.

Choice theory is the study of how decisions get made. The term was coined in a book of the same name by William Glasser, who argued that all choices are made to satisfy five basic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. We choose to be employed in order to pay for our family’s survival, to gain their love and respect, to have control of where we live, to have the freedom of driving a car. Most things we choose to do enrich our lives in some way, yet we can always take a step back and choose a different path going forward if our needs are not being met.

Drinking is also a choice. None of us is forced to drink but somehow we have found value in it – as a release for stress, to fit in with others, celebrate a happy occasion, become more sociable, or to obtain a buzz.  We might think, “I feel compelled to drink.” No, we are not compelled, we freely choose to drink because we find value in it – at least for that moment, that day, or that occasion.

By the same token, we can opt not to “just let things happen” in January. We can choose to find value in abstaining by intentionally pinpointing the greater value of abstaining in our lives. For myself I can pinpoint health benefits, sleep advantages, fewer calories, more morning-after energy, unfettered mobility, and monetary savings. Additionally, I can choose to save my most precious commodity, mental energy, by eliminating a decision whether to drink or not. And finally, I can give myself that wondrous sense of empowerment. The same empowerment I felt when I decided to remain at the university and get my degree rather than flee back to the security of my parents’ home. A more challenging route by far, yet with far great value for growth.

Post Submitted By: Bee Brown, Member of Moderation Management

Featured post

Day 13: Emerson

Successful people practice gratitude. After all, how we be successful if we aren’t happy and thankful for all life has to offer. Below are five ways to cultivate an “Attitude of Gratitude”:

  1. Write it down. Keep a gratitude journal.  Try it for 30 days. Keep it simple. 
  2. Talk about it. Sharing what you are thankful for isn’t just for Thanksgiving.  Make it a habit to talk about what you are grateful for all year long.
  3. Meditate. Take a break. Close your eyes.  Focus on a spirit of thankfulness.  Who are you thankful for?  Bring the person to mind.
  4. Express. Write someone a note and tell them how you are grateful for them.
  5. Seek it. Forget the negativity –  surround yourself with like kind people that express gratitude as well. It reinforces everything good.

What are you grateful for? Leave a note in the comments below or in the MM Gratitude Journal.

We’re grateful you chose to join us for Dryuary 2019! Now, let’s get serious!


Emerson

I’ve long found that my heart and best thinking is to be found in nature. Even if you’re not a New England hiker like me, I’m pretty sure there’s something for everyone in the wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson. As we dig deeper to get the most out of abstaining this month, I hope this guy’s timeless words grab you and help us all get the most out of the commitment we’ve made.

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.

Oh, how many times I’ve wished that this could be done quickly. I can easily think about self-improvement in tiny little chunks, like one day at a time, one small change, one short-term goal. It’s much harder to tackle a bigger goal that takes time, and to find the motivation that runs deeper and can be sustained through the ordinary days when we’re off our guard.

But where do we find the patience for the long-term change? I am channeling the extraordinary gifts that nature can produce only through time, and effort, and slow day-by-day growth. At this time of year in particular, I’m thinking of all the trees that have set their buds already, that simply would not be able to bloom in the spring without this period that feels so long and barren. January feels still, but is actually full of growth and change.

My health and peace of mind depend on sticking with the long and difficult challenge. This is when we really start to grow and change, even if we can’t see it yet…

Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.

Abstaining from drinking sounds so simple on its surface. It’s simply removing one thing from your day, and if you can master the tools of delaying, planning, substituting, and accountability, you’ve got it down. Right?

Well, for a time, removing alcohol was all I needed to think about to go a stretch without it. But eventually I realized that it wasn’t enough to sustain me in the long haul. I needed to go deeper and find the connection to bigger improvements I wanted to make in my life. It had to be about more than just taking away something I liked — it had to be about adding something new that I had missed. So abstaining for me needs to be coupled with a commitment to introspection and more wholistic lifestyle changes. For example, I do best when I am also journaling, exercising, meditating, and going to sleep early. These things all spur me on and make abstaining so much richer and more fulfilling.

Others will have different things that help them stay focused. But at some point, we will be less motivated by the counting those abs days, and will be sustained by digging deeper and getting to know and care for ourselves better.

Tip for this period: Start a list of things that may be improving that are tangential to absing. For example, if Dryuary is getting you to sleep earlier, are you noticing that it’s easier to get up early and exercise? Or perhaps you’re doing less mindless snacking late at night? Are you sharper and more effective at work? Start thinking about these things and keep notes. They are all part of the care you are taking for your whole self!

If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare.

As I start to really sink into abstinence and the richness of my life in sobriety, I realize just how much I’ve been missing. Every. single. day.

Sometimes when I feel a craving coming on a weekend afternoon I literally flee to the woods. I go into a nearby park and just take in the miracle of the rich forest air and the peace of the slow, patient growth of these trees. Even in the dead of winter, they are beating with life and breath, and just waiting to bud anew with the energy they stored over the cold months. Find your refuge, wherever and whatever it is. Marvel and stare and relish it with all your heart. You have a new awareness and consciousness that you did not have before.

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.

Apparently Emerson, the infinitely quotable genius, actually said this. So I leave you with this. What do you want to share? You have a clearer head and a healthier body already. Your voice is the one that matters now.

Peace and strength to you…

Post Submitted By: Hazel Smith, MM Member 

Featured post

Day 14: Aim Higher! No, Higher!

“It is better to aim high and miss than to aim low and hit.”
― Les Brown

Dryuary is about putting alcohol aside for a whole month and experiencing the benefits of a sober life. It’s a wonderful annual ritual that I take part in myself.

But believe it or not, recovery isn’t just about avoiding your unhealthy “addictive” behaviors. It’s about enriching your life, so you no longer want, crave, desire or need that which is bad for you.

The thing is that, for many of us, the idea of living a life that rich seems far-fetched. So let me tell you this – you should never settle for “okay” Because if that’s where you settle, that’s where you’ll stay… Imagine this instead: a life in which you are happy with yourself and are surrounded with positive people who support you and your dreams.

It may be difficult to fathom, but you can use this Dryuary as the starting point. If you imagine it and commit to the effort it will take to create this life, you can make it happen.

I know it because I’ve been through it myself and seen hundreds of people go through the same transformation. My client Paula was such a person – an incredibly successful executive who came to see me to reduce her drinking. She was drinking herself to pass out 4-5 times per week and had been doing it for years. She had no desire to quit because she couldn’t imagine her life without alcohol. She was using it to quiet the voice in her head that wouldn’t stop telling her everything was wrong and all the things she was failing in. She needed the help that alcohol provided. Sure, she had taken a few extended breaks in the past but felt completely miserable during them. Sound familiar?

When we started out, we put our focus squarely on the aspects of her life that Paula felt were causing her the most stress and pain. Paula had taken it for granted that those aspects couldn’t change, but we worked hard to create a bit more space and self-care (she hadn’t thought of that for years!) even in the midst of all the chaos. Paula managed to take a short break (14 days) from drinking as we started working together and wanted to extend it a bit. She noticed an improved relationship with her husband and improved performance and satisfaction at work. She didn’t want to stop drinking forever, but was using to the time to the best of her ability. During this time she started working out regularly, partially as a way to fill the time previously taken up by drinking and partially to deal with the extra energy she found she had. She also began applying some simple mindfulness work in her life. In the process, she started to trust and respect herself more. She hadn’t felt that way in years (despite her incredible success in her profession).

And then Paula relapsed and felt terrible. She was disappointed in herself and lost some of the trust she and her husband had built up. There were so many previous attempts that ended this way that both Paula and her husband were afraid the same old cycle had repeated itself. But unlike in previous attempts, Paula had not been working solely on her drinking this time. She had dug deep, looking at her childhood and need for perfection; her relationship and the avoidance of conflict; the over-commitment to others and under-commitment to herself that had become standard for her over decades.

Paula suddenly realized that aiming for being “okay” in life was setting the bar too low. When she recognized the improvements she had already made in her life and how she moved beyond searching for being “okay,” she chose to stop drinking for good. The decision was actually no longer about drinking, which she had used for years to avoid pain and reduce stress. Now her decision was about making choices she wanted to for herself – she was no longer avoiding drinking (or pain and stress) but instead set her sights on filling life with things that brought her joy while eliminating those things that caused the stress in the first place.

Not drinking became much easier.

While there were certainly other aspects we worked on (reducing shame, dealing with social pressure and more), Paula’s recovery became easy, even joyful.

She’s now been sober from alcohol for more than two years, and her quality of life has changed drastically. Gone are the nightly blackouts, the embarrassing parties that ended with her passing out and the slurred speech during nightly readings to her kids. Life is normal. She is finally happy.

The road to recovery can be hard work. Why bother with all the hard work if you just end up feeling ”okay”? Isn’t feeling mediocre or down about yourself the reason why you became addicted in the first place?

What if you were to look to the sky and reach for more?

You never know what’s possible if you don’t reach for it… But not believing that more is possible is the ultimate prescription for failure.

I know, because when I was released from jail, “okay” would have been a dream. Just being “normal” was going to be a victory for me at that point because of how far down I’d gone. I remember saying to myself, when I finally got out, that I would commit to doing anything that guaranteed me I wouldn’t be back there – clean toilets, stack shirts, mop floors – whatever. Average was fantastic at the time. But had I just stopped once I reached “okay,” I would have never looked up to the sky and done all of the work I did, stayed up late and studied, or filled out all of the applications that eventually allowed me to get to where I am now – a place I could’ve never imagined to be.

When you’re struggling with addiction, and you face a setback, it’s easy to feel like you’ll never amount to anything. But, if you never set goals any higher than just being “okay” you rob yourself of an excellent quality of life. So here are some examples to set you straight about just what is possible after ultimate struggles:

From Recovery to Success

J.K. Rowling was clinically depressed and suicidal, divorced, living in government housing and struggling to pay her bills. Even so, she wrote book after book. She faced many rejections on the path to publication, but she did not give up. Not only that, she believed in herself and her stories, and she knew they (and she) were more than ‘okay.’ She’s now the writer of the world’s most successful book series and a billionaire.

Before powerhouse Oprah Winfrey made it big on her talk show, she had a drug habit and an awful history of childhood sexual abuse. She was told repeatedly that she didn’t have the right look for TV and weighed too much to become popular. But she didn’t settle for an ‘okay’ life. She dreamt big, and she made her mark on the world.

Thomas Edison, known as America’s biggest inventor, is well known for “failing” at making a working light bulb over 10,000 times. But he was famous for saying that those 10,000 failures were simply his way of finding “10,000 ways that didn’t work.” Imagine the motivation it takes to try something 10,000 times.

Mind you; I’m not suggesting you aim for TV stardom or become a bestselling author! Just move those goalposts further afield and create your own reality. Imagine how easy it would have been for any one of those individuals to quit. No one would have faulted them with the odds stacked so high against them. But the world would now be a darker, boring and less inspired place without them. What can you create and make happen if you simply aim high enough?

In short, never settle for “okay.” Always reach for great, no matter where your “great” currently is. It’ll end up bringing you to the incredible goal you’re supposed to achieve, a place you probably can’t even imagine right now. Don’t worry about others. If you pay attention to your own progress, you’ll amaze yourself. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times, in my own life and in the lives of many of my clients. There is nothing that kills hope as much as playing down your own expectations for greatness.

The drive for great is what brought Paula to decide to stop drinking completely. It’s what allowed her to bring her husband in for work, taking their marriage from barely surviving to absolutely thriving. I challenge you to seek the same for yourself – whether it’s through listening to our podcasts at IGNTD or my book – The Abstinence Myth – or our online courses (for relationships or addiction). Whatever the route, found yours, so you can experience the life that currently seems unattainable by believing it’s there and working to achieve it!

Post Submitted by: Dr. Adi Jaffe
Dr. Adi Jaffe holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He teaches courses at UCLA that address addiction specifically, research statistics or biological psychology and behavioral neuroscience more generally. Well-known for his online and academic writing, Dr. Jaffe’s views on addiction and his research on the topic have been published on his own AllAboutAddiction.com (a website he started publishing while still in graduate school) as well as Psychology Today and dozens of other journals and online publications. He has appeared on several television shows including Good Morning America and in documentaries discussing current topics in addiction.

Featured post

Day 15: Living Deliberately

Hold on! Let’s do a quick mid-Dryuary assessment. What have you noticed since setting your base line? The results may surprise you!

A recent conversation on the MM Listserv:
The past couple of days when I’m getting dressed in the morning and putting on make up (which is pretty light) it has vaguely flitted across the back of my mind that I don’t have to use as much under eye concealer for dark circles. It really hasn’t even been a conscious thought, just something flickering around in the background.Then today it dawned on me. Yeah, for sure the dark circles under my eyes are definitely lighter. I mean, really noticeably lighter. That is so cool!-HorseLover

So awesome—and me too! I was feeling generally less puffy the first week, but today is the first day I’ve woken up to a noticably flatter stomach. I’ve been eating everything in sight, but I guess nothing can top all those dead wine calories. It’s a really good motivator for me to think past January and how to keep this going. –Hazel 

Somebody said to me today “What are you, in your 30’s?” I said, “47” Thank you abstinence. 🙂Mike C.
Now, back to our scheduled post.

“You are goodness and mercy and compassion and understanding. You are peace and joy and light. You are forgiveness and patience, strength and courage, a helper in time of need, a comforter in time of sorrow, a healer in time of injury, a teacher in times of confusion. You are the deepest wisdom and the highest truth; the greatest peace and the grandest love. You are these things. And in moments of your life you have known yourself to be these things. Choose now to know yourself as these things always.”
– Neale Donald Walsch

In her TED talk that went viral a few years back, Brené Brown talks about how crucial it is for us to be vulnerable in order to live a fulfilled life. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en&utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

As a 42-year-old PhD student in her last year of graduate school, but still drinking like a fish, I didn’t know the difference between feeling anxiety and vulnerability.

I lived to please my co-supervisors, those two people I felt were in charge of my fate. My worth wasn’t intrinsic it was conditional — dependent on what I produced. When I began graduate school EIGHT YEARS earlier, I still had some shred of interest and enjoyment in the writing process. The pitfalls of being critiqued by multiple professors, on the same piece of writing, regardless of how kind the person — had, I felt, squashed any sense of creativity. Somehow in the interim, probably not long after I began the dissertation project, it was extinguished altogether and replaced with harrowing anxiety. In approaching my writing, most of the time, I was like the black and white cat trying to escape Pepé Le Pew in the Looney Tunes cartoons, front legs out to push him away… back legs scrambling madly to run in the other direction. Most of the time, when sitting down to write… and I can fully admit this now… I HATED IT (it felt like a trap, a carnival game I could never win). And it isn’t as if I did not have successes (sometimes, they really liked what I wrote!). By that time, however, (after a year of sobriety) I was using alcohol again to dull the pain of the writing process, and I had come to rely on it to get through deadlines (again).

YIKES. DEADLINES. I began seeing a therapist for my anxiety around deadlines a few months after I began my dissertation work. I was prescribed anxiety medication to lessen the debilitating hormonal surges that came with PMS once or twice every other month, as well as an anti-depressant. Not my first time on anti-depressants folks, not even the first time while in grad school… but this is just a 1000-word essay. So, there was hope! But my psychiatrist was not aware of the extent of my drinking binges. Be that as it may, I made sure to not drink while on the anxiety meds, I didn’t mix them (I had to have four hours in between!). Now looking back (not so far in the past) I see the insanity: I was taking an antidepressant every day while being hooked on a depressant (alcohol), and taking anxiety meds (about four times a week), when I had an alcohol-use disorder (AUD) that exponentially increases anxiety.

Fast forward two and a half years – October 2018. I was still drinking regularly, but perhaps with less big binges (perhaps). In late May, I had successfully defended my dissertation. I was set to graduate in the summer after making some revisions to just two chapters (out of six). Yet I failed to find a teaching job for the following Fall, after a couple of very near misses. By July, not unlike Brené Brown when she avoided vulnerability “at all costs,” I… broke… down. The perfectionism I had fended off for the last two years took me over (again). I was at the finish line and it had to be right this time. Last chance. It was like I even forgot how to write for an entire month. By the middle of August, it was clear that I would not make the summer deadline. By September, my husband had agreed to help me enroll in one last semester to get it done. My co-supervisors, the people who would write my letters of recommendation securing my future career path, were not happy.

At that point, I was an isolating sack of misery, in the apartment every day, alone, trying to write. And I drank… often. My husband would regularly come home to find me wasted, sitting on the back porch, trying to write. Things came to head when I panicked in missing a conference paper deadline. I bought enough beer to get a hockey team buzzed, and ended up staying up until dawn on the back porch, still trying (in vain) to write – but we don’t need to go any further into that low point. What I decided to do two days later is what ultimately saved my marriage (again), and my professional future. On October 4th, I got serious about recovery. I signed up with two online forums: Moderation Management and Women For Sobriety. They are both wonderful in different ways, and both continue to be a great help to me.

I already had some experience with Moderation Management, and had already signed up for drink tracking manager ABStar. I even had the workbook they recommend, still unread. I took the short Alcohol Dependence Data Questionnaire at the beginning, which determined that I was an 18 out of 20—that is, almost on the threshold of “probably wanting to go for abstinence” for good (but definitely needing professional guidance through the moderation process). Great, I thought, who wants to be sober for the rest of their lives? But I knew that that the recommended first step to successful moderation is to take a period of abstinence. I was on for 30 days of abstinence either way, this was it—no more drunks for me!

After an upcoming conference a week later, I managed to moderate almost every day. I had 1, or 2, too many glasses of wine—that is, beyond the recommended daily limit—at a friend’s get together but no catastrophe or embarrassment. I returned home and immediately started my 30 days of abstinence. What saved me—what made it EASY even—to abstain, was the sense of community I found online through both programs. Community with others who could understand the same predicaments I was going through was my lifeline and my saving grace. I am still here, still abstaining, still wrapping up the dissertation and ALMOST THERE (literally just days to go!) , 48 days later.

I knew that I could not try to drink again while this dissertation is still in the works. Using alcohol to remove anxiety was too much of an obstacle for me. I did return to the psychiatrist, and the therapist not long after I got back into recovery, and I have successfully worked through and lessened my anxiety – particularly through the tools I have learned in both programs. I was determined to recover my enjoyment of the writing process and my belief in myself as a writer, and little by little, I am! But in order to have the clarity and courage to do this, I had to give myself at least a month of complete abstinence. Because of this gift, I have learned what it means to take control of my life and live deliberately: that is, to be there for myself and my family.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned, however, was to identify what vulnerability actually feels like. When I posted online to share my story that first day, Oct. 4th, I was sure that no woman in my position had ever drank as much beer or racked up as much shame. I made that difficult first step, to share my drinking story and everything I was feeling at the time. I was really scared in pressing submit (both times). Yet in return for that risk, I was greeted by two different incredible communities who opened their hearts to me to offer support. I am so grateful for these wonderful people who helped me understand that without making ourselves vulnerable we can never grow, expand, or succeed! For me, I will probably drink at some point again (I am going on a celebratory vacation with friends quite soon), but I think that a nice glass of wine for me is like a piece of delicious chocolate cake: there are consequences, major ones… especially if I choose to eat the whole damn cake!

From taking one month off from drinking, I have learned that for me to be truly happy with myself and in my life, and to consistently find relief from anxiety, my default has to be abstinence. Not necessarily ALL the time, but for 98.9% of the time. Abstinence with daily meditation, exercise, and consistently building a sense of community and self-worth—that is what works for me. Want to find out what works for you?

Post Submitted By: Manoa L.

Featured post

Day 16: Backward and Forward

“I have not come this far to only come this far“
– Holly Whitaker, Hip Sobriety

When I was finishing high school, my family decided to move in with another family that my sister and I were friends with. They had kids, the mom and their ancient schnauzer. We came with the three of us and our two cats. My mom never owned any of our homes, and we moved from rental to rental throughout our childhood. This time we made the move for several reasons: To save on rent, and to help out the other family’s mom who was being physically abused by her second husband. At least I thought those were the reasons. Looking back, it seems the idea was hasty and very unconventional, the type of decision my mom typically made on a regular basis throughout my childhood.

It quickly became obvious that it was a disastrous move on many levels. Think about it: Moving into someone else’s home and taking over 50% of it. What were we thinking? What were they thinking? It was a large, opulent home for its time, lots of extra rooms including one room that was entirely powder blue. Walls, carpet, furniture, all of it plush and luxurious and hands-off except on Christmas day when photos were taken. The rest of our lives played out in the darker, scruffy sections where the dog chased the cats, and they scratched up the furniture in retaliation. All of the kids were left to more or less raise themselves, with the moms out either working or dating. Off the kitchen of this home was a large rec room with a pool table, lots of plaid sofas for doing nothing on, and the “piece de resistance“: A rustic saloon-style bar complete with filled liquor bottles from floor to ceiling. Needless to say, this room became a favorite spot for neighborhood teenagers. Unmonitored liquor access, a super stereo with giant speakers and a kidney-shaped pool outside the sliding doors. Hell yeah.

Within this novelty bar there was a clock on the wall, maybe you’ve seen one like it in your travels? It was a popular gag item back then. The clocks face was reversed, so the higher numbers were on the left and low ones on the right. Ha ha, funny right?

This clock is a visual representation of my relationship with alcohol. Every time I think back to when it started, the clock keeps moving farther and farther back in time, for what I thought was supposed to be a forward moving journey when I stepped onto the train. Just when I think I have a grasp of our history together (me and the alcohol beast), another buried memory reveals itself. Just last week when an old friend went back to our hometown for her mother’s passing, she shared a bunch of memories on Facebook I’d completely forgotten, all sodden with Pink Catawba wine and other stolen bottles of booze. Her recollections took me back to a place I’d completely forgotten, and I’m still not sure if my mind has been protecting me or playing tricks on me.

Every time I offered condolences to this friend, she replied with a funny ha-ha moment about cruising the strip drunk or something else involving getting tanked together. Again, not my memories. My personal story, up until the point of these posts, was one of relative moderation through my younger teenage years. I had put the start of drinking squarely on the shoulders of my college years. Sure, there were the times when I was younger that I’d chug some frozen concoction my mom had left in the blender, refilling it to its original level after I’d had my fill. But these were mild, occasional incidents, blips. Well, not according to my friend’s memories. The posts made me cringe, but more importantly, made me question what the heck was going on in my mind and causing me at this point in my life to question my life narrative.

This journey of recovery, of peeling back the onion layers to reveal when my unhealthy relationship with alcohol took a firm footing in my soul, it’s complicated. As I work to move forward each day with my reading, sharing on the MM forum and others, and constant (almost at a maddening level) reflection of who I am and what I am right now, I seem to be moving backwards at the same time. It feels like a bull in a pen, waiting to be released with a cowboy tied to its back, thrashing about and trying to be free.

I didn’t sign up for this part. I don’t like it, the analyzing of events and regrets and piecing together of memories to try to formulate a realistic picture of who I am, and then spending even more energy trying to be OK with what is being revealed. This is hard stuff, it makes my brain hurt and it feels too deep and selfish for what is supposed to be an open, f*ck-it time in my life, now that the kids are getting older and I’m supposed to have it all together.

But here’s the thing: Getting sober is a really, really selfish act. It can feel indulgent, it can take time away from family or work. It can really mess with your social life, and is also excruciatingly boring at the same time. But like the backwards clock and all of the messed-up stuff I am dredging up in my mind to make sense of it all, I don’t want to be back there anymore. I actually want the messy, uncertain, unclear and really scary part of this, the part where I decide if abstaining is permanent, or moderation is doable and reasonable. I want it all, in it’s uncharted, hard and difficult way, because this new life is so glorious it hurts, but also makes me fly higher than anything I’ve done in a really, really long time.

Post submitted by: Hope L., MM Member

Featured post

Day 17: Reflections

Some days it is a fine line between laughter and tears. Today, let’s choose laughter.

 

After the fourth whiskey, I swear, I heard it whisper, “Now is the time to tell people what you really think.”

Scientists announced that they have located the gene responsible for alcoholism. Scientists say they found it at a party talking way too loudly. Conan O’Brien

Sometimes the floor likes to mess with me when I’m drinking…it moves and I fall down and I’m all, “Oh Floor, you got me again”…and we laugh.

If I didn’t drink, how would my friends know I loved them at 2 a.m.?

I got so drunk last night, I walked across the dance floor to get another drink and won the dance contest.

I can’t afford a vacation so I’m just going to drink until I don’t know where I am.

Can you put vodka in a humidifier-Asking for a friend.

We hope you enjoyed this comedic break. If you’re still hanging in there and smiling, you’re doing fabulously. Onward to today’s post.


“Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.”
― Yvonne Woon, Dead Beautiful

Dryuary has begun and not a minute too soon. Primarily because as usual, the Holiday season was one big drink fest. It’s as if a collective hypnosis moved us to poison our bodies and minds with copious quantities of booze and wine. I was, as expected, so disgusted and worn out from drinking that Dryuary represented a much needed break from the madness.

It shouldn’t be that way. Dryuary doesn’t simply represent a relief from my excesses, but a means of regaining control of my life. Throughout the year, I experienced varying levels of success and failure in my quest for moderation. Dryuary allows me to take a step back from the roller coaster, learn from my experiences, reset and clarify my goals, and to evaluate my relationship to alcohol through sober eyes.

My hope for Dryuary is that if I can abstain the entire month, I will have a much healthier relationship with alcohol during the rest of the year. Statistics show that participants do drink less. I realize that there are no universal guarantees, but I believe it will give me a fighting chance.

As I look beyond Dryuary, part of me is saying, this can be a jumping off point. Ever since I recognized alcohol as a potential danger to me, I have had this internal struggle within, one side saying, get alcohol under control so that I can enjoy it without self-harm. The other side of me is saying, why am I trying to negotiate a relationship with a toxic, poisonous substance? Dryuary is an opportunity to wage the battle once again.

In some ways, I wish that I could view Dryuary more simply and be a happy drinker, who happens to be taking a vacation from alcohol to renew my body and mind. I could then happily return to my life Feb 1st. For me it’s not that simple. I tend to open-up to current research that sometimes goes against the very fabric of what marketers have conditioned me to believe. On my way to a huge wine tasting event, I listened to portions of This Naked Mind which educates us on how we have been duped and manipulated to believe that alcohol is good for us. Also, the author teaches that alcohol is an addictive substance that can potentially be a problem for anyone that consumes it. I noticed with some irony that it did not curb my excess that night, which shows that either I did not fully believe her, or my addiction to alcohol is heavier than I thought.

I approached Dryuary with some trepidation. It required me to stop on a dime after New Year’s Eve festivities. Though not physically dependent in terms of the classic definition, it was not without effort to drink throughout the holidays and then stop abruptly on January 1st. My body thanked me, but my mind fought me tooth and nail, especially during New Year’s day and several days after.

Despite the difficulty, I look forward to the full Dryuary. While drinking, I cannot conceive of life without alcohol for more than a few days. However, once I do stop, I realize that as much as I enjoy drinking, I enjoy being sober as well. I love the clarity of thought. I love the fact that I automatically lose weight and that I go to bed and wake up earlier. I love that I don’t have to force myself to read versus watching television. My personality is more vibrant. I am actually more outgoing while sober, because after a few days, I am far more secure in myself and happier overall, and it shows. I am far more interested in others, as alcohol moves me toward a more selfish existence. Dryuary reminds me of times before drinking when I didn’t need extra chemicals in my body to be happy.

During periods of sobriety, I ask myself “Why go back?” I experience far more joy and wholeness, so it seems irrational to go through this period and then go back to the same old struggle. Aside from the obvious truth that on some level, I am addicted, and constantly bombarded with messages around the benefits, desirability and necessity of drinking, I get restless with the status-quo. I invariably tire from drinking and need a break. While sober, it is nice for a while, but then life happens, and I need a coping mechanism (or at least I think I do) to deal with it. Facing life head-on becomes a struggle, and a drink instantly shifts my focus. I have not achieved perfect maturity, but perhaps the highest level of living is to stay sober and transform the difficulties in my life as growth opportunities, experiencing joy in every experience whether good or bad. I am not there yet, so the struggle continues.

Dryuary represents an opportunity to take a fresh look at my life, and to assess the role alcohol should play. Recently, I began practicing Transcendental Meditation. I looked forward to experiencing an entire sober month while committing to the practice, which requires 2 times each day for 20 minutes apiece. I have been consistent to a fault since October 19th. During the past few days of sobriety, I have noticed that the meditations seemed deeper and more fulfilling. As a fairly skeptical person, I don’t like predicting that some practice or another will provide benefits without experiencing them. It makes me think I am just buying into the hype. But I really do believe that meditating for an entire month without alcohol was transformative, and enhanced my Dryuary experience immeasurably. Regardless of whether I continue sobriety beyond Dryuary, or get back to drinking on February 1st, I believe that it is nothing but beneficial, and will lead to an increasingly balanced life, not just as it pertains to alcohol, but to all important aspects of life.

Post Submitted By: Byrd Man, MM Member

Featured post

Day 18: Remember Your Truth

Warning: This video includes language some may find offensive. Great song, but if profanity bothers you, please do not hit the play button.

“What other people think of me is none of my business.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Sloppy and slurry. Miserable and stuck. Numbed out and disconnected. This was me a little over seven years ago. A housewife, mother, masters student, TV producer, and wine drinker extraordinaire.

I was the party girl who never grew out of her habit. A boozy lush who developed an impressive ability to stomach wine. As the years went by and I gathered up all the accouterments of an adult life (kids, mortgage, saggy skin), I simultaneously developed an impressive ability to stomach wine. Bottle after bottle after bottle would flow down my throat every week.

But my fun habit slowly turned nasty and destructive. Towards the end of my drinking days, just shy of my fortieth birthday, I was awash with booze and utterly miserable. Also, deeply conflicted and confused.

Why was I so confused? I clearly had a problem with drinking. It should have been a straightforward and easy decision for me to quit. But the problem was that the hard wiring in my brain told me alcohol was an ordinary part of life. My neural pathways were deeply ingrained to believe that drinking booze was the best way to relax, bond with friends, celebrate wins, mourn losses. For my entire life alcohol had been presented to me – by my family, community and society in general – as a positive thing.

Yet for me it was deeply negative. Hence the confusion. It took a huge amount of strength to push through the confusion and admit the truth. I couldn’t control alcohol – it had to go from my life.

A big part of giving up for me was choosing to ignore what others were doing and ignore all of the messages around me and focus only on me and my truth. I had to keep reminding myself of the destructive nature of my habit. I had to remind myself constantly all of my sloppy, sneaky behaviors when drunk. The extra three glasses of wine when hubby had already gone to bed. The toast binges late at night. The slurring. The vomiting. Those were my truths, and I knew that always keeping them top of mind was going to help me change.

My own brain tried to trick me out of it. I’d form romantic images of drinking in my head. The glistening glass of chardonnay on a sunny afternoon. The casual glass of bubbles at a trendy bar. I had to force myself to remember that ‘romantic’ and ‘drinking’ were not words that went together in my reality. My drinking was far from romantic. The glistening glass of chardonnay always led to stumbling and mumbling. The casual glass of bubbles always led to ranting and raving.

Slowly as the days and weeks went by and I managed not to not pick up, I realized that so many of the images of alcohol that are presented to us through the media are false. We’ve been fed this steady stream of marketing messages that more often than not don’t marry up with reality. They sure didn’t match up with my reality anyway.

It’s such hard work transforming yourself from someone who lives boozily to someone who lives sober, especially in this world that glorifies and normalizes alcohol. But absolutely it can be done. And there are things you can do to make it easier.

Remember your truth. Don’t kid yourself that things weren’t as bad as they actually were. Don’t let yourself forget the truth about your drinking. Imprint your worst memories on your brain – write them down if need be!

Reframe your thinking. Just because you’ve thought one way for years and years doesn’t mean it’s true. Challenge all your hardwired beliefs about alcohol having all these positive qualities. Remember the facts. Turn your thinking around.

Recognize propaganda when you see it. Don’t let a glossy advertisement about alcohol make you feel left out like a loser. Just because it’s in print or on the television doesn’t make it true. Those adverts aren’t speaking truths – they’re just trying to sell a product. Remember that the person in the image is an actor being paid to look like they’re feeling a certain way.

Like I said before – it takes a lot of effort to change your life, and it’s especially hard when you’re not just fighting your own thoughts but all of the messaging that is around you. This brings me to one of the most important things that I think is necessary when seeking to reshape your life.

Connect with others who understand what you are doing. This is vital. We need to be communicating with others who understand what it’s like to be going through a monumental life change with regards to our alcohol habits. Find people who share the struggle. People who know that it’s not a simple case of ‘just have one’. People who are kind and empathetic and understanding and non-judgmental. This can be done online or in person (or both!), but must be done. The people already around you might not be those people – even if they are loving and supportive – because they might not understand fully what you’re doing (that was the case for me). So seek out others who really know, and talk. And here is my final tip….

Get it out. Get all of your thoughts and beliefs about alcohol out of your brain. Externalize them. Release them from the private recesses of your mind. Do this by talking to others (online or in person) or by writing privately to yourself. However you do it.. get the thoughts and beliefs out of your brain and into the world. Turning our twisted thoughts and incorrect beliefs into words is incredibly empowering, it gives us a greater ability to unpick them and turn them around. So often we get lost in our heads with a messy bunch of thoughts, feelings and emotions swirling around. So get them out. Share them with others if possible, and watch as things start to turn around.

Post Submitted By: Lotta Dann

Lotta Dann is the author of Mrs. D. Is Going Without and the star of the Mrs. D. Is Going Without Blog where her journey to sobriety started.  She also partnered with the New Zealand Drug Foundation and the Health Promotion Agency to create Living Sober, a community website designed to support people examining their relationship with alcohol.

Featured post

Day 19: Dryuary Comes Bearing Gifts

“The best feeling in the whole world is watching things finally fall into place after watching them fall apart for so long“
– Unknown

One of the things that helped me get a handle on my drinking problem was hearing other people’s stories. I’m going to tell my story framed by the things I’ve gained through extended periods of time without alcohol. My first extended period was Dryuary 2018.

What follows is not an infomercial selling you on all you can get for 31 easy payments of one sober night. This process plays out differently for everyone. I highlight these things for you all this Dryuary because I didn’t think they were possible for me until I heard the stories of others who achieved things they didn’t think possible for themselves. The understanding that things really could get better helped me through some of the tougher times without alcohol.

The following is far from an exhaustive list, but it captures the most surprising and meaningful things I’ve gained over the past year.

A feeling that I’m whole unto myself

For most of my adult life, I didn’t feel right in my own skin without alcohol. This is why going without it was at first so tremendously difficult. Just being with myself seemed unbearable.

Any new situation requires an adjustment period, and “unbearable” turned out to be inaccurate—I lived! Giving myself time to be with myself, without that alcohol buffer, got me to a place where I can be in my own skin, unadulterated, without that overwhelming discomfort.

It means the world to me to be able to leave my house without stowing away a bottle or basing my plans on where the whiskey is flowing. All I need is my body and my mind, and those things are always with me.

Being able to enjoy things and people in themselves
While I was drinking regularly, I was more interested in drinking than any other aspect of an occasion. I knew that I still cared deeply about people, but how was it that I was more interested in where my next drink came from than in anything else?

I realized eventually that my enjoyment of people and things for their own sake hadn’t died. It was always brimming under the surface, intact from childhood. But it was covered over by discomfort in my own skin. How could I enjoy or appreciate anything when I felt like a hollow sack or imploded structure? Once I no longer needed booze to feel whole, the unadulterated enjoyment of things and people was effortless, just sitting there waiting for me to return to it.

The realization that alcohol contributed to my anxiety and emotional instability

For years, I hadn’t had enough space from alcohol to notice how it was affecting my anxiety. Now, having something to contrast those years of drinking with, the pattern is clear. I’m a significantly less anxious and more emotionally stable person outside the drunk/hungover spiral.

I haven’t had a full-blown emotional meltdown in over a year. I also haven’t experienced nearly the same level or frequency of panic I had when I was drinking. I still have plenty of anxiety, but it’s more manageable.

Anxiety can have a way of making your world smaller. The boundaries of my world budged further and further over the past year. I made meaningful progress in one area in particular: Travel anxiety. I’ve avoided airports and planes for years. But I flew twice in 2018—once, home from a work conference, and then again in October for a vacation. I’ve always known the world was big, but for the first time, I feel like I can go out there and be a part of it.

Being motivated more by values than by short-term urges
This a big one.

While I was drinking frequently, it was hard to understand how I could consistently choose over-drinking over things that were important to me, like avoiding a hangover for an important job interview the next day, or spending time with my family instead of needing to sleep it off during visits, or not blacking out and behaving erratically and ruining relationships.

Behaviors that ran counter to my values often led me to question the strength of my values. But that judgment is based on a misunderstanding of what’s really at work. I think people choose to sate a short-term urge because it’s much more immediate and visceral than the thing we’d get from not sating it, even if that thing is coming up the very next day. We feel urges in our bones. Values may be deeply held, but aren’t often felt in the same way as an urge—there’s a reason “burning desire” is a common expression and “burning value” isn’t.

But urges have less sway on decision-making when they weaken in intensity, and that can happen with space from alcohol. “The only way out is through” proved true for me here. By leaving the gnawing urge unsatisfied at times and getting to experience the longer-term payoffs, the latter became a much stronger influence on my decision-making.

Another approach here, to make the “through” part of the “way out” less hellacious, may be to cultivate feelings that make your values more visceral and immediate—that put them on a level playing field with urges. At the beginning of Dryuary 2018, a Moderation Management member shared this op-ed on the group’s forum. It delves into the different influences of short-term and long-term rewards on our decision-making and has some interesting ideas for tapping into feelings that help us more effectively resist urges.

You’ve taken a step toward seeing if time away from alcohol improves your life. It’s not an easy step, and I hope you’re genuinely proud of yourself for taking it.

Post Submitted By: May, Moderation Management Member

Featured post

Day 20: Mending Our Relationship With Ourselves

Mending Our Relationship With Ourselves was previously published at jasongarner.com

I wrote an article once called, “I Feel Like My Job Is Killing Me. What Can I Do?” In the article I described the simple tools I was taught by my teachers to mitigate the stress and drama of everyday life. Tools like stretching into the day with morning yoga, meditation to connect with ourselves and practice self-love, and drinking fresh green juice to nurture our bodies from the inside out.

The article received a very positive response, but I did get a few comments questioning if such simple tools could really make a difference. I hear those kinds of doubting comments often as I speak to people about my experiences. They can be summarized by the statement, “That may have worked for you, but I have real issues, I’m really stressed and I don’t think yoga, meditation, and green juice can fix my problems.”

I really believe in honoring everyone’s individual experience. I don’t believe that I, or anyone, have all the answers – and, often, giving advice simply isn’t helpful. What I have found helpful is the sharing of tools to assist in increasing joy in our lives. Sometimes those tools seem unreasonably simple, like looking at a house and imagining that it was built with the simple tools in a little red tool box – it seems too good to be true. To better understand the usefulness of tools it’s often beneficial to move the conversation from esoteric terms to real-life examples.

So imagine for a moment the other relationships in your life. What if you treated them the way you treat yourself?

What would happen if you pushed and pushed and pushed your children until they became so stressed and tired they couldn’t stand it any longer … or,

What if you stopped paying attention at work – you didn’t return emails from your clients, you ignored your coworkers, and you cancelled meetings with your boss … or,

What if you stopped holding your spouse — no more kisses or hugs or tender words — and when it came time for sex you rolled over and ignored your spouse’s need for intimate connection?

What would happen? In these real-life examples we know the answers, right? If we treated our spouses, careers, or children without care or concern, the relationships would start to deteriorate and, before long, the relationships would get stagnate, sick, and eventually die. The same is true with ourselves. When we treat ourselves as objects, fail to listen to our own needs, and ignore the warning signs that our bodies give us, the relationship with ourselves falls apart and we experience stress, unhappiness, and disease.

Now imagine for a moment that in the middle of all this you made a gesture of good faith to the other person. You attended marriage counseling, you sat down with your boss to apologize for your actions, or you went on a family vacation with your children. What would happen then? Your actions would invite a healing to take place, and as the people around you felt seen and heard they would respond with love and care, and what only days prior had appeared to be doomed would resurrect and show life again.

That’s what the tools of self-love are. Yoga, meditation, and green juice are a way of communicating to ourselves that we are loved and cared for. In that way they are like marriage counseling or a loving conversation with ourselves. We arrive at the yoga studio, meditation cushion, or juice bar after a lifetime of feeling unheard, under-appreciated, and pushed to the breaking point. We sit down in the company of our emotions and, for perhaps the first time ever, we pay attention to what our body is saying. We’re truly present to our needs, listening, caring, and loving ourselves. This is why the healing we experience from these simple acts can be so profound … just like the healing we get when we open up in life.

This week I invite you to check in with yourself. Close your eyes and experience the experience of being present to your own needs. In the beginning it may be difficult — in fact, seemingly impossible — to sit for too long. Do what you can. Just like a family meeting, the value is in just being there for yourself. And, like all good meetings, the healing comes from the action you take going forward. Stretch your body and allow it to breathe. Connect with your spirit and allow it to be heard. Nurture yourself from the inside out, and show your cells they are loved.

Post Submitted By: Jason Garner
Jason Garner is author of the autobiography, And I Breathed, about a FORMER FORTUNE 500 COMPANY exec’s journey from a life of matter to a life that matters. He shares the lessons gained on his rise from flea market parking attendant to CEO of Global Music at Live Nation, and (finally) learning to breathe while sitting cross-legged with timeless Masters of body, mind, and spirit in the book and at jasongarner.com

Featured post

Day 21: Spiritual Solutions

“I was talking to a wise young women about relationships, and she made a statement that I’ve never forgotten: I try to make sure that in all of my important relationships there is an even exchange of energy.”
– Sue Patton Thoele, The Book of Spirit

The young woman’s philosophy struck at the very heart of an issue I was wrestling with. But this relationship was not with another person, this issue was with my relationship with alcohol.

It has been said that every problem is mental and every solution is spiritual. An Invocation is an appeal; to summon the help from a Higher Power, a request to something not of this world.

Searching for spiritual solutions when we feel stressed, overwhelmed or inadequate and not knowing what to do can be an option. Not knowing what to do regarding my problem drinking, my thoughts went to my deceased Father. My Father had to quit drinking alcohol because of a health issue of pancreatitis. This was many years ago when support like Moderation Management, computers and the internet were not in existence. Yet, he prevailed, so I asked him: “Dad! How did you do it? You had no support and now I’m seeing how hard this can be. I’m trying, really trying. The nightly call to alcohol is too hard to resist.”

I had an abnormal blood test for the first time in my life at 52, my nightly drinking was catching up with me. This was enough to scare me into taking some steps towards reducing my alcohol consumption. I discovered Moderation Management through an article in Reader’s Digest and started reading daily on the website. I found a Moderation-Friendly Therapist and made my first appointment. I needed something that would just click and stick and work for me. This would be the first time I ever talked to someone about my relationship with alcohol and how much I drink. How would I have the courage to confront this shameful topic? My drinking was the subject that I had kept hidden in the closet, too ashamed to talk about out loud. Who did I think I was fooling?

My first appointment with my therapist was on January 16th, I was determined to give this my best shot. I committed to not drinking for 2 weeks and succeeded. My therapist gave me a self-monitoring log and I was told to track my triggers and urges. If I did drink, I was to log how many drinks I had and the circumstances that led up to drinking.

In February, still struggling and wrestling with the dilemma in my own head I decided to tell my husband. And, so I did. One morning having coffee on the patio, I told him that I have a drinking problem and how I was ashamed of myself for drinking to the point of ruining my health, I broke down in tears, real gut-wrenching sobs.

Then, just at that moment I looked up and saw a Bald Eagle flying high in the sky straight on a path towards me. I looked up, stunned! Is that a Bald Eagle? Surely it was, and I watched it as it flew over the lake in my backyard. First flying to a tree and perching there. Then, the Eagle (I named him Spirit) started hunting on the lake. I watched Spirit for a good 20 minutes, entranced in the beauty and grace of this magnificent creature. I realized that my focus had shifted from helplessness, sorrow and pain to the wonder and glory of seeing this beautiful animal the Bald Eagle.

My focus shifted just like that! Later that day I had the thought that my dad had sent the Bald Eagle just at the right moment to send me a spiritual message. When I looked up Bald Eagle Spirit Animal, I found the following: “Messenger from Heaven, sign of courage and freedom. New beginning, power and success” and also “Wisdom to see from a broader perspective. To see from the Heavens above the whole picture. Fortitude in adversity.” My husband told me that it was my dad who sent me Spirit, the Bald Eagle, without me saying a word. I also had been reading Sue Patton Thoele’s Book of Spirit, and that night the page I turned to was “Waiting in the Wings” about asking for help and invoking the powers of our ancestors before us who have passed.

I started getting all kinds of signs that were spot-on for the day and that kept me on track. One day in the car, I was listening to the radio and “Run that Body Down” from Paul Simon came on the radio. Another important “Tool” was reading the Dryuary Posts from that year and also the previous years. Thought provoking posts that made sense and I could really relate to. I realized am not alone on this journey.

I did my first “30” in March of that year and I kept thinking of the Bald Eagle “Spirit” and I kept my mind open to signs and opportunities to stay on the right track. I visualized myself as the Bald Eagle flying high in the sky, looking down at the earth and seeing the whole picture: the Oceans, Forests, Rivers, Deserts and the glory of this big wide earth, this thought brought me comfort. I visualized myself crying on my back porch and thinking how small I felt in that moment in relation to the expanse of this entire planet and the beauty and diversity of it. I didn’t feel small anymore, I felt like I was flying high above the earth and I was looking down from the Heavens.

Do you know I see something “Eagle related” almost every day?! An Eagle on the side of a Van, an Eagle statue, an Eagle in a book or magazine, an Eagle meditation on Youtube (great one by Sara Pulman), or an Eagle website: (www.nearariver.com).

When we open our minds and break free of limiting beliefs and habits, we open ourselves up to the energy of the Universe, our Higher Power. It might not happen at first but it will happen if we stay open to it and keep an open mind. Now, I look for signs and messages that will keep me on track and focused and I usually get one every day. I also write in my Journal so I won’t forget what has inspired me for that day.

Here is my Bald Eagle wish for you today: Success Mindset: stands for strength, courage, determination, focus and success. Eagles fly above storms. Eagles have strong vision and focus. Eagles have a “can do” or success attitude. Eagles trust in his own wings or abilities. I hope everyone has an “Eagle Mindset” for today.

Post Submitted By: Lisatherese, MM Forum Member

Featured post

Day 22: The Allergy

I’m not allergic to much. But what I am allergic to can kill me.

And I’m not talking about my Paba allergy that I discovered one summer when I broke out in hives on a routine trip to the beach. I’m also not describing a peanut allergy. I wouldn’t know how to use an Epipen if my life depended on it. I’m allergic to alcohol, and as this post discovers, much more. The allergy, as alcoholism is often understood, was made famous by Dr. Silkworth’s influential relationship with Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

It’s an allergy of the body, loosely defined as, “once I start, I can’t stop.” It provides an easy out for the sober alcoholic at parties:

“Want a drink?”

“No, thanks. I’m allergic.”

“To beer?”

“Yeah, I break out in handcuffs.”

Real hardy har har, laugh-to-keep-from-crying-cuz-it’s-true stuff. The break-out-in-handcuffs bit is almost part of the Creative Commons of recovery at this point, along with “One Day at a Time” and “Let go, Let God” and “Don’t Quit Before the Miracle Happens” and the rest. (The Slogan Series describes some from experience.)

The Allergy has been on my mind lately because my dog’s allergies have been killing her.

Poor Riley. If I had known what I know now when I got her, I would have named her Murphy because everything that could have gone wrong with her has. She’s a mess.

The problem for her is, even with some allergy medication, she still scratches. She scratches long after the itch goes away. It appears, oh if that dog could speak, that she scratches simply because she’s developed the habit of scratching. She doesn’t stop when she starts. She’d sooner draw blood from her ear than stop scratching.

We all have an itch to scratch. Some of us just can’t stop scratching once we start, or so my dog taught me last month.

We all can relate to that mosquito bite. The small one that will heal in a day if we let it. But we don’t let it, do we? We give it the four-finger nail-file treatment. We scratch the bite like it’s a winning lottery scratch off. While it’s not what will take the itch away, we scratch in spite of sound advice. We scratch beyond all reason.

It feels good—for the moment. And that’s enough.

The momentary, sometimes, is enough to kick us into an ill-advised, short-term course of self-destructive action. But, it’s just a mosquito bite, after all.

Itches need scratching. And some scratch harder and for a longer duration than others. I always did when it came to drugs and alcohol. I know what a perpetual itch felt like. I feel the compulsion to scratch long after the itch subsides. The itch goes away, the desire to scratch does not.

The first time I smoked pot was out of a bat, a one-hitter.

Just a couple hits that didn’t hit me for a while. I walked with my friend into town to grab a slice of pizza. That’s when it happened. The molten cheese, the rivers of marinara, the pastry crust. It was just a slice of nasty pizza from our crap pizza joint—why did it taste like an artisan slice from New York’s Little Italy? And the fountain coke? The fountain of youth more like it. The bubbles danced their way down my throat.

The first use of pot created an itch I had to scratch going forward. (Here are all “First” posts) And when marijuana stopped working for me, when it stopped creating that masterful explosion of the senses and started making me anxious and paranoid—I still felt the itch. I couldn’t turn it off. Eventually, like our dog, I was scratching in spite of blood and pain. I just scratched because the habit felt good and right.

Some people get that way over drinking and drugging. Alcohol is the friend who can find that sweet spot on our itchy back. It is the missing piece of our baffling life’s puzzle. It is the one thing we can rely on when we can no longer rely on ourselves. But why?

Getting sober has helped me understand my allergy from a different angle. People have shown me that scratching the itch won’t take the itch away. I’ve got to stop scratching altogether. And once I do—like the newcomer who eats chocolate at every meal—new itches surface. It seems my allergy to alcohol never was about the alcohol at all. I am allergic to anything that gives me control over how I feel.

I’ve been writing lately a lot about how uncomfortable I felt in life before I started drinking. I believe it’s the urge to fix how I feel that has always triggered my allergic reaction to drugs and alcohol.

Somewhere in the recovery process, I learned about satisfaction. Feeling good and feeling satisfied are emotions on two different planets. Like, I feel really good eating McDonalds in the moment, but I’d be more satisfied that night if I had eaten raw vegetables for lunch. Satisfaction, I’ve found, comes from a hard day’s work. Satisfaction is the lasting self-esteem we feel from service work. It restores self-trust.

I’m going to get hooked on something. I’m constantly tinkering with how I feel like a mad scientist who can’t quite reanimate a corpse. So, I do my best to focus on what brings me long-term satisfaction. Teaching is a prime example. I don’t have a rush of dopamine when I see my paycheck every two weeks. In fact, it’s best if I don’t focus on my finances for too long. But, at the end of each day teaching, I am exhausted. I am satisfied because I did everything I could to convince those agnostic teenage minds that there is more to life than they originally thought.

Part of the process is understanding that, while the long-term satisfaction thing sounds good, the urge to scratch, the short-term good stuff, never goes away. It surfaces daily, even without the drink and the drug. For me, it’s a three-headed dog: anger, lust, pity.

That dog has six ears, and each one is always itchy.

Post Submitted By: Mark Goodson, writer of “The Miracle of the Mundane“ blog.

Featured post

Day 23: Getting Stronger

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong –
The amount of work is the same.”
– Carlos Castaneda

I have a few favorite runs in my neighborhood, and they all start by crossing the street and then running up a slight (and I mean very slight) incline. Every time I start up that small incline, I feel like I’m running through wet cement. You know when you’re dreaming and trying to run, and you feel like you’re running in slow motion because your legs weigh about 1,000 pounds each and they are made of sponge? Seriously, after five years of running, every single run starts out this way. Every. Single. Run.

Ugh.

And how does this relate to Dryuary you might ask? Maybe you get that same dread when you decide to abstain for a day, for a week, or for 31 days! You get up in the morning all set to get through the day alcohol free, and then…blech. There it is, that uphill slog, that I-hate-this feeling, that oh-jeez-it’s-gonna-be-a-long-night feeling, that what-the-heck-was-I-thinking-when-I-signed-up-for-this feeling. It would be soooooo nice and easy to cave. You’ve been so good. You deserve a break. You abstained four whole days this week. If it’s this hard right now, there is no way you can finish this whole 31 days anyway, right?

You might even get that feeling every single afternoon/evening. Hey, you’re not alone!

You know what? I used to absolutely hate that first part of my run. I would dread it. In the beginning it often caused me to stop running, or slow to a walk, or to set myself up to believe I could not finish my goal. It eventually dawned on me after a couple of years (I’m a slow learner), that this was probably never going to change. Never. I was going to face this uphill-through-wet-cement feeling at the beginning of every run.

So, what was I going to do about it? I could let that dread keep me from getting my behind out the door, I could let it slow me down or even stop me in my tracks. I mean, really, all that apprehension, dread, angst. Who needs it?

Or. I could just get over it. Yup. Just stop thinking about it. I mean, it’s gonna be there, I’m gonna hate it, but I don’t have to anguish about it. Kind of like a big ugly piece of furniture in your living room. You don’t have to love it, but you don’t have to stare at it all day either.

I decided that when I started to feel that foreboding, I would just shake my head and think about something else, like how I was getting just the tiniest bit stronger every run. I’d get that strong Rocky thing going on in my head, and then poof! the dread would come back and zap! Think about something else. Over and over.

Slowly, I began to anticipate that slugging-it-out incline a little differently. I kept a watchful eye out, and became careful not to let it trick me into giving up. I knew it was a fraud and an impostor, trying to con me, and I determined not to let it win.

Now, guess what? After five years I have actually started to look forward to that first hard part of my run. Instead of dreading it as something that can hold me back, I relish it as a challenge that makes me stronger. I gain way more strength from that little ascent than I do from the easy peasy descent on the other side.

I have learned to take this same approach to abstaining.

There are times when the thought of getting through the first fifteen minutes at home after work without alcohol seems impossible. Every sound, every light, every small conversation or interaction is like fingernails on a blackboard. Honestly, I cannot conceive of enduring those first fifteen minutes without a drink, much less the rest of the evening, so I might as well give up now and enjoy that drink, right?

And on my drive home, you know all of this is going through my head, dreading the clenched jaw, the tight breathing, that screech in my brain. It’s enough to drive me to drink. I can start to feel that same old angst and run with it, OR I can run through it and say to myself, “Bring it on.” Abstaining through that small incline will set me up for abstaining through the long haul. Heck, if I can make it without drinking for that short amount of excruciating torture, then I sure as heck can make it for the next couple of hours when things are calmer and quieter.

We can let those tough times overpower us, or we can overpower the tough times. It’s up to each one of us to make the call.

You up for finishing this?

Post Submitted By: HorseLover, MM Listserv Member

Featured post

Day 24: Steering Clear

“Being misunderstood by people whose opinions you value is absolutely the most painful”
– Gloria Steinem

I’m old enough to have had a good amount of experience facing the hard knocks that life dishes up.  And, boy, these last couple of years have been doozies.

However, I have come to a not very interesting conclusion when it comes to the booze.  Life can be just plain hard no matter what you are doing or how you are drinking.   I’ve found giving alcohol up once in a while usually provides some clarity about life issues. At least it does for me, painful as these issues might be.

Now I’ve struggled with a lot of stuff but this singular personality problem I possess comes around again and again like a broken record. Jefferson once said, “The art of life is the art of avoiding pain; and he is the best pilot, who steers clearest of the rocks and shoals with which it is beset.”  But what if you are using a substance to avoid pain?

So, with that, I’ll disclose one of my biggest challenges.  I’d like to work on it as sort of a New Year’s resolution (or something like it since I hate resolutions).

I come from a family that was scornful, disrespectful and generally unloving.   My childhood was lonely and scary and I always felt on my own.  So, I wasn’t raised with the skill set needed to survive rejection – of any kind but more specifically, professionally.  For example, as an adult, when I was accepted into an elite graduate school program, no one in my family congratulated me or even acknowledged this accomplishment.  (Bless my spouse who supported me at the time.) And, to my astonishment, I was an outstanding student.   But at the end of grad school I was passed over for graduation awards due to the internal political machinations of the institution and the cutthroat faculty at the time.   I was not a player in their game and I was powerless to address it.  So, I had to recover from their omission, accepting that it was them and not me, etc.   And I had to work very hard at not internalizing the rejection.

Recently and inevitably, you might say, rejection happened to me again.  This time in a high profile civic organization in which I’ve been pretty active for the last decade or so. I was completely ignored for the work I did on a project.  I brought some needed recognition to the organization and even elevated its status in the public eye.  But I might as well have been a potted palm instead of a valued member.  And, again, I have had to overcome my usual intense self- doubt which follows.  I am uncomfortable blowing my own horn. I just pick up my trumpet and leave.

So, throughout my life this scenario plays out over and over again.  The circumstances and people change but my painful reactions remain the same.  I seek attention from employers or individuals that are simply not going to give it.  And I sulk and usually navigate my emotions to the land of depression and self-reproach.  I isolate, too.  I get sick.

“And what is the salve for my thin skin?” you might ask.  You guessed it – a good ole drinkiepoo.  And it works pretty well, pretty often.  And although I’m not the only person on earth who deals with their emotional life this way – I can see how it won’t continue working in the long run if I want to address this rejection thing in any serious way.  A break from alcohol altogether is so beneficial if you are involved in some form of self-improvement or therapy.

Although I moderated my alcohol intake in December, I still looked forward to a dry January (Dryuary) because I knew I’d be able to work on myself in ways I am normally unmotivated to do if there is a cocktail to check out with at the end of the day. This year, I really want to evolve into someone that can navigate life with more peace and self-acceptance.

Post Submitted By: Cora OHara, MM Listserv Member

Featured post

Day 25: Cause And Solution

“…Alcohol! The cause of… and solution to… all of life’s problems.”
– Homer Simpson

For fans of “The Simpsons” television show, this line is classic Homer – a good dollop of wisdom coupled with a complete lack of interest in changing. Both sad and funny.

Aaah, the eternal paradox of alcohol. Alcohol has caused so many problems in my life, and yet, when I’m feeling bored, anxious, sad, lonely, overwhelmed, happy, celebratory, excited – in other words, feeling anything – it seems a reasonable and even perfect solution.

I drank eagerly for 12 years, from age 14 to 26. Then I stopped drinking for 23 years and 3 months (not that I was counting). Eight years ago, I started drinking again and saw that I was still eager for that drink. Eager for the buzz, the camaraderie with other drinkers, the easing of tension, the release of whatever negative feelings I was having.

But the problem with drinking is that it’s a temporary fix for my permanent problem – the inability to sit with feelings, whether good or bad. I always want to eliminate the bad and enhance the good. If I’m sad, I want to be less sad, if I’m happy I want to be more happy. And alcohol does fix that – for a little while.

But in attempting to fix a single problem, alcohol has caused more problems. Like blackouts where I remember nothing. How did I get home? What did I say on the phone? How did I embarrass myself? Who can I call who will tell me what I said or did and not judge me? Or brownouts, where I kind of sort of remember parts of the occasion, but not quite. So many hours trying to piece together missing time and agonizing over what I do remember.

I’m lucky to be alive after all the times I’ve driven drunk. I’m lucky to still have friends considering what a demanding and needy person I was during the days of my heaviest drinking. I’ve thrown up more times and in more places than I can count. I’ve spent mornings struggling to put on my mascara because my hands are shaking and my head is spinning. I’ve showed up to work drunk, either freshly so (which got me fired), or still drunk from the night before. I got pregnant and had an abortion as a consequence of a drunken one-night stand. I’ve wallowed in angst for days after an episode of overdrinking. These are all problems.

So why would anyone with those experiences ever pick up a drink again, especially after such a long period of abstinence? I could say, well, my new husband likes to drink, so it must be his fault. Or I’ve matured and it’s no longer a problem like it was in my wayward youth. And those explanations are valid. I like to drink with my husband. I do have a different perspective and maturity after decades of abstinence. But when I’ve had a few too many and am regretful the next day and asking myself why why why, the answer is always the same: I like to drink. I just like to drink.

But if I want alcohol to be more of a solution than a cause, I have to learn to manage drinking. Or at least give it a shot (pun intended). And that has been happening – I’ve been slowly and steadily learning, growing, and changing. One of the most impactful strategies I’ve used is getting support. Just knowing that there are others who have the same challenges is such a gigantic relief. And there’s such a wide array of organizations these days to let me know I’m not alone. That’s been incredibly beneficial for the big picture.

For the little picture, the day-to-day goal of not overdrinking, one of my best tools is having periods of abstinence. Abstinence clears my head and gives me the all important reminder: I don’t NEED to drink. I don’t HAVE to drink. It’s such a valuable reset, helping me to break the habit. I have so much pride in myself after a period of abstinence. I’ve accepted myself for who I am (someone who likes to drink and who can easily overdo) yet rejected always giving in to self-defeating sabotaging behavior. I become confident that my life and myself are just fine the way they are and all my feelings are gifts that don’t need to be ignored or enhanced.

It can be tricky drinking again after a period of abstinence. The first few years after I started drinking again were littered with overdrinking episodes. But in time, with support and time spent abstaining (a day, a week, a month, whatever), I’ve found my tolerance for alcohol is reduced to the point where I simply can’t drink as much as I used to. And my tolerance for the physical and emotional consequences of overdrinking is also reduced, to the point that I’m actually able to think ahead to those consequences and not take that first (or next) drink.

Abstinence can be a way of life or one of many management strategies for problem drinkers. The most important thing I can say about abstinence is that there is absolutely no downside to not drinking. None. It may not feel that way when life hits me hard or I’m just plain bored or feel desperate to change my feelings, but the physical and emotional benefits of abstinence are always – and I can’t emphasize “always” enough –  greater than the temporary, and often dubious, benefits of drinking.

Post Submitted By: Nora Desmond, MM Forum Member

Featured post

Day 26: 5 Ways To Stay Sober or Moderate Now That Your Sober Challenge Is Coming To An End

Before I finally quit drinking in 2015, I attempted several sober challenges. In the main I was quite successful. I threw myself in with gusto, crossed off days, and believed every time that at the end of the month, I would have my drinking under control.

I’ll only drink at weekends!

I’ll never drink alone!

I’ll only buy the really good wine, and savour it slowly!

 I’ll switch from wine to beer!

I followed my ‘rules’ for a short while after each challenge was over, but soon slid back into my old habits.

It didn’t matter at the time. I had just completed a WHOLE MONTH SOBER! Alcoholics couldn’t do that right? And, so what if I was drinking too much? I’ll just have another “detox” in Dry July! Or Sober October!

I used each sober challenge as a “comfort blanket” and reassured myself that I “wasn’t that bad”.

The truth? I was “that bad”. I had gone beyond “partying” to drinking alone, using booze to sooth my troubles away (at least until the next morning), I became moody, difficult, erratic and I was having regular blackouts.

Eventually I quit. There was no other choice. I had bargained and rationalized with myself and broken every promise to control my drinking.

Now, nearly four years later, life is better than I ever imagined.

I regret little about my sober journey, except one thing: I wish I had started earlier. I wish I had used one of those sober challenges to kick start my wonderful booze free life. I regret that I squandered those opportunities.

If you are embarking on Dryuary with hope in your heart, it will transform your life–regardless of whether your goal is complete sobriety, or moderation; here are five steps I wish I had implemented when I started a sober challenge:

#1. Face the Truth.

The “evidence” about my drinking problem was plain to see during those 30ish days when I abstained.

Almost immediately, I felt better. Obviously, I was hangover free, but I also had more disposable income, and life became more manageable in small ways throughout the month. Those were the good changes.

The other ‘truths’ that I should have noticed, was that I couldn’t stop thinking about drinking, it was hard to get through an evening, I craved wine, and there seemed to be a “hole” in my life.

If my drinking wasn’t a problem, as I continued to insist, why was it so hard to give up, just for a few weeks? And why was there so many noticeable changes in my life?

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off,” said Gloria Steinem.

It was an unpleasant shock for me to face the truth, but it helped keep me focused on my goal.

#2. Have A Plan.

What was my plan?  Hope for the best. On the 1st of January every year, my plan was to grit my teeth and not drink.

A plan and a handful of strategies would have helped.

If you haven’t got a plan for Dryuary (and beyond), here are some that worked for me:

Don’t have booze in the house

Fill your fridge with non-alcoholic beverages

Figure out your obstacles for the month and how you will handle them. For example, do you usually attend boozy book club nights? How will you handle these events?  

Plan distractions for Wine O’clock. A creative project maybe? Early night with a book? Listen to podcasts? Have a list of “doing” things to get you through the toughest part of the day.

#3. Enjoy The Process

“I wish I could just not want to drink anymore,“

Here’s the conundrum. I didn’t enjoy sobriety until I actually experienced sobriety.

And I didn’t enjoy sobriety until I stopped whining about how hard it was. So I had to reframe a few of my misconceptions about quitting drinking:

Cravings won’t kill you. Missing a few social occasions won’t ruin your life. Your dreams and aspirations don’t dwell in the bottom of a wine bottle, I told myself every day.

How about savoring the joy of an early morning, sipping on your coffee without a queasy stomach or hangover headache?

How about enjoying (and remembering!) conversations with your loved ones?

How about ending the day with a few pages of a great novel, safe in the knowledge that your “to do” list is actually done?

When I focused on the positive instead of the negative, sober life eventually became a joy rather than a burden.

#4. It Is Not Instant.

We love instant stuff don’t we?

Fast food, 24 hour news, instant information, speedy communication.

We love promises of quick weight-loss programs, effortless fitness regimes, get rich quick money-making schemes.

I learned that sobriety (and just about everything else worth having) takes time.

#5. Ignore The Language And Stereotypes.

Ask ten people to define alcoholism, and you’ll get ten different answers. People have weird ideas about people who struggle with their drinking, and those who quit.

“You’re not really an alcoholic if you don’t go to AA,“

“Nobody quits drinking entirely, unless they have a problem,“

“If you have just one drink, you’re not really sober,“

“It’s not possible to moderate if you are addicted to alcohol,“

“You’ll be in recovery for the rest of your life,“

This is your path. Your choices and goals will differ from everyone else. It doesn’t matter if you think you are an alcoholic or just someone who drinks too much.

Labels are for soup cans. When I stopped worrying about them, I felt ‘freer’ to forge my own sober path.

If your goal is to use Dryuary as a kick-start to a healthier or non-existent relationship with booze, then hopefully these five steps will help you begin your journey with a spring in your step and a smile on your face.

Post Submitted By: Jackie Elliott.
www.iamrunningonsober.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/iamrunningonsober/

Featured post

Day 27: The Distance

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life”
– Amy Poehler 

I recently got talked into running a half-marathon with a friend of mine who wanted a training buddy. I needed to get in shape, so this seemed like a good idea. Having some kind of exercise training routine is great, by the way, for sticking with your sobriety plans. You’ve got something to think about that demands your time and attention – which replaces drinking in many ways. For all that we talk about cravings and emotional dragons, a big chunk of our habit is just habit. Keeping busy is a powerful weapon against the witching hour when our old, bad habits come calling.

And so, I found myself spending several evenings and most Sunday mornings running for hours on end, which is something I never thought I’d do. I’m not a runner. I’m very slow and can’t seem to get any faster, not even after weeks of training. But the buddy system worked as it was intended and neither of us wanted to let the other one down. We ran four times a week, longer and longer distances, until I was doing runs that had seemed impossible when I first started. I was so proud of myself for sticking with the program and for making the progress that I had. Soon enough, it was race day.

We both showed up, ready to run. Or maybe I should say ‘run’ because I couldn’t really go any faster than a slow jog, plus I fully intended on walking if I needed to. My goal was to finish and nothing more. I only had to keep moving fast enough that they didn’t dismantle the barricades and close up the finish line before I arrived. It was a leap of faith to show up for this race because I hadn’t actually done the full half-marathon distance in training. We’d had some bad days where weather, sore knees or just not feeling up to it had stopped us from going the distance on runs where we should have been able to push ahead. Despite twice attempting the full 21 kilometers, we’d been forced to stop short and limp home. In the weeks before the race we had regrouped to let our aches heal and cut back our training. Apparently, it’s better to let small injuries recover instead of pushing on before a race, but it felt unnerving to not know for sure how it would feel to do the full distance. There’s always a first time, and there are always doubts that come before it.

In slightly under three hours I finished that race, and I was just as slow as I expected, but I did finish. I finished because of my training, but also because of the camaraderie of doing something difficult with so many people.

This is a sample of the people who finished ahead of me (and frankly almost everyone finished ahead of me but these were the ones I could keep in my sights).

-A very elderly man who bent over his walker (that he was somehow jogging with). His yellow support hose that matched his head band and he had a tiny portable stereo strapped to his walker to play music while he ran.

-A woman dressed as a hot dog who was speed-walking the distance.

-An amputee with one of those spring legs who was clearly just getting a feel for how it worked.

-That guy who would stop and walk periodically then race ahead only to repeat the cycle, who nicked past me right at the finish line.

-A man running with his tween son, while also pushing his newborn child in a stroller and who chatted on the phone the entire time.

-A very round woman with short legs who nevertheless amazed me at the speed she moved them. (Let’s face it, if I can see her, it means she’s ahead of me. She powered through the hills better than me and I couldn’t catch up on the flat parts).

This is the motley crew that I spent almost three hours with on a rainy morning, and it was something special. We weren’t an intentional team by any means, but we had each shown up and we were running, chaotically and haphazardly, together. We all groaned when we rounded a corner and saw a hill. We smiled and encouraged each other when one of us flagged. One woman shared her spare gloves with another runner, a man found spare bandaids for someone with a blister. As the miles wore on and I began to think I’d had enough, I looked around me and was inspired by the determination I saw. We thanked the volunteers who handed us water and we were, at the very least, an accidental team. We ran that distance together, even though each of us had to run it in our own way.

Dryuary is an intentional team, and the gifts and benefits of doing a hard thing together are even more powerful. We each have different challenges goals and strategies, but today and for the rest of this month, we are here together as a team. This month is a snapshot of our lives, just like race day is just one day out of all the days I spent running. This is where we get to test our strategies, to reach for a measurable goal and be able to say “I did this” There are two things I learned from race day that hold true for Dryuary:

Trust your preparation.

Run with your team.

We support each other, we inspire each other, we are humble in our pride at being part of something larger than ourselves. Every person you see on this journey has a story to share, lessons to teach you, and a need to hear the wisdom and support that you can share too. Some of us are here for the first time, some have done it before. We are a team, here and now, and we will finish this one together.

Post Submitted By: Jonathan M. Langley
Jonathan M. Langley is the author of “30 Days Sober: A Companion Guide To Taking A Break From Alcohol“ and “Re-think Your Drinking: 5 practical tips to cut back on alcohol”, which are available on Amazon.

Featured post

Day 28: Looking Ahead

“Don’t be ruled by your past. Don’t be crippled by the past. Let the past be the past and focus on what is ahead. Remember however that if you neglect the most essential lessons of the past, you shall walk into the future with one leg.” 
– Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

It’s the end of January, and if you’ve made it this far, then you should be so proud of yourself.  Not drinking in a world where everyone does, confronting deeply ingrained habits and dealing with the mental and physical impact of abstaining from an addictive drug is hard. You, my friend, are a superhero.

So, before we go any further, take a few minutes, or hours, to give yourself a huge pat on the back. Treat yourself to something special with some of the cash you’ve saved, or eat a giant slice of cake, since you’ve banked a huge number of calories too.

Then, please, spend some time having a really good think. You have a decision coming up, which could be the most important and life-changing decision you ever make.

First off, think about all the amazing things that have happened in the last few weeks without booze. Write ‘em down. Is your face less puffy? Are your eyes whiter? Is your skin clearer? Are you sleeping better? Have you lost weight? Are you less anxious and stressed than usual? Have you had fewer arguments with your family? Did you manage to watch to the end of every movie you’ve started this month? And the mornings! What was it like waking up every morning brimming with energy, and with no regrets?

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking okay, there were SOME benefits, but it was really HARD, and I’m not sure I liked it AT ALL. I hear you. So, list the downsides too. Did you get terrible headaches? Find it difficult to get to sleep initially? Did you have awful cravings? Did you find yourself becoming obsessed by the idea of having another drink, and counting down all the days until the end of January? Did you feel ill at ease socially, and unable to relax and enjoy yourself?

Now, ask yourself this: How is it that we see alcohol as so harmless, when quitting it for just a few weeks can have such a monumental effect, both positively and negatively, on our mental and physical wellbeing?

The truth it, that there is no other change you can make (with the exception of quitting other addictive drugs like heroin or nicotine), that will have such a huge impact on all aspects of your life than giving up alcohol.

Here’s why: Alcohol is an addictive drug. It’s also a toxin and a carcinogen. Alcohol affects every part of our body, from our livers to our brains, our digestive systems, our skin, the whole shebang. That’s why Dryuary is a challenge. It’s not like quitting bananas for a month. The 2010 Nutt Report into the comparative harms of narcotics to the individual found that alcohol was the fourth most dangerous, after heroin, crack cocaine and crystal meth. More harmful than nicotine, cannabis, MDMA, LSD and speed.

So, here’s the decision your facing right now. What do you do next?

You, my friend, have done the hardest part. The first month of quitting booze is by far the most difficult. However, you haven’t got to the really good bit yet. Most people find that the really miraculous benefits of going sober start to kick in after around 100 days, and they keep on coming. I found that by the end of one year sober I’d lost nearly thirty pounds in weight. My insomnia and anxiety had completely gone. I felt more optimistic, energetic and brave than I’d been for decades. I paid off my overdraft. And I became a way better mum, partner and friend. I also changed my whole life, turned my passion into my career and rediscovered my self-respect.

Not bad, given that I only changed one little thing.

You see, what I discovered is that when you drink to blur all the difficult things in life, you blur all the good bits too.

I know the idea of quitting alcohol for good is scary. Hell, I was terrified. But if you take just one day at a time, and keep on going, miracles will happen.

Perhaps you’re not ready for that yet. Maybe you’re thinking I learned a lot from that month, and now I’m going to start drinking again, but I’m going to be sensible now, and drink moderately.

And that’s good too! If you can manage to keep a lid on your drinking, and stick to the recommended guidelines, then it’s not going to do you too much damage, and Moderation Management can help.

Just bear in mind that not everyone can. I am very much an all-or-nothing type of person. I find moderating anything really hard – be it love, friendship, chips or chocolate. I find it way easier to have none at all than ‘just a little bit.’ I have never, ever seen the point of ‘one glass of wine.’ Moderating for me was exhausting and soul destroying. I felt like an utter failure. Quitting totally, however, was a liberation. I was free.

So, if you try to drink moderately as you go into February, but you find it impossible and quickly end up back where you were, then you are not alone. Don’t feel bad. Don’t beat yourself up. Alcohol is a drug. It is designed to make you want more and more and more. If you find moderating really tough, you will probably find going sober way easier.

The choice, my friends, is yours.

Whatever you decide to do, please make sure you do this: Remember that alcohol is not your friend – it is a toxin and a drug, and you need to approach it with caution. It is certainly possible to enjoy a relationship with alcohol, but only if you make damn sure it’s on your terms. With that in mind, whenever you come across anyone who has made the monumental and brave decision to go sober then, please, congratulate them. Tell them they are a superhero, because they are. The most difficult thing about quitting booze is other people’s reactions. We can start to change that NOW. All of us.

And, next time you’re at a party and someone turns down a drink, don’t grill them about their motives. You know now how difficult that can be for the newly sober, and how hard it can be to say “no.” Just give them a high five. Or a hug.

Congratulations and a happy and healthy New Year to you all!

Post Submitted By: Clare Pooley (aka SoberMummy)
Clare Pooley is the author of the book The Sober Diaries and the blog Mummy was a Secret Drinker. You can find her TEDx talk on Making Sober Less Shameful on YouTube.

Links: The Sober Diaries – https://www.amazon.com/Sober-Diaries-stopped-drinking-started-ebook/dp/B06W9J1V6D/ref=zg_bs_156550011_17?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=X64WF8XAQMF4FJQ672KQ

Blog – https://mummywasasecretdrinker.blogspot.com

TEDx – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKfuGMzmfTs&t=13s

Featured post

Day 29: Camp Dryuary

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
– A. A. Milne

When my daughter was 9 years old, she decided she would go to a sleep-away camp for a week with a friend and her two cousins. This was pretty amazing to me because a) she had never, not once in her life, spent the night away from home unless it was at grandma’s house, and b) this was a fairly remote camp that you had to hike 3 miles to get to, no easy drop off and pick up.

I counseled her numerous times that if she committed to this camp, she was going to go, no matter what. I honestly didn’t care one way or the other if she went, but I was very clear with her that if she committed, there were three other people and their families all making their decisions based on her commitment, so there was no backing out. I told her many, many times that if she made the decision to go and then changed her mind, she was still going to that camp come hell or high water. “Oh no, Mom, I won’t back out. This is my decision.”

Of course, the night before she was supposed to leave she came to my bedroom in tears, saying she didn’t want to go. I reminded her of our numerous conversations and that her commitment was to other people. She cried and begged. I told her I was going to drive her to the camp bus, and if she didn’t get out of the car and get on the bus that I would carry her on the bus myself like a sack of rice.

Of course, this was not easy for me. It was really, really hard, but I knew this was one of those life lessons. Indeed, she had made her commitment to her friend and cousins, and I had made mine to her. On Sunday morning she quietly got on the bus after a kiss goodbye and they were off.

On Thursday morning I received a call from the camp that my daughter was so homesick that she was throwing up and could barely participate in any of the activities. She was even sleeping in the first aid room instead of her cabin with her friend. They asked if I wanted to come and pick her up early. I don’t know how I kept my cool, but I did. I asked if she was in any danger. They said no, so I said I would like it if she could complete the camp. They were totally fine with that and gave me kudos.

When we went to pick her up, she hiked out with the rest of the campers, gave me a hug, stowed her gear in the trunk and fell asleep in the car. We didn’t talk about camp for several days. I waited for her to bring it up. When we finally talked, I realized that she had been very sick, throwing up 24/7 with a brief interlude when they gave her some “very strong medicine” to help with nausea. (It was actually a TicTac.)

I told her I was so proud of her for sticking it out, for completing what she started, for living up to her commitment. She wailed at me, “But I DIDN’T do it! I failed!” “Au contraire my little one,” I explained, “You DID do it.” She cried that she didn’t sleep in her cabin, threw up 10 times a day, and cried the whole time. “But you DID it. You didn’t leave. It wasn’t pretty, it was hard, you were miserable, you were mad at me for not coming to get you, but you DID it. You didn’t leave. You stayed. You did it.”

Oh.

That life lesson is one that has stayed with my daughter every single day of her life. She knows what a promise means, she knows she is stronger than she thinks, she knows that she can get through pretty much anything. She is one awesome dude.

So. You made a commitment to yourself, maybe to a friend or relative, but mostly to yourself. How have you been doing at Camp Dryuary?

You been crying? Is your canoe leaking? Did you miss the glass of wine on the scavenger hunt? Did you just snap, and then snap your friendship bracelet? Did you get lost on the nature hike? Did your marshmallow fall in the fire?

If so, and yet you are still here reading this, then you did it. Yes, I know my analogy isn’t perfect. But in my opinion, making the commitment to yourself to attend Camp Dryuary means a commitment to do your level best. If you committed and you are still here, still standing, then you did it. It might not have been pretty, you might have had some horrible, bad, no good sleepless nights, you might have been just the teeniest bit snippy with your loved ones, but you’re here. You might have slipped and had a couple of glasses of wine just that once (or twice), and you could have just chucked it and bailed, but you didn’t. You got up, dusted off the seat of your pants, and got back in the game.

You DID it.

That should mean something to you. I hope you’ll carry the lessons you’ve learned close to your heart for they are yours to keep and to cherish.

And I can’t wait to see you again next year at Camp Dryuary!

Post Submitted By: HorseLover, MM Member

Featured post

Day 30: Bring the Power Tools


Alert: This song contains language some readers may find offensive.

“The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depends upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily. This is the man of moderation, the man of manly character and of wisdom”
– Plato

I love to create new things with my hands. There is a real satisfaction in making a shape appear under your control where it never existed before, except in your mind. And there are tools that make the work go smoothly- a chisel and plane to carefully remove wood; the file to make metal gradually change shape; a hammer to give impact to our desire for change.

But sometimes these tools are not enough. Sometimes we need to get done more than these slow devices allow. When a project is large and must be completed quickly, we reach for the power tools and rip into the work.

When we confront our own psychology, it is not obvious which power tool to choose. Some of them are very effective, but you may not know at first when to wield them. If you are considering a return to the drinking world in a few days, one of the best power tools in your toolbox is drink counting; maintaining awareness of the quantity you are drinking. This leads to another, more awkward, question- What is a “drink?” Fortunately a definition can be found:
Standard drink: one 12 oz-beer (5% alcohol), one 5-oz glass wine (12% alcohol), or 1 and 1/2 oz of 80-proof liquor (40% alcohol).
(See http://www.moderation.org/meetings/readings.html#mmlimits)

So that Long Island Iced Tea I like to suck down during football nights? Once you get past the core ingredients (vodka, gin, rum, triple sec), you are looking at 4-5 (or more) drinks in one glass. OK, what about Margarita night? 1.5 to 2 drinks per glass. Say I just want a pint of beer? Beer used to be easy at 5%, but the new world of microbrews and brewpubs has confused even this social staple. Still, beer is your best bet to be just one standard drink per 12oz glass- but watch the alcohol % rating on those microbrews! That “Pint” at 16 ounces and 5% would be 1.33 drinks.

Whew. Counting drinks can be HARD… Counting drinks takes awareness. That is the power of this tool- You are less likely to be stumbling home if you maintain awareness of what you are doing. Knowing how much you are drinking provides important information you can use to modify your consumption to become more reasonable. And, you are so much less likely to be the person everyone likes to talk about the next day, when the excess alcohol you consumed changes your behavior.
Want some help keeping track of your drinking numbers? Try *ABSTAR*, the online drink counter: http://abstar.org.

Another power tool is very simple, but, again, takes awareness to work. This power tool is DELAY. Instead of consuming that half-open bottle of brandy before going out to the show, drink a mocktail instead and delay drinking alcohol until the party really gets going. Keep some Pom juice and seltzer in the fridge so you can feel like you are drinking a pinot noir while making dinner to enable you to delay your drinking until the table has been served. Drinks after work before going out? Maybe limit enjoyment to a 12oz beer, to delay any serious drinking until later in the evening. Delaying drinks as long as possible makes it harder to get smashed on any occasion; less time to drink equals less chance you will get drunk. Deferring drinking does not mean you are giving up the fun, just delaying your enjoyment until the main event can get started.

We cannot forget another tool, and this one is sneaky- What do you drink between drinks? And what do you drink after you stop drinking? For many people, these are questions that never occurred to them before. “Well, after this drink I will have another… And another…” We all know where that leads. It is so much better to have a go-to drink that is non-alcoholic to drink between drinks, and to drink when you decide to stop drinking for that evening. This can be as simple as a coke and lime; tonic with a twist; or the N/A beer that every bar now seems to stock. Decide in advance what you would like to drink between drinks, so there are few questions when the time arrives. Elaborate mocktails can also be fun; some bars specialize in them with dedicated menus. Non-alcoholic “spirits” such as Seedlip’s aromatic brews can make these drinks a unique experience, worthy of an entertaining evening.

When I go out, I like to be prepared for what I may encounter during the evening. I like to be ready. This now includes an awareness of who I may encounter during the evening, what I might drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and how much I will drink before stopping. If I am going to a party, I may make more elaborate plans- Some parties do not provide any non-alcoholic drink options. (Aside from that reliable stalwart, water.) Bringing a bottle of something tasty but non-alcoholic can give you a convenient way to maintain your sobriety when the circumstances conspire against you.

The world can be a complex and difficult place. Don’t make it harder on yourself than it has to be. When you need to get something done and cannot wait to do it, bring out the power tools and make it happen.

Remember the goals of going out are to have a good time; to enjoy and appreciate the company you find, and to get home safe.

Post Submitted By: Kurt S., Dryuary Administrator

Featured post

Day 31: Photographs and Memories

Remember, you don’t have to wait until January 1, 2020 to take a break from alcohol. You can do it anytime for however long you want. To help you recall the lessons and experiences here, MM has compiled all of these wonderful posts from our Dryuary 2019 contributors into the Dryuary 2019 Collection available in a kindle book on Amazon. (paperback in the very near future.) Proceeds from sales of the book will go to support Moderation Management and future Dryuary campaigns.

Also, don’t forget, if you need a crowd to back you up and cheer you on, you’ll find one over on the MM Forum or the MMListserv. Drop us a line or stop in anytime. We can’t wait to see you!


If you blew it, don’t reject it
Just sit, drawing up the plans and re-erect it

– Weezer

Close your eyes and in your mind, pick up that camera. Take a picture of you, right now. Don’t get up to comb your hair or to make sure there aren’t any pepper flakes stuck between your teeth.

Click!

Do you still have that photograph from Dryuary Day 1?  Take it out. Let’s compare.

When I did this exercise early in my sobriety, I envisioned who I wanted to be in five years. Slim, tan, sitting in a sun-drenched courtyard in my gauzy skirt and toe ring, writing the follow-up to my bestselling novel. After a month of not drinking, I still used this “photo” as my Promise Land, the place I wanted to end up.

The photo of me today, seven years later?

Shorts with dirt stains on the ass and dirt embedded under the nails of those ringless toes from grubbing in the garden. No best seller on the shelf, but a self-published book that’s touched a few people’s lives and a novel that is being rejected by woefully visionless agents on a daily basis. Slim? Bwahahahaha!

But, you know what?  I’m okay with that picture of me. No, I’m better than okay. I like me.  That’s the picture of me that I wanted more than anything when I started this journey, I just didn’t know it. I couldn’t picture that from where I was standing when I started, I couldn’t even envision what that would look like. To just like myself. Was that too much to ask?

NO!

That gauzy skirted vision of myself will never be obtained, it is no longer my Promise Land, but it served its purpose. It got me unstuck. It got me started on the path to becoming someone else which led me to becoming myself. I’m not perfect but I’m okay with that. I’m not everything I want to be either-yet.

We hope you stuck with us through this whole Dryuary journey, even if you realized it was not going to yield the results you hoped for, we hope it brought you instead a little closer to who you are.

The rest of the year awaits you and I’m sure you’re already drawing up a vision of what you hope it will look like but, before you go, I want you to take one more photo from Dryuary to take with you as a keepsake. In your mind, conjure up your favorite memory from this month, put in every smell, feel, sight, sound, the way you think you looked and felt in this memory.

Click!

We hope you share it with us in the comments below or over on the Dryuary Forum .

Post Submitted By: Mary Reid aka Kary May Hickey
Mary Reid is the Program Director of Moderation Management and the author of Neighbor Kary May’s Handbook To Happily Drinking Less or Not Drinking At All,
Quite Happily: With the help of online recovery community

Featured post

Ready For The Rest Of 2019?

Remember, you don’t have to wait until January 1, 2020 to take a break from alcohol. You can do it anytime for however long you want. To help you recall the lessons and experiences here, MM has compiled all of these wonderful posts from our Dryuary 2019 contributors into the Dryuary 2019 Collection available in a kindle book on Amazon. (paperback in the very near future.) Proceeds from sales of the book will go to support Moderation Management and future Dryuary campaigns.


“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”
– Charles C. Noble

Ready for the rest of 2019?
A Farewell from the Administrators of Dryuary

It is our sincere hope that you have been able to learn from the Dryuary Challenge about yourself and your individual relationship with alcohol. All the staff of Dryuary, from the site administrators to the authors of each day’s post, have personal experience with alcohol and what we must face as human beings. With this annual event, we are doing our best to help others to avoid some of what we have learned to overcome.

Our lives are long and filled with changes. We are able to make our own choices on how we wish to live these lives. Developing reasonable healthy habits will benefit us now and into the future.

Thinking Ahead
We are already preparing for Dryuary 2020. You are all welcome to join us next year; we will be sending out invitations as the time approaches. Please consider making this an annual activity, and invite your family, friends, co-workers, and associates to join us for a Great Start to the New Year.

If you are not interested in receiving any further communications from us, please send a message to unsubscribe@dryuary.org.

Speaking for all the Administrators of Dryuary, we wish you well and only the best in the year ahead. May this experience prepare and strengthen you.

Additional Support
Should you need further help coming to terms with challenges related to alcohol, please consider examining the services of Moderation Management™, sponsor of Dryuary™. Our website is at www.moderation.org.

For more information about Moderation Management, see
http://www.moderation.org/about_mm/whatismm.html.
Moderation Management™ is a 501(c)(3) IRS-registered non-profit organization. Our services are provided free of charge.


Post Submitted By: Kurt S., Dryuary Administrator

Featured post

Welcome to Dryuary 2019!

Congratulations- You are about to join us for Dryuary 2019!

We will be sending emails every day in January to help you stay focused; these messages will also appear here on our Dryuary.org website. Your job is to stay focused and resolved. You have just made a great investment in a healthier, more productive you.

To contact us, use your Email system and send to:
dryuary@dryuary.org

Dryuary™ is sponsored by Moderation Management™
Moderation Management™ (MM) is a national support group network for people concerned about their drinking and who desire to make positive lifestyle changes.

For more information, see www.moderation.org/whatisMM.shtml
Moderation Management™ is a 501(c)(3) IRS-registered non-profit organization.

 

Do you have fond memories of last year’s Dryuary 2018?
It is still online – visit the pages at:
http://www.moderation.org/dryuary/dryuary2018/

Featured post

Dryuary Music Selections

See our Dryuary Playlist at:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtKPEAc3LODyqgB-CEfG99EH6LEpjcBJJ

Featured post

Dryuary Links and Resources

MEDIA:

Read the Dryuary 2019 Press Release here!

Thousands of people around the world are taking January off from alcohol, and there is no shortage of media stories about it:
 
Podcast featuring Dryuary; an interview with Kary May Hickey
https://www.iamrunningonsober.com/episode-ten-kary-may-hickey/
Kary May Hickey, author of “Neighbor Kary May’s Handbook to Happily Drinking Less or Not Drinking at All, Quite Happily” is this week’s guest. Jackie and Kary May talk about the benefits and pitfalls about Moderation, the sober blogging community and how best to approach “Dryuary”, especially if this is your first time.

Dry January: why take a break from booze?
https://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/dry-january-why-take-a-break-from-booze/
“Dryuary” or “Dry January” started in 2013 in the UK and is gaining popularity in the US. Committing to 30 days of not drinking alcohol is an excellent way to reevaluate your relationship with booze. As you explore other ways to relax and experience life sober, you will be improving both your physical and mental health.

Bye Bye Booze, It’s The Dryuary Challenge!
https://liveworkdream.com/2019/01/07/dryuary-challenge/
When we sold our house to hit the road, we gave up a few luxuries we loved. The washer and dryer. My craft room. And our well-stocked liquor cabinet. Good thing, because it makes things like the Dryuary Challenge so much easier. Back in our previous life, we had bottles of every libation necessary to take the edge off a rough day. There was no cocktail we weren’t willing to try at least once. And since we were making ‘real’ money, we weren’t afraid to blow a fat chunk of cash on Costco-sized containers of alcohol. But moving into the Arctic Fox required us to keep only a few bottles on hand at any given time. Our big bar was reduced to small part of of the closet that houses our stinky sneakers!

10 Not-Bad Non-Alcoholic Beers
https://www.esquire.com/food-drink/drinks/g1569/good-alcoholic-beers/
A handful of breweries are making tasty alcohol-free beers that don’t suck. There are quite a few old jokes about non-alcoholic beer. That one about listening to porn on the radio. Or the vibrator without batteries. Ugh. They only get worse. Fitting, because non-alcoholic beer is bad. Or is it? For the longest time non-alcoholic (NA) beer was pretty cruddy, because only cruddy breweries were making it. In other words, it was the big brands’ lightest “lite” beer. But many craft breweries are starting to finally produce non- and low-alcohol offerings – especially in Europe and particularly Germany, which has a long history of “alkoholfrei” products.

Alcohol reports it’s giving YOU up for January
https://www.thebeaverton.com/2019/01/alcohol-reports-its-giving-you-up-for-january/
WINNIPEG — Following the holiday season, and after much soul-searching, this week alcohol officially declared that it is abstaining from you for the month of January. “I was starting to feel so bloated”, stated alcohol, aged 12 years. “Every time I hung out with you, I felt so used. I was tired of going to parties and talking to people I absolutely hate, just because they’re there and also hanging out with other alcohol. If I’m being honest, I think I have an allergy to you.”

The Best Non-Alcoholic Beers
https://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/g25335995/the-best-non-alcoholic-beers/
Craft brewers have made the first non-alcoholic IPAs, stouts, and wheat beers that can satisfy real beer lovers. For decades, non-alcoholic beer and its thin, acidic taste has offended the very idea of beer. But now, craft breweries focused solely on beer without booze are producing pints worth toasting. The Runner’s World staff rounded up the most promising options—from a legit IPA to a creamy stout—for anyone seeking beer sans buzz. These are our five favorites.

Will A No-Booze ‘Dry January’ Help Your Health?
https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20190103/will-a-no-booze-dry-january-help-your-health#1
“Basically, it’s a New Year’s resolution,” said Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital, in Glen Oaks, N.Y. “You’ve been drinking during the holidays, and the idea is that if you stop drinking for the next month, your life and health would be better in the coming year.” But does it work? There’s some evidence that having a Dry January might indeed benefit your health. Dropping alcohol for one month can your lower blood pressure, improve your insulin resistance, decrease your weight, and reduce blood levels of a signaling protein linked to cancer, according to a small study published online in BMJ Open earlier this year.

Dryuary for TV news: Sober up and start doing your job
https://www.salon.com/2019/01/02/dryuary-for-tv-news-sober-up-last-years-trump-hangover-and-start-doing-your-job/
We’ve officially entered “Dryuary,” according to the chorus of “hell no” echoing across the social media sphere. This is the unofficial post-holiday detox month, in which participants commit to a month-long sabbatical from booze and other intoxicants — a laudable effort that is very good for the body and brain.

Today is the official start of Dryuary! Who’s with me??
https://radiogunk.com/forums/index.php?threads/today-is-the-official-start-of-dryuary-who%E2%80%99s-with-me.28585/ WARNING: NSFW!
(Irreverent free-wheeling discussion in a Forum known for vulgar speech.)
Discussion in ‘Howard Stern Show Forum’ started by monique, Yesterday at 2:58 PM.

Hear me out: Consider Dryuary
https://thetakeout.com/consider-dryuary-alcohol-free-january-1831342632
About a year ago, bloated and stuffed and overserved after weeks of bacchanalian holiday celebrating, I pondered Dryuary, in which drinkers give up the stuff for the month of January. None of my pants fit, my Advil bottle was empty, and my whole body just felt pickled and sour. Taking an organized break from drinking sounded like a relief, even though the last time I stopped drinking for any noteworthy interval of time was pregnancy. The results of that pregnancy are now in middle school.

The Dry January Effect
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-dry-january-effect-11546351200 (Warning: PAYWALL)
Now that the British fad is taking hold in the U.S., research shows that losing booze for a month has several health benefits—sometimes months later.
Bottoms down: It’s Dry January. For Heather Molnar that means holding the gin in her gin and tonic for the rest of the month and substituting that end-of-day glass of wine with kombucha. “I like to put it in a wine glass or something fancy,” says Ms. Molnar, a 46-year-old content strategist who lives in Morris Plains, N.J.

Dry January Can Be Amazing For Your Health, If Done The Right Way
https://www.self.com/story/dry-january-health-benefits
Dry January, aka ditching alcohol in the first month of the new year, is an annual tradition for many people. For some, it’s part of a New Year’s resolution to drink less, while others claim it’s a way to “detox” from excessive drinking over the holidays—but all swear that it’s going to do beneficial things for their health.

How to Plan an Alcohol-Free Date That’s Still Fun
https://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/a25629497/fun-date-ideas-without-alcohol/
Doing a Dry January? It doesn’t have to tank your dating life.
Maybe it’s Dryuary. Maybe you’re doing the Whole 30. Maybe you just don’t feel like drinking. Whatever the reason, there’s a lot of value in doing a sober date, even if you’re a drinker: You’ll probably spend less, you won’t wake up with a hangover, and you’ll be able to evaluate how you actually feel about a person.

These Financial Resolutions Will Help You Start 2019 Off Right
https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2018/12/219681/financial-resolutions-2019
Dryuary — But For Your Finances
Perhaps you’ve heard of Dryuary — a time of year when people like to recuperate after heavy holiday drinking and try sobriety on full-time for size. Of course, January is full of these types of endeavors: people trying to make it to the gym every morning, or giving up meat. But what about applying these principles to your wallet?

The Best Zero-Proof Cocktails to get you through ‘Dryuary’ 2019
https://www.maxim.com/food-drink/7-zero-proof-cocktails-2018-12
Stay sober in 2019 (if you must) with these mouthwatering mocktails.
Come January 1, many people will find themselves ailed with a head-splitting hangover from the previous night’s festivities, trying to convince themselves that they’ll never drink again.
Admittedly, commitment to a permanently sober lifestyle sounds daunting (and a little lame), but a popular New Year’s resolution known as “Dryuary”—that’s dry January—is totally doable.

Walter Cronkite School of Journalism – Planning Your New Years’ Fitness Coverage
http://businessjournalism.org/2018/01/news-year-fitness/
“Following New Year’s Eve, Dryuary is when some people give up alcohol for the month. Are local restaurants serving up kombucha or mocktails for this contingent? Are local cafes, juice shops, meal prep businesses or other places cashing in on food trends like the ketogenic or keto diet (no sugar, carbs, fruit or potatoes) or the paleo diet (no dairy, legumes, refined sugar or cereal grains)? What does it cost to eat keto or paleo for a week compared to other options?”

Aspen Daily News – Dryuary
https://www.aspendailynews.com/arts_and_entertainment/dryuary/article_3d97e744-f665-11e7-a74e-937f4a03ecbd.html
“The point is that this is a wine column, not a political activist editorial rant. And the point? Besides the fact that there isn’t any dang snow (well, it did kinda, wanna, sorta dump last week for a minute), there is another problem, and it directly affects the wine writer deep down within me: Most of my friends are on some Dryuary kick. Again, enough with the no-snow euphemisms. It’s the post-holiday sober season. Ugh.”

OpenTable.com – Drink Clean: 12 Refreshing Mocktails for Dryuary 2018
https://blog.opentable.com/2018/drink-clean-12-refreshing-mocktails-dryuary-2018/
“Following a boozy holiday season, some choose to go cold turkey for Dryuary, or Dry January. Others give up alcohol for a pregnancy or other reasons or prefer not to drink during the work week. Whatever your motivations, you’ll find an increasing number of restaurants serving up mocktails for Dryuary 2018 and beyond for diners who want a delicious mixed drink without the buzz.”

TheTakeout.com – Welcome to Dryuary, a five-part series where The Takeout’s Gwen Ihnat navigates the month minus alcohol.
https://thetakeout.com/c/dryuary
“Dryuary week 1: Follow my valiant attempt to plunge into 2018 booze-free. One of the many great lines in Girls Trip is when Regina Hall off-handedly remarks, mid-movie: ‘I think my liver is broken.’ I had the same thought around mid-December.”

Time-Out New York – Here are six non-alcoholic mocktails to get you through Dryuary in NYC
https://www.timeout.com/newyork/news/here-are-six-non-alcoholic-mocktails-to-get-you-through-dryuary-in-nyc-010218
“And, while you could always order a virgin daiquiri or spritz anywhere, these dry innovations come complete with all the garnish, complexity and bite of their boozy brethren without the drunk texts and killer hangovers. What better time than temperance-soaked Dryuary to test-drive the sober route? If only all New Year’s resolutions were this easy to swallow.”

ThisGirlWalksIntoABar – Mocktails for Dryuary (Daily Recipes)
https://www.thisgirlwalksintoabar.com/search?q=dryuary
“This might come as a surprise but we have decided to participate in the growing trend of abstaining from alcoholic beverages for the month of January. Yes. We’re nuts. But even cocktail bloggers need to take a break once in a while.”

Forbes – Not Doing ‘Dryuary’? You Might Want To Reconsider. New Study Shows How Alcohol Damages DNA
https://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriaforster/2018/01/03/not-doing-dryuary-you-might-want-to-reconsider-as-new-study-shows-how-alcohol-damages-dna/
“Those abstaining from alcohol this month now have extra reason to be smug as a new study, published today in Nature sheds light on how alcohol damages DNA and increases the risk of cancer.
Scientists and doctors have previously linked alcohol to an increased risk of developing at least seven types of cancer, and attribute it to causing almost 20,000 cancer deaths in the USA per year, but until now, the exact way in which alcohol damages DNA has not been clear.”

ValleyAdvocate.com – Monte Belmonte Wines: This January, Give Dry a Try
http://valleyadvocate.com/2018/01/02/monte-belmonte-wines-this-january-give-dry-a-try/
“In the aftermath of the holidays, consider giving you liver a little break and instead intoxicate the remaining brain cells in your skull with some binge watching and reading. Keep yourself hydrated, stockpile some milk thistle, and practice a modicum of temperance — at least for ‘Dryuary.’ And next time, we’ll dive into some delicious, deep-dark reds as we head into the doldrums of winter. But for now, my liver is grateful.”

Checkup & Choices – Take a Vacation from Drinking This Dryuary: How To Stop Drinking For One Month
http://checkupandchoices.com/take-a-vacation-from-drinking-this-dryuary-how-to-stop-drinking-for-one-month/
“Most of us are creatures of habit, and certain habits like overdrinking can be a challenge to change. This is why CheckUp &Choices recommends doing a “30”to help change drinking habits.
   Taking a “30” makes a clean break in your lifestyle. Research has shown that taking a vacation from alcohol can reduce your tolerance, and help prevent overdrinking if or when you decide to drink again. You’ll discover drinking triggers that you may not have been aware of, better understand how you rely on alcohol, and take time for activities that bring you joy. Taking a break from drinking helps facilitate self-awareness: a primary step for lasting change.
   So, if you’re ready to reap the benefits of a break from alcohol this January (or “Dryuary” to those who take the month off from drinking) here are ten tips to help you succeed…”

Raptitude.com – Goodbye Booze, For Now
http://www.raptitude.com/2017/01/goodbye-booze-for-now/comment-page-1/
“There seem to be three basic relationships a person can have with drinking. There are drinkers, dabblers and teetotalers.
Teetotalers never touch the stuff. Dabblers may have a glass of wine or a beer now and then, or even regularly, but they only occasionally have enough that they’d have to call a cab. They see drunkenness as an accident, a morally salient line one should avoid crossing. Drinkers get drunk on purpose, and obviously believe it’s worthwhile.”



USNews.com & Yahoo.com/News & Msn.com –
4 Surprising Things That Happen to Your Body During Dryuary

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2017-01-25/4-surprising-things-that-happen-to-your-body-during-dryuary
https://www.yahoo.com/news/4-surprising-things-happen-body-during-dryuary-131924257.html
https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/4-surprising-things-that-happen-to-your-body-during-dryuary/ar-AAme0Ln
Three outlets feature the same article on Dryuary by Journalist Heather Hausenblas:
“People who join in alcohol abstinence challenges like Dryuary tend to drink less – and have greater confidence in their ability to say no to alcohol – once the month is over, according to a 2016 study published in Health Psychology. The researchers also found that a month-long hiatus from booze is unlikely to result in ‘rebound effects,’ or drinking more following the dry spell to ‘make up’ for lost time.”



Handelsblatt.com – DRYUARY – TROCKENER JANUAR
Was ein alkoholfreier Monat alles bringt

http://www.handelsblatt.com/panorama/reise-leben/dryuary-trockener-januar-dry-january-challenge-wer-haelt-durch/19258096-2.html
This is Page 2 of a three part series that features Dryuary:

“Gemeinnützige Organisationen wie Alcohol Concern und Moderation Management in Großbritannien und den USA geben sich seit Jahren Mühe, die Idee zum Trend zu machen. Sie erfanden etliche Kunstworte für den wochenlangen Alkoholverzicht. Neben „Dryuary“ ist auch zum Beispiel „Drynuary“ häufig zu finden.”
(“Non-profit organizations such as Alcohol Concern and Moderation Management in the UK and the USA give for years effort to make the idea of the trend. They invented some artificial words for the week-long alcohol dispensation. In addition to “dryuary”, for example “drynuary” is often found.”)

PourModels.com intro to Dryuary TV Segement

PourModels.com intro to Dryuary TV Segement (Click for Page)

AleanElston.com – 3 Dryuary Recipes from my TV segment on What’s On Tap
http://aleanelston.com/2017/01/3-dryuary-recipes-from-my-tv-segment-on-whats-on-tap/
Local TV, South Jersey News – See the “What’s On Tap” episode HERE. (Jump to 10:02 for the segment.)
“Somehow somebody let me back on TV! lol If you are reading this its probably because you are looking for the information about the Dryuary products that I talked about on What’s On Tap. And if you are here by chance or because you missed that episode, don’t forget to check it out by clicking here. Here goes!”

Tctmd.com – Be It Resolved: How Alcohol Harms or Helps the Heart Remains Controversial—and Confusing
https://www.tctmd.com/news/be-it-resolved-how-alcohol-harms-or-helps-heart-remains-controversial-and-confusing
“Broadly speaking, we know that alcohol at that one to two standard drinks per day level in men and one standard drink in women has proven benefits in reducing the incidence of heart attacks, reducing the incidence of cardiovascular mortality, and even reducing total mortality and stroke,” Kistler said. “But it’s a J-shaped curve, so as we go beyond four to five standard drinks per day then [alcohol] becomes dangerous. And I do think we, as physicians, kind of struggle with implementing that moderation message.”

Blog: GodWalkedIntoThisBar.blogspot.com – Dryuary Countdown Special
https://godwalkedintothisbar.blogspot.com/2017/01/dryuary-countdown-special.html
“The book that 4 people are talking about! Available on Amazon for $.99 for the next 5 days.
Guaranteed results if you read this book! (okay, you can’t just read it, you have to do some other things, too. This recovery thing just doesn’t happen by reading, although I spent many years just ‘reading’ about it.)”

TheChronicleHerald.ca, Halifax Canada – Alcohol-free: ‘Dryuary’ trend gains momentum
http://thechronicleherald.ca/artslife/1431308-alcohol-free-%E2%80%98dryuary%E2%80%99-trend-gains-momentum
“Don’t be surprised if your friends decline an invite to the wine bar or turn down a cold beer this month. Dry January is becoming a popular way to detox after holiday indulgences and start the new year on a healthier note.
The New York Times recently profiled a man who has been practising a booze-free January on his own for the last decade. He believes a month without alcohol allows him to sleep better, have lucid dreams, and lose about 10 pounds.
But for those who thrive with peer support, there’s Dryuary. The annual event started in 2014 and more than 5,000 people have participated so far — vowing to abstain from alcohol for the month of January.”

TheLuxicon.com – Surviving Dryuary
http://theluxicon.co/surviving-dryuary/
“I don’t take issue with this practice alone or the notion that it’s sometimes necessary to scale back on indulgence. Dryuary, Drynuary or Dry January, all of which sound disturbingly close to a medical condition that one ought to avoid, approaches obnoxious when one cannot complete the task of abstaining one month without continuous reminders on Twitter, Insta, Snap, FB and any and all other platforms which presents an opportunity to visually shout, “I’m better than you!” ”

Wired.com – Delicious Non-Boozy Beer, Wine, and Spirits for Dry January
https://www.wired.com/2017/01/delicious-non-boozy-beer-wine-spirits-dry-january/
“The first weekend of Dry January is upon us, which means you may find yourself more tempted than usual to reach for a drink. Pro-tip: Find alternatives you can get excited about. Here are some brilliantly conceived beverages you’ll be delighted to drink—even when you’re not being a sober soldier.”

Vice.com – How to Not Be an A**hole if You’re Doing Dryuary
https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/how-to-not-be-an-asshole-if-youre-doing-dryuary
“Quitting booze for one month a year doesn’t make you a hero.
I, like many others who went far too hard on the rum and eggnogs in December, will be ringing in 2017 with Dryuary, aka Drynuary, the annual tradition Urban Dictionary describes as ‘the art of not drinking alcohol for the entire month of January.’ And it’s an art indeed.”

Chicago Tribune – Chicago bars have mocktails at the ready as Dry January catches on
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-dry-january-chicago-bars-0105-biz-20170105-story.html
“A month without drinking can feel long and arduous to some, especially when that month is January in Chicago. The days are short, the cold is unrelenting and a cocktail or two might seem like a good cure for the winter blues. Yet five years after Dry January launched in England, it’s catching on in Chicago, and scores of folks are depriving themselves of alcohol for 31 chilly days. Call it a new year’s resolution, a cleanse or a money-saving tactic. Whatever it is, Chicago bars are prepared, mocktails at the ready.”

YourBestWorstFriend.com – Everybody’s Sober But Me
http://www.yourbestworstfriend.com/home/2017/1/4/everybodys-sober-but-me
“I’m going to learn how to treat drinking as a nice thing to do occasionally. I am going to say no. I am going to sit in discomfort and nerves and learn how to deal with them in different ways. I am going to wonder if I’m saying the smart thing at the party. I’m going to be more jittery on the subway. I’m going to think more about my interactions.”

Yahoo Sports – “Dry Jan”, Week 1: Breaking Up With Booze
http://sports.yahoo.com/news/dry-jan-week-1-breaking-093900338.html
“If you think you can’t stop drinking, you should probably try to do it,” a close friend told me back in September. The friend was, at the time, celebrating one year sober with the help of AA. Now, I’ve been given a lot of advice about my drinking over the years, but it’s often the type I choose to ignore: “We’re going home after this one,” my friend will say as I order another round of tequila shots; “Maybe you’d have enough money to buy a house if you didn’t spend it all on alcohol,” quip my hilarious parents.

ApartmentTherapy.com – I’m Taking on Dryuary and Abstaining from Alcohol for the Month
http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/real-life-resolution-giving-up-drinking-for-dryuary-240047
“People don’t even agree on how this thing is spelled—Drynuary, Dryuary—so I’m not going into it thinking everyone will agree with my choice. Some experts say Dryuary, as we’ll be spelling it here, encourages binge drinking. Others say it’s one of the best ways to kick off a healthy new year. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in between.”

OhSoBeautifulPaper.com – A Mock Tai
http://ohsobeautifulpaper.com/2016/01/friday-happy-hour-a-mock-tai-mocktail-recipe/
“So, last month’s exploration of classic cocktails was cut a little short. We decided, with very little notice, to undertake a major house renovation project, the complete redo of our only full bathroom. Over the holidays. Yeah, we’re smart people. Anyway, we’re back this month to do something we’ve never done before: spend some time trying out mocktail recipes. Yup. This January is now Dry-uary. Let’s start with a mocktail version of one of our favorite Tiki drinks: A Mock Tai – Andrew”

GoBankingRates.com – Taking the Dryuary Challenge: How Much Americans Drink and Spend on Booze
https://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/taking-dryuary-challenge-much-americans-drink-spend-booze/
“Most American adults spend $463 per year on alcoholic beverages.
If a month of holiday parties makes you want to swear off alcohol for a while, you’re not alone. Thousands of people across the U.S. participate in Dryuary, taking a pledge not to drink alcohol in January. Although some take part in the New Year’s resolution to achieve a feeling of control over their habits and life, taking a 31-day alcoholiday also makes financial sense.”

MedicalDaily.com – Life Without Alcohol: 2 Women, One 30-Day Physical And Mental Challenge
http://www.medicaldaily.com/life-without-alcohol-2-women-one-30-day-physical-and-mental-challenge-307734
“Every study I’ve ever read straight up says this is bad, unhealthy behavior — a strain on every organ in your body that can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and liver disease. For the life of me, though, I cannot color within the lines every single time.”

HuffingtonPost – Could You Survive One Month Without Alcohol? Here’s How I Made It
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-and-debbie-abbott/could-you-survive-just-on_b_5864424.html
“I’m still just as fun as before. And, so are you. So, don’t alter your plans.”

HuffingtonPost – How To Stay Social While Cutting Out Alcohol For ‘Drynuary’
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/08/drynuary_n_6438672.html
[It was] a month of exploring our city, going to places we normally otherwise wouldn’t, maybe explore instead of going to the restaurant or bar. It was fun.”

UrbanDictionary.com – Dryuary
The art of not drinking alcohol for the entire month of January. Participation normally arises on the 1st January from all walks of life along with phrases like ‘I will never drink again’.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Dryuary

Slate.com – What a Psychologist Specializing in Addiction Treatment Thinks About Drynuary
http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2015/01/19/drynuary_and_moderation_management_s_dryuary_a_psychologist_specializing.html

EveryDayHealth.com – ‘Dryuary’: Taking a Month Off the Sauce
http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/trevis-gleason-life-with-multiple-sclerosis/dryuary-month-off-alcohol/

University of Washington – “Dryuary” 2014
https://www.washington.edu/wholeu/2014/01/21/dryuary-2014/

Business Insider – Dry January is terrible and you should stop doing it
http://www.businessinsider.com/dry-january-is-terrible-2016-1

Refinery29.com – Quit Drinking For A Month — & These 12 Things Happened
http://www.refinery29.com/quit-drinking-for-a-month#slide

Seattle Times  – Dry January Reactions: Shaken and Stirred
http://www.seattletimes.com/life/dry-january-reactions-shaken-and-stirred/

Dry January Tips from “Eat This”
http://www.eatthis.com/dry-january-tips

Time Magazine – Here’s What Happens When You Give Up Drinking for New Year’s
http://time.com/4162629/new-years-resolution-drinking/?xid=emailshare

NPR – Dry January: Giving Up Booze For A Month Does Have Benefits
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/01/21/264568151/dry-january-giving-up-booze-for-a-month-does-have-benefits 

TheFix.com – 7 Ways to Prepare For An Alcohol Free January
https://www.thefix.com/how-do-dry-january

PsychCentral.com – Self-Care: Stop Neglecting Yourself
http://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2016/01/for-2016-stop-neglecting-yourself/ 

InquiringMind.com – Urge Surfing – Substance-use urges rarely last longer than 30 minutes
http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/SurfingTheUrge.html

The Moderation Management Public Forum – About Lapses and Relapses
http://forum.moderation.org/showthread.php?63258-Lapses-amp-Relapses

Ocsober.com.au – Mocktails from a Mixologist in Oz
http://ocsober.com.au/about/mocktails/

REFERENCE BOOKS:
Good reading material, filled with knowledge and support for transformation

Responsible Drinking
by Frederick Rotgers Psy.D., Marc F. Kern Ph.D., & Rudy Hoeltzel
Good reading material, filled with knowledge and support for transformation
http://www.moderation.org/readings/books.html#responsibledrinking

Changing for Good

by Prochaska, Norcross, and DiClemente
The authors describe the stages of change and what must be done at each stage before moving on to the next.
http://www.moderation.org/readings/books.html#changeforgood

Sober for Good: New Solutions For Drinking Problems
by Anne M. Fletcher
For this best-selling book, author Anne Fletcher went straight to the experts: hundreds of men and women who have resolved a drinking problem.
http://www.moderation.org/readings/books.html#soberforgood

How to Control Your Drinking 2nd Edition
By William R. Miller, Ph.D., and Ricardo F. Munoz, Ph.D.
Many professionals in the alcohol field now accept that moderation is a reasonable and responsible goal for some (though certainly not all) people seeking to control their use of alcohol and to avoid developing more serious drinking problems. We have found that early stage problem drinkers can be quite successful in learning moderation.
http://www.moderation.org/readings/books.html#controlyourdrinking

Moderation Management “Steps of Change”
by Rudy Hoeltzel
Many of the people who look into MM have already tried to get rid of their drinking problem with a big, all-at-once effort of the will – but without success. This program takes quite a different approach. The better approach is to break the change process down into a number of smaller, more manageable steps.
(A free download, PDF)
http://www.moderation.org/about_mm/steps_of_change.html

DRYUARY FORUM:

 

 

 

 

Well, Hush My Mouth! Dryuary Shirts Are Still Available!

I was telling everyone that the Dryuary Shirts were no longer available, but someone went and ordered a Dryuary 2019 AFAF shirt and the campaign re-opened. So, if holiday season is already starting to wear you down and you’re starting to look with bleary eyes at Dryuary 2019 as the shoreline you want to wash ashore on after an arduous swim in the Holiday Sea of Booze, there’s a clean, dry shirt waiting for you!
 
Make sure to order early enough to get it in time for Dryuary 2019!
 
Here are the links:

No Excuse Necessary! Buy A Dryuary 2019 Shirt

In other parts of the world, Alcohol-Free months such as Dry July or Oct-sober are used to raise funds for other charitable causes.  We decided that our Dryuary partipants can choose their own cause. If they want,  they can build their own team, and their shirts, in their team colors, can represent any cause they want!

No More Excuses, Just Darn Good Reasons Not To Drink For A Month!

Want to donate the money you save from not drinking this month to Make A Wish? We adore you!

Want to buy a family in an impoverished village a goat or a herd of goats? We applaud you!

Want to buy yourself a new pair of running shoes to contribute to your own well-being? You rock!

Want to use your extra money to rescue a puppy from the pound? Ahhh…

Buy a shirt, change the world!

Orders must be submitted before November 28, 2018! Here’s the links to the shirts!

Dryuary AFAF 2019 Shirts link:

https://www.bonfire.com/dryuary-afaf-2019/

And, for Sunday dinner with Mom:

https://www.bonfire.com/no-thanks-im-dry-ving-dryuary-2019-1/

A minimum order of 5 of each shirt is necessary to print. If minimum is not met, a full refund is issued. But we’re not worried, we’re going to start a fashion revolution! The Dryuary 2019 AFAF Shirt is going to print! We only need 3 more orders of the No Thanks I’m Dry-ving shirt!