According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Addiction, High-intensity drinking is defined as “consuming alcohol at levels that are two or more times the gender-specific binge drinking thresholds.” They go on to say thatpeople who drank alcohol at twice the gender-specific binge drinking thresholds were 70-x more likely to have an alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visit. Those who consumed alcohol at 3 times the gender-specific binge thresholds were 93-x more likely to have an alcohol-related ED visit.”
Holidays are the excuse we use as we watched with great anticipation, that sparkling, golden goodness called alcohol (or beer, or wine) gravitate to us. There was the dripping cold sweat of an ice-cold beer, or the seductive lure of enticing wine that we swallowed in anticipation of the new heights of grandeur. Each swallow blurred the edges for us between what-is, and what is notour reality until our assessment of now, vanished, disappearing before us…
That was my life. As I spun that Wheel of Fortune bottle, I watched my liquid magic gurgle to life in my glass. In this self-induced trance, I knew that bottle held the secret imaginings of my success. I saw myself on the rooftop of life until I despaired as the last drop disappear down my throat, never wanting the dreams to disappear. So near to me was the promise of completeness, and yet, so far away.
I spun that big Wheel for over 30 years while my last drunk brought me to my knees to God, (my personal Gift of Desperation) in a way I never felt before.
With a few 24-sober years accumulated, I’d like to share what continues to work for me to brace against that first drink.
Maybe you’ll hear one of these tools speak to you? These are but a few. Please do add your own. If you’re new or know someone who is new and could use them, pass them on. They may help someone else feel safe, potentially saving a life:
- If you don’t pick up the first drink, you won’t get drunk! Huhhh? Sounds “trite,” But each time you drink, it’s not how MUCH you drink that pulls you under, it’s what that first drink does for you! Alcohol continues to be the solution to most all of our pain and suffering, and let’s not forget, self-loathing! It is the elixir that frees us from ourself: our scared, emotional, immature selves and gives us instead, that feeling that we’ve arrived in a way we never felt before.
- You have no idea the damage that’s possible
AFTER that first drink! I can assure you as a blackout drinker, this is true. Did you kill or injure someone? Steal money? Lie, fight or ripped your clothes off in front of a crowd? Land in jail as if in a nightmare? Oh, and there’s more. If you can be honest, you’re either fortunate or in denial. The ones who never make it in recovery often experience acute, mental and physical suffering while denial leads the pack.
- Don’t “romance the drink.”If you are newly sober this one’s for you: When with others, realize that no one cares WHAT you’re drinking, so long as it doesn’t interfere with their drinking! Prepare yourself ahead of time and be smart: carry soda water, iced tea, and don’t stay longer than you must.
- Examine your Motives for Participating: Are you orchestrating the Holiday event? Will you be receiving aMost Versatile Player Award? Do you have something to prove or are you attending to not disappoint others? All of these would be considered wrong reasons for being there, because (a) you’re just not that important, and (b) after the 2nd or 3rd drink, no one is going to care or notice you’re there or already gone. Don’t let your ego tell you of your self-imposed importance.
But if you have a drinking concern, you should care. Ask yourself this question: “Is going more important than my serenity, emotional security and sobriety? Protecting your sobriety is the single most important thing you can do. That holiday function, along with others will come and go. And it’s no one’s business what your plans are! You have an obligation to protect you!
5.Bring Your Own Car. No easier way to get out a-Dodge then to have your own set of wheels. You really ARE in charge, and protecting your hard-fought sobriety must come first regardless of situations and people around us.
6.Bring some hard sugar-free candy with you. Candy helps to ease the pressure of anxiety, and self-consciousness, making it easier to change our attention to something else other than what we THINK others are thinking about us. (Because…. they’re not, it’s our ego dancing for joy, preparing itself for the drink we think will save us from ourselves!)
7. THINK the drink through to the other side. Prepare yourself ahead of time by practicing in front of the mirror. What will you say if sweet Aunt Betty corners you in hopes you’ll get her a drink? She asks, “Would you mind dahlin?” Practice saying NO. Consider asking someone else to get it for her. You cannot, rather, should not, put yourself and your sobriety in that position–in ANY position that could compromise your sobriety.
8. Have Telephone Numbers at the Ready and Use Them. This is one of the reasons sponsors harp about learning to pick up the telephone. More than once it has saved my life and it will save yours too. But YOU have to do the work.
10. Remember, when it’s all said and done, this is just another day like any other with the exception of the spiritual and family undertones of resentments that ring with it. Holidays are hard for everyone (no, we have no monopoly on pain although we think we do). However, the control and the power you desire is already within you, to walk through them clean and sober if that’s your goal.
If staying sober is the most important thing in your life? Then you will stay-sober!I don’t know anyone who has taken control of their life in this manner
and not succeeded.
11. PLEASE, recite this after me: “We only have to stay sober JUST FOR THE REST OF THIS DAY.” This is the miracle of sobriety! And this is how it works:
Not New Year’s Day, Christmas Eve, With- or Without Family, at an upcoming funeral or event: Just, for the rest of today. So, count how many more hours of the day you have left where your feet are, (subtract sleeping, eating, working.) Now you’re left with several little hours. Who can’t stay sober just for these few remaining hours? We stay sober just for the rest of today because tomorrow isn’t born yet.
12. I used to tell folks who want to quit, to put a rubber band around their wrist and whenever that sinking feeling in their stomach starts to twist your thinking, snap that band and change what you’re doing! Help someone else, visit folks in a physical rehab center, a hospital, do something nice for someone, bake cookies, send out holiday greeting cards, reach up and out of your comfort zone and try something different. Because these tools work if you’re willing to work them.
13. The single solitary fact remains: IF YOU HAVE 24-hours under your belt already, there is NO reason why you cannot stay sober again! It is the perfect opportunity to PRACTICE THE PRINCIPLES OF SOBRIETY IN ALL YOUR AFFAIRS. And from the moment you wake in the morning, life is nothing but one big practice lesson. It is your THINKING that wants to make or break you!
Your thinking has one mission and one mission only: to see you fail.
OUR SELF-CENTERED EGO is doing pushups outside the door waiting for your vulnerability, of being scared, and fearful enough, for you to fail! Without some “thing” bigger than you to count on for help? The chances of it succeeding are pretty good.
So, the moral of this story is this: IF by a miracle we are still alive tomorrow, we hit our knees in thanks, asking for help for another day sober, and ask that thing bigger than us to keep us sober for this day only. It’s as simple as that. If you live to ‘see’ tomorrow, begin again on your knees.
Make up your own personal safety guide, or add to this, and then share this with others. You will be helping not just you, but the other person having a tough time too. But with your help, they might stay sober another day!
14.Check yourself into rehab. Yeah, you heard right. We think when we’re inebriated, that we have life by (well, you know where,) but that’s where the danger begins:
- Many of us return to wherever home is and never wake up, dying from a drug-induced overdose of alcohol, drugs, while enduring a heart-attack, liver or kidney shutdown, driving while drunk, as the list gets worse from here.
- Rehab, or even a short-term detox center is the very BEST way to safely sober up. Unless you know how long you’ve been drinking and your medical condition, you could be in trouble going it alone.
- By allowing medical professionals to check your BAL (blood alcohol level); your other vitals, and determine how to bring you out and down safely, you’re letting yourself know that you really ARE worth something.
- If you cherish your family and others who care for you, this is a great time to do yourself a favor. While you’re at it, consider asking for a physical since chances are you’ve been putting it off to drink instead.
- When you’re released, jump into the next-right-thing and get to a meeting where others just like you are waiting to embrace your courage!Repeat after me: ‘THERE IS NOTHING IN THIS WORLD THAT A DRINK WILL MAKE BETTER tomorrow.” Yeahhhh, you may find that euphoric rush of adrenaline we live for in the moment. Although the truth is, after that first drink it’s downhill from there because we can’t stop! NOTHING GETS BETTER WITH ALCOHOL–beginning with ourselves!15, LASTLY, know that you never have to be alone again. There are others, (millions of us) just like you, who are dying of loneliness and think a drink will make that loneliness go away which, of course–it never ever will. But what will take us out of ourselves is being with others just like ourselves who understand that one drink is too many, and a hundred is never enough.
Look up a local AA meeting which is where the heart of recovery begins for us and go. You are under no obligation to say a thing other than listen and be with others. Of course, someone is ready to answer any questions should you have them or just be an observer.
The secret is, while you’re there with us, you won’t go “there,”–to the corner bar or liquor store. And trying a meeting of your choice may be the very best that could ever happen to you. Together WE STAY SOBER. Alone in our heads we get to die a disgusting, agonizing lonely death.
Your very life may depend upon what you do next because believe it or not”‘you’re deserving of sobering up, or you wouldn’t be reading this.
YOU, ARE the Miracle you’ve been waiting for!
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