Many of you have been following along on my journey of kicking alcohol to the curb. I thought I would share a few of the things I have learned on my journey over the past few months and some tips and tricks for starting this process and continued success. As someone who has struggled on and off with alcohol, it’s been a long and winding road to get to where I am today, a culmination of events, decisions and experiments to find and see what works for me.
Here’s a summary of what led me to where I am today. Please don’t read these as excuses, they are not, I hold myself fully accountable for my own decisions and actions. I also think it’s important to look at where habits and beliefs might come from. And share so that others don’t feel so alone. It can feel like a lonely journey to be on sometimes. You are not alone.
- Starting with my childhood memories of seeing parents, family and other adults close to me getting drunk at celebrations, family gatherings, funerals, and more, definitely contributed to the initial belief that it’s ok, normal and accepted to drink excessively at any function.
- Going to a college where I first learned what “work hard, play hard” meant. Where every high functioning student and athlete seemed to be drinking excessively and still thriving. I thought this was the way to live successfully. In addition to being “different” from those that went to boarding or private school, maybe had a school legacy or well-known last name, I felt I had to drink to fit in, to feel socially adept and acceptable. (I now know that this is not true, but that’s for another conversation).
- Moving to Los Angeles, post-graduation, bartending on Melrose in Hollywood, to afford art school and life. Though this might have been one of the more fun and crazy times of my life (from what I can remember), I also remember being miserable, sad, lonely and extremely depressed. I hurt dear friends, made poor choices and just plain didn’t like myself. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I was in LA for 10 years. The first 5 years I was a shell of who I am now. This is when I first explored my first AA meeting and making friends that were sober. I also found a therapist that specialized in addiction, which helped, but after a certain point this seemed to plateau for me and I wasn’t getting any more out of it. And though I feel like the second 5 years of my life in LA were significantly different than the previous 5, I still had A LOT of work in front of me. My last real job as a graphic designer in LA was at a notable tech start-up in Santa Monica. The 2-martini-mad-men-lunch was a regular thing, any day Monday-Friday. Additionally, there were so many other events centered around drinking to either get us to stay and work late or simply attend and not groan (FYI, groaning still happened, it just happened with a glass of wine in hand).
- Upon getting married to the most wonderful man (that doesn’t drink much - think 1-2 drinks a month) and moving to Denver, CO, shortly after, in 2015, I decided to try a whole 365 days without alcohol and wrote all about it here. My hopes were that this would kick a bad habit and help to instill better ones, so I could pick it up again and not have such rigid rules, thoughts or desires around alcohol. This worked for a while, but a couple years later I found myself still drinking more than I liked, 1-2 glasses of wine a night with the occasional binge drinking and hangover.
- Over Memorial Day of this year, I was at a wedding and though no black-outs happened, nothing bad was said, and really nothing to report happened, I woke up the next day with a debilitating hangover and the general thought that alcohol no longer had a place in my life. Today marks day 66 of my sobriety. I don’t call myself an alcoholic. I have no problem with that term or anyone that uses it to define themselves. It’s not for me. I think of myself more as a problem drinker, someone who abused alcohol to cover up the feelings I no longer wished to feel and escape thoughts I no longer wished to hear. I thought it helped me relax, but really it helped me check out. I no longer want to numb myself with anything, but feel what I feel, think what I think and address it all head on with clarity. I am doing a lot of work through nutrition, herbs, journaling, meditating, and spiritual healing.
As someone who’s been on this journey for a while, gone through ups and downs, trials and errors, I have a lot of great tips and tricks to help with any stage of the journey you might be on. Here’s a few of my top tips and tricks to help fight cravings and cutting back or quitting alcohol. However, if you need or want more personalized holistic care in this area, I would be nothing but honored to share what I know and help in any way I can, even if that is only a hand or ear that you need. I will say it again, you are not alone. I know. I have been there.
1. Add healthy fats into your diet. *NEWSFLASH* Fat doesn’t make you fat! Healthy fats like olives, coconut, avocados, nuts, seeds and yes, even grass-fed butter, are a great way to balance your blood sugar so that you aren’t causing huge spikes throughout the day. These spikes can and will cause those salty and sugar cravings, especially at night. Plus, it will help you absorb those fat-soluble nutrients and keep you full longer by slowing your digestion down. Try adding 1-2 tablespoons of one of these healthy fats to every meal and see how good you feel!
2. Add some herbs into your life! A few of the top herbs for helping with cravings and cutting back on alcohol or any addiction are kava kava, lemon balm, fenugreek, rose, ashwagandha, oatstraw, tulsi, motherwort and damiana. Just to name a few. You can drink any of these in tea form (minimum 2 cups per day), tincture (alcohol or glycerin extracts) or capsules. A few out there I like are Stress Manager by Herb Pharm, Stress Response by Gaia Herbs or Adrenal Response by Innate Response.
3. Get 7-9 hours of regular sleep. This is so key in the health and wellness world. Sleep does so many things for our bodies and minds, it cannot be underestimated. Yet it’s just not one of those sexy tips. In fact, I know when people find out my bedtime schedule they regularly laugh at me. Sleep to only resets our blood sugar, helps balance our hormones, keep out mental health stable, gives our digestion a rest, plus this is when our liver and kidneys detox and so much more! If you need tips for getting better sleep try some herbal tea, a bath, eye mask for darkness, setting a bedtime routine and/or ditching those electronics 30-60 minutes before lights out.
4. Supplement your diet with some key nutrients. I have a couple favorites for cravings and addictions, they are a good B-Complex and Magnesium. When we are stress physically and/or emotionally our body draws energy to cope with it mostly in the form of B-vitamins and magnesium. I like Thorne Stress B-Complex or MegaFoods Adult B-Centered and Magnesium Calm. The other one I love is L-Glutamine. This amino-acid is great at so many things. For cravings of any kind, sugar, alcohol, you name it, take it on an empty stomach when you are feeling that craving and it can stop that craving in its tracks. The powdered form is the best for this type of use. You can add up to 5 grams into some water with a little lemon or lime! I love the Thorne Research Products, Powdered or Capsules.
5. Find the root cause. Many things we experience are often symptoms of something else. Just like high cholesterol doesn’t just happen, there is a “why” behind it. With excessive drinking or any addiction or habit, there is always a root cause behind it. That could be anything from blood sugar imbalances to childhood experiences to nutritional deficiencies. Exploring what the root cause is where the real work is done. Once this is uncovered real healing can begin. So how do you do that? My experience is getting quiet, try meditation, journaling, movement, and more.
My hope is that something here can help you as it did me. You’re never alone. If you ever need more support I can always be reached here. Or try picking up the phone to call your best friend, get outside to go for a walk, or just listen to some of your favorite music. Be strong!
Theodore Roosevelt once said “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well."