Once you’ve gotten a period of time alcohol-free, how do you protect your sobriety and avoid relapse?
It’s a question I get all the time from my sober coaching clients and one I have personal experience navigating, both successfully and unsuccessfully.
The first time I stopped drinking I managed to get through those first few weeks of sobriety and even got a few months alcohol-free.
I checked out some AA meetings, joined an online booze-free group and even made some sober friends. I told my husband that I had stopped drinking and got through a trip to Nantucket with college friends alcohol-free.
And then, as the hangovers and anxiety faded and my memories of waking up and hating myself were further in the rearview mirror, I wondered if I had overreacted with this whole “I have a drinking problem and I need to stop” thing.
✨ Maybe my overdrinking was situational, not permanent…
✨ Maybe I could drink again “like a normal person” because I was happier and more emotionally stable.
✨ A glass of wine or two on a date night should be no big deal, right?
And with that I dove right back into the drinking cycle…
And it was with that thought process that I moved from the mental phase of relapse to the physical phase of relapse and decided to go back to drinking. At the time I didn’t actually consider it a “relapse”, but rather an experiment. I wanted to see if I was fixed and could moderate alcohol after a period of time alcohol-free.
So I ordered a glass of wine on a date night with my husband. And then the next Friday night I brought home a bottle of wine. And eventually a Tuesday night (or a hard day or a good day or because I was alone at home with no kids or because I was alone at home with the kids or because my husband was irritating me or because my husband and I were in a good place) seemed like a good reason to drink.
It took me almost 2 years to stop drinking again after my relapse. But only in looking back now do I see that my relapse started long before I ordered that glass of wine at the restaurant.
I know from personal experience and from working with hundreds of women in private coaching that coming back to sobriety after a relapse is not easy or guaranteed, so I want to give you the tools to prevent a relapse before it happens and to make it easier to get sober momentum again if you do start drinking.
And so, I asked Angela Pugh, a master life coach with 15 years working in addiction and recovery as an interventionist and trainer and the host of the Addiction Unlimited Podcast to explore the three stages of relapse: emotional, mental and physical, how to recognize each and how to utilize new coping skills to stay on the alcohol-free path instead of going back to drinking.
In this episode, Angela and I discuss:
The three stages of relapse: emotional, mental and physical
- Warning signs of relapse and the best ways to prevent it at each stage
- How to navigate the tricky 30 day sobriety milestone
- What to do when you hit 4 months and 6 months as the novelty of recovery wears off
- Why setting boundaries and communicating your needs is critical to safeguarding your sobriety
- How to stop seeing alcohol as your solution to problems
- The good news about relapse rates declining over time as living an alcohol-free life becomes your new normal
- How to nurture your physical, emotional and mental well-being
- How to plan ahead for triggering situations to prevent relapse
Here are the three stages of relapse: emotional, mental and physical
The Emotional Stage of Relapse:
In the emotional stage of relapse you start feeling emotions that can lead you back to drinking.
You might find yourself falling into old patterns of negative thinking or self-doubt. You might feel overwhelmed, anxious, hopeless, angry or resentful. Often you’re taking care of everyone around you and not taking care of yourself.
When you are in the emotional stage of relapse it’s time to take really good care of yourself. Tools to enlist might be meditation, journaling, exercise, therapy, coaching, getting outdoors in nature, antianxiety or depression medications. You need to get yourself back to an emotional “green zone”.
Self-care is critical in the emotional stage of relapse so you can find healthy coping mechanisms, build resilience and feel better.
The Mental Stage of Relapse:
In the mental stage of relapse you might actively start thinking about drinking.
Thoughts that might show up in the mental stage of relapse might be “Maybe I could have a drink now or maybe I’ll just do 30 days alcohol free, and then I’ll be okay. I could probably control my drinking now that it’s been a while. I’ll just drink on special occasions a few times a year. Maybe I’ll drink on this vacation and start again when I get home”. In the mental stage of relapse you’re bargaining with yourself as to when you will drink again. Telling someone about your thoughts and understanding why you want to drink again are key to moving through the mental stage of relapse without diving back into the drinking cycle.
The Physical Stage of Relapse:
The physical stage of relapse is when you’re about to take a drink. You’re picking up wine at the grocery store or heading to the liquor store. You’re at the bar and have ordered a drink. Or you’ve had a drink and are trying to make it a slip not a full dive back into the drinking cycle.
Angela talks about the hundreds of choices we make before we get to physical relapse. When you’re thinking about drinking, in the mental stage of relapse, you can choose to distract yourself, eat something, tell someone that you’re struggling, go for a walk, watch a movie, take a nap, etc. However, when you’re at the physical stage of relapse, connection is what you need. Reach out and connect with someone to protect your sobriety and distract yourself until the danger of drinking passes.
Resources mentioned in the episode
3 Ways I Can Support You In Drinking Less + Living More
Join The Sobriety Starter Kit, the only sober coaching course designed specifically for busy women.
My proven, step-by-step sober coaching program will teach you exactly how to stop drinking — and how to make it the best decision of your life.
Save your seat in my FREE MASTERCLASS, 5 Secrets To Successfully Take a Break From Drinking
Grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking, 30 Tips For Your First Month Alcohol-Free.
Connect with Angela Pugh
After bartending her way across Hollywood and Beverly Hills, Angela was in over her head with a drinking problem that was relentless. She got sober in 2006 and dedicated her life to helping others do the same.
She has spent the last 15 years working in addiction/recovery as an Interventionist and trainer, and now serves as a Master Life Coach, host of the nationally-ranked Addiction Unlimited Podcast, national speaker, and entrepreneur.
Connect with Angela and learn how she can support you on your sobriety journey at www.angelapugh.com
Listen and Subscribe to The Addiction Unlimited Podcast
Follow Addiction Unlimited on Instagram @addictionunlimited
Connect with Casey
Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!
Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
3 Stages of Relapse + How To Protect Your Sobriety With Angela Pugh
Coaching Program, part of the process, 12 steps, meeting, learning, Sober Coach, quit drinking, habit, do the work, self-esteem, empowered, rock bottom moment, podcasts, online communities, Dry January, Dry July, Alcohol-Free April’s, Sober October, Recovery Month, one year no beer, tools, the awareness, one day at a time, build habit, build identity, coping tools, keep your foundations, Alcohol Use Disorder, early intervention, relationship with alcohol, drinking cycle, getting sober, staying sober, self-improvement, journey, you are a badass, keep improving, accountability, Good Hip Sobriety, perspective, self-care, bucket list, victim mindset, replenishing your resources, meditation, journaling, exercising, boundaries, taking care of yourself, renegotiate, recalibrate, energy, green zone, how to say no, start identifying what emotion you’re feeling, thrive, willingness to try, choice, the only thing that’s going to save you is connection, call someone, give yourself a moment to pause, release angsty energy, reach out for help, quitting drinking, willpower, 3 Stages Of Relapse, emotional, mental, physical, protect, sobriety
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Angela Pugh
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
Hi there. Today we’re talking about a subject that I know is really important because so many of you listening to this podcast, we’re going to talk about
The 3 stages of relapse and how to protect your sobriety.
Once you’ve gotten some sober momentum going once you’ve gotten a couple of weeks, a couple months, even a year, or more alcohol-free.
So, my guest today is Angela Pugh. You might know her from The Addiction Unlimited Podcast.
Angela, after bartending her way across Hollywood and Beverly Hills, was in over her head with a drinking problem that was relentless. She got sober in 2006 and dedicated her life to helping others do the same. Angela has spent the last 15 years working in Addiction and Recovery as an interventionist and a Trainer, and now serves as a Master Life Coach, host of the nationally ranked Addiction Unlimited podcast, national speaker, and entrepreneur.
Hi, Casey, thank you so much for having me.
Casey McGuire Davidson 02:34
Yeah, you’re so welcome. I reached out to you, because I heard you talk on this subject about the 3 Stages of Relapse. And it’s so important, both as a topic, and for people to recognize what’s happening in their sobriety so they can intervene before they dive back in the drinking cycle.
Yeah, I always think this topic is so important because you hear so many people say like, oh, I ended up with a drink. And I don’t even know how I got there. I don’t even know how it happened, you know? And really, the truth is, there are all of these things happening before you ever end up with a drink, even in your hand. And to be able to step in and like you said, intervene before you get the drink in your hand is really powerful when you’re trying to, I love what you said, some sober momentum. You know, when you’re trying to get that sober momentum, you have to recognize these pieces and know how to keep it from getting out of control.
Casey McGuire Davidson 03:33
Yeah, absolutely. And I loved when I heard you discuss it. And I know you’re going to dive into it and teach us about this. But how? There are 3 phases – the emotional, the mental, and the physical, and also how important it is to reach those milestones like one year and five years, because your ability to maintain sobriety just goes up exponentially once you hit those big milestones.
Yeah, for sure. I think the importance to me of that first year is really there are so many firsts in the first year because we’re doing all of these things with a clear mind, right, which we most of us haven’t done in a long, long time. So, when you get through that first year, it’s getting through all of the celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, the seasons, and all the different things that come with all the seasons. You really have to get where you’re standing on solid ground with those basics, you know, and it is all that stuff kind of comes out you from every direction. So, the first year is huge. And I hear people say a lot to her though, like one year especially when you have a lot of years people will kind of minimize themselves when they hit the year. And I’m like are you kidding me like that first year? It’s major.
First 30 days, oh, the first 30 days. But I think I was still in shock at 30 days for sure I was still kind of in shock, like, Am I really doing this, you know, because I had never been committed to anything other than drinking. So, for me at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days to see myself committed, and showing up every day, and continuing to do it day after day was shocking, because I have done that with anything else.
Casey McGuire Davidson 05:35
I mean, I think in my experiences, well, the first time, I sort of actually tried and got support and got a period of time without alcohol, I probably got about four months. And then I got pregnant, so I was alcohol-free for a year. But I am pretty positive that four months and I would have drank had I not gotten pregnant because I was already starting to do that like slow shuffle away from my commitment to, oh my gosh, I need to stop drinking from the people that I had reached out to for support, the starting to rationalize that whole emotional mental piece that you’re going to tell us about. And that is so important to recognize, because I went back to drinking. And two years later, I was back in the same place of being like, Oh my God, I need to stop drinking. This is important.
And I remember distinctly that the people who I started with the first time, that people I talked to who were also in early sobriety, we were in a group together. One of those online secret communities. And I was deep back in the drinking cycle, I was hung over on my couch with my kids feeling, you know, so tired and so mad at myself. And I saw a picture of the group I started with, and they were in the gratitude group. And they were in San Francisco at a meet up. And they were biking across the Golden Gate Bridge and drinking tea and riding cable cars. And in this group with actually Catherine Gray, the author of The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, which a lot of people know. And I was just like, I could be with them. And instead, I’m on my couch in the same place saying the same horrible things to myself. And I feel like if I might have recognized these 3 stages and caught myself in the emotional piece or the mental piece, I might not have gone back to drinking and found it so hard to pull myself out of that physical relapse.
Yeah, you know, there are some pretty common spots that things can get tricky. And 30 days is one of them. Right? When you get around that three to four week mark, it can definitely be a little bit tricky. Your mind will start playing tricks on you, you can start second guessing yourself a little bit. You’re feeling better, you’re getting your energy back, your head will kick in and start going. Maybe we weren’t that bad. Was it really that bad? Especially if you have some family members telling you, “you weren’t that bad”. Like, really? You think you have to quit? Like I don’t think you were that bad. You know, your mind can really play some tricks on you. And for me, like I do, I have a Coaching program just like you do, right? My Coaching program is 6 weeks, but it started as 4 weeks. I extended it because that three to four week mark is such a tricky spot for people. But I feel like, if you know that going in, and you know, to kind of be aware of that spot, and you can plan around it and maybe plan some extra events, plan some extra meetings, or meet ups, like whatever your thing is, put some things in place to protect yourself, right.
The other thing you said that is a tricky little spot is, you said four months, and not four months, you were already starting to rationalize. But you got pregnant, which kept you alcohol-free. But four months is a huge, little spot where people can fall off. And this is with anything.
They say 4 – 6 months is when the newness of something starts to fall off, right? This is relationships, new jobs, any of that. So, those first 4 months, you can be on top of the world again, like you’re feeling better, your energy is good. You’re doing the meetups and drinking the tea and doing the bike rides and it’s fascinating, right because we’ve been in this dark hole for so long. But when that newness starts to wear off, you start going well Like, is this it? And I have the same experience at 4 months, I just started to get a little “squirrely”, like is this really all I’m doing for the rest of my life? Like, this is sobriety. Like, really happy to not drink, but there’s got to be something more, you know?
So yeah, that’s a pivotal point to that four to six months, the newness wears off. But you have to know, again, understand that that is coming. and plan accordingly to protect your sobriety.
Casey McGuire Davidson 10:27
Yeah, I completely agree. Because I feel like, if you know, there’s a dip coming, it takes you definitely less by surprise, right, you’re like, Oh, this is part of the process. And then I get the lift. Again, I completely agree with you about 30 days, I always, when I work with my clients try to make them the initial goal to be 100 days, because I find so many people, you know, I’m sure myself included, you get to 30 days, and you’re like, Oh, that wasn’t that hard for getting the 100,000 day, once you had before that or all the times, you got to day five and drank again. But you’re like I did 30 days, I can probably drink again, and then just do 30 days again whenever I need to. So that’s a tricky piece.
And then I love that you said the newness wears off, because I find that, you know, initially it’s really hard. And then you’re proud of yourself. And then at some point, you’re sort of like, “over” the sobriety thing, you don’t want to listen to the podcasts or think about it so much, or, you know, there’s this like, empty bit of time between like, when your life was dominating with drinking, and trying to stop drinking, and then sort of not yet the full happy life. And that empty time when you’re sort of over it, if you can look at it as actually a positive thing. Meaning like, great, this is no longer dominating my life.
Now is the time when I get to bring in other things that interests me and excite me without losing that sober foundation of that being what enables you to expand your life and happy ways. That’s okay. But if you’re like, like you said, it’s so common to be like, This is it? I mean, I’m glad I’m not hungover. But I’m a little bit bored or restless. Like, if you can look at it as like, this is great. I have free time and energy now what am I going to do with it? You know?
Yeah, in I got really excited. Like, I got really excited at the prospect of having a clear mind, and really having a lot of power to create whatever life I wanted. And that’s where my focus shifted, right. So where, you know, I did traditional 12 steps. I went to a meeting every single day for years, right? I did not miss a meeting for years, like I was so serious about not drinking, like alcohol was not going to get me no matter what. And that four month mark, right when I started to get a little restless, that’s when I realized like, okay, every single thing I do doesn’t have to be about not drinking. Like this is when I can venture out exactly like you said and start adding other things. This is when I can start looking at those you know, we call it 12 steps, character defects, right? Whether it’s codependence or anxiety or people pleasing, not setting boundaries, not advocating for yourself, whatever your things are the we all have all of those things, by the way. But that’s when I really got to go, Okay, what do I want the next phase of my life to look like? This is a new version of me, who do I want to be? How do I want to show up in my life? How do I want to be known. And I started learning to be on time, which I had never done before. And in managing my time properly, so I could do that. Right?
I started figuring out how to be dependable, because that was also something that never been important to me before. But it’s like, I wanted people to know if I tell you I’m going to show up, I’m going to show up. If I say I’m going to call I’m going to call. If I say I’m going to be there, I’ll be there. But I wanted to kind of create that safety because I had never been that person before. So, I got to start working on those other things. And that’s when it got really fun. Because I realized how much power I had. I was like, Oh my gosh, I can have any kind of life I want. I can be any kind of person I want. All I have to do is pick it. Pick what quality I want to have and start working on it and I can be anything.
Casey McGuire Davidson 14:54
Yeah, I remember that too because I’ve gotten so used to saying I was going to do something, I’m going to take a break from drinking, I’m going to stop drinking, I’m going to work out every day, I’m going to do XYZ, and then just quitting on myself. And it had become such a habit in my life. And when I stopped drinking, the last time, I heard a Sober Coach, and I did all the work. And I remember, specifically because I quit drinking on February 10. And April 24, was my son’s birthday. And I had said a million times, I was going to run a 10k. I hadn’t run on in like six years. And I started training for it when I stopped drinking, and the race was on April 24. So just over two months after I stopped drinking, I was doing it by myself, I didn’t have a group or friend or anything. And I got up early, it was running in Seattle, I ran the 10k. Slowly, you know, but I didn’t walk. That was my entire goal. And I was almost in tears crossing the finish line. And the recurring thought going through my head was I am now a person who does what I say I’m going to do, and that was just tingles.
You know what, you just gave me chills when you said it. Yes, I know that feeling so well.
Yeah, yeah. Especially when you become like, for me, I was always so stuck in that less than, in all the ways that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t like those people. Like, I can’t do what those people can do, you know, they were raised differently, or whatever, I was always less than in everything. And to all of a sudden, becoming a person who was doing all those things that I never thought I was capable of.
Casey McGuire Davidson 16:48
I mean, that’s huge. That’s huge. That’s how you get self-esteem, right, which I also never had. And stopping drinking is one of the hardest things you will ever do for all the reasons, right. It’s physically addictive. It surrounds us. It’s an emotional habit, all the reasons. But once you’re able to walk away from that, and feeling empowered, you truly do feel like you can do anything.
For sure. 100%. But I think staying stopped is yes, far more difficult than stopping? Yeah. Because you can like, we all have that sort of rock bottom moment, whatever that might look like that everybody has the moment that they go, Oh my gosh, I can’t do this anymore. And that’s when you’re reaching for the podcasts and the online communities and hiring us as Coaches. Right. Everybody has that moment. This like I can’t do this. Doing Dry January or Dry July or Alcohol-Free April’s, Sober October, Recovery Month. I mean, whatever.
Yeah, I think there’s one year no beer. I mean, there’s a million of them.
Yeah. And when you’re doing those things, your motivation is super high, right? Because something happened, something happened to make you go, Wow, I can’t do this anymore. So of course, your motivation is going to be high to stop. But to stay stopped, is a whole different monster to stick to it when it doesn’t feel good. When you’re not getting a little rush from it. You’re not like a just on cloud nine because you have some energy and you woke up without a headache, right? When that wears off. And it’s like, oh, wait, I have to keep doing this. Because I don’t feel good today. And I’m tired today. And I don’t want to today. But yeah, that’s far more difficult to staying stopped.
Casey McGuire Davidson 18:34
Yeah. And getting the tools that that we’re going to dive into right now are so important. And just the awareness. Because a lot of times, you know, I know that there is in 12 steps and other places. The idea of one day at a time, right like you need to stay alcohol-free. Sometimes it’s put forth as a struggle, kind of everyday to not drink. In my experience of what I’ve seen is, it’s not a struggle every day, once you get away from the beginning part right? You, a good deal of the time in your first 6 months, in your first year, will just be navigating life alcohol-free, right? You built that habit, you built that identity, you have new coping tools. And there will absolutely be moments when you were going to want to drink or moments when you start rationalizing drinking or start thinking this is all too hard or starting.
You know it when you’ve talked about this sort of the bargaining in the planning only on vacation or maybe here and it’s in those moments that you almost just need to do a heavy left, go back to your tools go back to the beginning. Because the good news is, if you don’t drink in those moments, if you use a coping tools, it, again, is not a daily struggle. It, you will cruise for a little while, as long as you keep your foundations. And the amount of people who relapse go back to using is higher, certainly in the first year. And then it goes down from there.
I was looking at the stats and it you know, once you reach five years alcohol for your chance of drinking again, are less than 15. Perfect.
So yeah, 5% of people who reach 5 years, don’t drink again. And, you know, they talk about, and you might have the stats on earlier in the years I I’m looking at some that say, you know, 21% relapse in their second year 10%, year three through five, I’ve got to look through exactly what it is, you might have different numbers. But the big work is to get through that first year. And I wonder the number of people in those stats who drink again in the first month in the first 3 months or 4 months. Because making it past those milestones, it gets easier.
Yeah, for sure. And it is they say after the first year of recovery, the likelihood of maintaining sobriety increases to 50%. Because you know, it’s only, I mean, you have to be realistic about this, we are such a small piece of the population, truly only 10% of the population has any kind of compulsion issues, whatever you want to call it. And of that 10% of the whole population, only 10% of those seek help. And of those 10%, only 10% of those will stay sober long term.
So, I mean, the numbers aren’t good. And that doesn’t mean that people don’t finally at some point, get sober and stay sober because a lot of people do. The point is that the faster you get in the process of really trying and figuring this thing out and figuring out what tools work for you. The faster you get in that process, the faster you’re going to get to the place that it sticks.
Casey McGuire Davidson
Hi there. If you’re listening to this episode, and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit.
The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step by step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one on one coaching. And the sobriety starter kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it. And when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time.
This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step by step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking, from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better. You’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach, you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course
Casey McGuire Davidson 22:16
Yeah, I was talking with Dr. Harrison, who had a podcast called, In Recovery. And one of the things that she said that really resonated with me is the idea of early intervention, right? with breast cancer, you have sort of stage one, stage two, stage three, stage four, you do early screening for diabetes, and a whole host of other things. You don’t have to get to a stage for severe Alcohol Use Disorder before you decide to start using tools to help yourself move away from that addiction. And one of the stats that she put forth is that 75% of people who struggle with alcohol use disorder do recover. And what percent of the 10% or whatever that is, I’m sure we can break down and find it out. But the idea is that the earlier that you say, okay, my relationship with alcohol is problematic. This substance is addictive. And it’s going nowhere good. I don’t think anyone who’s been in the drinking cycle doesn’t believe it’s progressive, right? The sooner you jump off the train, not only the easier it is, but the more likely you’re going to lead a healthy happy life without it. Right.
Yeah, yeah. You know, one of my other favorite stats on this stuff, too, is that the rates of recovery and people getting sober and staying sober. The numbers are the same, regardless of what path you take, regard whether you go to treatment, don’t go to treatment, go to AAA, don’t go to AAA, the numbers are the same, right? The success rates are kind of the same no matter what you do. And I love that because everything doesn’t work for every person. And now, we’re in this beautiful time that there are all of these options. And one of the greatest things that has changed certainly in the last 5 years for sure, is people are quitting much earlier on that spectrum. Right. And I think 12 Step programs are really, you know, really came up and thrived for a hard core alcoholic person, like me, I drink every day of my life. I drink enough for 5people every day of my life. It was my whole life. I was a bartender; I was the quintessential party girl. It’s what I did. And my rock bottom moment was really drastic. So, I had a very low bottom, right. I mean, I crashed my car. I thought I killed someone. It was horrific. So, my motivation to quit drinking was super high. Now, I had a very high functioning life, you know, high functioning and rock bottom, don’t have anything to do with each other. I feel like they get confused a lot. People are like, Oh, that never happened to me, I’ve never had a DUI, I never did that. But that doesn’t have anything to do with anything, you just haven’t gotten there yet. Right? It took me 14 years of driving drunk to get a DUI, it didn’t make me less of an alcoholic, right? It didn’t make my relationship with alcohol healthy, because I hadn’t had a DUI. But people are just stepping off of that train so much earlier. But I think it’s also what causes some of the problems with staying sober too. Because, like I said, my rock bottom was so drastic, my motivation to stay sober was so high, I was absolutely willing to do anything. All I cared about was not drinking. And it was my primary focus for a very long time.
Whereas when people are stepping out of the game earlier, without major consequences, you’re always going to have that rationalization or justification – was that bad? Was it really, you know? I didn’t have all those bad things happen to me, like, my family’s not mad at me, I still have a job, you know, it’s harder to understand that you can get to the low bottom place, if you want to keep going. It’s there waiting for you if you want to keep going. But it’s challenging. And that’s where that emotional part of relapse is, is all of those thoughts. And that’s the first phase of this thing is all of those thoughts of starting to think about. Got to drink sounds good drink would really be good while I do this, I had somebody a while back in my Facebook group, she said, I’m really struggling today, we moved, and I really want to have a nice cold beer while I unpack. And I was like, What the fuck does unpacking have to do with beer? You know, like, there’s zero connection here. There’s zero connection, it’s just a habit, right? But when you have those thoughts, you have to communicate that to somebody, yes. If your brain is kicking in and having some resistance in trying to argue with you about your choices, you have to talk about that. Because if you keep it to yourself, those thoughts are going to get bigger and bigger, and they’re going to get more powerful. And at some point they’re going to win. Right?
So, any of that, I also say, if you don’t tell on yourself, I just did this earlier today, I was talking to a new client, and she was talking about tequila. And tequila was the love of my life. Right? That was my drink of choice. And she said she had had a tequila and soda in my little brain went ah, you know, because I never had a tequila and soda. I just drink tequila straight. And but my little brain was like, oh, that sounds so good. And I immediately reached out to one of my friends. And I was like, You’re not going to believe what my brain just said, you know, like, you have to tell people because if you don’t tell on yourself, what you’re really doing is protecting your option to drink. If you don’t create accountability for those thoughts and accountability for yourself, you’re protecting your option to drink. And you’re already losing the battle at that point.
Casey McGuire Davidson 28:23
Yeah. I mean, I think that having people who get it is and who will enable you is really, really important that I was laughing when you said that because I remember I was like maybe 6080 days alcohol free. And I had met a couple of local people in hip sobriety which Holly Whitaker who wrote quit like a woman started. And we went out to lunch, you know, I was like, Oh, this is cool. I’m meeting sober friends. And one of them seven years later, is my sober bestie. Our sobriety dates are, you know, two months apart, and another one I met and she was fully rationalizing, drinking. She’s like, well, it’s not a total problem for me, but you know, I can still, you know, it just helps me relax with my kids XYZ. And in my mind, I’m like, nobody joins hip sobriety, if it like, is working incredibly well for you. Right? Like, I also was like, I have plenty of friends who drink I literally joined this group to meet people who don’t drink and are attempting to be alcohol free, but then what you’re talking about, and she said, Yeah, I mean, I’m mostly doing it to lose weight because I used to drink wine, which I did. But then I found Tito’s vodka and I figured out that I could drink Tito’s vodka and still lose weight and my mind literally went Ding ding ding. I never tried vodka. Why don’t I try but I went to Whole Foods, and I was like, right in front of me and I was like, what is happening? I mean, in my mind, right, it was just that.
So, like you said, I called my now bestie, angry. And I was like, Alright, this is crazy. Here’s where my mind went. When she was talking about it. She was clearly rationalizing, bargaining, excusing, but like, it triggered my mind. And so, you know, we were like, Alright, until she’s like, committed, I don’t think we should hang out, because it sets me off with being like, well, maybe I can drink, you know.
Yeah. And those are huge decisions that you have to make regularly through the course of your recovery. You have to make those decisions all the time. And they are so important. Like, I want to surround myself with people who want to lift me up, not drag me down, right? In any sort of self-improvement, it doesn’t matter if it’s drinking, I mean, everything in my life doesn’t revolve around not drinking anymore, because I haven’t had a drink in 17 years, right? Like, I’m not, I don’t crave drink. I don’t, but I don’t, because I’m diligent in my work on myself, to keep myself in a good healthy space mentally, emotionally, and physically. So that I don’t crave drinking, right? I don’t have things that I’m trying to escape from. I have built a life that I love. And I have built myself to be a person who has tools and support systems and things I can utilize. So, alcohol is not a solution for me anymore. But you want it. It’s the same thing in business. I want people who are going to support me in my journey. I don’t want people who are going to tell me, it’s not that important. Or tell me Oh, you can never achieve that? Or why do you want to do that? Like, aren’t you happy with what you have? Like, I hear that one from people a lot. And it’s like, I don’t think we’re going to be having lunch again. Because it’s just not supportive.
Casey McGuire Davidson 31:52
Yeah. And I think that that sometimes it’s hard. And this is what I love about finding people further along the path than you where you’re like, Yes, I love your energy. And I admire you, and I want to be where you are. And those people might not be your mother, your spouse, your best friend from when you were little, because no matter what change you’re going through, whether it’s positive, or something else, people get threatened when you change, right? For better or worse, something is working out for them in the relationship that you have. Or it’s scary. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times people’s partners have said, well, what if you stop drinking, and you don’t love me anymore, or I’m not interesting to or we don’t have anything in common, you know, and they’re almost like trying to pull you back. Which doesn’t mean you have to ditch them. But it does mean that you need to get other people in your life who are like good for you. 7 days is incredible. 30 days is amazing. You are a badass, so that you can keep improving.
Yeah, it’s not realistic to expect people to understand that just can’t understand. And I feel like we do like to put some of that pressure on our families, whether it’s partners, spouses, parents, siblings, whoever it is, that we do have this expectation, like, we want to pat on the back, and we want them to be in the game with us. But the truth is, they probably don’t have the same thing, right, and they just don’t get it and, and God bless them. Like, I’m so happy for anybody that doesn’t get it, you know, like, I don’t want you to get it because it’s a monster, you know, it is unfair to be upset when the people closest to you don’t get it. We just can’t have those expectations of them. Right, I need to go seek out the people who do get it and get that support there. And you can also there’s so many layers of things that happen with couples and there’s so much questioning, you know, and how are we going to have fun? And how is this going to affect our couples life? How are we going to go out with other couples, like how are we going to connect? How’s this going to affect our intimacy, like, there are so many things that happen when one partner stops drinking. But there are also ways to renegotiate those relationships and compromise and figure out what this new version is going to look like. Right? This is a new chapter. And that’s really exciting, too. There are definitely some bumps, but man, it’s really fun to create a whole new fresh thing.
Casey McGuire Davidson 34:37
And I can’t tell you how many I mean, you know, when you’re drinking, there was so much I didn’t tell my husband about my fears and what I was thinking and how much crap I told myself and how worried I was. I didn’t tell him any of that. Because I didn’t want him to know, because I wasn’t sure I was ready to stop. And so many of my clients have said Yeah, So there’s a renegotiation period. And it’s awkward, and there are a lot of fears. But get a little further, I feel understood and seen and supported, in a way I never did before, because I wasn’t being real or honest.
The other thing, I think, is that we have this crazy expectation that if we do something, our best friend or our partner needs to somehow do it too. And I always try to think like, if you decided to run a marathon, your husband doesn’t have to also decide to run a marathon, your best friend doesn’t also have to decide to run a marathon like, you can do it on your own. And that’s incredible. Now, you’re probably going to have to join a couch to 10k group, you might need to read stuff on the internet, you might want to buy a couple books, or do a planner, or whatever it is. And your spouse or best friend might need to support you, meaning not take the kids when you get up at 6am. And pick you up when you run your first like 13 mile or at the end of it, so they can support you. And you can find other people, they don’t have to do it with you. And it doesn’t mean your relationship is somehow less than, right.
It’s also interesting how much people like we put so much energy into hiding our drinking and like how bad it is. And we hide it from everybody, then we want to be mad when they don’t understand. Well, they don’t understand how much I drink. Well, no, of course they don’t you hit it. We love to keep that stuff to ourselves. Like, I wasn’t telling my mom like, Hey, Mom, let’s go to lunch. By the way, I have 30 cocktails yesterday, you know what I mean? Like, we hide that stuff. But we can’t, you don’t get it both ways, right? If you hide it from them, you can’t expect them to understand where you’re really at. If you don’t want to let them in,
Casey McGuire Davidson 36:54
you can feed them small comments like, well, I don’t think you need to stop completely. Like, my husband didn’t know that when he was going outside to do whatever I was sprinting off the couch to get bottle number two to fill up my glass. So, he wouldn’t know I drank more than a bottle of wine. So, he’s begging me to stop completely like, yeah, and then I’m like, see, that means I shouldn’t stop drinking. My husband doesn’t think I ever? Well, I mean, it’s your mind is insane.
So, let’s talk about you get sober momentum. And you have identified 3 Stages of Relapse, there are emotional, mental, and physical. Will you take us through each one of those?
Yeah, and you know, emotional and mental are pretty similar in some ways. But it is a lot of the stuff that we talked about a minute ago, like, it will start with that mental piece of just those thoughts creeping in, maybe I could have a drink, maybe I’ll just do 30 days alcohol free, and then I’ll be okay, I could probably control it. Now it’s been a while since I’ve had a drink, I could probably control it. You know what I’m just going to drink on special occasions. But all those thoughts in you do again, you have to tell on yourself, right? You have to talk to somebody about that and even have some laughs about it. But you have to get it out from inside of you. That’s the main thing is get it out from inside of you. So, you have a little accountability.
Also, when you talk about those things, it makes them much smaller and less powerful. It’s not going to be nagging you it’s not going to be growing and getting bigger price, you have to talk about that stuff with whoever that might be. I’m always a big fan too, of planning things in advance. If you and your husband are going to an event, if you’re going to a wedding, you have a conversation, before you go of what that’s going to look like, what is your comfort level? How long are you going to want to stay? What if you get there and you’re really uncomfortable? Like talk through those things? Like hey, can we check in every 30 minutes and see what’s going on? See? Hi, I feel like if this is really uncomfortable, I might want to go early. Do you need to drive yourself right? Like, you need to have those conversations in advance to also handle the mental piece of that and not letting those thoughts really start to overtake you, especially in a drinking environment. Because it’s really easy at that point to, it’s right in front of you.
Casey McGuire Davidson 39:17
Yeah, I completely agree. And you don’t have to if you’re not ready to tell your spouse everything because I wasn’t. I kind of wanted to ease him into it and also ease myself so I just told him, Hey, I’m doing 100 day no alcohol challenge. He didn’t believe me because I’d never made it. You know, past four days before I’d always be like, actually, it’s been a hard day A Good Day bringing home a bottle of wine. But I did tell him I was doing that and this time I had brought in support. He had no idea where to Sober Coach or Good Hip Sobriety. But I also told him when things were going to be hard, like I told him, this is hard for me. You know, I love wine. So, like, can we have no wine in the house? Like, I just, if it’s here, I’ll drink it, you know that let’s not have it. Or we would, you know, he’d suggest like, Hey, let’s go out to this new brewery on our date night. I’d be like, Oh, babe, I’m still doing my no alcohol challenge. Can we go to a coffee shop with like music, or let’s go to sushi, because I didn’t like soccer or whatever it was. Or even being like, oh, yeah, I’m not drinking, and I get tired. You know, it’s not that much fun hanging out with people who are drunk. So, I might leave early, or I have an early morning running club. Like, you can plan in advance, and get help and support without baring your soul to someone you’re not ready to or who wouldn’t understand.
That’s so true. And I think that is the easiest way for most people, right? Like, I didn’t lay all the ugly details on my family from day one, you know what I mean? Like they would have had a heart attack. Also, you have to remember too. That your perspective on things is going to change so much also, especially in those first 90 days. How you feel on day one is, you’re going to be a whole different human at day 30. And another whole different human at day 60, and day 90. So, your perspective, and the details that you’re worried about at day one are going to look very different, you’re not going to have the same worries, you’re also going to connect more dots. As you stay sober. And you look back on what you were doing. I always laugh when people do their free consultation call with me. And they spend that time really minimizing their drinking habits, you know, like they’re trying to give me all the reasons that they don’t have a drinking problem. And listen, all I say is you don’t end up on the phone with me because shits going well, you know what I like? That’s just the truth.
Casey McGuire Davidson 41:49
Nobody hires in sober coach. It’s like, no, he’s working really well out.
Yeah, and by date, 45. They’re talking a whole different game, you know, they’re starting to understand, oh, my gosh, I just realized I went to this event with my family. Normally, I would walk in, and my husband would take the kids, and all I would be doing is looking for where the beer is, like, that was my focus in that, you know, like, you just start to understand things in a different way. So, trying to explain everything at day one or even day 30. It’s not even, it’s going to be so different from that point forward. So yeah, you could also be private, like you’re figuring things out. It’s also okay to just not know, it’s okay to say, I’m not really sure what this is going to look like or how it’s going to be. But I’d really appreciate your support on the journey. And I’ll keep you posted. I’ll let as I learn all fill you in. But it’s okay to not have all the answers. You don’t have to have all the answers early on. You know, when I go to things, I’m literally setting up my exit, as I’m saying hello. So, I’m going in, I’m giving hugs, and like, oh my gosh, it’s so good to see you. I can’t stay long. But I’m so glad we’re getting to catch up. I’m already setting it up that I’m going to be heading out soon. Because I’m just not going to sit there. My drinking friends God bless them. They’re fantastic. But once they’re like three drinks in, I’m
Casey McGuire Davidson 43:18
oh my gosh, they get really loud and annoying. They repeat themselves. They just say the same things over and over again.
I was camping this last weekend on this sort of group of five families camping trip that I’ve gone on literally for 20 years, like three kids. With kids. It’s the highlight every year, one of the women who I adore, who’s been my friend for 20 years, was as big a drinker as I was, you know, apparently did not drink a bottle of wine every night of the week. I thought she did. Apparently she didn’t but was drinking a lot of wine. And she just got really so loud. It was like hurting my ears. And I was just like, I would have been right. Like, that would have been one thing when you were talking about sort of the bargaining there this slow shuffle back. I think that’s what I said, is I’ve worked with clients who are like, Alright, I’m going to be sober for 100 days. And then suddenly, you know, it’s two months before Thanksgiving. And they’re like, Well, maybe I’ll just start drinking. First Christmas, right? Maybe I’ll just start drinking at Christmas. And then suddenly, it’s like, maybe I’ll just start drinking at Thanksgiving. And then one of my clients was like, Maybe I just want seasonal sobriety and I was just like, Oh my God, you’re already planning to drink which means your reward from not drinking is to drink, which means your brain is already lit up with that you’re not able to focus on romanticizing sobriety and building new coping skills you’re just holding on. And I think that To where you talk about sort of this stages of relapse, the thoughts being like, a won’t be any fun if I don’t drink over Christmas, or it will be too hard all fail anyway. Or, you know, you know what, I’ll just be sober to here and get in really good shape and then drink and then start again in January, you know?
Yeah, the unfortunate part is it can get so much more complicated. When you drink. You know, that’s also a thought process of thinking that you can drink without consequences, which often isn’t the case either. Like I said, I drank and drove drunk 14 years before 13 or 14 years before I ever got a DUI. Right? So, what if I would have been in that little roller coaster ride that yo-yo sobriety, as I call it, you know, quitting and starting, and then I get a DUI, and then I was in the legal system. And that was really challenging. That was a game changer, you know. And once I was in the legal system, my life got extremely uncomfortable, and which you know, is what it’s intended to do. But you think like, maybe I’ll have seasonal sobriety. Well, that sounds really cute. But what if you get some consequences that aren’t so easy to bounce back from? I had a client a couple of years ago, that was at the camping trip, and tripped and fell into the campfire and burned herself severely. And she was coming off, she was relapsing after 100. And something days sober, right? So, it’s easy to rationalize this in a way, like, it’s so simple, and this won’t be a big deal. And I can always start over. But you know, you might start over with a very different set of circumstances.
Casey McGuire Davidson 46:41
And even if you don’t, starting over is not easy. I literally went back to drinking, and it took me 22 months to stop again. And it’s not like I was having a great time. That whole time. I was not I was writing myself all the crappy letters, I was worried about my mental health, I was angry and unhappy with my life, even though my life was good. And, you know, my marriage, I thought was crap, or whatever it was, right? So, it’s just not that easy. And you’re going to have bad days. But drinking because you have a problem just guarantees that tomorrow is going to be harder than today. You know where it’s otherwise and your problem is probably going to be worse. If you’re not solving for it. It’s either worse or you’ve just put your head in the sand and added the hangover.
Oh, God, I do not miss hangovers. But I think you’re exactly right on the coming back. And I think it’s one of the main reasons I didn’t relapse because I was sitting in meetings every day. And first of all, I thought once everybody got to AAA, I didn’t know people relapsed. Right. I thought like once you walked through that door, like you were really done. So, I thought we were all non-drinking people at that point, you know, and I’m sitting in meetings every day and hearing people talk about relapsing. And I was like, What the hell is going on in I was a bartender. And I’m like, people, if I am bartending and staying sober, I’m not sure what the hell you’re doing over there, you know. And, of course, I didn’t know anything back then, like I understand it, this many years in and all the education and all of that I understand it much better now. And there’s so many different factors at play. But I was so terrified to relapse because I just felt uncertain that I would make it back. My drinking had gotten so dark. And there was no fun left. You know, it was really a survival situation for me. And when I would think about the prospect of relapse, I was like, I don’t know if I would make it. I don’t know if I could get sober again. And that’s one of the things, one of the thoughts that really kept me so dedicated. And all of these years later keeps me so dedicated, because I’m terrified at what that would look like. You also tend to when you take breaks from drinking, and go back, you drink worse. That’s the progressive work. And I had taken a couple of breaks over the years. Once I quit for 30 days once was a 60 day. Neither time with the intention of quitting forever, but really just the typical thing we do I just need to take a step back. I’m going to just overdoing it. Yeah, I just need to take a break for a minute and then I’ll be good. So, I did that twice. And each time when I drank again, I drink way worse than I had drink before. And that thought also terrified me. Because I couldn’t imagine. Like, what that would look like you know, if I relapsed, I was like, I don’t know. Like, I definitely, I don’t want to find out what that would look like because I was a hot mess as it was. Like, I couldn’t imagine what worse would look like the other thing.
Casey McGuire Davidson 49:57
I mean, I know that most people, what the stat I’ve read is that it takes on average people like 7 years from the first time you’re like, yikes, I may have a problem too, like, getting to the point where you’re like, Okay, I’m stopping for good. Every person is different, of course. But I feel like every time you do take a break, or at least for me, so I stopped for that year.
Magically, my life got better. Go figure, right? I was happier. I was more content. I was more calm. My marriage was better. Of course, I was like, I’m fixed. Now. It was situational. I drank too much, right? Like I was just had a bad boss, and my husband wasn’t as helpful and whatever. Right? That was, it was just, it was just a situation. I’m better now. I started drinking again, of course, with the goal to moderate right, I’m fixed very quickly went back to a bottle of wine a night. I mean, maybe it took a couple of months, every night off and more. And then the second time, I got to the point, the same point of being worried about my mental health, feeling doomed feeling like I couldn’t cope with life, beating myself up, waking up at 3am not communicating with my husband. This second time. I was like, oh, it’s the alcohol. Like, there was no illusion that it was my job or my relationship, or whatever. I was like, oh, no, the way I feel it’s the alcohol. So that second time, you know, they say recovery ruins you for trunky. I had no more excuses or illusions. I was like, so now I look occasionally at alcohol. And I’m like, Yeah, I used to love that. That looks good. I mean, I go to Italy. And I’m like, Yep, that looks fun. But it’s not worth it to me, because I know where it takes me. And it’s not a happy place.
It’s not fun the way I do it. I mean, it was the first 10 years, you know, a lot of years, right? Yeah, I had a lot of years that I drink, and I had a great time. Now, I won’t tell you that I love those years, because I really wasted a decade of my life doing absolutely nothing. Right, I did nothing. I didn’t accomplish anything. I wasn’t growing as a human being right. It was just a wasted decade. But it was a lot of fun. It took me a long time to get out of control. But once I got out of control, or once you hit that out of control spot, there is no going back. You can’t turn a pickle back into a cucumber. It just doesn’t work. You know, and people will say, Well, I’m not sure if I have a problem. Or you’ll hear this in AAA. Sometimes people are like, Well, I’m just trying to figure it out. And it seemed thing like you, and I were talking about, like you don’t end up on the phone with me. If you’re doing it well. Like nobody wakes up one day. And it’s like, you know what, I think I’m going to stop by that a and see how those people are doing. Like you don’t end up in that room without a ton of agony. Number one because nobody wants to go there. That’s why we say we’re the last house on the block. Nobody wants to go there. So, if you end up, you’re in the place that you have agonized over it. You have cried about it. You have gotten humble enough to go, you’ve looked up a meeting, you’ve driven there and you’ve walked in the door. Guess what?
Casey McGuire Davidson 53:26
Oh, I tried to minimize it. Even when I went like I was like, Oh, this girl seems pretty cool. She wants to take me I literally was like, well, bucket list. Never walk into a meeting I need so I hear you and I totally agree. But do you can rationalize anything. I was like, let’s check this off the bucket list like parent lobby.
So crazy. Our brains are crazy.
Casey McGuire Davidson 53:51
So, emotional stage of relapse. I always think of that as when you start thinking like in my mind, this is all to heart. Like, it may not be about drinking specifically, but it’s like, I feel overwhelmed. I feel like I can’t cope. I feel like nobody appreciates me no one’s helping me or like pulling back from tools right? I always think of that like, emotional green zone that you’re trying to keep yourself in calibrating and when you go too high or too low for too long. How do you describe that emotional phase of relapse?
Well, this to me is a lot about self-care. You know, so many of the things that we’re doing in this process really come down to basic self-care. And we haven’t taken care of ourselves for so long especially as moms and wives and employees right. Like, everything comes before you. Everything is more important. The housework, the laundry, dinner, the grocery shopping Right? Like, those things are not negotiable bedtime bath time homework, all of it comes first. And what happens is everything you said, “we” is exactly right. We get in that almost victim mindset. this is happening to me, if I don’t have support, this isn’t working, I don’t feel good. And what it comes down to is really, we’re not taking care of ourselves, we’re not recharging. So, you go through your day, and you’re giving, giving, giving, and it’s all these withdrawals, and you’re not taking any time to make deposits. And then, if you’ve already had that mental part where you’ve had some thoughts, and now you’re starting to feel bad, and feel sorry for yourself, and you’re feeling a little sad, and when we feel sad, we get really wrapped up in that, Oh, my God, I’m depressed, what am I going to do? And it’s like, okay, we don’t have to go all the way down that rabbit hole, either we can stop and really take some actions to stop this in its tracks, like you don’t have to keep spiraling down that emotional, rabbit hole. But it is recharging your battery, whatever that looks like for you. It is replenishing your resources that you’ve given all out to the whole rest of the world, you have to do things right.
This is where we talk about meditation, journaling, exercising. Right exercise is more efficient than any anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication. But there are way more people taking pills than there are at the gym, you know, we’re on the hiking trails, like we have to be doing those things to replenish those resources that we’ve given to everybody. And a lot of that is about boundaries to right, like saying huge, this is important for me to take care of myself, and therefore, some of this other stuff is going to have to be renegotiated or recalibrated or I need to bring in more resources.
Casey McGuire Davidson 57:07
I mean, I remember when I was in early sobriety, even kind of negotiating with my husband, I started seeing a therapist once a week. And so, I was like, Alright, on these days, we’re going to have to pick up both kids and get them dinner and XYZ. And he was not used to that. He stepped up but he was like, How long are you going to need to see this therapist and I was like, Oh, my fucking god, you coach baseball for four months every year, like do this. You know what I mean?
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s interesting, you have to really put yourself first because nobody else is going to do it. And nobody else can make those deposits, you have to do that for yourself. And people, women, especially, you know, we’re taught really to be people pleasers at such a crazy level. And then if you’re a mom, forget it, you’re going to be a people pleaser, because everything you do revolves around these little humans like nothing, no piece of time is yours anymore. No piece of energy is yours anymore. It all belongs to these little people. And you just get stuck in that thing. And it starts to feel really hard to say no to things to decline invitation, you feel like you’re being a bad friend, or a bad parent. You know, if you don’t do the field trip or the PTA meeting, or whatever the things are, I’m not a parent, obviously, but feel bad. You know, if they say, Hey, can you bake some cookies for this thing? And you know, you don’t really have time, but you feel guilty saying no, like you’re being a bad parent. But truly, this is a perspective thing. Because you know, what if your kid had a volleyball tournament that they had to be to a you were going to be gone? You wouldn’t feel bad saying no. So those tournaments and those activities, if your mom needed a ride to the doctor’s office, you wouldn’t feel bad saying no. Right? Like these things are priorities. But when it comes to ourselves, all of a sudden, it’s not a priority. And we feel. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 59:02
I think I even have like a formula for like, how to say no. And it’s like 5 steps. I’ll link to it in the show notes of this show. But it’s a muscle to be exercised, and you can start exercising it on smaller things, things that aren’t as high stakes, and it gets easier, you’ll feel uncomfortable, then you’ll see the world didn’t end and people were okay with it. And then you can move on to something else. But you should be saying notice 3 things a week that you’re asked to do just for practice.
I think you also get so much reward when you say no, you feel so good. Like that conversation. Certainly, the first time you do it. It is a little awkward because it’s new, you know, it is a little bit uncomfortable. And you’re like oh my gosh, should we really be doing this? I feel bad. This is terrible. Did you have that reward Uh, oh my gosh, I’m so glad I didn’t do that, because I really don’t have the time. Like, I couldn’t have fit that in my schedule. So that feels really good too. And you do have a sense of accomplishment of a man. I’m so glad I did that, like, look at me growing up, like, that’s impressive, you know? Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:00:18
And I think the other thing there is just suggesting alternatives, right? Someone asks you to do X, you say, Oh, actually, I can’t. But what about why? Two weeks from now? Let’s have brunch? I can’t, I hope you have the best birthday. I know. It’s going to be fantastic. I’m not going to be able to make it but 2 weeks from now, how about we at brunch? I’d love to put it on the calendar. What I mean, it doesn’t have to be that. So, I think with the emotional phase of relapse, the most important thing you can do once you get sober momentum, is start identifying what emotion you’re feeling, right? Especially if you’re like I want to drink.
Second question is Why? What emotion Am I feeling that I think drinking will help and it can be like, I’m unpacking it a new house, I feel like I deserve a reward. Or I want to mark this moment, or, you know, I’ve been moving for two days, and I’m exhausted, then whatever emotion that is, you’re like, Alright, how can we celebrate? Do we sleep in sleeping bags in the living room tonight with Chinese food? Or do I go take a nap? Or you know what I mean? There are various things you can do.
Yeah, I think emotions are so hard in early sobriety, to identify them is so hard because we have drank through them for so long. So, identifying them as hard, but then to articulate them it’s really hard to. And one of the things I did really early on is I just kept it very simple. I was mad, sad, glad. That’s it. Like that’s where I started identifying like, where do I fall one of these three, mad, sad, glad, where am I? Because you want to get in. There’s so many words now. And we’re overwhelmed. And all these things. It’s like, that’s just too complex.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:02:13
Oh, my God, especially my daughter, when she was in first grade. It was like, red, yellow, green every day, they’d come in and be like, where are you?
Yeah, but you have to just start small, like, you don’t have to be able to identify right off the bat that you’re in fear, or your feelings were hurt, or your ego was bruised, like whatever they do that we don’t have to be able to get that deep at the beginning. But that’s what I did was just started mad, sad, glad. And those were my kind of buckets. And I’d be like, Okay, where am I right now? Where do I fit? And what can I do to make it different? Or just sit in it? Right? Am I okay? I always tell my clients, I’m like, it’s going to be uncomfortable. But nobody on the planet has ever died from being uncomfortable. We can survive uncomfortable. I was very uncomfortable in my drinking. And I was willing to go through it there. So why wouldn’t I be willing to be uncomfortable? For my record?
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:03:08
Oh my God, keeping wife going while drinking, losing all those hours and being hungover. Like, that is hard. That is determinizing nightmare. I mean, yes.
Yes. And you have to remember, you have those qualities too. Right? Like, we have the ability to be committed to something because I was committed to my drinking unlike anything else on the planet, right? You can be the same way in your recovery, or in your professional life or in your relationship. You have that ability in you. Don’t convince yourself that this is so hard, or you can’t do it because you absolutely can.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:03:44
Yeah, when people are like, I have no willpower. I’m like, Damn girl, you have amazing willpower. Because look at the way you’ve been living like that is that is dedication, you know. So, you have the emotional phase of relapse, and the in, that when you start feeling that way, self-care, right? Therapy, Coaching, self-care, meditation, taking breaks, all that stuff, is that the best way to kind of bring yourself to Mad set flat or even keeled?
Well, you I mean, you have to have support, right? I mean, this thing needs 2 things to thrive, right? It needs you to feel isolated and alone. And it needs you to feel bad about yourself. So, when you get caught up in that emotional part, and then you don’t want to talk to anybody about it. Well, now you’ve just isolated yourself. Now you just put yourself in a position that you’re alone. Every predator needs you to be alone. And alcohol is one of the best predators. So, you’ve isolated yourself and put yourself in a space where you’re alone. You never want to do that. And then all those thoughts are going crazy, which just makes you feel bad about yourself. Right? Like maybe I wasn’t Not bad. Maybe I’ll just drink or like eff it. You know, like, This is dumb. You know, I’ve quit for two weeks, like I can get two weeks again. I’m so tired of this. This just feels really bad right now. My job sucks. My husband sucks. Everything’s hard. I don’t have enough money.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:05:15
Oh my God, my favorite one that I hear is when people are trying to get out of the drinking cycle. And they’re like, sobriety sucks. And I’m always like, nope. Getting out of the drinking cycle sucks. Withdrawal sucks. Like, where are you are sucks, like, you don’t even know what life without alcohol feels like. But then women will say to me, I’m tired of thinking about this. So, I’m just going to drink. Because maybe then I’ll stop. And that is my god bargaining, right? Because the only way to stop having a dominate your life is to get away from it.
But it’s the only coping skill most people have used for years. Right? So, when you still view alcohol as your solution, you’re in trouble. Like, you have to like you said, you knew alcohol was the problem. For me, when I sat in my life long before I had my car accident and had to stop drinking. When I looked at my life, I knew every single problem I had traced back to alcohol, there was no question, it was not my solution anymore. But if you’re still in a Mindspace, where alcohol is your solution, you’re going to have a really hard time, right? Because it’s not doing you any favors.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:06:31
And maybe at that point, you’re just experimenting with other solutions just being like, Hey, I mean, if you’re listening to this podcast, you suspect alcohol is not helping you. And so maybe just say, it’s a coping mechanism. But I know it’s a maladaptive one that’s poisoning my body and XYZ, how about I try a different one? How about I do 30 days, six weeks, 100 days without it and see if therapy and yoga and walking and coaching and all this stuff feels better?
And try a million things? Yes. Because everybody’s toolbox is going to be a little bit different. And your own toolbox is going to change, right? Like, I’m not doing all the same things today that I started with 17 years ago, right. And all the things that I’m doing today, literally on this day, those things will change a month from now, you know, all I might take a break from journaling, and I might start a new visualization practice, or, I mean, who knows? It’s just always evolving with you. I get bored with things. So, I’ve got to switch to other things, that you have to figure out what works for you. And you have to be willing to try different things. Even if it sounds dumb, or you think, Oh, I wouldn’t like that. That won’t work. For me. The willingness is the important part. Just be willing to try. Maybe you won’t like it. I went and did some photography things because I thought I would really enjoy photography. I don’t enjoy photography at all. But I went, but I went 3 times because I thought I would enjoy it. I have a lot of respect for it. I love it as an art. I just didn’t love doing it. You know, it was too. There was too much setup.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:08:16
Yeah, I don’t like meditation. I don’t like meditation. I keep thinking that I should try it. And I do sleep meditations when I go to sleep. But, you know, a decade in I’m like, yes, yes, yes, I should meditate.
Okay, let’s talk about the physical part of relapse, right? Which is the last case emotional, mental, physical, when you’re in it? How do you pull yourself out?
This is a funny one. Because this is where I mean, you’re definitely in a danger zone at this point, right? This is like you’re planning the trip to the liquor store, or you’re already there and you’ve got the drink or you’re at the bar, whatever your thing is, you know, I did a whole episode about this. Is relapse a choice? Because if people don’t understand how many choices they have before they ever lift a bottle to their mouth, right?
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:09:11
So, I’ll link to that. If you send me the link. I’ll put it in the show notes. Because like that, that’s really helpful.
Yeah, because you do still have so much choice here. There are decisions to be made before you ever have a drink in your hand. You can choose to call someone. You can choose to go for a walk, you can choose to go to a meeting, whether that’s in real life or online. You can choose to read a book you can choose to call your favorite accountability person. You can choose to eat something, watch a movie, take a nap, take a shower, like there are all of these things. I would say when you’re at this place and you’re really like ready to drink you’re about to drink. At that point.
The only thing that’s really going to save you is connection.
You really have to get connected, because at that point, you are so isolated and alone and you are feeling so crappy about yourself. Alcohol has already won the battle. But if you want to win the war, at that point, it’s going to require connection, you need to call someone. That doesn’t mean it has to be a sober someone. It could be one of your old best friends from college that you just call to distract yourself. I don’t care what you talk about. But you have to do something to take the weight of the thought process off of you distract yourself.
Give yourself a moment to pause. To really think it through.
Release some of that angsty energy. I mean, laughing is one of the best things you can do. Right? If you can call somebody that makes you laugh, do that, you know, because that will really give you a second to just get your shit together and decide if that’s really what you want to do or not do.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:10:58
Yeah, I remember texting my bestie again, because we’re only 60 days apart. And I got home one day, and I was like, I really want to drink. So, talk me out of it. Like I just was like, yep. And she did you know, and we texted back and forth for a while and half of it was laughing, you know, just being like, here’s why this person is a dick, or whatever.
And people think of reaching out, you know, for “help”. They think of it as this big dramatic event. And they’re like, oh, I don’t want to have to call somebody ask for help. Well, you don’t have to call somebody and ask for help. You can reach out to somebody just go hey, how’s your day? I’m in a shitty mood. Hope your day is going better? Tell me something good. Right? It doesn’t have to be Oh my God, I need help. Do something, save me. It doesn’t have to be dramatic. It’s just getting connected. Because that little alcohol part of your brain cannot thrive if you are connected. And in a safe zone. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:12:02
I mean, I remember to I was driving home from work. I picked up my son at after school care. He was eight I was on day 16. I was like practically in tears. I wanted to drink so much. It was Friday. And I just told him like mom really doesn’t feel good. I’m just sad. I just had a really bad day. And he said to me, Mom, do you just want to like, go home, and get on the couch and cuddle and order pizza? And I was like, yes, that is I mean, that was what I needed in that moment. And it’s just telling someone like, Dude, I don’t feel any what I wanted to do was pick up a bottle of wine, but I wasn’t doing that. Right that you know.
Yeah, it is getting connected changes everything. It really does. And you know, logically that you don’t want to drink, right? Like none of us are quitting drinking, because we want to drink. We know it’s not serving us. We know it’s better on the other side. But it can be uncomfortable. And it definitely has its challenges. But life is very challenging. It’s not sobriety, it’s not recovery. That’s challenge life is challenging. Life is still going to be life. I just have to find new ways to cope with life that don’t involve drinking so I can do it successful. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:13:26
I love that. You said that. Because a lot of times people will attribute everything to not drinking. And sometimes I know. Because you’re not drinking sometimes life. Yeah. Yes.
And it comes at you from every direction, especially when you’re full blown adult and you write stuff is hard. It is hard. It is not a simple process. There’s always something to take care of, to think about to troubleshoot, to brainstorm, you know, to worry about if you want to worry about it. But yeah, life is just life. It’s not hard, because you’re not drinking. It’s just hard because it’s live.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:14:05
This has been so helpful. Truly, I’d love this conversation. I know people are going to listen to it again and again. How can they follow up with you and learn more about what you do?, Find your podcast, which I adore, tell us all the things.
I would say really, the best way to connect is in my Facebook group, which is also Addiction Unlimited. It’s so incredible and fun. And there’s so much support in there and people at all levels of sobriety. I mean, we have people in there with decades of sobriety, we’ve plenty of people who are on day one, you know, we’re in their first week and it’s just a really beautiful, loving, supportive place. And that’s where I like to spend the majority of my talk.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:14:57
I love that. Well, send me the link to, Is relapse a choice? Because I’d love to get to that. That would be a great thing for people to listen to after this.
Absolutely. Thank you so much, Casey. It’s been such a pleasure getting to spend time with you. I know same.
All right. Thank you.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.