Do you wish you had a road map that will guide you through your first week without alcohol?
7 Strategies To Get Through Your First Week Without Alcohol
The first, second, and even the third week without alcohol are the hardest and most important as you try and take an extended break from drinking.
Knowing what to expect and setting yourself up for success can be the difference between feeling good or feeling miserable.
And it can be the difference between continuing on your alcohol free journey and starting to feel better, versus giving up on day four or day five.
In this episode you’ll learn:
- How and when to stock up on what you need to feel good in your first week without alcohol
- Why you need sober treats and how to plan them out
- How and why to get all of the alcohol out of your house
- When to write down how you feel right now, and why you want to quit drinking
- What to expect and how you’ll feel in your first 4 days
- How to build yourself a sober bubble
- How to get through days 5-7 and putting your first week without alcohol to bed
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ABOUT THE HELLO SOMEDAY PODCAST
The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The Sober Girl’s Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement.
Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.
In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.
Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life.
Be sure to grab the FREE SOBER GIRL’S GUIDE TO QUITTING DRINKING right here.
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
7 Strategies To Get Through Your First Week Without Alcohol
drinking, strategies, navigating, sober momentum, first week, sober treats, sober bubble, brave, journey
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson
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 bus, 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.
Well, hi there.
In this Episode, I want to talk about navigating your first week without alcohol and 7 steps that will set you up for success in building some solid, sober momentum.
The first week, the first two weeks and even week three, are absolutely the hardest and the most important ones as you try to take an extended break from drinking. So knowing what to expect and setting yourself up for success can be the difference between feeling good or feeling miserable. And the difference between continuing on your alcohol free journey and starting to feel better versus giving up on day four or day five.
Here’s the thing you may not realize, day one is actually going to be a good day. You are brave for getting started on this journey. This is a day that you stop making yourself feel worse and start feeling better. But that said, you need some help to get you through that first week.
When I was trying to quit drinking, Days 4 and 5 were the most challenging for me. I would tell myself I was going to take a break from drinking. And then somehow by Day 4, something would happen. And I’d say “Screw it, I need a bottle of wine. This isn’t worth it. It’s been a hard week. I deserve it.” And looking back, that was because I didn’t have the tools or the mindset I needed to set myself up for success. So, I want to share with you what you need to know to make it past Day 4, and to start feeling better.
We’re going to talk about seven things that will set you up for success in your first week without alcohol. And here’s a quick rundown of what we’ll cover in this episode.
Step 1. Stock up on what you need to get through the first week.
- Plan out sober treats. They’re really important.
- Get all the alcohol out of your house. I know this isn’t easy, but as we go through this episode, I’m going to talk to you about how to do that best even If you have a partner or a roommate that you’re living with.
- Write down how you feel right now, and why you want to quit drinking.
- Know what to expect and how you’ll feel in your first four days.
- Bubble up, get your sober bubble ready, lower the bar, take it easy. And
- Getting through Days 5 through 7, and putting your first week to bed.
I’ll go through each of those in more detail as we go on.
So I’m going to start with number one, which is stock up on what you need to get through your first week. I recommend going to the grocery store early in the day or at lunchtime. Don’t go during the witching hour or when you get off of work or when you’ve had a long day with the kids. Eat something before you go to the grocery store. And don’t even look at, or walk down the alcohol aisle – you don’t eat them right now. It’s always more effective to replace an ingrained habit with a new practice, rather than simply going the deprivation route.
For example, you don’t want to come home after a long day of work, or a transition to the time when you’re typically cooking dinner. And you’re used to pouring yourself a really big glass of wine. And instead, you’re not drinking anything or you’re drinking water. You need to stock up on a bunch of different options of things that are tasty that you can drink instead of alcohol. So go to the store and get a stash of all peps ready to substitute for your wine or beer. I personally like ginger beer or cranberry and soda with lime. There’s Lacroix. I love lime and coconut or anything else that you’d like to drink. Usually something fizzy or sometimes something sour like sparkling grapefruit juice can taste really good. Have it ready to go the minute the witching hour hits. Put it in a nice glass for dinner. You can get a big selection of different non-alcoholic options and try them all, until you find one or two that you love. Fizzy ones, fancy ones, healthy ones, comforting ones, all the ones. Get yourself a big stash and take them with you so you never run out. If I’m going to someone else’s house for a dinner party or potluck or picnic, I put in my bag, a couple of ginger beers and a couple of Lacroix, so I can bring them out and I have something for sure that I will like to drink.
While you’re at the store, stock up on some treats for yourself. This is not the time to try going on a diet or depriving yourself of sweets. Get some chocolate, some cookies, some ice cream, whatever your jam is peanut m&ms popcorn, hummus and peanut butter. Wine has a lot of sugar in it. So when you stop drinking, you’re going to crave that sugar. When you have the urge to drink it is okay to eat some peanut m&ms or peanut butter and crackers, instead of breaking down and opening a bottle of wine.
Now, I know that a lot of you like chocolate, I’m going to binge on chocolate and that’s bad. When you are breaking an addictive habit that is truly bringing you down and making you sleep terribly and having you consume it every single night. A little chocolate is fine. It won’t last forever, but don’t deprive yourself.
Okay, now you’ve been to the store, your pantry is stocked, your fridge is stocked, you have lots of things to drink, and to eat during the time you’re normally consuming wine or beer.
And you’re ready for step two. You need treats, lots and lots of sober treats. You deserve them and you need to plan them out. If you’ve been drinking for a while, all of your favorite treats may revolve around alcohol or events that include alcohol. That’s pretty normal.
And all that means is that you need to start a new treat list. Quitting drinking should actually feel like you’re finally taking care of yourself. You’re being kind to yourself, rather than coming home and just numbing out with a bottle of wine and then waking up with a hangover. And that starts with finding other things that bring you joy and comfort, that are not alcohol. Treat yourself everyday if you want to.
In early sobriety, I took a walk to Whole Foods during my lunch break, and roll with the aisles taking pictures of possible sober treats, things that might make me happy or feel like a gift to myself. That wasn’t a bottle of wine. I took pictures of fresh flowers and journals, or magazines I thought looked interesting to read alone at a coffee shop. I took pictures of a massage ball and essential oils, a flyer for Saturday’s farmers market that I’d never visited in my town. I got my bicycle tuned up as a solo retreat, and went for a long, slow ride on a trail by myself. I decided in advance that on Friday night, I was going to get myself sushi, and watch any movie that I wanted. I made a list of all the novels I wanted to read, and the books on tape I wanted to listen to, and the TV shows I wanted to binge on at night. And then each week, I picked a new one off the list to give myself as a treat. I got pedicures. I planned a massage for Saturday evening, knowing that I wouldn’t be drinking. I went to Ulta or Sephora and made a list of new makeup and face masks and bath bombs I wanted to try.
Here’s your homework, make a list of your treats. Plan one for every day in your first two weeks of sobriety and then get one every other day for that first month. So what that means, if right now you’re in week one of quitting drinking, you need a treat on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Now remember, they don’t need to be big. They don’t need to be food. It could be a long walk. It could be an online meditation or a yoga class. It could be a new kind of tea. It could be fresh fruit. Or it could be takeout food and a movie. Plan your treats and get them. And then this is important, say to yourself, this is my treat for being sober. Enjoy this part. It’s good.
Number three, is that you really need to get all of the alcohol out of your house. And this is because willpower will only take you so far.
You are going to have a moment in the first week or maybe a couple of different moments where you really say I want to drink. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m trying to moderate and only drink a couple times a week, I am so irritated. On those days, I’m not drinking. That’s because I’m in withdrawal. And I’m denying myself a habit. And it is inevitable that if you have your drink of choice, your alcohol of choice in your home, it is very easy for you to say “Screw it”, and open that bottle of wine. So I need you to get the wine out of your house or the beer. Now, if you live with a partner who drinks which a lot of us do, this can be hard. I would recommend telling your partner that you’re doing a health challenge, and you’re trying to go a period of time without alcohol, to see how healthy you can get or how good you can feel. And it would really help you out, if there was no alcohol in the house for this period of time. So they don’t have to not drink but it’s possible they could just go to a bar or restaurant or not drink at home. If that’s not possible, and I do recommend you try to do that, make sure at least that your “go-to” drink of choice is not in your house. So for me it was red wine, I could not have any red wine in my house. If it was there, it would be like an elephant in the room, I would know exactly where it was, at every single moment. I would walk through my kitchen, my eyes would be drawn to the wine rack. So I needed to have all red wine gone, just to have peace of mind and to have my house be a safe place. If you were to try to quit drinking and still have a bottle of your favorite drink on the counter. It would be like trying to quit sugar and having a birthday cake on the kitchen counter. Why would you do that to yourself?
That’s just painful. It would just require you to visually see that and say “no” 17 times a day. That’s too much. Willpower will only take you so far. But if it’s not there, if you look past that counter, and all you see is fruit and maybe some chocolate or some tea, those are your options you won’t be tempted on a minute by minute basis, by something you’ve decided isn’t working for you. I know that it’s hard that you don’t want to bother anyone else or change the lives of anyone else. I hear from clients all the time who say, this is my problem, I should be able to do this. I shouldn’t have to impose on my husband or my roommate to change their lives. You know what? It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to ask someone to support you. And what you’ve been doing up until now hasn’t been working. You wouldn’t be trying to quit drinking still. If what you have been doing has been working. So try something else.
So here’s your homework, pour out the wine, pour out the beer, pour out the liquor, or whatever your drink of choice is. You need it gone. It doesn’t have to be this way forever. But you do need it out of your house for at least the first 60 days. If you’re a drinker, it is incredibly hard not to be tempted by alcohol. If it’s in your home, you are going to be stressed out, lonely, tired, bored, angry, or whatever, at some point in the next 60 days. And in that moment of weakness, you need the alcohol not to be around. If it’s not around, you are so much more likely to get through that trigger in that challenge without drinking. So this is important. This is big, get rid of it, you can do it and then give yourself a big sober treat.
Number four is to write down how you feel right now and why you want to quit drinking, we’re going to focus on the positive support to help you to quit drinking. But at this moment, when your resolve is fresh and your memories are recent, I want you to reflect on how you felt recently, after drinking, and why you want to quit. You’ll want to remember this down the road.
Because whether or not you believe it now, the time will come sooner than you think. When you won’t feel this awful. When you won’t remember how drinking makes you feel. When you’ll think, well, maybe I could moderate. Maybe I didn’t feel that bad when I was drinking. But what you’re feeling now is real. Drinking does make you sick. Drinking does make you feel bad about yourself. Drinking does make you more depressed and anxious. So whatever your reason is, for wanting to quit drinking, write it down in as much detail as you can. What do you want to stop feeling? And what do you want to feel instead?
Here were my reasons that I wrote down on my last day one.
I want to feel better. I want to wake up without a hangover. I want to stop wondering what I said last night. Or if my husband’s mad at me. I want him to stop asking me how I feel in the morning. I want to remember the shows that I watch at night. I want to stop waking up at 3am with my mind racing, and not being able to fall back to sleep. I want to look in the mirror and not see yellow, glassy, bloodshot eyes. I want to feel optimistic and be proud of myself again. I want to feel free and happy and healthy. I want to stop breaking promises to myself. I want to stop worrying about what my drinking is doing to my body. And to my mind. I want to stop feeling shaky. I want my anxiety to go away.
Now it’s time for you. Write down your list.
All right, so far, you’ve stocked up on what you need, alt bevs, and good food to get you through the week. You’ve planned out your sober treats and made a list of treats you would enjoy that aren’t alcohol for the coming weeks. You’ve gotten all the alcohol out of your house. And you’ve written down how you feel right now, and why you want to quit drinking. So you should be good, right?
You should have everything you need to take a break from alcohol. Well, sometimes it’s not that simple.
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, 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.
So in Step five, I’m going to tell you what you need to know, what you should expect, and how you’re likely going to feel in your first day and your first week, so you can move through it without giving up during the hard part. Most people who decide to stop drinking, go through many of the same thoughts and feelings regardless of their drinking patterns, and regardless of how much they drink. It is so helpful to recognize these as they show up for you. This information will prepare you for the totally normal feelings, and the hurdles you’ll likely encounter so that you’re not discouraged and so that you don’t stop before you get to the good part.
Here’s what day one might look like for you. You’ll be very optimistic and calm until about 4:00pm. Then you’ll wonder whether you actually have a problem with alcohol. You’ll list all the reasons you aren’t that bad. You don’t need booze in the morning. You don’t drink every day. You still have a job, a house, a partner – insert whatever reason you have here.
You will begin at 4:00pm, writing your “I don’t really have a problem with alcohol. This is totally normal and cool,” story in your head. I want to tell you, the people who aren’t dependent on alcohol, don’t think about these things. At this stage, it is going to be hard for you to get past the 4:00pm to 8:00pm hours. If you can truly take it or leave it, you would be able to leave it right now without thinking about it at all.
You can’t. It’s not your fault. Trust me, there is zero judgment here. But the fact that right now you’re rationalizing, whether you actually have a problem, or whether you really need to quit drinking is a sign that you’re on the right path. You will understand this more later and you will kick yourself for not stopping much sooner. But drinking is weighing you down. Physically, mentally and spiritually much more than you realize.
It is a weight, change your ankle, that you are dragging around with you, every single day. But for now, it’s your day one and you just need to get through tonight. Your rationalizations about your drinking, which weirdly coincide with happy hour, are the reason you need to buckle down and just get through this, if only to experience the other side.
Almost everyone convinces themselves that they don’t have a problem with alcohol around 4:00pm on day one, it’s predictable, and it’s not a coincidence. The voice you hear, and the words you hear are the same for everyone, and they’re lying to you. So if you’re committed to taking a break from alcohol, so you will finally feel better, you will power through the witching hours. They usually go from about 4:00pm to 8:00pm. At the end of which, you will feel exhausted, irritated and disoriented. That’s normal. You will go to sleep, it likely will be pretty terrible sleep. Your only job is to lower the bar to get yourself a sober treat, and to go to bed tonight without drinking. If you do that, you have won.
Day 2, you’re going to wake up and think Yay, no hangover, terrible sleep, but no hangover. Now you probably woke up at least once feeling clammy and sweaty last night, you might have had a weird dream, which is strange, because you haven’t dreamed in ages. But you wake up without fear, and without shame and without anxiety, without wondering what you said or what you did, without going down to check out the bottle in the morning to see if you drank more than you remember. The lack of bad feelings will get you through Day 2, but you’re insanely tired. You go to bed at 7pm. Now on Days 3, and Days 4, know that you’re going to feel fragile. Like you’re walking around without your extra layer of skin. Everything is going to feel too loud. And to join, you’re going to be really irritated. So if that happens to you, know that it’s not you. Know that it’s normal. Know that it is your detox from alcohol. You will truly feel exhausted, almost like you have the flu, you will want to crawl under the covers for a month. That’s okay. To start, your main goal is literally to just start putting days between you and the last day you drink. Each day that you don’t drink, you are putting a new brick in a wall you’re building between you and alcohol. Every night, when you put your head on the pillow and you didn’t drink, you get a gold star.
The more days you add up in a row, the better and better you will feel.
Step number six, Bubble up. In week 1, it is really helpful to build yourself a sober bubble. One that eliminates as much stress as many triggers, as much irritation as possible. To do that, you need to lower the bar, you need to do less, you need to expect less of yourself. If that means you need to hire a babysitter, you need to go to the gym and put the kids in childcare. If it means you need to not cook dinner for an entire week, or you need to leave the office early, or take a mental health day. That’s okay. This is your week 1.
You would stay home if you had the stomach flu. You would let your spouse deal with the kids and go up to bed and watch a show. If you had the stomach flu. What you’re doing now is hard and it’s really important. So take it easy, as much as you possibly can. Once you take the alcohol out of your system, your body will quite literally be recovering from having it in your system. You’ll be tired and extreme self care is required. If you go too hard, if you do too much, if you keep going at the pace you’re going when you were drinking at the end of the day, to dull your senses, enough to make it all okay, to make it all fade away, you won’t get to the good stuff. You will break down and you will say, this is all too hard. I need a bottle of wine. So stay on your couch as much as possible. Rest, sleep, watch bad TV, go for slow walk and get some fresh air. Do the least amount possible you need to do to keep your life on track. Don’t do any more. Go ahead and lower the bar and then lower it again. I promise you after this part is over, you will have more energy, more motivation and more drive than you have felt in years. But for today, you don’t have to cook dinner for your kids, they can eat cereal. You can lay under a blanket and watch bad TV, while they watch bad TV, too. You can put them in bed and crawl into your bed without doing the dishes. You can cancel swim lessons this weekend. You can ask someone else to take your kid to soccer. Your goal is total and complete self care, baths, sleep, books, relaxation, walks, repeat.
All right, onto the last step of the information you need to help get you through your first week alcohol free. Step seven is knowing what to expect on days five to seven, and putting your first week to bed. I used to always break down and have a bottle of wine on day 4, day 5 or day 6. Know that these days are some of the most important in your entire journey to break free of alcohol.
On day 5, some other thoughts will start creeping into your head. You might think, “Oh, no, it’s the weekend,” which likely, will lead you to thinking that you can probably drink on weekends, it wouldn’t be that big a deal.
You have a party to go through on Saturday. Everyone knows that you’re a wine lover. It’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to be awkward if you don’t drink.
You might wonder if you can skip a social event and then immediately think, “Oh, God, I can’t”.
Your thoughts might drift to “maybe you should start again this Monday, so that you can have one last weekend”. Or think, “I can’t do this forever. What do people do on the weekend that doesn’t include booze?”
Remember, this is your first week. You are on day 5, day 6, day 7. You are breaking a destructive habit that has been making you feel like crap for years. And the fact that it’s so hard right now means you’re doing the right thing. I know it doesn’t feel this way. But days 5 through 7 are usually the hardest ones you’ll do. So bubble up, dig into your soul retreats, go to bed early, eliminate temptations, and just get through it. If you do that, you won’t have to do these days again. Why would you start again on Monday and go through all of this again? It gets easier. Focus on what’s good. Chocolate and candy tastes better than it has in years. Go ahead and eat them. Watch a bad movie. Get takeout for dinner. Go to bed early. Look at your sober treats list. Get a pedicure, read a book. Take a bubble bath, put on a face mask.
Right now, your only job is to build up days where you’re putting your head on your pillow and not drinking. If you do that and nothing else, you’ve won. Visualize that every day. It won’t always be this hard. You should be so proud of yourself when you get to the end of your first week. You have sober momentum. You are on your way. On Monday, you’re going to feel so much better. You will! You will walk into work clearer, your brain will be less foggy, your body will feel better, you will be less irritable. You just need to make it through.
Okay, that’s it. We just covered the 7 steps for success in navigating your first week without alcohol. I know I covered a lot of things.
So I have a guide on my website that will make this easier for you. It’s the sober girls guide to quitting drinking. It has 30 tips for your first 30 days. And in it I cover each of these steps that we went through today. There is a workbook in there so you have space to actually write down the reason you want to stop drinking and how you feel today. There’s a page on sober treats and an area for you to jot down your list of sober treats so you can remember them later. And a lot more to get that guide. Go to hellosomedaycoaching.com, sign up, and I’ll send it to you. Also, you can find that guide on the show notes to this episode, along with the 7 steps in a written format. You can find that at hellosomedaycoaching.com forward slash three. I also want to give a shout out to my very good friend Ingrid Miller, who wrote a good part of the descriptions of what to expect on day 1 to day 4 and day 5 to day 7 on my show notes page hellosomedaycoaching.com/3. I’ll add a link to her blogs that cover how you might feel in your first 30 days. She also has blogs in how you might feel later in sobriety.
So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
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.