Hey guys, welcome to the channel this is Erik Johnson, I want to talk about early sobriety and I have the 10 best tips on how to achieve lasting sobriety once and for all.
I’ve had hundreds of relapses over the years but I finally have 13 years of sobriety, so I know what works, stay till the very end because we’re going to count down from 10 to one the best tips to stay sober.
Number 10: you’re going to have to remove people from your life
Now, if you’ve been drinking for a while most of your friends are probably drinking with you, they’re enabling you to drink, or they’re just bad influences.
When I got sober, I had to remove everyone pretty much because I had been a heavy drinker for 16 years. I drank for 20 years, but 16 of those were blacking out every single night.
So my friends at the end of my drinking were all drinking buddies and I, to be honest, I didn’t have any friends left. The only person that drank with me was a homeless guy who lived in a camp next door.
They called him “Animal”. He had greasy long hair and he grunted, literally, and he was the only one that could drink like me. He was the only one that lived for alcohol just like me.
He was easy to remove, you know, because he could barely walk and I didn’t go over to his camp anymore, so he was out. But I had to get rid of a lot of other friends over the years, even if they pretended to support me in sobriety.
They were always just lingering around the outskirts waiting for me to drink again, and if I didn’t drink they would start to get lonely because misery loves company and they would always be like you know are you going to drink, you know, do you think you’re going to drink again or you want to have just a beer?
They’re going to be very sneaky. You just have to get away from everyone that you drank with or even knows that you drink, just cut them completely off. I know it hurts, but you have to do this because this is life or death.
Number nine: you have to remove all the places that remind you of drinking
You wouldn’t believe how many places reminded me of alcohol, or I drank in those places. There were hundreds of places that I drank, they all had memories of alcohol, and you just have to basically find new places.
For me I just stayed home. That was the safest place for me in early sobriety because I lived in a small town and every single place reminded me of alcohol.
The other thing I did two years into sobriety was I moved away from that small town eventually. You really have to uproot and start looking for a new place, or if you live in a big city, maybe move to the other side of town, but you have to start over completely.
Number eight: you have to remove things that remind you of drinking
These are usually rituals, they can be, it could be music even, you know, I listened to nu metal and hard rock when I was a drinker, and when I quit drinking I switched to electronica and trance music, deep drone music which is really soothing in the background.
I listened to jazz, not the alcoholic jazz, not the seedy jazz but more like, you know, soft jazz. So you really have to look at your rituals, and you just have to switch it up, you have to break the wiring in your brain that wires you a certain way, and makes you do things a certain way throughout your day, all the rituals.
You have to basically destroy and start over and rewire your brain. You have to rewire your brain by getting rid of the rituals: people, places and things that they talk about all the time in 12 step meetings, you have to change people, places and things – and that’s just the way it is.
Number seven: you have to change your diet
Alcohol is so unhealthy, it’s a poison basically, and it’s made up of mostly sugar, and you might have a lot of fat from drinking beer. I mean, I was 215 pounds with a huge beer belly, even though I stopped eating food.
I was literally starving to death, but I was gaining all this weight with just beer. So, you have to change your diet and when you change your diet and you switch to high quality proteins and organic vegetables and stuff like that, it’s going to change your mind as well.
Because if you wake up and you just have a pop and a pop tart, you’re going to spike your blood glucose levels, your sugar levels are going to go through the roof.
Then you’re going to crash, and you’re going to be irritable, you’re going to be upset. You won’t have any sustained energy, and that’s gonna get you to drink.
You have to get away from the crappy food. You have to switch to organic high quality protein, high quality carbs, get away from sugar completely. It’s just very dangerous. Okay.
Number six: you have to remove other stimulants in your life
I see a lot of people when I used to go to AA, I used to see so many people just hitting the coffee so hard and chain smoking. They’re basically, they’re not really sober because they’re still hitting these other drugs, you know, caffeine, sugar, tobacco, these are very powerful drugs, but we play it like they’re not with mainstream TV, but they are.
You know, I did smoke cigarettes for the first two years of my sobriety. It was a crutch, it helped me stop thinking about alcohol, but eventually I got rid of the cigarettes and peanut m&ms were my favorite treat as far as early sobriety.
But, eventually I switched to Stevia, and I’ll get to that in a minute but you have to remove all stimulants from your life, you can switch to the healthier stimulants and we’ll get to that in a minute.
Number five: start working out
A lot of people that get sober hit the gym because they get healthy from working out, you can start jogging and get a runner’s high. You can switch to healthy things that still give you that adrenaline because a lot of addicts and alcoholics are adrenaline junkies, they like thrill.
I went and started playing racquetball again, I loved racquetball, I started jogging on the treadmill and I got that endorphin rush that I was missing in my sobriety and it really helped me not think about drinking because I was getting really high from just my workouts.
Then I would treat myself to a sauna after the workout and that made me so relaxed. By the time I left the gym after the hard workout and then the sauna I did not think about drinking at all. I was happy I was losing weight.
I was getting strong again, and I felt confident, and it was true confidence from doing good things in my life. None of this illusion stuff from drinking.
Number four: it’s all or nothing, no excuses
You can’t drink near beer, you can’t go to a bar and hang out with your old friends and drink Dr Pepper. Okay, I’ve known people to do that and it just doesn’t work long term.
It might work for three months to six months but eventually you’re going to break down and start drinking again, you have to get away from the bar, and you can’t drink near beer. You can’t drink some substitute and pretend that you’re one of the guys anymore.
My last relapse, I was actually drinking Theraflu. Okay, somehow, the insanity came back, I had 20 months of sobriety. This was way before I got sober for good but I drank Theraflu, and it gave me this buzz.
So pretty soon I’m drinking two packs of Theraflu a day, so I could hang out with my old friends. And it was so ridiculous, I was like, this is killing me. This is hurting my liver, my kidneys, why not just drink? Drinking beer is less dangerous than drinking Theraflu, and then I just started drinking alcohol again.
And every time I went back out and drank again, the drinking was worse than ever, because it’s a progressive disease, you’re not going to outgrow it. Even if you’re sober for five years, I know people that went back out drinking after 16 years of sobriety and they never returned and they probably died.
So it is life or death. It’s all or nothing, guys. You can’t just have a drink. You’ve tried that probably hundreds of times like I did. I’m going to just have three beers tonight – that never worked, or I’m going to switch to wine, that never worked. It’s all or nothing. You have to hit rock bottom, and know that you are done completely.
So number three is to take accountability
This is the first step in AA, you have to admit to yourself and others that your life has become unmanageable, that alcohol has destroyed your life. Look around, it’s not just between you and alcohol. You’ve hurt your friends, you’ve hurt your family, you’ve hurt your jobs, you’ve hurt your health.
You have to take total accountability and realize that you did it to yourself. No one forced you to drink and drive. No one forced the bottle up to your mouth. This is the first step you have to take total accountability and say yes, my life has been destroyed.
Number two: find a sober community
You have to find people that actually don’t drink at all. I didn’t need AA the last time I drank because I hit absolute rock bottom, and I’m kind of a loner anyways. I’m good with isolation.
But a lot of people can’t handle isolation so you’re going to have to hook up with some sober people. You definitely don’t want to get with any boyfriends or girlfriends.
You want to stay alone the first year of sobriety, just to really get your head back in the game, and do some introspection. You can start journaling, you’re going to have a lot of crazy thoughts and emotions.
It’s going to be a roller coaster, and it’s good to get an accountability partner, and probably the safest place to find new friends is either the gym, but probably more like AA or go online and find a sober community.
But, if you find someone at the gym, they have to be friends, you can’t get into a romantic relationship your first year, you really should stay alone, and just sit with your feelings and your emotions, they’re going to come up, they’re going to surface.
Some early childhood traumas might come up; you have to just sit with it and cry it out and be angry and journal about it and find a sober accountability partner, and just talk. Okay. Don’t get into any romance.
Number one: is you got to find a higher power
Okay, you can’t do this on your own anymore, you’ve wrecked your life on your own. You have to find a higher power, as you understand them. It could be a light bulb if you don’t believe in God. It could be something else, it could be nature, you could look up to the trees or river.
But, I chose Jesus right away because I love Jesus, and I walked away from him for many years, and I finally got saved again. So my higher power is God, and every single morning I pray to God to make me a better Christian to make me a better person.
It’s been 13 years now and I don’t have any cravings. I don’t even crave the dark side of, I don’t listen to dark music anymore. I don’t look at bad images, I try to stay away from violence on TV. I don’t watch the news.
I try to surround myself with healthy uplifting people and music and even my literature has changed, you know, when I was a drunk I read alcoholic writers and when I got sober, I switched to uplifting people that can help me improve my life.
So that’s it guys, that’s the 10 Best Tips for Lasting Sobriety. I hope this helps, hit that subscribe button if you’re new here, and we will talk to you very soon.
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Erik C Johnson