Hey guys, Erik Johnson, I want to talk about overcoming loneliness in sobriety. It’s something that I know well since I have been sober for over 10 years, and I lost all my friends when I got sober.
If you’ve been drinking for any length of time, it’s an all consuming thing in your life, and those friends of yours are probably just using with you or drinking with you, they’re basically drinking buddies. Now I’m not saying they all are.
But I’m sure if you’re a drinker, like I was, most of them like to drink like you.
Overcoming Loneliness in Sobriety
So the first step of staying sober, is you have to get rid of those friends, because they’re not going to understand your sobriety.
They might kind of get it. But until they’re actually doing it themselves, they’re gonna just, they might support you and give you encouragement, but it won’t last.
They will eventually cave in, and tempt you to drink because alcoholics do not want to drink alone. That’s the bottom line.
Misery loves company, and they’re not going to feel comfortable around you if you’re doing well, if you’re doing great in sobriety, getting in shape, eating better, losing weight and you’re working out.
They’re not going to understand. They’re going to be threatened by that, because they don’t feel good. Almost every alcoholic I know of, including myself, never felt good.
We were either drunk or we were hung over with maybe one hour in there, where the buzz actually felt good, but it’s all an illusion.
It’s not true happiness, and you know that it’s just a buzz. Then it gets really ugly – if you’re a heavy drinker.
So I want to talk about what I did when I got sober. In fact, today I still don’t have friends and I got sober in 2008.
So what did I do? Well the first thing, I’m not saying you have to do this in order, or you can do it any way you want, but like I said, you have to get rid of places, people and things that remind you of alcohol and drinking.
That was easy for me to do, because at the end of my drinking there were only about two people that I hung out with, and they were heavy drinkers.
One man was almost homeless. He was actually kind of like the town drunk and lived next door in an encampment and lived in a broken down 15 foot trailer.
He drank four 40 ounce bottles of malt liquor every day, Old English, and in his trailer he had bottles of piss, because he had to piss at night, because he didn’t have a toilet and he didn’t want to get out of bed, really nasty stuff.
My friends were easy to get rid of when I got sober, because they weren’t quality friends and they didn’t relate to me when I was sober, so I got rid of those friends, and I got two jobs.
The first thing I did was I hid behind work, and that’s what a lot of people do.
So I got a morning shift and a night shift at a restaurant, and at night, when I got home, I was still smoking cigarettes – that was something I looked forward to.
But then when I quit cigarettes I switched to Peanut m&ms. That was my treat at night – and maybe a really good tea or coffee or something.
So you have to look forward to something, you’re gonna have to replace what you look forward to with healthier things. You can replace anything that you want.
I replaced sugar eventually with stevia. I replaced Coca Cola with Zevia drinks. I replaced sugary treats with stevia treats. And for a dopamine rush, I started to work out.
You see a lot of alcoholics, they’ll turn to exercise because you get that adrenaline and you get that dopamine, you get those feel good chemicals that you used to get with alcohol – but now in a healthier form.
And yeah, people are like, you know you can get addicted to working out, and you’ll just become a gym rat.
But you know, if drinking is life or death, who cares if you’re working out at the gym four hours a day?
You know, you’re gonna become phenomenally in shape and your friends are going to be jealous. Who cares if they call you a gym rat, because it’s way better than dying from alcohol.
So I worked at two jobs, and I worked out at the gym and after a really good workout I would go into the sauna and I would sweat for a half an hour. I usually took a half gallon of water with me to the sauna.
But there’s something that feels really good about coming out of a sauna; even a hot tub if you don’t have a sauna, coming out of that hot water or coming out of the sauna after a half an hour.
You feel so relaxed and so good. I think that’s what a lot of alcoholics crave is feeling relaxed, because a lot of alcoholics are high strung. They’re stressed out, they have anxiety or they have depression.
And the best thing for that is to not only get all of that nervous energy out of your muscles by working out, but treating yourself to a good sauna after the workout.
The other thing that I did was I’ve always been creative. I’ve always been a writer and an artist. So I finally got to do what I loved with my creativity.
Because when I was drunk, alcohol took away my drumming, it took away my words. It took away my music. All my natural talents were subdued with alcohol.
That’s the other thing I picked up when I got sober. I started to write again. I wrote a memoir called the drunk, I uploaded that to Amazon, along with a couple other books.
I created a kind of a Lo-Fi alternative metal album. I uploaded that to Tunecore, which is another digital platform for musicians. Then I just blogged, and then I got my own website in 2014.
I started writing articles every day. Then I joined a network marketing company and started writing articles about network marketing.
Eventually people were signing up from my blog to my network marketing, and I’ve been working from home ever since 2016.
So I utilized my talents, and I figured out real quick what I wanted to do with my life and I stayed busy.
So, those are basic tips that you can do to start sobriety, and when you’re busy, I’m not talking just run around with your head cut off, I’m talking about doing stuff that you used to do when you were a kid – stuff that excited you, like fishing or riding a bicycle or any of those hobbies that alcohol took away, you can start bringing those back.
They might not look exactly the same as when you were a kid, but you’ll find a version that you like.
For instance, I used to play a drum set. Now if I got a drum set, or if I wanted to play drums, that would probably be a hand drum – and I would join a drum circle.
So that’s basically how I got away from loneliness. Then I attract people like me on the internet – if you’re lonely.
The other best thing you can do is help other addicts and alcoholics. There’s a lot of people that get sober, they do a year of AA, and then they become a sponsor themselves, because nothing feels better than to help others, because we were very selfish and self centered as alcoholics.
So the best thing we can do is give back, but I would at least get six months to a year of sobriety under your belt, before you sponsor someone. I knew when I was done drinking.
I’ve relapsed many times but when I finally got sober, it was for me. It was a gut feeling, and it was life or death, and I was at my bottom for real, because I’ve been sober many times but this time it was different – 2008 I was done.
I had a couple relapses 2010 and 2012. But I’m not counting those, I’m not starting my sobriety over. I’m telling everyone I got 13 years of sobriety, no matter what because I don’t believe in starting over. When I know in my heart that sobriety is my path.
It’s been easily over 10 years with my relapses or not. So, I hope these tips help.
So for one, you’re going to have to get rid of your old friends, places and things that remind you of drinking.
Number two, get into your work, join a gym, and try to get a healthy treat that you can look forward to, you know, it could be a hot tub or a sauna, could be a good book, could be a good cup of tea or coffee.
You know I smoked cigarettes for two years in sobriety and then I eventually knocked out cigarettes.
So work on your biggest addiction first and then start whittling away at your smaller addictions until you’re pretty happy with yourself.
I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’m still working on smaller addictions, I still have a craving for bad foods and sitting around the house and still working on my belly – getting rid of belly fat.
So that’s just the way it is. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you relapse. I always say that’s part of recovery. Don’t use it as a crutch. You know, don’t use relapses as a crutch for sobriety.
But we do make mistakes and if it’s an honest mistake it’s okay, that you relapse because what’s worse than a relapse is the guilt and shame. That makes you want to drink again.
That’s the only part I don’t like about AA, is that you have to start the clock over if you drink and that can produce a lot of guilt and shame, especially if you have 30 days of sobriety up to a year of sobriety and then you drink, and all those days are thrown away, it can cause a lot of pain.
I’m telling you that relapse is part of recovery, I relapsed 100 times before I finally got sober.
But I realized it was life or death, and I was done, so you’ll know when you’re done, hopefully, and don’t use guilt and shame to go back out and drink if you relapse.
Get right back on the wagon. Go back to the gym, workout extra hard – and that’s how you deal with loneliness.
I still am an introvert. I have Asperger’s. I don’t like social interaction. If I make friends today it’s going to be through the internet. It’s going to be on YouTube.
I love when people comment under my videos because I can start a dialogue with new people from around the world that have the same interests as me. That’s better than trying to hang out with someone who doesn’t line up with your new hobbies.
I definitely don’t have any friends left from my childhood, from high school or from college, they’re just doing their own thing, we outgrew each other.
I’ve never understood people that can just still have friends from high school. Maybe I’m just jealous I don’t know, but they were kind of mean to me anyways. You know they used to pick on me.
That’s mainly why I liked drinking because drinking never talked back. Drinking made me feel good for a couple of years. But then it turned out to be a big lie – and I almost died.
I’m all about finding friends online. But stay busy, tap into your old hobbies, find new hobbies, travel, get a mountain bike. Try jogging. There are a lot of endorphins with jogging, you can get a runner’s high.
I love jogging. I got to get rid of this belly before I start jogging again but jogging is probably the best I have felt and if it feels like I’m truly alive when I’m running on the road.
When I am running on the road it taps into that primal nature we have as humans. It taps into that wild side, and it gives you a really good endorphin rush because a lot of alcoholics are thrill seekers, and we are adrenaline junkies.
So you definitely want to replace alcohol with a good way of getting adrenaline and dopamine. Look into healthy snacks and working out while jogging.
You could even get just a stationary bicycle, you know, look into peloton. That’s probably the, My favorite stationary bike peloton. And, you know, you are gonna have rough days, maybe you can find a sobriety group.
If you don’t want to find any group sending just watch my videos and we can talk back and forth under the comments. So I hope this helps your health. We’ll talk to you soon.
Here’s more Resources for Autism and Addiction.