Planning your alcohol recovery

Planning your alcohol recovery

Now a plan like this can be useful for all manner of situations in life and offers a template we can use when we want to attain a new goal. 

This can be: 

  • Weight loss 
  • Fitness 
  • Getting a new job 
  • Learning a new skill 
  • And recovery 

You will cover planning on day 5 of our recovery coaching programme but I thought it would be nice to cover it in a peer support topic as it really is quite important and often over looked. 

**To join the initiative alcohol recovery programme please see the link at the end of this article!**

One thing I took away from serving in the armed force is piss poor preparation leads to piss poor performance! 

When I began this journey, I knew that in order for me to succeed I needed to plan and prepare properly and this is a habit I would like you guys to get into as it keeps us focused, motivated and aware. 

Motivation 

The first thing we need to look at is our motivation, so what is your motivation to stop drinking and begin this journey? 

Our motivation is important so when you do this you need to be honest with yourself and we don’t want to set a half arsed motivation like: 

“Because my missus keeps having a go at me.”  

Or 

“Because my local off licence has closed.” 

Spend some time on this and then look a little deeper you might think: 

  • My health 
  • My kids 
  • My marriage 
  • My finances 
  • My job 

Start writing and allow the pen to flow as you do so you will delve beneath the surface and feelings will start to come up, as you write this you are making yourself aware of those feelings this will help to motivate you and reinforce your progression. 

Once you have your motivation write it down and put it by your bed side, the bathroom mirror, in your purse or wallet. 

I want you to be reminded of this often so that the reason you started is always at the forefront of your mind. 

Next you will look at obstacles 

Most of us have been on a continuous cycle of drinking for a very long time. In many cases we knew we needed to stop but why didn’t we? 

What stood in the way of us making taking that step? 

So first you look at what obstacles have previously stood in the way of change and then from there I want you to note what challenges do you feel are going to cause you problems now. 

Again, take your time. 

This is an important exercise which will help you to become aware of triggers and other obstacles such as peer pressure.  

Think about people, places, times, events and get busy. 

Your promise to yourself, your commitment to this journey. 

This is the moment we truly hold a mirror up to ourselves and face the reality of what needs to be done. 

Write this question down: 

Am I really ready to commit to my recovery? Although I ant to change am I ready to change? 

You will need to be motivated and be dedicated to this journey, no one can do this for you and you are going to have to get proactive and engage within your recovery process by applying what is needed and this will keep you headed in the right direction. 

Within our coaching process I can give you the mindset tools that worked for me, I can give you support and this peer support network but ultimately you have to be the one who put these things into good use. 

I think of recovery like a marathon, but it is the only marathon in life that actually gets easier the further you get! With each day, with each step you are building up your strength and your mindset towards success.  

So from that point I want you to write a statement to yourself that will be announcing that commitment and this statement should have a promise in there to yourself that you are ready and willing to make the change that is right for you. 

Keep this safe and when the going gets tough read your promise, remind yourself of the motivation and reason why you started. 

The next thing you are going to do is look at your goals 

When we are forming any time of plan as a means for structure it is important that we add goals so that we have something to aim towards. 

We need to think about this because we could have many goals and with structure we wont end up simply darting from one to the other. 

When you decided to give up drinking I'm sure your initial thought was that’s it, I'm not drinking any more. 

This I view as a main goal, but its also very large and vague. 

You can make a note of this like: 

“I want to live a sober, happy and healthy life.” 

But at the forefront of your mind now I want you to focus on smaller more attainable goals that will form the foundations of the future that you want. 

When I view this I think of my main goal across a river that I can get across and so I need stepping stones to get me there. 

So I view these smaller goals as those stepping stones. 

As I step across the perilous water below I cannot focus on the big goal the other side I need to bring my attention to the small goals, the stepping stones otherwise I could lose my footing and fall in. 

Stepping stones are vitally important but they are also achievable. As you achieve each one you make your way closer to the life that you want. 

This is the example I use on day five of the recovery plan: 

Have you ever got up in the morning and declared that today is the day,  

IM NEVER DRINKING AGAIN!  

This is a common occurrence normally brought on by guilt from the night before.  

There are two problems that stand out regarding goals like this:  

  • The motivation isn't really there 
  • The goal sub consciously will seem like an impossible task coming off the back of a night's drinking 

When the goal is too big and the motivation really is not there, we are setting ourselves up to fail from the outset.  

Example:  

Once upon a time there I was watching country file. I decided that I like the idea of hiking and go out and get the boots, the raincoat some Kendal mint cake and all the rest of the gear.  

In the excitement I decide that I'm not going to settle for a hill. I'm going to climb Everest!  

I get my plane ticket and off I pop.  

On the morning of arriving at the foot of the mountain I look up, see it in front of me and think NO WAY!  

I get the first flight home and I never even took that first step on the mountain. 

Setting our goals in recovery is the same Yes, you have your big goal that is fuelled by your motivation.  

But in order to get there you need to make smaller, more attainable, realistic goals.  

Our smaller goals can be written down on a weekly basis and then broken down again into daily ones.  

So, you could write your goals for your first week and tick them off as you go something along the lines of:  

  • Contact my GP to get myself checked out and see what help there is available 
  • Contact AA or other peer support
  • Pick up a journal 
  • Get my shopping in so I won't have to leave the house during my trigger time 
  • Because I'm going to be at home, I need to make arrangements for an activity to keep me busy (Sign up for an online course, get crafting materials, get that guitar that I'm going to learn to play etc. )

These are examples of stepping stone goals that will help you to work towards the big goal. And of course, a daily goal of staying sober for today! 

Your daily goal could be to make the zoom meeting with us clean and sober. Then break it down again: 

  • Straight after work ill go directly home 
  • I will eat my dinner before or when I feel triggered to ease the cravings 
  • Then ill turn my attention to the recovery plan and do any work in my journal 
  • Ill jump on the zoom 
  • After the zoom ill do some reflection in my journal 
  • Time for bed 
  • Clean and sober 

This is how it can work at all times you're changing your behavior and breaking the cycle by not sitting around focusing on the desire to drink, your being proactive and engaging with yourself. 

Next, we want to look at how you track your progression 

I'm sure that if you have ever undergone any kind of fitness regime, dieting process or maybe a new course to learn a new skill you have utilised a means to track your progression. 

Tracking our progress can be a huge motivating tool, for me during my recovery I posted every day for a year what day I was on alcohol free with a video saying how I was feeling etc.  

When I look back over these now it works as a huge motivator for me to keep going as I can see the physical changes and I'm reminded of the mental health changes that have occurred as well. 

I also used the sober app which I still have on my phone called sober time. 

Here are some things you can do and make a note with your plan what you decide and the commit to it: 

  • Get a sober App on your phone
  • Start a savings account 
  • Writing in your journal
  • Posting a daily alcohol-free post on this site very group

Your physical health goes hand in hand with your mental health so... 

Next add into your plan what healthy steps you are going to take and again commit to them: 

Bringing some healthier foods into your daily diet is essential as your alcohol usage will have stripped your body of vital nutrients and with the extra time you are gaining back into your life you will be able to add some new healthier lifestyle choices such as: 

  • Taking up yoga 
  • Going for a daily walk 
  • Learning a new martial art 
  • Taking up running

What do you think you could introduce into your life? Perhaps it is something you used to do before your addiction took hold or maybe something you have always fancied having a go at but never have.  

Now is the time to try. 

Introducing something like this into your life will also aid your mood and stress levels which will have a great impact on positive long term recovery. 

Please remember though before taking up any fitness programme a consult with your doctor would be a great idea first. Think about your diet also what changes can you make to your diet? 

Finally you need to write a crisis plan  

A crisis plan is all the details of who you need to contact or what you need to do in the event that your struggling or a medical emergency like severe withdrawal symptoms. 

Make a note of: 

  • Your doctors number
  • Friends or family you can confide in or call if you are in need of help or support 
  • Your sponsor, support worker or recovery coach's number
  • Emergency numbers People you can call in a crisis and you can also make a note of steps to be taken in the event of a crisis. 

Let those people know or ask them if they can be added to your crisis plan. 

Well done you have written a plan of action for your recovery!  Remember this is not set in stone and can be adjusted as you go. 

**To join the initiative and transform your relationship with alcohol please see the link below this article**

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