It is now nearly 10 years since I finally stopped drinking. The rehab goes on. Only last week I was asked by a colleague recovering alcoholic if I ever miss drinking. Of course I do. If I walk by the open door of a bar, and the smell of beer wafts out to me, I will get a flashback of the “good times”. It is strange though how I never get a memory of the “long nights of the soul” spend writhing on the floor trying to sober up and hoping to feel better before morning.
The first few hours are critical. As each five minutes pass, you may congratulate yourself; perhaps reward yourself each hour with a tasty treat. If you encounter sweating, shakes, or even hallucinations in these early hours, just remember that these too will pass. If you can build your nerve to take a walk in the cool air, you will have won a first battle – many alcoholics stay hidden away, scared to meet others for fear of embarrassment, or of being asked awkward questions. The doctor may prescribe you some nerve settling medication such as Librium, and this definitely helps during the first day or two, but after that you will need to get your mental condition to a place where you can cope and deal with everyday life.
After two or three days, the initial physical conditions should be subsiding and you need to start thinking about your mental condition. Get some Vitamin B for memory loss at this point – as this is another thing that alcohol will have done to you. Start thinking to yourself about all the things that you would like to do when you are up to it – gardening, hang gliding, surfing, painting etc. Remember that you will have a compulsive nature and so you will have to stop yourself immediately running out to undertake a project that can never be completed to your exact satisfaction. This will cause frustration and possibly send you back to the booze. I have seen alcoholics strive to have the best ever garden ever, and hit the booze when the weeds start reappearing!
Alcoholism is self centered – it is all about you! The reason you drink is ….(see I told you so). Therefore, the cure must also focus on you. Be self centered and get it right. After about 3 months you will have achieved a lot and you should be proud – you should be coming out of depression and into a huge new way of living. You will be much happier about yourself and your place in life.
I remember the six month threshold. It was if someone had switched my life from monochrome to colour. Emotions became real, I was no longer surly, jaded or cynical.
The long term mental issues as a result of drinking are worse than the short term physical ones. But I can tell you from experience, this journey is well worth travelling.