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I started off with the book Overcoming Problem Drinking. It does recommend anywhere from 3-6 months initially. I hit my own early milestones - 30, 60, 90 days, and then decided to try a sober Christmas and New Years too. I decided after month four to commit to sobriety, it was the right choice for me, YMMV.
I downloaded this kindle book and worked through a chapter a day. This template is similar to the one I used for my cost-benefit-analysis. I was referred for CBT by my doctor, but the waiting list was long, so this was an immediate stop-gap.
That's a great question - there was a thread recently on this topic: How did YOU get through the first few days?. My response:
I remembered when I had food poisoning once, and figured I'd just weather it out in a similar way.
I told my husband and doctor of my intention.
I made a rough battle plan.
I poured out half-empties and took all my empties to the recycling to symbolise a fresh start.
I stocked up on 30 bottles of sparkling water - having that was so helpful, it was waiting for me when I got home, I'd drink it whenever I had an urge (the very first thing I'd do getting home).
I distracted lots - gaming mostly, reading, netflix.
I downloaded this book and started working through the first chapters and CBT tools.
I tried eating as well as possible, including oatmeal for breakfast.
I rested loads, early nights, I went through the motions of sleep even when sleep evaded me. I tried a relaxation technique, focusing on my breathing, and relaxing each part of my body from toe to head and back.
My withdrawal symptoms were relatively mild - but I sure don't want to go through them again. I sweat profusely, didn't really sleep, felt like rubbish, had cravings. I just wanted to get through them and then put distance between me and my last drink. There's more on withdrawals in the FAQ linked in the sidebar.
We've started a series, "Sunday Solutions," which is linked in the sidebar, where our members who've got some sober time share what's worked for them >>> Here's mine
>What are some non 12-step, non religious alternatives?
There are other support groups / resources listed in the FAQ (also linked in the sidebar). I've been attending SMART recovery for a few months now.
>Has therapy helped anyone?
I used cognitive behavioural therapy tools from a book to get me started, and then follow-up CBT focusing on coping tools and my anxiety.
To start off with, there was a waiting list for therapy, so I used a self-help book on my kindle to get me by, to start getting my mind right,I like reading, so it made sense for me. It was ok, it recommended a minimum 30-90 sober stint whilst working through it, and eventually I realised that staying sober is the best way for me to be. I don't know anyone else here who's used it, the Allen Carr book here is sometimes recommended [UK amazon links used here]
Some people find that anxiety settles doesn on its own after a while sober. For me, it didn't go away, so I'm on a course of CBT at the moment explicitly focusing on my anxiety. It's been useful exploring at how my thoughts and actions influence my feelings, how I don't have to act on my feelings. My anxiety is lower. It's just taken time to work on better ways of coping with things, different ways of looking at things, and learning that it's ok to face feelings, like a storm, they will pass.
For some people, caffeine can affect anxiety. I tend to use it only in the morning, I've stocked up on herbal teas for the afternoon - Twinnings do a "detox" one that I'm still fond of.
Are there any hobbies you enjoy or would like to take up that would keep those idle hands occupied? I find physical activity elevates my mood.
I found some of the tools in Overcoming Problem Drinking useful initially, it follows a CBT approach.
Great to hear you've seen your GP for support!
I gave up the same day as seeing my GP. I used this book initially which has some CBT techniques, to support my brain from day 1. The wait times for therapy offered to me varied depending on type, with computer/phone being much quicker than waiting for a 1-to-1.
I'm depression-free for now, I'm working on anxiety, it's manageable. Getting sober was the best thing I could have done for both my physical and mental health, both short- and long-term.
If you're near a SMART Recovery group, it draws on CBT/REBT principles too.
I found this book useful, it's based on CBT, it recommends a 30-90 day abstinence break in the first instance. During my break, I came to realise I must not go back to drinking, I am a problem drinker who only has control by remaining sober.
Alternatively, SMART recovery doesn't require you to know that you're in it for the long-haul in the first instance, though it does recommend abstinence.