A reader writes in and asks: “How can I stop drinking by myself?”
Good question. My advice for such a person is to be a bit more open minded and accept the idea that they will need help in the beginning.
Eventually, it is not unrealistic to live a life of sobriety without a ton of external support. We do not need to be in group therapy or meetings for the rest of our lives in order to remain sober. This is true regardless of how you go about finding sobriety. But in the beginning, if you cut yourself off from all support, then you are just making it harder on yourself.
Think about this for a moment. If you want to stop drinking by yourself, then just stop. There is no special recipe for it. Just stop. Don’t drink.
There, now is that easy? Is that working well for you? If so, great. You hardly needed any advice at all! You have solved your own problem.
But for most alcoholics, this is not reality. They cannot just stop drinking on their own and make it work out. If they could then they would probably not be real alcoholics.
I am contending that we need help in order to recover, especially in early sobriety. We need to network and we need other recovering alcoholics in our lives, and this is more and more true the early you are in your recovery.
As you progress and stay sober for longer, a shift happens, and things change. Your recovery changes and you no longer will need to depend on the support of other people to stay sober. Instead, long term sobriety is all about overcoming complacency. You need to push yourself toward personal growth in order to make it in the long run. If you do not make this shift, and stay dependent on social support for your sobriety, then the quality of your life will start to suffer and you may even relapse.
The easy answer is to accept outside help in the early stages. The easiest shortcut for doing this is to go to AA. Now everyone who came here to read this is looking for an alternative to this path. It is possible to avoid AA altogether, but you will need to find another way to network with other recovering alcoholics. Without this critical piece of the puzzle, you will be at a huge disadvantage and probably relapse.
Early recovery = networking with others in recovery. Find a way to make that work for you and you will can stay sober.
If we could just sober up on our own then addiction and alcoholism would not be rampant problems in our world. But the fact is that we need help in early recovery in order to succeed. We need help specifically because:
1) You will need to learn how other people manage to avoid giving in to alcohol cravings and such.
2) You will need to learn how others manage stress and feelings without self medicating.
3) You will need support from others so that you have an outlet for when things go bad (and they will go bad eventually, give it time!).
You can stop alcoholism by yourself, and you can recover alone, but probably not so much in early recovery. The key is that you find support early on.