Desk with computer, coffee, notes, and phone

Treatment Plan Roadmap: How To Reach Your Goals With Monument

Desk with computer, coffee, notes, and phone

Skeptical of the unstructured, one-size-fits-all approach of many traditional recovery programs? We were too. 

That’s why our founder Mike built Monument. Medical research informs all of our programming, success means getting you measurable results, and transparency guides everything we do. 

Considering a treatment plan, or recently signed up? Here’s the breakdown of how our Physician Care plans and Total Care plans (Weekly & Bi-Weekly) work, starting with Day 1.

What To Expect From Physician Care

Day 1: You’ve signed up for your plan and are ready to make progress. Congrats! That’s an incredible first step. You’ll complete your medical intake form to start personalizing your treatment. 

  • Answer questions about your medical history
  • Answer questions about your drinking habits 
  • Define your current goal for sobriety or moderation – this can change! 

Week 1: Schedule your 1st physician appointment

  • You’ll be matched with a licensed physician that has extensive experience treating substance use disorders. You can schedule your first appointment whenever is most convenient for you.

“It was wonderful to be able to engage in a video conference in the privacy of my home on a Saturday morning. The convenience factor and the quality of the conversation were both very positive experiences”

Monument Medication

Week 1 (or as soon as you’re available): Meet with your physician for your introductory appointment: 

  • You and your physician will review your: 
    • Medical history  
    • Drinking history
    • Alcohol use disorder diagnosis 
    • Goals for sobriety or moderation
    • Medication options 
  • If they deem it safe and appropriate, your physician will prescribe either naltrexone or disulfiram, which are FDA-approved medications to stop drinking. You can get your prescription filled electronically and delivered to your door or local pharmacy. 
  • Reminder: this is a judgment-free space, where you can speak honestly and openly

“My first meeting with my Physician, Aisha, was wonderful. Inspiring, supportive, informative and no pressure to figure this out today. We started with some practical and effective goals to move me forward. I'm looking forward to freeing myself from my abusive relationship with alcohol and doing it with Monument. Thank you!”

Month 2: Meet with your physician for your check-up appointment to review your progress and make adjustments as needed

  • You’ll check in on: 
    • Medication effectiveness
    • Side effects if present (and how to manage them)
    • Progress made towards your goals
    • Any changes to your health and wellness

Reminder: These first two physician appointments are FREE with your Physician Care plan. Ready to get started? Sign up today

Every 3 Months: Meet with your physician to check-in on your goals

  • You’ll check in on: 
    • Prescription refills
    • Medication effectiveness
    • Progress made towards goals
    • Any changes to your health and wellness

doctor

What To Expect From Total Care: Physician Care & Therapy

Total Care plans include all of the benefits and appointments of the Physician Care plan, with the addition of specialized therapy on a bi-weekly or weekly basis, and unlimited physician appointments. Therapists will customize an alcohol therapy program to your needs and goals, using evidence-based modalities like cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. 

Wondering why research suggests therapy is an effective tool for reducing alcohol consumption? 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy will help you: 
    • Develop healthier coping skills to replace alcohol 
    • Cope with cravings and urges to drink 
    • Manage thoughts about alcohol and drinking 
    • Tolerate negative feelings
    • Improve problem solving skills 
    • Build drink refusal skills 
    • Plan for emergencies and cope with setbacks 
    • Address anxiety and depression, which influence drinking habits
  • Motivational interviewing will help you: 
    • Establish supportive, enriching relationships
    • Identify goals to work towards
    • Find your inner motivation to make a change
    • Develop a commitment to your goals and formulate an action plan

Reminder: Therapy is a safe space where you can bring your entire self, and know that you will receive judgement-free, compassion-first guidance and encouragement. Here are some tips for how to get the most out of your therapy sessions. 

Two people on their phones

What To Do In-Between Appointments

Regardless of your plan type, you can seek support from Monument at any time, in whatever way works best for you. To help stay accountable to your goals, we recommend the following activities between your appointments: 

  • Post at least once a week in the anonymous community forum to check in with other members on your progress, and offer others advice. Both giving and receiving support can help reaffirm your commitment to your goals. 
  • Attend therapist-moderated online alcohol support groups on a range of topics related to changing your relationship with alcohol. Attending groups is great for processing emotions, combating alcohol cravings, practicing accountability, and connecting with others. 
  • Explore our Reading & Resources to gain further expert insight and read personal stories on topics related to changing your relationship with alcohol
  • Complete a weekly self-assessment to track your progress over time. If you’re enrolled in a Total Care plan, you can review this with your therapist. 
  • Take your medication (if applicable) as directed by your physician 
  • Message your physician over chat with any non-time sensitive questions. (For emergency medical issues, call 911)

Managing your drinking through quarantine

Managing your drinking can be especially challenging during times of heightened stress and isolation. Join the discussion about how to moderate your drinking or stay sober through quarantine.
Check out the Schedule

‘How long should I be in my plan?’

Everyone’s journey is unique, and treatment is personalized to your needs and goals. So, there is no set duration for treatment plans. It’s important to know that you don’t need to see the entire staircase to take the first step. Signing up for online alcohol treatment with Monument is an act of self-care, and seemingly small steps can cascade into incredible progress. Just ask the thousands of members making progress with Monument. 

It’s also helpful to remember that changing your relationship with alcohol is often a non-linear journey, complete with ups and downs. Here’s more on what you can expect from your alcohol recovery timeline in regards to your physical and mental health.  As long as treatment is beneficial to you, we recommend you continue to engage with your tools and Care Team to build upon your progress and prevent setbacks. You can do this, and we’re here for you along the way. 

Ready to take the first step? Sign up for a personalized plan today. 

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

person walking

Why I Switched From AA To Monument

person walking

The author has been compensated for contributing to the Monument resources & reading library.

Judging by the staggering number of meetings I have to assume AA works for many people. But it didn’t work for me. And I tried. I found the structure of meetings confining, and the fact that no professional was at the table worried me even more. My AA meetings were people recounting their stories. And I was amazed to discover that many had not had a drink in years. So they weren’t going through what I was going through at the moment  – which was trying to stop or moderate my volume of 10 drinks per day.

I concluded AA works for some, and especially for maintenance, but wasn’t the right fit for me.

While browsing my Facebook feed I came across an ad from Monument. A strange name, but they offered a few things that immediately got my attention. One was a realistic, non-judgemental approach that included moderation in addition to sobriety. The other was a professional scientific approach. This meant support groups moderated by licensed therapists, one-on-one therapy, and access to doctors for medication. And all of this was 100% online. Which in the time of Covid-19 is perfect.

I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a person who is trying to change their relationship with alcohol.

Monument says I have alcohol use disorder and offers quantitative help. I appreciate that. I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a person who is trying to change their relationship with alcohol. Plus, no insurance. Just a very modest weekly fee, which I can easily afford.

Hands on keyboard

So I tried it, and it delivered exactly what it promised. I go to a therapist moderated online alcohol support group almost every day. I have a one-on-one therapist and a one-on-one doctor. And unlike my experience in AA, I feel like I can talk about anything in the support groups and get valuable feedback. What a breath of fresh air.

AA called me an alcoholic. I hated that. I can’t forget it. Monument uses different language.

Monument also takes a more holistic approach, with help from several directions: support groups, personal therapy and a personal MD. All are very accessible and responsive. That’s very powerful. And the Monument support groups are free.

Moderation in the time of Coronavirus

The global pandemic is affecting our behaviors in many ways, including our alcohol consumption. Join the discussion about assessing your own drinking behaviors and creating healthier habits through moderation.
Check out the Schedule

I must admit I like the 100% online approach. Amidst the pandemic it’s wonderful. Telehealth was blossoming before Covid-19, but now it’s mainstream, and Monument is a superb example. Yes, I found many AA meetings online and I tried several. But the situation was exactly the same as the in-person meetings: very structured and not for me. And many had 50+ people in the meeting. The Monument meetings are more personal and tend to be 10-15 people per meeting. That means I can build friendly connections! Plus, the therapists who moderate the Monument meetings are wonderful and very knowledgeable.

Zoom meeting

I’ve learned quite a lot from Monument. When it comes to medication, my physician at Monument taught me about the correct use of naltrexone, why it’s appropriate for me, and how it differs from disulfiram. I’ve learned to take an objective approach to my alcohol use disorder and understand that it does not need to be all or nothing, and I don’t need to commit to lifelong abstinence to engage in treatment. This was certainly not the message from AA. Monument has also taught me that my drinking behavior is not only about me. I now know to more closely examine its effect on my loved ones and those around me, plus its effect on my health. Monument has given me a wider and much healthier view of my alcohol issues – and provided the resources to actively address them. I’ve also found a great community that’s open and supportive and has the constant support of licensed therapists. 

It’s time alcohol use disorder came out of the shadows into the bright light of science. Kudos for Monument for leading the way.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Important Safety Information

Naltrexone has the capacity to cause hepatocellular injury (liver injury) when given in excessive doses. Naltrexone is contraindicated in acute hepatitis or liver failure, and its use in patients with active liver disease must be carefully considered in light of its hepatotoxic effects. In the treatment of alcohol dependence, adverse reactions include difficulty sleeping, anxiety, nervousness, abdominal pain/cramps, nausea and/or vomiting, low energy, joint and muscle pain, headache, dizziness and somnolence. This is not a complete list of potential adverse events associated with naltrexone hydrochloride. Please see Full Prescribing Information for a complete list.

The most common side effects of Disulfiram may include drowsiness, tiredness, headache, acne, and metallic-like taste in the mouth. Call your doctor if you have signs of serious side effects such as decreased sexual ability, vision changes, numbness of arms or legs, muscle weakness, mood changes, seizures, or confusion. Do not take Disulfiram if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. If you begin to have signs of an allergic reaction, then seek immediate medical attention. Avoid consumption of alcohol while taking this medication, as it may lead to adverse side effects. Talk to your doctor about the history of your medical conditions including if you have or have had diabetes, underactive thyroid, brain disorders, liver or kidney disease, personal or family history of regular use/abuse of drugs. Certain drug interactions may lead to serious adverse side effects. Let your doctor know about any other medications you are taking. This is not a complete list of potential adverse events associated with Disulfiram. Please see Full Prescribing Information for a complete list.

person journaling

Navigating Sobriety As A Black Woman

person journaling

It was the spring of 2019 when I experienced my first real break up. I started to drink every day to cope with the feeling of loss and the fear that I may never find another partner. What started as a bad habit turned into a cycle of addiction. I had a way with people that became ruined by my need for alcohol. I became unreliable, and started canceling or showing up late to events. I would rather spend time alone, surfing the internet and drinking by myself. It wasn’t until I became dangerous that my friends started to give up on me. My erratic behavior started to put everyone around me at risk. I started blacking out several times a week, and gained a reputation for my behavior. I felt itchy when I wasn’t drinking, but didn’t realize why. I went to a bar and behaved so childishly that every customer left, and no one returned the next day. I became the kind of drinker no one wanted to be around, but I was too intoxicated to realize that I had a problem.

After seeking out treatment, I reached 7 months of sobriety. But when LA Mayor Eric Garcetti mandated a two week stay at home order, I immediately fell back into my old ways. I started to drink several bottles of wine a day. A pile of empty bottles began to pile up in my closet, behind chairs, and in the back of my car. My drinking got even worse over the summer as the country erupted in protests. It seemed as if another Black life was taken at the hands of law enforcement every week. When a 46-year-old Black man was choked to death by the police I drank an entire bottle of vodka to ease the pain.

woman in field

I didn’t quit drinking until I saw footage of a 27-year-old Black man getting shot in a Wendy’s parking lot for refusing to take a sobriety test. Watching Rayshard Brooks lose his life at the hands of police scared me back into sobriety. Still, I desperately craved alcohol when I turned on my phone and read about the shooting of Jacob Blake. When the officers involved in the Breonna Taylor case were not charged for murder, I wanted to take solace in the comfort of a drink. I chose to sit with my feelings of discomfort and pain. I decided to face my emotions head on rather than numb them with alcohol. 

It became increasingly difficult to stay sober after witnessing the insurrection. I couldn’t go on Instagram without being bombarded with photographs of people climbing walls and marching around with stolen American flags. As a Black person, watching coverage of the insurrection was infuriating. Where was the sea of tear gas? Where was the line of shields? Why weren’t the domestic terrorists being treated with the same force as peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters? I couldn’t help but think about having a drink. I knew a drink would ease my anxiety, but it would only serve as a temporary solution. 

women looking out

Being Black in the current political climate can feel excruciating at times. Black people have been hit with a tidal wave of trauma with the recent coverage of police shootings and disproportionate rates of coronavirus. Without the several facets of recovery for people of color, I would not be able to remain sober. Head onto Instagram and take comfort in Served Up Sober and Sans Bar. Attend weekly meetings and get matched with a mentor through Sober Black Girls Club. Visit the Monument site and sign up to attend Navigating sobriety or moderation as a Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color. 

Navigating sobriety or moderation as a Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color (BIPOC)

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) face a unique set of challenges in navigating sobriety and moderation. Join an honest discussion about how minority stress and oppression can impact drinking behaviors, and how we can work through it together.
Check out the Schedule

Every day people of color across the world uplift each othereven if it is through Zoom, FaceTime, and Instagram. We keep each other sober day by day, and at times, hour by hour. We take on the complexities of what it means to be a person of color in a political climate defined by chaos. We share our experiences about race in relation to drinking. We discuss feeling pressure to assimilate to the majority, and drinking in response. We remember how the history and treatment of our people influences our desire to drink. We acknowledge the pain and shame that comes with being the only brown person in a room. Sobriety is a collective effort, and we need each other now more than ever. Like our ancestors who came before us, we refuse to let our pain define us.  

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

woman on mountain

3 Fears About Sobriety I Had As A High-Functioning Drinker: And How I Overcame Them

woman on mountain

When I first quit drinking I wanted everything in my life to stay exactly the same. The only difference would be that I was no longer drinking. I didn’t want anyone to know if I was drinking or not drinking, and I definitely didn’t want it to be the topic of conversation. I feared my relationships would change, or that others would feel uncomfortable around me. I wanted to go on living my life, only somehow secretly not drinking alcohol. 

Now, at 3-years sober, I realize how that was both unrealistic, and not in my best interest. 

Looking back it doesn’t surprise me that I had all of these expectations. I had set myself up to live an unliveable life in many ways. I wanted to go unnoticed and keep everyone around me happy at all times. I also never wanted to feel anything. If I started having an intense feeling, I would get disappointed in myself. It was easier to pretend it didn’t exist. Whatever the feeling was, it had to be wrong, and it was my fault for feeling it. 

I expected myself to be flawless. This was something I could never live up to, and I punished myself for it. I expected myself to be able to drink alcohol without consequences. So day after day, I would berate myself for having a hangover — and not to mention, become overwhelmed with embarrassment. I would get heart-pounding panic attacks knowing others had seen me too tipsy, or remembering myself, buzzed in front of my husband and kids. 

Sobriety changed all of that. 

Most of my biggest fears came true, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Holding hands

Fear 1: My Relationships Will Change 

My relationships changed because I changed.

Certainly, my sobriety makes some people uncomfortable. My excessive drinking also made people uncomfortable. I now realize that my responsibility is to me, and staying sober is the healthiest choice. I choose it over someone else’s comfort, every time. All the energy I was spending trying to please others is now spent on showing up for my health. That is the only thing I can really control, anyway. 

When you are newly sober or thinking about quitting drinking, I know the fear of how others will react can feel like a hurdle. My relationships have not only changed, but have improved since I’ve quit drinking. Drinking gave me a one track mind, always seeking more alcohol. Sobriety has made me a better wife, mother, daughter, and friend. Instead of a drunken buddy to commiserate with, I can offer others real support in a crisis. I have become a role model. I’m now able to give as much as I receive. 

Sobriety has also gifted me a better relationship with myself. I have become my own best friend, diminishing my desperate need to belong with others. With love, I have also had to let go of some friendships. Endings can be painful, confusing, and sad. Some people are in our lives for a season, not a lifetime. 

sunset

Fear 2: I Will Feel Emotions In Full Force 

It was the stuffing that created the suffering. The human experience is to feel a wide range of emotions. 

The next realization was that I feel things. Shocking, I know. It is more than okay to feel. And I feel deeply and intensely. I used to think this would make me “too much.” Now, I allow myself to feel what I feel. I create space for my emotions and I welcome all of them. They usually pass fairly quickly once I pay attention to them. This process makes me whole, not faulted. 

My goal is no longer to feel nothing and escape emotion. My goal is to manage my emotions. When I got sober at age 40, I had very few coping skills. My whole life, I had reached for alcohol for everything, happy or sad. Now, I recognize my emotions and instead of numbing them with a drink, I get curious about myself. I journal, work out, talk it out, or meditate. I have many ways to cope, and none of them involve alcohol. I allow myself to settle into the discomfort. My resilience has grown since ditching the drink. I have grown stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually in the process. 

Life is uncomfortable at times, that doesn’t mean I am doing it wrong.

woman on bridge

Fear 3: I Will Fail At This 

I failed to realize that getting sober was a process and not a single event. 

I’ve had many attempts to quit drinking, and I “failed” at most of them. Yet here I am, now 3- years sober. For a long time, I was so afraid to try. What if I couldn’t do it? I told myself I had to nail sobriety on my first try, or else I was a big failure. I left no room for anything in between. When I started looking at getting sober as an experiment, instead of a tightrope to walk perfectly, I was able to give myself a lot more grace. Staying curious and loving myself through even my worst days was the magic it took to stay on my path. 

It was through sobriety that I burned through my self-hatred and learned to love myself as I am. Not a perfect version of myself, but the real me. The person who had made mistakes and would surely make them again. I allowed myself the space and freedom to mess up over and over again. Now I see failure as proof that I am on my way to success. I fail spectacularly, I fail often, and I fail forward. 

Managing your drinking through quarantine

Managing your drinking can be especially challenging during times of heightened stress and isolation. Join the discussion about how to moderate your drinking or stay sober through quarantine.
Check out the Schedule

Becoming sober meant facing all these fears I had been running from. I was nervous about relationships changing, emotions erupting, and confronting failure. But I made a decision to love and accept myself anyway, even in my deepest hole, and that became my way out. Fear, shame and self-hatred had kept me sinking, and I had to try something different. Love and acceptance worked. Now, three years sober, I know to expect imperfection in the process. Sobriety is a practice. Life is a practice. And I am practicing every day.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

people having coffee

Lessons In Love: Dating While Sober

people having coffee

Note: until it’s safe to date in-person, these tips apply to socially-distant, or digital dating. 

In my three years of sobriety, I’ve done quite a bit of dating — much (…much) more than my sober peers recommended. I went on many dates that turned out to be flops, and it was hard not to take them personally. A ‘bad’ date would cause me to draw some pretty big (and unrealistic) conclusions: I’ll always have horrible luck, I’ll never find love, and so on. I felt residual shame from my former drinking habits, uncomfortable in my body, and unsure of who I was without alcohol.

Navigating relationship challenges while managing your drinking

Relationships are complex. And the challenges that come with changing your drinking can add additional complexity and stress. Join an honest discussion about cultivating healthy relationships through sobriety or moderation.
Check out the Schedule

Now, I know that my sobriety should be honored and celebrated. Looking back, if a date wasn’t down with it (‘it’ being, my sobriety), I shouldn’t have been down with them. I can now recognize that not everyone is “my person,” and that isn’t a reflection of my character or my decision to live alcohol-free. I’ve learned to look for red flags: like if I tell this person I’m sober, and they say “oh sh*t”, then I probably should unmatch with them. I’ve had to get comfortable in my ability to walk away from any situation. Dating is complicated, and doing it sober can often feel even more complicated. I’ve been in a relationship for over two years now, and with more experience in both dating and recovery, I’ve come to understand that the authentic me is the best me. And someone will recognize that — the right person. Now, I see that sobriety is not an inconvenience but a superpower, and that I’m totally, 100%, dateable. 

How can you get there yourself? Well, there’s no easy answer. But to get started, I’d like to share a few suggestions of how I do it (and what I wished I’d known). 

couple in restaurant

My Best Practices For Dating in Sobriety:

  1. Call your hype man beforehand. It’s common in the early days of sobriety to feel lost about who you are as a romantic partner, or as a sensual or sexual being. Prescribe yourself daily doses of hype — before a date is the perfect opportunity to begin. Your close friends are the ones who know you best, and can remind you of all the amazing qualities you bring to the table. Spend a moment relishing in the wonderful person you are, especially without alcohol.
  2. Trust your (sober) instincts. A gift of sobriety is that people, places, and things are no longer seen through an alcohol-induced haze. So, trust your instincts. If you arrive at the date and feel uncomfortable at the venue, share openly that you’d like to go elsewhere or text a friend to crash the date or meet you nearby. If you become uneasy with the way your date is drinking (I’ve unfortunately experienced this), you have every right to leave. A gift of sobriety is the ability to honor your truest instincts. This is your power, especially when it comes to something as vulnerable as dating.
  3. Remember that you do not owe anyone an explanation. It’s no secret that drinking is commonplace, and oftentimes unhealthy, in the dating world. If your relationship with alcohol is brought up on the date, honor your own needs first. Remember that you are entitled to decide for yourself how much you’d like to share or not share. Whatever your reason for not drinking, whether because you’re sober, cutting back, or simply don’t want to drink that evening, that’s your business — and yours alone — to talk about.

couple walking

I went through a lot of trial and error while dating and newly sober, and fortunately had guidance from a therapist. Recently, I asked Sabrina Spotorno, licensed therapist at Monument, for her clinical perspective. She had invaluable insights to share.

Tips from Sabrina Spotorno, LSW, CASAC

  1. Envision what you want the date to look like: What environment, time of day, or other factors will allow you to feel most free to connect with your date? Try dating in nontraditional, alcohol-free environments. The more creative you can be, the more you can engage in genuinely fun and dynamic activities. Environments that include alcohol aren’t completely off limits, but it might save you some added stress. Plus, you’ll likely impress your date for going above and beyond the obvious!
  2. Order an alcohol-free beverage: Set the precedent early with what you prefer to drink. If you’re not comfortable talking about your sobriety, that’s completely okay. Beverage names and appearances are so vague that the other person will most likely not be able to tell if it’s non-alcoholic. Having your favorite delish AF drink in mind can ease any discomfort when it comes time to ordering. Once it becomes something that doesn’t feel like a priority, you can get back to the good stuff… getting to know each other!
  3. Choose joy: Sometimes sobriety can be wrongly associated with limitations. Moreover, the fear of judgment can prevent a candid conversation about alcohol-free lifestyles. What would it look like to genuinely celebrate your sobriety? If we want to live in a more inclusive world, we get to practice seeing the joy in our positive choices. You are choosing to be authentic and not hide what you need to feel good. What could be sexier than that?

Couple by a bridge

With these tips in mind, I hope you will feel more prepared and excited to date either now or in the future. Remember that there are so many parts of you, and your relationship with alcohol is only one piece of the puzzle. That said, your sobriety is something to take great pride in. Know that you are bringing your truest self to the occasion. The right person will celebrate that.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911. 

Calendar and coffee

Alcohol Recovery Timeline: What To Expect

Expert Guidance. Community support. Click to get started for free

Calendar and coffee

So, you’ve made the decision to change your relationship with alcohol, and to get more out of life by drinking less. You should be incredibly proud of that. Now you might be asking yourself: What does that look like? How exactly will my life change? How long will it take? And those questions can be a lot to process. 

While the most complete and accurate answers will ultimately come with time and experience, there are common patterns in the first year of sobriety or moderation that can help set expectations. You’ll find that what you’re experiencing is normal, and most likely, an indicator of progress towards treating alcohol dependency (even if it doesn’t feel that way yet).

Navigating The Alcohol Recovery Timeline and Treatment

To arm you with information and encouragement, expert clinicians on the Monument platform have shared what their patients often experience on their journey, and how to get the most out of your treatment program. However, everyone’s experience is unique and valid, and we encourage you to discuss your personal circumstances and goals with your Care Team for individualized advice.

This chart approximates the treatment timeline. This progression is only an estimate, and everybody has their own experience. Read on to learn more about each phase.

1 Week You may experience sleep disturbances, alcohol cravings, heightened anxiety, and other acute-withdrawal symptoms. Consult with a physician about how to safely cut back on drinking and explore your treatment options.
1 Month You may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms and uncomfortable feelings as your body and mind continue to recover from excessive alcohol use. Towards the end of this time, you may see significant improvements in sleep, mental clarity, and physical health as you continue with your treatment plan.
2-3 Months Health and lifestyle benefits may present themselves more fully now. It’s important to engage in treatment during this time period to prevent setbacks and set the course for long term sobriety or moderation. Note: Post-acute withdrawal may last for several months, and will improve with time.
12 Months This is the expert-recommended length of treatment. The body and mind have had time to heal from the effects of alcohol dependence and life without drinking feels more normal. Healthy habits are solidified.
Beyond Keep the resources and treatment options that work for you, and reinforce goals with self-care and community support. Continue to embrace the many ways drinking less can give you more.

Month 1: Why “The First 30 Days” Can Be Challenging

You may have heard before that “the first 30 days can be the hardest,” and experts tend to agree. During this time, the body and mind go through a substantial process of recovery. Here’s more information on alcohol withdrawal symptoms you may experience that make this an uncomfortable, yet really important time of recovery and reset.   

Acute and Post-Acute Alcohol Withdrawal

First, it’s important to understand the signs of both acute and post-acute withdrawal. You can read more about both types of withdrawal symptoms here. Acute alcohol withdrawal can occur after an extended period of heavy binge drinking, and usually takes place within the first week of quitting alcohol. The acute alcohol withdrawal timeline and process looks different for everyone, and the symptoms can range from uncomfortable to potentially dangerous. 

If you believe you might be experiencing acute alcohol withdrawal, please contact your healthcare provider immediately and visit https://findtreatment.gov/ to find a location to get supervised alcohol detox near you. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

It’s also possible to feel post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), where psychological symptoms continue for weeks or months after you stop drinking alcohol. If you do experience post-acute withdrawal, it’s important to remember that what you’re going through is normal, and over time, the symptoms will subside. Both acute and post-acute withdrawal can be addressed safely with the right care. It’s important to connect with a physician to discuss the best path forward for you.

people holding hands

Disrupted Sleep and Nutrition

Loss of appetite is common in the early stages of changing your relationship with alcohol, and hydration is crucial to replenishing the body. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and proteins low in fat are all beneficial to boosting energy and feeling full on a sensitive stomach. 

Moreover, if you’re taking naltrexone as part of your treatment program, it’s possible that you feel nausea in the early days of your prescription. While naltrexone is generally well tolerated, nausea and headaches are the most common side effects. You can check in with your physician about side effect management, and if possible, look to manage side effects for several weeks to experience the positive effects and weigh the side effects and benefits. 

Difficulty getting long, restful sleep is also common in the early days of the alcohol recovery timeline. As your body adjusts to routines without alcohol, this will improve. We also suggest developing new nighttime rituals that calm your mind and body before bed. Journaling to release stressors or trying guided meditation are great places to start.

Anxiety

You might experience more anxiety than usual when you stop drinking alcohol for two key reasons. First, you may have had baseline anxiety that you were previously using alcohol to manage. Without alcohol, you’re feeling that anxiety in full force. While you might feel the urge to turn to alcohol in those moments of discomfort, you can get through them without drinking. Working with a therapist on new anxiety management techniques is a great way to build healthier habits while recovering from alcohol dependence. 

The second reason you might feel more anxious is because quitting alcohol can physiologically cause short-term anxiety. The central nervous system includes a neurotransmitter system that moderates racing thoughts. When binge drinking or consuming alcohol in excess, your body gets used to alcohol moderating those thoughts, and your natural moderation system stops doing its work. When you stop drinking, you’re left without any natural or substance-induced moderation, which causes heightened anxiety, restlessness, and racing thoughts. This can be a significant challenge in the first month, but with time, your brain will restore your natural moderation system and your anxiety will lessen. To learn more about the relationship between alcohol and anxiety, read why you feel anxious when you quit drinking.

Get expert insights delivered to your inbox. Click to join the free community

Transitioning Out Of The ‘Honeymoon Phase’ 

While feeling anxious and unsettled is common, some people also experience ‘the honeymoon effect’: a period of euphoria and elation soon after you stop drinking. During this time, you may get back in touch with your emotions, and experience a new sense of hope and enjoyment. This sensation can last days or weeks, and experts caution that the inevitable transition out of this state can be discouraging.

How can you most seamlessly move through the ‘honeymoon phase’? First, it’s helpful to recognize it for what it is. This can lessen the impact of when it passes. Second, savor the positive emotions and know that with the right treatment, dedication, and self-care, you will find a sustainable path complete with authentic joy. Creating a sustainable new lifestyle without or with less alcohol requires navigating both highs and lows. Growth happens in discomfort, and it’s important to recognize challenging moments as learning opportunities. 

We know the ups and downs can be confusing, and may cause you to question who you really are without alcohol. However, you will arrive at the answer. Here’s a therapist’s advice on how to navigate the early recovery identity crisis. These challenges are natural in this period of rapid change, and you are not alone in navigating them. 

woman looking out

Month 1: Expert Advice On Getting Through It

If you’re feeling discouraged in the first 30 days because you haven’t yet experienced the benefits of life without or with less alcohol, we understand. It can be frustrating, but it’s an incredibly common and necessary chapter in this journey towards alcohol recovery. You can and will get through it, and some relief is right around the corner. Here’s advice from clinicians about how to get through this challenging period. 

In brief, the more resources you engage with in the first several months of treatment, the more likely you are to reach your short and long term goals.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a biopsychosocial condition, which means it’s affected by biological, social, and psychological influences. To treat AUD holistically, we have to look at addressing all of those components. Fortunately, research has proven that these tools can significantly increase your chances of reducing your alcohol consumption. In month one, clinicians recommend engaging in as many tools as you think can benefit you such as:

  • Talking with a physician about medication to stop drinking that can help combat alcohol cravings
  • Attending alcohol therapy to establish goals, develop coping skills, and treat co-occurring conditions like depression and anxiety 
  • Attending therapist-moderated online alcohol support groups to get and give support from others navigating similar challenges involving alcohol dependency 
  • Talking with loved ones about your treatment plan and establishing your inner-network support system. (You can even invite them to Monument!
  • Developing new hobbies and rituals that help you honor your goals (like scheduling a yoga class right at 5pm!) 

Not sure what makes sense for you? Join our free community to learn more about your options. 

women hanging out

Month 2-3: Positive Effects Are A Sign To Keep Going

So, now you’re a couple months into treatment. That’s fantastic! Physicians and therapists agree that after the initial several weeks of recovering from excessive alcohol consumption, the body and mind begin to experience significant improvements in sleep, anxiety, physical fitness, mental clarity and other gifts of sobriety

This time period, roughly 2-3 months into the treatment timeline, is pivotal according to clinicians. Though it may seem counterintuitive, positive effects are signals to stay with treatment, and continue to utilize your tools. If medication is part of your treatment plan, reduced alcohol cravings and a greater sense of control are signs that it is working. In therapy, feeling better equipped in your daily life shows that your new skills are developing. Now is the opportunity to go deeper, stay accountable, and work towards lasting change. Without seeing treatment through, even when you feel good, there’s a greater chance of experiencing setbacks.

Preventing relapse through self-care

The path to changing your relationship with alcohol is rarely a straight line. Join the discussion about building behaviors to help prevent relapse, and moving forward through ups and downs.
Check out the Schedule

This is why clinicians generally recommend utilizing medication and therapy for at least 12 months. It’s in that time that you can fully mentally, physically, and emotionally recover from an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and build the resilience to confront any challenges or triggers that come your way. Our clinicians also report how much more effective treatment is when practiced consistently. Experts advise it takes about one year to fully form a new habit. It often takes going through each season, all the birthdays and weddings, and everything in between, to make not drinking feel normal.  

In brief, we understand that feeling good after the first few months might seem like an appropriate time to pull back from your sobriety or moderation toolkit, but we encourage you to instead lean in. You will only continue to fortify your good habits and solidify your progress towards treating alcohol dependence.

two people watching sunset on water

And Beyond: Embracing Change In Your Journey

Your Care Team wants you to succeed, and is dedicated to supporting you in making the best decisions for yourself. As human beings, we are constantly undergoing changes, so our goals and treatment will too. As time goes on, you and your therapist may decide to meet every other week instead of weekly. You and your physician may meet less frequently about your medication. Working with your Care Team will ensure your decisions are personalized and informed, and that you have resources at your fingertips whenever you need them. 

Like other types of self care (working out, meditation, skincare, intuiting eating), finding sustainable habits that work for you is key. And while care can feel preventative, not responsive, it means you’re setting yourself up to confront life’s challenges as your most perseverant, present self. 

first year sober learnings

Lastly, remember that alcohol use disorder is a medical condition, with a medical solution. Seeking treatment is an act of self-care, and something to be proud of. With a Care Team dedicated to you, your alcohol recovery timeline will begin to crystalize as you learn more about yourself and undergo enriching changes. With longer term sobriety or moderation, a profound sense of clarity will emerge. Not to mention, the lasting health benefits to the immune system, liver, blood pressure, and much more.

And if today is as far ahead as you’re ready to look, that’s okay too. Each day holds new potential. You can visit the free Monument Community to hear from others about their experiences, and attend therapist-moderated support groups to check in with yourself and others. If you’re not already working with a Care Team, explore medication to stop drinking and alcohol therapy to cultivate your own personalized, holistic treatment plan. One day at a time, over time, can amount to incredible things. 

Get expert insights delivered to your inbox. Click to join the free community.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

flowers and notepad

Love Languages Can Change in Sobriety, And That’s Okay

flowers and notepad

What makes you feel loved? Is it when your partner praises you for something that matters to you? Or is it when they take the time to put the phone down, and be fully present with you? Perhaps your love language is words of affirmation, or quality time. These are examples of the five love languages, a model created by Dr. Gary Chapman. These languages describe the different ways love can be communicated in a relationship.

The five love languages are:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch
  • Acts of service
  • Gift giving

Of course we all thrive with a combination of the five, but we are drawn to some more than others. Love languages can be used to examine how you and your partner communicate your needs to each other, and how you can become more intimately connected. They can also give you important insight into how you can best give yourself love.

Chances are the love languages you have today are not the exact same as those from five years ago, or even last week. Life experiences, personal changes, and overall wellness factors impact how you care for yourself and your loved ones. It is hard to fully appreciate how much these languages can and will change over time, especially as you change your relationship with alcohol. So, how can you best express and receive love as you work towards sobriety or moderation?

A great place to start is by dispelling some common myths.

Embracing How Love Languages Can Change in A Relationship

Myth 1: I am burdening my partner with my changing needs.

Not wanting to impose changes on your loved one can make you feel hesitant to mention how your needs have shifted with your moderation or sobriety goals. There may have been a history of feeling like loved ones have “put up” with the unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and to ask for anything else would feel selfish. Let’s put debunk this myth with a few reality check questions:

  • Would it really be an imposition? Would needing more words of affirmation, for example, really be a detriment to your partner or loved ones? How would this be a “hardship” on them? Are there other underlying reasons you’re hesitant to make the ask?
  • Would you feel imposed on if they asked you the same request? Let’s say you’re looking for help in getting alcohol out of the house. (An act of service!) If you knew how much they were struggling, chances are you wouldn’t hesitate to support your partner in this way.

Reality: Giving your loved one the chance to show you their love is a sign that you trust and appreciate them. Your vulnerability is the strength you offer to make the relationship thrive.

couple holding hands

Myth 2: My partner should know my changing needs. They should automatically shift gears to align with them.

We often assume our partners must be mind-reading, never-ending sources of support. But if we take a step back, we can logically appreciate how our partners have their own minds and “should” only do what they are capable of in the moment.

I encourage everyone to ask themselves “how much do I rely on my partner for fueling my happiness tank?” Brainstorm ways you can regain your control of what fuels you. You can then fully accept and appreciate the love they give you as a partner (and not a dependent). Learning more about the signs of codependency may aid with this process.

Chances are you already have recognized the need to take back the steering wheel. Share that awareness with your loved one, so they have the freedom to start looking at how to develop their own self care too.

Reality: The greatest gift you can give your loved ones is listening to your own love languages.  They can only work with what you’re able to acknowledge as well.

Navigating relationship challenges while managing your drinking

Relationships are complex. And the challenges that come with changing your drinking can add additional complexity and stress. Join an honest discussion about cultivating healthy relationships through sobriety or moderation.
Check out the Schedule

Myth 3: We are both incapable of change and our love languages are just as immune to change. 

This may seem obviously untrue, but we often unknowingly fall into this fixed mindset. When we start feeling this way, perhaps it’s time to face some internalized messages of inadequacy and immobility. What were some personal experiences that kept you from accepting change as something natural, necessary, or valid? Has anything else in your life shifted you to the recognition that progress involves change? The same goes for the way we feel love. Remember you are allowed to change when you learn new information and evolve your understanding of what it means to love and be loved.

Reality: No different than your sobriety goals, your relationship goals thrive with a progress over perfection mindset. You are two beautifully messy people sharing your beautifully messy lives. Embrace this truth, celebrate your connection, and allow yourselves the ability to grow together.

couple on beach

By reflecting on what love languages work best for you right now, it’s my hope you and your partner will be able to better communicate your needs to each other, or at least have a place to begin that process.

Now how do you remember to also direct these love languages towards yourself?

Applying The Wisdom of Love Languages Inward

Love languages can provide a valuable framework as you work towards your own personal goals. If you are looking to build your self-esteem for example, you may want to dive into the words of affirmation language. Develop a daily habit of writing what you are grateful for about yourself, or repeat positive self affirmations. Let’s say you are trying to shift your relationship with alcohol; perform an act of service to yourself by not keeping it in your house. Explore all the new ways you can spend quality time with yourself when alcohol is out of the picture. Let yourself see the value of honoring your love languages, while allowing for shifts whenever your self-love expands to new territory.

If you need support with figuring out how to build and practice this self-love alongside your sobriety or moderation goals, a therapist can help you through this process and more in alcohol therapy. Perform an act of service towards yourself and try our free, therapist-moderated, online alcohol support groups. Find your community of accountability and compassion.

man on rock

Genuine intimacy requires an understanding of our changing, individual sets of needs. Love languages can be a great place to start in this exploration of yourself and your partner. Wherever you are in navigating your relationships, especially those that may have been affected by past drinking behavior, we’re here for you. Join us in our community. We’re here to help you with every step, like how to ask a partner for support. Remember that your sobriety or moderation will offer its own clarity as you continue to find the best way to self-soothe, receive love, and care for your partner. You are capable of great change, and your love languages will reflect that.

To help you put them into practice, we’ve curated an alcohol-free gift guide inspired by each of the love languages. Check out these 5 ways to show your partner (or yourself!) a little extra love.

     View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Monument (@joinmonument)

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

How To Show Self-Compassion For The Past, Present & Future You

Experiencing strong emotional reactions when faced with the reality of our past is only human. When we begin to change our relationship with alcohol, reflecting on the past can be an especially complicated process. What do we do when intense emotions like shame, guilt and low self-esteem arise? How do we develop self compassion for the person we were in the past when, despite our best intentions, we may have been less than our best selves? While the effects of past experiences are real and valid, our present selves are also full of opportunity, and capable of great change. I often work with my patients on processing the past to arrive at a place of forgiveness. I hope with these insights, you’ll begin to cultivate a deep compassion for every part of yourself: your past, who you are now, and the strong, authentic person you are becoming.

The True Nature Of Compassion 

When we begin changing our relationship with alcohol, we might be told to have compassion for ourselves. But what does that really mean?

Although the term compassion is often used broadly, it’s actually a very complex concept. Put in the simplest terms, compassion means having a strong sense of someone’s suffering and tangibly expressing love for that person. How might we come to practice this process with the people in our lives, including ourselves, as we work to change our relationship with alcohol?

Understanding the effects of alcohol provides an important perspective. 

person and sky

Alcohol Inhibits Our Most Compassionate Selves

It’s important to remember that alcohol use disorder is a medical condition. AUD is characterized by drinking more than you want, for longer than you want. When we fall on the spectrum of AUD, or otherwise develop unhealthy drinking behavior, we may not be able to recognize it’s harmful effects. 

Alcohol is a sedative, and our brains can develop a chemical dependence on it. We are unable to access our true emotions, especially feelings of guilt and shame. This often makes us unable to authentically reflect on how we feel about our drinking behavior, and its impact on our loved ones. Alcohol can become our go-to form of self care, instead of other means of self soothing, growth, and healing. 

Managing your drinking through quarantine

Managing your drinking can be especially challenging during times of heightened stress and isolation. Join the discussion about how to moderate your drinking or stay sober through quarantine.
Check out the Schedule

Two Keys To Unlocking Self-Compassion

Processing Emotions With Kindness and Support

Once we embark on a journey toward  sobriety or moderation, the veil of alcohol is lifted and we can begin to look back on our past behavior with fresh eyes. As I’ve come to know through my patients, this can be an incredibly overwhelming experience, and we have to be kind to ourselves in the process. With grace, we can say, “if I had not been inebriated, I would not have done these things”. We can understand our behavior didn’t come from our truest self, or the authentic person we are now becoming. In self-reflection the content of our internal dialogue becomes critically important, and must include statements of self-compassion. Remind yourself that change really is possible. Recognize and understand that if you’re willing to reach out, you have all the support necessary to make a change. 

Person and lake

One of the most effective ways to process feelings and cultivate compassion is to engage in the work of recovery with others, such as in specialized alcohol therapy and therapist-moderated alcohol support groups. Evidence-based treatment, like medication to stop drinking, is proven to help people reach their goals for a life without or with less alcohol. 

Repairing Relationships With Ourselves and Others

With the help of a support system and Care Team, we can unravel the harm imposed by our drinking and take action with a new perspective. A great place to begin is repairing relationships harmed by our past drinking behavior.

This is a useful exercise because it helps us face all of the uncomfortable emotions (that may have kept us drinking) from a rational perspective. Take account of what harm might have been done, and what steps can be taken to restore trust. Self-compassion in this case requires action and a willingness to face what we may have previously been unable to see. Being vulnerable with our feelings can provide great relief. We start to heal from shame and guilt and hold more space for love and forgiveness within ourselves. Anytime we are willing to say “I am sorry” we can find relief, and heal from the impact alcohol use disorder had on our relationships with others and ourselves. 

couple holding hands

Compassion can be a hard concept to fully grasp, and especially difficult to cultivate when we are first experiencing sobriety or moderation. Through peer support, specialized care, and a clearer understanding of how alcohol was affecting us, we can begin to develop healthier relationships. Addressing any harm done is an effective way to heal our past selves, harness the power of our present selves, and honor the values of the person we are becoming. Most importantly, we must remember that we are human and deserving of compassion: then, now, and always.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.