What To Expect From Online Alcohol Therapy

Therapy is one of the top actions you can take to improve your mental health. For over a decade, I’ve seen therapy transform the lives of my patients. Specifically, online alcohol therapy can be incredibly effective in treating alcohol use disorder, and empowering people to unlock the benefits of drinking less. If therapy is new to you, beginning the process might feel intimidating. To help address those feelings, here’s what you can expect from starting therapy with Monument, and how our therapy program responds to your needs and transforms your goals into your reality. 

What The First Session Will Be Like

The first session is about getting to know each other. Your therapist will ask you questions and want to understand why you made the incredible choice to start therapy. To gather this background, your therapist will likely talk more than usual. Your following appointments will be a lot more flexible and catered to your immediate needs. 

How Sessions Are Structured

To ensure your online alcohol therapy program is building towards your goals, there is a flexible yet intentional structure. You and your therapist will first check in about the past week and how you’re progressing. Consistently aligning and re-aligning with your goals is one of my key recommendations for how to get the most out of therapy. For the majority of the session, you’ll work on reflection (ex. processing experiences) and action (ex. skill building). More on this later!

At the end of the session, your therapist will summarize what was covered, set expectations for your next session, and give any “takeaway” handouts or suggestions (such as attending an online alcohol support group) for you to complete before your next session. While these recommendations are entirely optional, they can be great tools for building an even more sustainable foundation for long-term success. 

man looking at ocean

What You’ll Work On

One of your therapist’s core responsibilities is helping you define your goals, and providing you with the tools and accountability to achieve them. Your goals may involve moderation, or total abstinence, and your goals may change with time. That’s completely normal. Your therapist will work with you to better understand your routines, identify how alcohol affects all aspects of your life, and recognize what coping mechanisms you already have in your toolkit.

Your therapist will then assess what tangible steps you can take to better align you with your goals, and what new coping skills will be most useful in addressing uncomfortable feelings that come up along the way. 

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We're so glad you're here. Welcome! Join other new members in learning about all that Monument has to offer and how we can empower you to change your relationship with alcohol. This is an interactive group including Q&A with a member of Team Monument.
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Still wondering how this structure can help you make progress? Your therapist will use evidence-based strategies like Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. To read more about how these strategies work, check out the Monument treatment plan roadmap

Your therapist is on your side every step of the way. In addition to providing guidance, they will empower you to build a support system of friends and family by identifying who that should be, and providing recommendations for how to talk to them about your goals. If you’re not ready to have a conversation with loved ones yet, your therapist can create that safe space to talk freely about your relationship with alcohol. You can release whatever thoughts and emotions may be overwhelming you, and they will break them down into organized insights and steps. 

What to Expect, Emotionally 

Some days therapy can feel like a tremendous weight is lifted, and other days it can actually make us feel heavier, as we process events and feelings we have been suppressing. It’s important to remember that both of these feelings are valid, and both are indicators of progress. It’s reasonable to expect some internal resistance to the online alcohol therapy process. You may not always agree with everything your therapist says, and it’s important to communicate when those feelings arise. It doesn’t mean your therapist isn’t a good fit, or that you’re not making progress together.

Think about therapy as organizing the closet. Often cleaning the closet means throwing everything on the floor — it can be messy and overwhelming. But by the end, you feel better, and have set yourself up with a clearer path forward. 

What Virtual Therapy is Like 

With commitment and the right environment, attending therapy online provides the same therapeutic benefits of face-to-face therapy. Of course, the main difference is that you attend sessions from the comfort of your own home. To get the same effect as you would in a physical office, we recommend you find a time and location where you feel comfortable sharing openly and honestly. Our platform is completely secure and confidential, and provides a seamless video connection. While virtual therapy may take some adjusting to, it ultimately prioritizes your convenience, privacy, and comfort.   

Man on computer at home

How Long You’ll Be in Therapy 

The therapy process is entirely individualized and personal. However, myself and other substance use experts generally recommend engaging in online alcohol therapy for at least one year. In this time, your body and mind have the time they need to recover from past unhealthy alcohol use, and you can crystalize healthy habits into lifelong routines. You can read more about the alcohol recovery timeline to understand what you might expect physically and emotionally. 

I also always recommend consistency. Regular therapy sessions produce the best results. You can progress steadily, without having to fill in any blanks. When things feel good, that’s a sign that therapy is working and to stick with it. With time, you can make the decision to meet with your therapist less frequently. You and your therapist will work together to decide if and when tapering down is the right step for you. Here’s an FAQ about the difference between weekly and biweekly therapy

woman on computer

Changing your relationship with alcohol is an incredible act of self-care, but it can be difficult to navigate alone. Therapy offers a dedicated space to work on your goals with a specialized professional. Your therapist will champion you throughout the entire process, as your goals are their goals too. Remember, beginning online alcohol therapy is an accomplishment in itself. This journey is yours to discover, one session at a time.

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 My Sobriety Led Me To Become A Therapist At Monument

As a therapist on the Monument platform, I believe it’s important to speak openly about my history struggling with alcohol use disorder. Looking back at my journey, I can understand that I formed a dependence on alcohol due to a lack of tools and information, and that finding new ways to cope is what ultimately transformed my life. Now, I spend every day empowering others to recognize that they too can change their relationship with alcohol. 

I had my first drink at the age of 14. It was the first time in my life I felt relief from my anxious feelings. Shortly after, my parents divorced, and my pattern of excessive drinking took hold. I found that alcohol was a way I could distract myself from the stress of my new reality, and find relief from my anxiety. Another way I learned to cope with anxiety and suppress my feelings was to excessively practice trumpet. By age 16, I was practicing 10 hours a day. After I was done practicing, I drank beer almost every night as a reward. By 28, my drinking had gradually progressed to 12-15 beers nightly. I drank excessively for 17 years. 

My unhealthy relationship with alcohol impacted every aspect of my life. I did not accept responsibility for my actions, or hold myself accountable for the way I was choosing to cope with my thoughts and experiences. I blamed others, and created an illusion in my head that the world was unfair, and that I had no other choices. 

My last drink was on November 18th, 1997. I was 32, but had the coping skills of a 16 year old. I was angry, hurt, and blamed others. Drinking had stopped me from processing my feelings and halted my emotional and social development. I got comfortable detaching from others, and from my true self. 

I had to find a new way to control my anxiety and move forward with my life. By starting to practice trumpet sober, I began to feel my emotions fully for the first time. While this felt like progress, there was still so much to reflect on and learn. I was not in therapy and found the process to be daunting, confusing, and difficult. Eventually I took the leap to try it out, and my recovery journey began in earnest.  

Therapy helped me process my cravings and learn alternative coping mechanisms. Because I drank beer, my brain was gradually conditioned to feel rewarded by drinking out of a cold can every few seconds. Right after I stopped drinking beer, I drank several diet A&W Root beers throughout the night. My brain accepted this behavior as a replacement, which lowered my cravings and allowed me to progress in my sobriety. Because all my past decision-making skills were based around drinking, I had to learn how to process the world as an adult. This included experiencing and processing anxiety about the future, without using alcohol as an escape. I learned how to identify the roots of my anxiety, and how to make better decisions when navigating challenging situations. I started to give myself time to process all of my emotions. I drank for 17 years, and unlearning old habits took time. It took regular therapy to develop these new ways of thinking. My journey was about progress, not perfection.

I became fascinated with the opportunity to better understand myself, which then grew into an interest in helping others do the same. In 2001 I enrolled in Rollins College to become a therapist. 

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.
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Fast forward to today, I’m a therapist on the Monument platform. Monument has created an affordable and effective online alcohol treatment program. One I wish I had access to when I first stopped drinking. Monument combines scientifically proven methods to create a personalized care plan so that each member has the right support for them. These options include attending individual alcohol therapy, joining free, therapist-moderated alcohol support groups (which I moderate a few of), and seeing an experienced physician to evaluate if medication to stop drinking is right for you. 

I am proud and honored to be a Monument therapist. The recovery process of each and every member is personal to me. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible, and clinicians like myself are here to help you get there. We all hold the potential, and bravery, to seek a new beginning. Just like me, you are the author of your own success story. 

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.

man walking down path

What Is Sobriety?

man walking down path

Each person follows their own path and utilizes their own methods when learning how to stay sober. There’s not a set definition that fully encompasses the complexity of what sobriety entails.

Since creating a healthy relationship with alcohol is a personal experience, the better question is: what does sobriety mean to you? The truth is sobriety changes depending on the person and where they are in their journey. While the textbook definition of sobriety is to be in a condition where you are free of any measurable levels of drugs, alcohol, or intoxicants, you may find that sobriety means something different to you at various stages in life.

Ultimately, sobriety is rooted in finding fulfillment and allowing yourself to live an authentic life.

Not Drinking

There are various ways sobriety can be interpreted, but what is sobriety at its core? The clinical definition of sobriety means not drinking. 

As outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), questions about sobriety focus specifically on a year of consistent abstinence from alcohol. However, the DSM also implies sobriety is defined by ongoing behavioral patterns and changes. 

For example, physicians and therapists using DSM criteria to assess means of support may ask questions, such as: 

  • In the past year, have you ended up drinking more or longer than originally intended? 
  • Have you wanted a drink so badly that it was difficult to think about anything else? 
  • Have you found drinking has interfered with taking care of your family or home? 

These kinds of questions get at the role alcohol plays in our life, not just the alcohol consumption itself. Because of this, overly simplified definitions like “abstinence from alcohol” cannot speak to the nuanced meaning of what sobriety is from a more personal perspective. 

Because sobriety can mean different things at different times, and different things to different people, what proves to be an effective sobriety toolkit for one person may not be effective for another. It’s about receiving support tailored to your unique needs and goals. To fully explore what sobriety means to you, and how to get there, it takes self-reflection, self-compassion, and the desire to change your relationship with alcohol. 

man in reflective glass

Allowing Time for Introspection 

Achieving sobriety involves allowing yourself time for introspection and learning how to feel and work through your emotions in a healthy manner. This may first take sitting with things you’d normally avoid or use alcohol to escape. 

As you take a moment for self-reflection, keep in mind, sobriety is a journey, not a destination. You’ll want to consider: is quitting alcohol cold turkey safe and appropriate for you? Or is learning how to drink in moderation a more fitting first step toward  building a healthy relationship with alcohol? Some people begin with goals for moderation with the ultimate goal for sobriety, while others jump right into a life without alcohol. You can work with a physician and therapist at Monument to decide what approach is best for you. 

Regardless of your path, remember that this is often a non-linear journey, which means setbacks do not define our progress, and we can adjust our goals to re-align with our aspirations. 

Practicing Healthy Habits 

Sobriety is the ultimate act of self-care, and often entails building healthier habits and routines. At Monument, you can work with a therapist to guide you through that process. Therapy can help you build new coping mechanisms, establish supportive, enriching relationships, find your inner motivation to make a change, and so much more.

Building a sobriety toolkit complete with evidence-based therapy, a supportive community network, and physician-prescribed medication is a powerful way to replace old habits and build new routines. 

Building self-esteem while changing your relationship with alcohol

Starting your journey toward sobriety or moderation can bring on a wave of different emotions, including what could feel like an identity-crisis. This is normal. Join a discussion on how to not only navigate but how to cultivate confidence.
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Additionally, having access to moderated alcohol support groups and an online community forum can help you practice accountability and navigate challenges as they arise. Forming meaningful connections can provide encouragement and the relief that comes with knowing you are not alone. This combination of support looks different for everyone. At the end of the day, the purpose is to make sure online alcohol treatment is personalized to you.

Women putting her arms up with pride

Practicing Holistic Wellness

In addition to seeking treatment, it’s important to be aware of the amount of exercise, sleep, and balanced nutrition you receive every day. Making small changes in these areas can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. A daily walk, restful sleep, and a balanced diet can help you feel better and put you in a clearer headspace to reduce the role alcohol plays in your life.

Interested in learning about how alcohol affects sleep, and how to build better sleep hygiene in sobriety? Watch our Monument Live about alcohol and sleep

Staying sober doesn’t always follow a linear path. As you build and practice new habits, allow yourself grace and space to grow.

Mindfulness of Past Coping Mechanisms

Sobriety allows you to uncover what may be holding you back, which you may have been ignoring or escaping from with alcohol. It’s common for people to turn to alcohol as a way to avoid emotions, especially stress and anxiety. However, the more these are bottled up without resolution, the greater possibility of them leading to setbacks in your treatment goals and overall fulfillment.

Learning to live without alcohol or drink in moderation may involve addressing some of the answers to the following questions:

  • What does alcohol do for me? Why do I drink?
  • What do I want out of life? 
  • How do I want to feel?

By answering these questions, you can better understand your drinking habits, and get a clearer picture of your ideal self. If these questions are intimidating, you are not alone. You can discuss them with a therapist or support group to get greater clarity and formulate a plan for reducing your alcohol dependence. 

woman on facetime

Connecting With a Therapist

Talking through emotions both in a group setting and with a therapist is incredibly valuable. You can begin to uncover why you’re feeling the way you do. This allows you to embrace your emotions fully and not let them fester, which can be harmful to your mental health. With Monument’s supportive community, you have people available to you anytime, anywhere. They can talk through struggles with you and provide support when you need it most.

Depending on your comfort level, you have the option of remaining anonymous and participating as much or as little as you wish. The idea is to make it as comfortable for you as possible and provide relief from the negative feelings you may have been avoiding.

Two women smiling together by a campfire

Recognizing What You Really Want in Life

When defining sobriety, ask yourself, what do you want to gain by changing your relationship with alcohol? For example, are you seeking deeper, more authentic connections with your  loved ones? Would you like to build a sustainable pathway for a healthier lifestyle? 

A collaborative study conducted by the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. and the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery assessed the effects of long-term recovery versus short-term treatment gains. It identified factors that helped participants find long-term success, which included personal support and participating in an alcohol treatment program.

One-third of study participants referenced the support of family, friends, and peers as a key motivation in sticking with their treatment journey. In addition to community support, the guidance of a professional therapist can provide insight and inspiration to build upon your personal relationships. 

Seeking Connection 

So, what does sobriety look like when it comes to connecting with others? It’s a way to share your experiences, feelings, and setbacks openly and honestly. Removing unhealthy alcohol consumption from social interactions creates space for more authentic connection, discovery, and intimacy. While many people fear relationships will change in sobriety, in reality, you will be able to more clearly identify which relationships serve you, get to know yourself and others on a deeper level, and have more present and fulfilling interactions. Whether you’re navigating sober dating, self-love, or your relationship with your partner, changing your relationship with alcohol often means changing your interpersonal relationships for the better.  And remember, love languages can change in sobriety, and that’s 100% okay. 

Holistic Support

Many traditional recovery programs set a sobriety date and put life on pause temporarily, which doesn’t work for a lot of people. Plus, they may be expensive and unaffordable for many. The more flexible and holistic approach to care at Monument empowers you to work towards sobriety on your own terms, and own time. It also gives you the power to define your relationship with alcohol without having to set a sobriety date or identify as a sober person if that’s not what you want. Plus, we don’t use the word ‘alcoholic,’ because drinking is something you do, not who you are. And it’s something you can change. No matter your goal, we’re here to support you.

At Monument, we make customized treatment available online on your own time. We use evidence-based methods, including alcohol therapy and physician-prescribed medication to help people change their drinking habits for good. Being able to connect with physicians, therapists, and a community of support at any time, from anywhere, gives people the support they need when they need it. 

Long-term sobriety is about finding what it takes to support a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. Some may require more support than others at various stages of life when learning how to stay sober or change their relationship with alcohol. Finding the right online alcohol treatment and support to meet you where you are is important.

man sitting by water and sunset

Finding Your Own Meaning of Sobriety

Introspection, practicing healthy habits, and mindfulness are often key components of the sobriety journey. However, these practices look different for everyone. What do they mean to you? Choosing sobriety means being gracious with yourself and knowing that your journey is unique and valid. The path to sobriety is often non-linear, and complete with ups and downs. It’s important to prioritize progress over perfection, and know that growth happens in those uncomfortable moments.

No matter what point of the journey you’re on, you’re not alone. You deserve a healthy relationship with alcohol, whatever that looks like to you.

And at Monument, we’re here to meet you where you are and provide you with support from all angles. 

If you’re wondering how to stop drinking or want to change your relationship with alcohol, reach out to us 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.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852519/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/

Women with a light up umbrella under the stars

How to Stay Sober: 7 Tips for Living Without Alcohol

Women with a light up umbrella under the stars

Building a healthy relationship with alcohol is something to be celebrated. For many people, that looks like working towards long-term sobriety with online alcohol treatment.  

But what is sobriety? Per the dictionary, sobriety is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of alcohol altogether. While that definition might sound simple, sobriety can hold much more meaning. Achieving sobriety often involves building healthier habits, establishing new coping mechanisms, addressing triggers that lead to alcohol consumption, and beyond. If you’re wondering how to change your relationship with alcohol for good, we’ve put together helpful sobriety tips to guide you along the way. 

As you’re working on maintaining your sobriety, you can utilize these tools for how to stay sober even when it’s especially challenging. It’s also important to remember this: if you experience setbacks, your progress doesn’t go away overnight. You can always continue on the path toward sobriety, even if there are bends in the road.   

1. Evaluate and Address Your Triggers Healthily

One of the most helpful tips for someone navigating sobriety is evaluating triggers. This consists of identifying people, places, and social situations that tempt you to drink, and setting boundaries to limit or address these scenarios.

You may also take the opportunity to replace triggering factors with alternative activities. For example, if happy hours are a common way you engage with co-workers or friends, suggest other social situations like a sober event, coffee date, or outdoor activity as things to do instead of drinking

three people on a hike

Keep in mind, not all triggers are people or places. Stressful situations or circumstances can also lead to a desire to drink, such as: 

  • A job loss
  • Financial troubles
  • Relationship problems 

The frequency and severity of these circumstances can’t always be predicted. However, triggers can have seasonal influences. For example, holiday time and the darker days of winter can result in a unique set of relationship challenges and feelings of isolation. Being mindful of when challenges may arise can help you be proactive in making healthy choices. 

boundaries inventory: saying no without guilt or shame, asking for what I want/need, taking care of myself, saying yes because I want to, feeling safe to express difficult emotions & have disagreements, taking responsibility for my own happiness, not feeling responsible for someone else's happiness

2. Finding Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Additionally, a lot of growth can come from learning how to address triggers with new coping mechanisms. Consider how they make you feel, and actions you can take to process your emotions without alcohol. The good news is you don’t have to face these feelings alone. You can leverage a variety of available tools and resources when overwhelming stressors arise. 

This may include reaching out to a therapist or engaging with an online alcohol support group like those at Monument. When you’re in a vulnerable spot and have a craving to drink, reaching out to others is an incredibly valuable way to stay accountable to your goals and fill time until the craving passes. 

two men high fiving on a roof

3. Surround Yourself with Support

As mentioned, connecting with others can be incredibly helpful as you are working towards maintaining your sobriety. One of the most valuable ways to stay sober is developing strong relationships with loved ones who support your long-term sobriety. It often means reevaluating past connections that prove unhealthy. Just as certain social situations and environments can be triggering, people can be, too. Welcome the ones who appreciate your new path and want to support your growth. 

Connect in a sober community or schedule time to catch up with loved ones who are rooting for your health and well-being. Making meaningful connections will enable you to feel more fulfilled without the need for alcohol and have a network to lean on when you’re looking for some extra encouragement. 

Preventing relapse through self-care

Women face a unique set of challenges in navigating sobriety and moderation. Join the discussion about gender-specific topics such as stigma, trauma, and gender inequalities. All expressions of female identity are welcome.
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Furthermore, joining an anonymous, supportive community is a powerful tool for staying sober. There’s a sense of familiarity and camaraderie with people who share similar experiences. 

At Monument, the community is free of labels, judgment, and expectations. You can engage in the way that works best for you, whether that’s listening, sharing, or simply reflecting. Showing up is always enough.

“I love Tammy's groups and the people, now my friends, who show up for group with me. It is a time together that feels supportive, and where I can ask for feedback about questions or challenges I am having right now. I am always glad I have made time to come to group!” - Monument Member

4. Build Healthier Routines

Long-term sobriety often entails forming new habits to align with your goals for a healthier lifestyle and improved wellness. It can be tempting to revert to old habits, especially past drinking habits, when feeling uncomfortable or when confronted with a trigger. However, with healthier coping mechanisms in your toolkit, you’ll be able to navigate challenges with perspective and perseverance, and without any alcohol. 

You can decide what action you’ll take instead of turning to alcohol. Redirecting your time and attention to wellness practices can help you stay sober and move past old habits of alcohol consumption. 

When it comes to building sustainable wellness practices, start by asking yourself: What can I do for five minutes each day to address different aspects of my overall health? You can look for exercise videos or get up and stretch to improve your physical health. Your list may also include journaling to reflect on how you feel and focus on what changes have been the most impactful for you. Journaling is also a helpful way to improve your mental health and appreciate how much you’ve grown. Deciding what actually holds value in your day-to-day life can shed light on what you want to spend more time doing as well as the habits you’d like to let go.

women looking out window

5. Reflect on What Works for You

Identifying what you really want and value in life doesn’t have to happen all at once, and can happen at any time. It can be inspired by a significant life event, like becoming a parent, or smaller everyday desires, like seeking more authentic connections with the people in your life. It’s never too late to re-imagine your ideal self and create a plan to get there. 

Imagining where you want to be and how you’re going to get there is also a great way to set goals for how alcohol does or doesn’t show up in our life. Perhaps you realize drinking in moderation is going to allow you to accomplish all of your goals, or you might decide staying sober more closely aligns with your aspirations. 

While self-reflection and journaling can help you visualize your goals, you don’t have to do it alone. It can be incredibly helpful to discuss setting intentions and goals with a licensed therapist or in a peer support group. At Monument, we meet you where you are to help you get to where you want to be.

6. Find Balance and Create Boundaries 

Changing your relationship with alcohol means different things to different people. For some, it may be addressing and healing from past trauma. (In fact, PTSD and alcohol dependence can often co-occur.) For others, it may be building self-confidence and identifying new ways to socialize while living without alcohol. Focusing on what makes you feel whole is an important part of the recovery  journey. 

Another key component of feeling whole and in-balance is setting boundaries. It’s important to remember that your sobriety is a priority, and that you can create boundaries that put your health and wellness first. Here’s a helpful checklist of ways to set healthy boundaries: 

  • Saying no without guilt or shame
  • Asking for what you want/need
  • Taking care of yourself
  • Saying yes because you want to
  • Feeling safe to express difficult emotions and have disagreements
  • Taking responsibility for your own happiness
  • Not feeling solely responsible for someone else’s happiness

It’s not easy to do all of these things all the time, but implementing these boundaries as much as possible can help you feel more balanced and at peace while navigating living without alcohol. 

man meditating in a field

7. Embrace Mindfulness 

The distraction of social media on top of a busy daily routine can cause you to feel like you’re constantly trying to keep up. Practicing mindfulness can improve your mental health, and is a habit that promotes awareness of how you’re feeling in the moment. You can approach this in different ways based on your preferences and mood.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a great place to start. Rest comfortably and inhale slowly for a few seconds, hold the breath for a few seconds, and then deeply exhale for a few seconds. Repeat this rhythm a few times and embrace the stillness of the moment. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but intentional practice will make it easier every time. Meanwhile, introducing yoga into your life is a healthy way to combine gentle exercise and mindfulness through a guided flow. 

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is another popular technique. It’s intended to bring your thoughts to a central focus and clear the mind. However, mindfulness doesn’t have to just be about meditating. Whatever you choose to do should be fulfilling and fun. It’s about creating moments where you are and remembering to be present. 

Being mindful leads to gratitude and allows you to feel things fully even if something feels painful. Letting those emotions pass through, rather than avoiding them or escaping from them by drinking alcohol, is a healthy habit to practice in your journey.

 

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8. Celebrate Progress 

Practicing long-term sobriety is a rewarding journey, and something to be proud of. Honor and celebrate your progress. Take notice of how far you’ve come. Cheers with a celebratory alcohol alternative (when you’re ready!). Even if you experience setbacks, you’ve still made incredible strides, and can continue on your path. Changing your relationship with alcohol, along with your physical and mental health, should be celebrated often.

Small steps amount to meaningful change, and can sometimes be difficult to recognize and appreciate at the moment. Talking to your support group about your accomplishments, big or small, is an important practice of self-appreciation. Sharing your experiences with others may also be inspirational for those who may be embarking on a similar path. 

woman smiling in a colorful glass room

Embarking on Your New Path

Living a sober life looks different for everyone and it can often take a few tries before establishing a sustainable sobriety practice. There is absolutely no shame in that. It takes self-reflection, navigating challenges and triggers, and developing a sobriety toolkit that works for you. And you don’t have to do it alone. Having immediate access to evidence-based tools and a supportive community can empower you to reach your goals. 

Implementing these tips for staying sober will help you persevere in the face of challenges, and experience the authentic joys and benefits that come with sobriety. If you want support from all angles, Monument is here to meet you where you are, and empower you to get more out of life by living without alcohol.

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.

Sources:

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-alcohol-use-disorder

https://joinmonument.com/resources/faq-about-the-holidays-sober/

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Why Drinking Is A Trauma Response, And How To Cope Without Alcohol

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This article references possible sources of trauma and may lead to your identifying with these triggers. Our trauma informed therapists are ready to support you in addressing these fully to reduce long term emotional distress.

Many of us hold traumatic memories. Through no fault of our own, we may have experienced physical or sexual abuse, or emotional abuse or neglect. We may have been raised by a parent struggling with alcohol dependence, or may have been exposed to other forms of trauma. We may not realize it, but undergoing trauma can cause long term changes in our neurobiology. It can affect the way we react to situations, how our brain and body process information, and how likely we are to crave alcohol. It’s important to first understand the effects of trauma and how we can work through painful experiences. These are powerful steps towards changing our relationship with alcohol, and discovering ways to heal.

How Does Trauma Affect the Brain?

When faced with traumatic situations, the “fight or flight” glands in our brain (otherwise known as the hypothalamus and the amygdala) trigger a natural and protective response. The amygdala produces more adrenaline, and the hypothalamus gland increases heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and muscle tension. When faced with future stressful situations, the brain is more likely to trigger an intense fight-or-flight response. This is because after being subjected to a traumatic event, we become more likely to perceive and react to new stressors in the same way. 

Two friends sitting by a lake

Painful memories and biochemical changes resulting from trauma can make us more susceptible to alcohol misuse. As a result, a dual diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) can often occur. While this response to trauma is completely natural and valid, we each still hold a great capacity to cultivate new ways of coping.

Why we may seek alcohol to cope with trauma 

Traumatic experiences can change the neurobiological patterns of the brain. It can lead to a long-term increase in stress hormones, which is why survivors often experience heightened anxiety and depression. Trauma can also cause a decreased level of dopamine in the brain, which is commonly referred to as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter.

For someone who has survived a traumatic experience, with or without a PTSD diagnosis, drinking alcohol can provide a temporary relief from these feelings. When drinking, dopamine levels increase in the brain, and we feel better — for a short while.

Additionally, the brain releases dopamine when we experience pleasure, and this reward-center of the brain is especially sensitive to alcohol. Trauma survivors are also more likely to have a stronger reaction to dopamine. As we continue to use alcohol to cope, the brain gets conditioned to using alcohol for relief. Over time, the amygdala and the hypothalamus begin to actually recognize alcohol as a necessary means of survival, and crave alcohol to soothe difficult feelings that arise from traumatic stress. This can lead to alcohol dependency, and is an indicator of alcohol use disorder. 

holding hands

PTSD and Alcohol: How do PTSD and Alcohol Relate?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and PTSD are common co-occurring conditions. According to the National Institute of Health, as many as 40% of those diagnosed with PTSD also meet the criteria for AUD. Fortunately a dual diagnosis of AUD and PTSD is treatable with evidence-based medical care, and with support, we can find new, meaningful ways to cope and live full and joyful lives. It’s important to remember that alcohol use disorder (AUD) and post-traumatic stress disorder are medical conditions, and we are not to blame for how our past experiences have affected us.

What is PTSD?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the onset of PTSD is triggered by a traumatic event followed by a set of symptoms that are usually identified in these 4 categories: intrusive memories, avoidance behaviors, negative mood and thinking, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. The severity of these symptoms varies in each person and can be lessened with treatment.

Who is affected by PTSD?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, 3.5 million people will experience PTSD each year, and women are twice as likely to experience PTSD in their lifetime. Sexual assault victims and veterans are also more likely to experience PTSD. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 7% of the population suffers from PTSD sometime in their lifetime.

Why are PTSD and AUD connected?

Alcohol can provide temporary relief to the areas of the brain that are often hyper-vigilant and overactive after enduring trauma. After long-term excessive drinking, the hippocampus and amygdala start to associate alcohol as a requirement to be safe from danger. Because of this, PTSD survivors can subconsciously believe they need it to survive. Alcohol may relieve symptoms temporarily, but ultimately it can heighten anxiety, depression, and bring on other harmful side effects. However, we each have an amazing capability to heal. With the right support and treatment, the trauma-impacted areas in our brain can recover, we can relearn associations of safety, and we can begin to experience real relief from both PTSD and AUD.

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.
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Why Shame Arises, And How To Overcome It  

The brain naturally blames itself for experiences that are out of its control. Although we are never to blame for undergoing trauma, feelings of shame and guilt can still arise. These reactions can be difficult to manage on our own, especially amongst the other painful effects of trauma. Therefore, it is completely understandable that we would use drinking to get some relief from all of these feelings.

Understanding that trauma affects our brain, and can generate a craving out of our control, may help release some of those feelings of shame around alcohol use. Drinking can work to soothe pain at first, but eventually creates a harmful, unhealthy cycle that causes us to drink even more, without relieving underlying stressors or PTSD symptoms. At Monument, we’re here to help you find new ways of managing painful emotions and memories, free of any judgement or shame.

Woman on computer

What Recovery Looks Like 

You can change your relationship with alcohol and simultaneously heal from trauma. The first step is to recognize that despite the signals in our brain’s reward center, alcohol use is not a sustainable coping mechanism. Acknowledge that a previous traumatic event may have changed the way we react to stress, and made us more likely to seek alcohol for relief. These situations happened to us, but do not define us. We also have to remind ourselves that drinking alcohol is a temporary habit, not a reflection of our character. You are not alone in navigating your past trauma, and the relationship between PTSD and alcohol use. There’s professional care and a compassionate community to provide you safe and loving support. 

How to Approach AUD, Trauma, and PTSD Treatment

Therapy

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is gaining clarity with the support of a therapist. Previous traumatic experiences become stored in the subconscious of the brain as memories and images. These memories are often avoided so that we can function in the present without the weight of the past. A trained mental health professional can help us process these memories so that they no longer have power over us. Through treatment, therapy can also help us regulate stressful emotions, restructure thought patterns, and develop new coping mechanisms in place of past alcohol use. Monument offers personalized therapy programs that are specifically tailored to you and your needs, whether that means navigating PTSD and alcohol dependence, depression, or other co-occurring mental health conditions. Learn more about how our online alcohol therapy approach can work for you.

get the relief and support you deserve. Click to explore treatment options

Medication

Meeting with a physician can be a pivotal step in recovering from alcohol use disorder. Together, you and your treatment provider can discuss medication to stop drinking, and develop a care plan tailored to your needs and goals. Just like any other medical condition, medical treatment is an effective tool for recovering from alcohol use disorder. 

Community

Monument offers free, therapist moderated alcohol support groups on many topics related to changing your relationship with alcohol. Join a live session to share, hear from others, learn about new resources, and practice accountability. You can also engage in our anonymous online Community at any time. Connecting with others can make a huge difference. You are not alone in this, and there’s an entire community of people who are ready to support you.   

People holding hands over a coffee table

Traumatic memories can be incredibly difficult to live with and no two experiences of trauma are alike. While we may not have all the words to describe or understand how trauma has affected us yet, we can begin by taking one step every day towards seeking peace, safety, and recovery. Our past experiences do not define us. All we can ask of ourselves is to go at our own pace, and accept all the support and love we deserve along the way.

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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.

Resources:

2010-2021, Harvard Health Medical School, Harvard University. https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/addiction 

Sources: Kathleen T. Brady, M.D., Ph.D., and Sudie E. Back, Ph.D. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arcr344/408-413.htm 

Sparklers by a festive dinner table

5 Healthy Alcohol Alternatives to Create New Celebratory Rituals

Sparklers by a festive dinner table

Important Note: Some non-alcoholic beverages may contain very small amounts of alcohol (less than 0.5% ABV), in addition to caffeine and other botanicals. Consult your doctor before consuming if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or may become pregnant; looking to conceive; have high or low blood pressure; a medical condition; or are taking any medication.

Celebrations often call for food and drink to achieve a festive feeling. Whether it’s acknowledging another trip around the sun, a long-deserved promotion, or simply getting to the end of another jam-packed work week, raising a glass to mark the occasion can seem like the natural thing to do.

However, when you break down what makes celebratory rituals so impactful, it’s about the intention of the moment and taking a pause to solidify its meaning. The core emotions surrounding celebrations are often happiness, contentment, pride, and satisfaction. Exploring how to experience these same feelings without alcohol allows you to create new celebratory rituals.

Spoiler alert: removing alcohol consumption from the equation can make for even more authentic joy.

What Are The Benefits of Drinking Alcohol Alternatives?

Unhealthy alcohol consumption affects all dimensions of our wellbeing. From short-term effects like hangovers, headaches, and nausea, to long-term effects like financial instability, strained relationships, and intensified anxiety, alcohol can take a toll on our physical and mental health. For some, it can also be an indicator of alcohol use disorder, a medical condition characterized by drinking more than you want despite walking to cut down.

If you’re asking yourself, “should I stop drinking alcohol?,” that’s an act of self-care. One way to start experiencing the benefits of sobriety or moderation is by introducing alcohol alternatives into your daily life. Alcohol alternatives can provide complex flavors and festive energy without sacrificing your health.

What Should You Drink Instead of Alcohol?

Alcohol alternatives can be an effective (and fun!) tool for honoring your boundaries when drinking in moderation or practicing sobriety. Here are some of our favorite options that are full of flavor and free of alcohol.

  1. Sparkling juices
  2. Kombucha
  3. Alcohol-free wine
  4. Alcohol-free beer
  5. Alcohol-free cocktails (formerly known as mocktails)

With so many healthy alternatives to alcohol, creating new celebratory rituals is made easier with drinks that are complex, festive, and delicious. Read on to learn why we love these alcohol alternatives.

1. Sparkling Juice to Toast the Start of the Weekend

Sparkling juice offers the same bubbly fizz of sparkling wine but without the alcohol content. As one of the top alcohol replacement drinks, sparkling juice’s packaging and presentation embraces a celebratory mood.

Perhaps you’ll find that sparkling white grape juice is a great way to end the week instead of using booze to welcome the upcoming weekend. Pull out your drinking flutes and add a few berries to the bottom of each glass to make this healthy alternative feel extra festive.

alcohol alternatives

Celebrating With Friends

Call your friends over for a potluck-style snack spread complete with a well-curated charcuterie board and other low-maintenance yet comforting foods, all paired with your sparkling fruit juice flavor of choice.

Ending the Week With a Self-Care Routine

Alternatively, schedule some quiet time and toast another Friday in the books by pampering yourself, one of our favorite things to do instead of drinking. Start with a glass of sparkling cranberry juice and settle in for an evening of self-care. Whether that includes running a hot bath or sitting down to watch the latest show on Netflix, cheers to the end of the week and a couple of days off from the regular grind.

Finding a balance between being in the company of others and unwinding with ample solo time is what keeps our connections with others strong. The food and beverages you choose are secondary to how it feels to ease the tension of the week and float into the weekend feeling relaxed.

2. Kombucha to Reward a Fitness Goal

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that has become one of the trendiest alcohol alternative beverages, known for its unique flavor and health benefits. Experts say it helps rid the body of toxins and works as an energy boost. Those reasons alone are enough to celebrate. The tangy tartness of kombucha tastes like an amped-up cider or lemonade, and there’s plenty of flavors to choose from when you’re ready to reward a job well done.

Keep with the healthy spirit of drinking kombucha, and use it to celebrate a health goal you’ve recently achieved. Mark the accomplishment of:

  • An intensive hike
  • A rigorous bike workout
  • Reaching a higher level of fitness 

Woman drinking water on a hike

As you create healthy habits and goals with fitness, reward yourself and honor your body in a tasty way by drinking in the goodness of kombucha.

The simplicity of swapping your go-to alcoholic drink for something else can actually enhance your happiness. Although daily routines are comforting, a wider array of experiences are associated with greater brain activity. Stimulating your senses with a new hiking destination or exercise routine and pairing it with kombucha can be a new kind of ritual that increases your level of satisfaction.

3. Alcohol-Free Wine to Cheers a Special Occasion

Raising a glass of wine in honor of a birthday, wedding, or other special occasion is common, but the joyful spirit feels just as good with alcohol-free wine. Wine enthusiasts focus on the tasting notes of their favorite wines. Serving wine sans alcohol still has the same flavors and aromas, whether you’re pairing an alcohol-free wine with a fancy dinner or hosting a wine tasting.

Many of the top winemakers have begun offering non-alcoholic alternatives of their top wines, made from the same grapes to achieve the same quality as their alcohol-based wines. Alcohol-free wine also has more nuanced flavors than sparkling grape juice.

Wind down with an alcohol-free white wine, such as syrah or chardonnay, by a brand you already love. It may quickly become one of your go-to healthy alternatives to an alcoholic beverage, especially when you use it for sangria and add all your favorite seasonal fruits.

Other ways to enjoy it are:

  • Freezing it into popsicles or making slushies to take to the pool in summer 
  • Heating it up with cinnamon and other warming spices for mulled wine in the colder months 

Alcohol-free wine can be enjoyed in multiple ways and dressed up to fit the occasion. When ushering in a new season, start a celebratory ritual with a seasonal beverage.

Attend Monument’s online alcohol support groups to hear what’s worked for others as they navigate the alcohol recovery timeline.

Turning a sobriety challenge into a lifestyle

Have you experimented with sobriety, and are interested in continuing to reap the benefits of drinking less? Join the discussion about building upon what's working & creating sustainable changes that align with your goals and aspirations.
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3. Alcohol-Free Beer for a Monthly Happy Hour Get Together

Happy hour was designed to take a break from the workweek and catch up with friends and colleagues. As with winemakers, brewers are getting creative with their flavor profiles as they create inventive, non-alcoholic beers. The packaging, aromas, and tastes are largely the same without feeling the fullness and negative side effects of drinking alcohol.

Rather than gathering at a local bar for beers or meeting online for a weekly Zoom happy hour, why not take the adventure outdoors? Get out of work mode entirely by setting up a park picnic complete with yard games and good eats. Keep a cooler of alcohol-free beer and other non-alcoholic drink alternatives to let people grab and go as they please. Going alcohol-free means you’re not limited to the places you can meet up. (However, many bars are now serving alcohol-free options, too!)

two friends laughing in the sun with beverages

Alcohol-free beer is also a great alternative for times and places when beer always seems to make an appearance. These occasions often include:

  • St. Patrick’s Day 
  • Opening Day of baseball
  • Lazy days spent at the lake or poolside

Even if alcohol is no longer a part of your life, you don’t have to forgo the ritual of these celebrations. With the number of alcohol-free alternatives available today, it’s easy to find a taste for everyone without missing the camaraderie and feel-good festivities that each of these occasions brings.

5. Signature Alcohol-Free Cocktails for Every Season

Everyone has their signature alcohol-free cocktail based on their preferred taste, but part of a ritual involves the presentation. The addition of a paper umbrella instantly makes it feel more vacation-worthy, and a colorful drink always feels like a good time. Shake up a few alcohol-free cocktails, formerly known as mocktails (see: The Monument Glossary), as a way to invite a sense of fun and relaxation. There are plenty of perfect pairings to enjoy throughout the year.

Sweet & Tangy for Summer Days

The warm temperature and sunny days of summer call for a refreshing drink with plenty of citrus to brighten things up. The Curious Lavender Lemonade from our Delish AF recipe book mixes lemon and fresh mint with three different types of tea to create a take on an Arnold Palmer. It’s a super sippable concoction, perfect for sitting poolside or on your back deck.

Cozy Concoctions for Colder Months

For a drink to warm the insides in the fall and winter months, nothing’s quite as cozy as cranberry apple cider. Although the original Delish AF recipe recommends serving it chilled, the flavors taste like fall and make for a delicious cocktail for when the evenings turn colder.

Two people toasting their mugs and looking out the window

Light & Refreshing for the Spring Season

Then again, there’s nothing like the classics to invite the revitalizing feeling of spring. Indulge in a classic gin and tonic, or get fancy with a Negroni by using alcohol-free spirits for your drink of choice.

Rely on your inner creativity by mixing up different ingredients and flavors to make your own signature concoctions. Whether you use alcohol-free spirits as your base or develop flavors through a mixture of teas and juices, you’d be amazed at the number of variations you can come up with. Set up your own bar cart complete with alcohol-free alternatives, and shake up a craft cocktail whenever the mood strikes.

Honoring All the Special Occasions Alcohol-Free

Feeling and spreading happiness is all about the details. The people, place, and attention to detail are all what makes a moment feel special. Although food, drinks, and decor are often associated with celebratory rituals, drinking alcohol is not a must-have to equal a good time. The idea is to create connections and share laughs, possibly with a few well-chosen eats and sips along the way. That ambiance is easily created with any of these alcohol-free alternatives.

As you change your relationship with alcohol, it also gives you the opportunity to change how you celebrate special occasions. Turn your focus inward to how you want to feel and imagine your ideal environment. These alcohol alternatives can open your world to endless options as you decide what moderation looks like to you or what sobriety means for you. There’s no reason life should stop while you make progress through online alcohol treatment. Continue celebrating and exploring ways to turn traditional rituals into moments that feel attainable and authentic. 

Well-decorated table with pomegranates, tea, apples, and confetti

For more of our favorite alcohol-free drinks, check out these Delicious AF recipes in our digital drink book free of booze! 

If you have any hesitation about trying alcohol-free cocktails, know that there is no rush, and you can save this resource for a later date when you are ready to experiment with alternative celebratory rituals. At Monument, we’ll be here to celebrate and support you on your journey. 

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.

Sources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/alcohol-abstinence-vs-moderation

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-020-0636-4

Important Note: Some Delish AF recipes include beverages that may contain very small amounts of alcohol (less than 0.5% ABV), in addition to caffeine and other botanicals. Consult your doctor before consuming if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or may become pregnant; looking to conceive; have high or low blood pressure; a medical condition; or are taking any medication. 

Woman looking at the ocean

Stress Management to Socializing: 8 Things to Do Instead of Drinking

Woman looking at the ocean

Changing your relationship with alcohol often comes with changing your routine too. If you were spending hours every day or week thinking about alcohol and drinking, you’ll find yourself with more and more time as alcohol becomes less important to you. And that’s a good thing! While newfound time can be overwhelming at first, seeking out things to do besides drinking can be an incredibly rewarding experience. 

The early days of changing your relationship with alcohol are filled with self-discovery. As you start to substitute things to do instead of drinking, focus on how each alternative activity makes you feel. The clarity that comes from decreased alcohol consumption allows you to retain memories of things that make you feel good and might want to return to in the future. 

Journaling is a helpful tool for identifying what new activities are working for you, and reflecting on how they feed your sense of accomplishment, pleasure, and overall satisfaction. It’s especially productive to find new experiences that replace activities that used to be centered around alcohol. For example, perhaps you used to use alcohol to manage stress and socialize, and are looking for new ways to navigate those needs.  

We’ve created a list of things to do instead of drinking in those situations where it once was your instinct to have a drink. Each of these have correlating activities and plans of action that serve as fulfilling, healthy alternatives to drinking. Find inspiration from this list of things to do instead of drinking, and find what drives you toward your personal goals.

Person sitting by the sunrise

Learn Stress Management Tools

For many, drinking alcohol is a way to temporarily suppress feelings of sadness, anger, or anxiety, which eventually surface and can become overwhelming. Focusing on how to alleviate these feelings through stress management techniques allows you to acknowledge and work through them in effective ways. Feelings are important to pay attention to but are not the end-all responses that should steer your actions. Feelings are temporary. They can be regulated to generate the best responses to reach your goals as they arise.

Two of the best ways to regulate feelings are by seeking support through therapy and learning how to create healthy boundaries to reduce the feeling of needing to escape.

1. Seek Support Through Therapy

Learning how to regulate your emotions will allow you to feel more at ease without automatically turning to alcohol. Working with a therapist will help you identify areas of high stress in your life and establish techniques for managing them in a healthy way. Techniques in alcohol therapy may include recognizing irrational thoughts and replacing them with rational ones, as well as developing daily routines to keep your mind clear and minimize stress. 

The Subjective Units of Distress Scale, better known as SUDS, is commonly used to recognize levels of stress and anxiety. A rating of 0 is equal to peace and complete calm, while a rating of 100 is recognized as a point where you’re unable to function due to stress. When considering significant areas of your life, such as family, friends, work, and relationships, rating each of these areas can give you a better idea where the roots of your stressors come from. 

Identifying these areas allows you to recognize emotions, behaviors, and activities you’d like to change in order to live a more fulfilling and balanced life. 

Two people talking on a bench outside

2. Set Healthy Boundaries

Another stress management technique to consider instead of drinking is setting boundaries. Boundaries allow you to gain self-esteem, conserve your emotional energy, and validate your feelings in a helpful and productive way. Stress comes in many forms, including work, interpersonal relationships, and varying environmental situations. Using boundaries as a framework to set expectations for your mental health can help minimize stress levels and increase feelings of calm. 

It may help to start with a list of behaviors you’d like to change and ways you’d like to change them. Writing them down allows you to understand where you may be struggling when enforcing boundaries and how to uphold them in the future. In addition to therapy, group support during online alcohol treatment allows you the opportunity to talk with others who may face similar challenges. 

boundaries inventory: saying no without guilt or shame, asking for what I want/need, taking care of myself, saying yes because I want to, feeling safe to express difficult emotions & have disagreements, taking responsibility for my own happiness, not feeling responsible for someone else's happiness

You can listen, learn, and share thoughts and ideas with your peers to help you process your emotions and practice accountability. Showing up for yourself in this way honors your feelings and helps you choose other routes for what to do instead of drinking.

Person doing yoga

Having Fun and Relax by Practicing Self-Care

As you learn new ways to work through your emotions and alleviate stress, it also opens the door for more relaxation and fun. While discomfort is to-be-expected in the early days of an alcohol recovery timeline, with time you will recognize the gifts of sobriety or moderation, and the positive effects on your confidence, mental wellbeing, and beyond. You’ll see how drinking less can make your world bigger, not smaller.  

Create challenges for yourself to make exploring sober activities feel unrestrictive versus task-oriented. 

As you find things to do instead of drinking, it’s important to simply make time every day to do something you enjoy. Here are a couple of ideas. 

3. Find an Enjoyable Exercise Routine

One of the healthiest things to do instead of drinking is exercise. Often, a craving for an alcoholic drink may stem from feelings of anxiety or stress. If you’re feeling this way, exercise will allow your body to release endorphins and help redirect your mind to focus on movement rather than feeling trapped by emotions. Exercise also allows you to build routines and create a new pattern that doesn’t involve drinking. 

Find a balance between establishing a routine that’ll help you feel grounded and seeking out new experiences that you’ll appreciate. Some days, a 30-minute walk will be enough to feel satisfied. Other days, you may want to participate in seasonal activities or explore undiscovered destinations. A good workout often makes us feel accomplished and energized, especially when it’s a physical activity that’s fun and engaging. 

Preventing relapse through self-care

Drinking is something we do, not who we are. Join the discussion about understanding our self-worth and getting to know our true selves without alcohol.
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4. Pamper Yourself

A day of pampering yourself is also one of the things to do instead of drinking to create authentic joy. This act of self-care can look different for everyone. It might mean spending a day at your favorite spa or spending a night in by yourself.

Create a list of things to do instead of drinking that will make you feel fulfilled. And remember that not all examples of self-care apply equally across the board. Tune into how you’re feeling and what activity can help you move through your emotions with calmness and relaxation. Then, schedule time for enjoyment and positivity every day, even if some days are limited to a short block of time to read a good book or a few minutes to practice meditation. Find the activities that excite and work for you. 

Strengthening Social Connections

Alcohol is often involved in social situations, whether it’s an office happy hour or a friend’s birthday. However, as you change your relationship with alcohol, it allows you to strengthen your social connections and expand your social opportunities. Identifying what to do instead of drinking will allow you to connect with others in ways you may not have previously considered.

two people laughing over coffee

5. Schedule a Coffee Date with Friends

Everyone has their own idea of what meaningful connection looks like. Scheduling time with friends is one way to strengthen bonds. Meet with friends for a coffee or lunch date. Call a family member to catch up. Join a discussion in Monument’s community forum. Being in the supportive company of others, virtually or in person, can lower your stress levels and help you unwind. 

Establishing strong bonds can increase your sense of belonging, boost your happiness, and help you cope through challenging times. Being proactive with your intentions helps to create healthier habits that will support your goals for changing your relationship with alcohol. 

6. Volunteer Within the Community

Volunteering is one of the best things to do instead of drinking. It allows you to socialize with others while giving back. Research has shown volunteering has yielded mental health benefits by improving access to social and psychological resources. These benefits counter negative emotions such as anxiety and depression which are often catalysts for alcohol consumption and unhealthy drinking habits

Another study showed the prevalence of favorable cardiovascular health for those who volunteered at 14.5 percent versus 1.67 percent for those who didn’t. In addition to the health benefits you’ll reap for yourself, it’ll strengthen your ties to your community and allow you to feel a greater sense of purpose and value.   

Also, you can support others on their journey to changing their relationship with alcohol. By referring friends to Monument, sharing encouraging comments in the community forum, and lending your support to others in support groups, you both empower them on their journey and solidify your commitment to your own goals. 

Reimagining Holidays and Celebrations

As with other standard social activities, many holiday events and celebrations often include alcohol. However, there are plenty of things to do besides drinking alcohol to commemorate special occasions. Instead of holiday drinking, focus on engaging with others, and find things you love to do to create your own traditions and rituals. Consider the moments that bring happy memories to light, and maximize these opportunities whenever you’re feeling celebratory. 

Three men laughing together in the sunset

7. Plan a Seasonal Get-Together

During the spring and summer months, spending time outside in the sunshine always feels good. 

Choose alternative social situations that don’t involve booze, such as a:

  • Group hike or bike ride
  • BBQ
  • Game night in the backyard

Since these get-togethers are activity-based, alcohol doesn’t have to be the main focus. 

However, if you’d like to cheers to the occasion, there are numerous alcohol alternatives to enjoy for any social activity. There’s a wide array of non-alcoholic beers, wines, and spirits to choose from to shake up your favorite cocktails and provide various options centered around making healthy choices. If you choose to add alcohol-free alternatives, check out the Delicious AF recipes in our digital drink book. We’ve curated some of our favorite alcohol-free concoctions so you can create new celebratory rituals with friends and family.

8. Create Your Own Holiday Traditions Sans Alcohol

Festive traditions often include looking at holiday lights, making cookies, and watching holiday movies that bring back childhood memories. These simple delights embrace the season that has everyone feeling warm and cozy. To feel extra festive, hot apple cider or hot cocoa add to the holiday mood. Furthermore, mixing up a great cocktail made with non-alcoholic spirits lends itself to the celebratory feeling when learning how to drink in moderation or staying sober.

Drinking less during the holidays can bring an abundance of new experiences and discoveries to be celebrated each year.

Three people dancing in confetti

As you continue to develop new techniques for stress management, self-care, and beyond, you’ll find the number of sober activities to support your goals are endless. When you focus your life on the things that bring you joy and comfort, you’re able to make life choices that feel healthier and aligned with goals. Allow your authentic self to shine through as you progress along your journey. At Monument, we’re here to champion your growth.

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.

Sources:

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-suds-rating-3024471

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12473312/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33575402/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860

https://joinmonument.com/resources/faq-about-the-holidays-sober/