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‘Should I Stop Drinking Alcohol?’ Here’s What To Consider

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According to Harvard Health, there was an 84 percent increase in alcohol use disorder among women, and a 35 percent increase among men from 2001-2013. More recently, the stress and anxiety from the pandemic have contributed to an even greater increase in alcohol consumption. I’m seeing more people ask questions like “Is my drinking habit something to worry about?” and “Do I have a drinking problem?” 

If you’ve found your drinking habits or alcohol cravings have become harder to manage, you are not alone. At the same time, more people than ever are taking the admirable step to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol. As a therapist on the Monument platform, I get to witness our growing community explore and discover the benefits of moderation or sobriety every day. 

Something I often remind members is that you don’t have to commit to a lifetime of abstinence on day one to examine and redefine your relationship with alcohol. Building healthier habits begins with a curiosity about how alcohol currently shows up in your life and a willingness to explore the positive changes from cutting back on drinking. 

If you’re asking yourself or others “should I quit drinking?” here are a few things to keep in mind. 

Signs you might benefit from quitting drinking 

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by drinking more than you want and longer than you want, despite wanting to cut down. Alcohol use disorder is diagnosed on a spectrum based on 11 criteria defined by the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). Learning more about alcohol use disorder and in-person or online alcohol treatment options can be an empowering step in changing your relationship with alcohol. Whether you meet the criteria for AUD or not, the following signs are indicators that you would likely benefit from working towards a healthier relationship with alcohol. 

What are the signs of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol? 

  • Having thoughts that you’re drinking too much or too often 
  • Trying to set alcohol consumption limits and consistently surpassing them 
  • Drinking to feel “normal,” or as a reward at the end of the day 
  • Feeling a sense of regret and shame about drinking or what you did while under the influence
  • Developing an increased tolerance and needing to drink more to feel the effects of alcohol 
  • Using alcohol as a coping mechanism to relieve stress, boredom, anxiety, and/or to avoid responsibilities 

If you identify with any of these signs, there is no shame in that. You can make a change and don’t have to do it alone. A great way to cultivate the motivation to do so is by reflecting on how drinking less can help you get closer to your ideal self

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What are the reasons to cut back or quit drinking? 

Physical benefits 

It’s no secret that drinking alcohol takes a toll on the body, including increased risk of liver disease, high blood pressure, and other health risks. 

Continued alcohol use can also damage your skin, weaken your hair and nails, cause weight gain, and lead to sleep issues. When we reduce our alcohol intake, we have more energy, our bodies function better, we have better sleep, and we reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions. We allow our bodies to heal and give our whole selves the opportunity to feel better. 

Social benefits: 

Despite our best intentions, our behavior while drinking can hurt those closest to us. Unhealthy alcohol intake can strain relationships, and cause feelings of regret, isolation, guilt, and embarrassment. Taking alcohol out of the equation enables us to mend damaged relationships, make more meaningful connections, and be authentically present with the people we love. I also moderate a free support group on navigating relationship challenges while managing your drinking, which can help guide you throughout this journey of collective healing. 

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Financial rewards:

One outcome that isn’t always spoken about but can greatly improve quality of life is the financial benefit of drinking less. Alcohol use can lead to legal charges, job loss, poor financial decisions, and credit issues, in addition to the cost of the alcohol itself. Saving money from drinking less allows us to invest in ourselves and our future. To hear more about the connection between drinking less and financial stability, check out this interview I did with The Financial Gym podcast

 

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Psychological benefits:

A frequently asked question from my patients is ‘Is alcohol a stimulant or depressant’? Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and unhealthy alcohol use can have various psychological and mental health side effects. Alcohol can take up to an entire week to leave the body, and typically causes significant psychological effects during the first 72 hours after drinking. 

Alcohol use increases the dopamine levels in the brain, and other “feel-good” neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. After the alcohol wears off, so do the dopamine and serotonin, causing a deficit of these neurotransmitters in the brain. This deficit can lead to depression, shame, guilt, and anxiety (or “hangxiety”). The good news is, these effects are reversible. With time to recover, our neurotransmitters can find their natural balance again, and we can feel better. 

While there are plenty of holistic benefits of sobriety, everyone’s reason for changing their relationship with alcohol is unique and valid. Finding your own “why” can be a powerful motivator, and something to explore further in specialized alcohol therapy with a supportive therapist. Reading more about the alcohol recovery timeline can also help you understand what to expect from starting a sobriety or moderation journey, and how to navigate the mental, physical, and social changes along the way.

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How to choose moderation vs. sobriety

If you’ve decided that drinking less can give you more, you might now be wondering: can I moderate my drinking, or is quitting alcohol altogether a better option for me? The sobriety vs. moderation question can be challenging to answer. The good news is that you do not have to know the answer right away. You have choices and options! First, be sure to seek medical advice before cutting back on drinking or quitting alcohol cold turkey. Depending on your past drinking habits and medical history, you may need medically assisted detox, or other medical attention in order to safely taper down and avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms (which can include symptoms like shakes and tremors and  delirium tremens). There are a variety of inpatient and outpatient options for this. 

If your healthcare provider determines that you don’t need additional care before beginning your sobriety or moderation journey, you can start exploring your options. One way to get started is trying abstinence for 30 days and seeing how you feel. 

Take on the sobriety challenge

If you find yourself wondering ‘what is sobriety?’ “What will it feel like?” A sobriety challenge is a great way to rest and get a taste of a life without alcohol. If this seems too overwhelming or you’re not ready to try it yet, working to decrease your alcohol consumption can also be very productive. Tracking your alcohol consumption with the goal of reducing your alcohol intake to a few drinks each week is a great way to start building healthier habits.

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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Join support groups

If all of these options feel like a lot to navigate alone, know that all kinds of support are available to you. You can attend therapist-moderated online alcohol support groups to hear from others on how they deal with their alcohol cravings and increase your awareness about where you are in the process. 

For one-on-one guidance, you can also seek support from a specialized therapist and physician to discuss your needs and goals, and identify what path will help you get there. You are in charge of your journey, and the Care Team at Monument is here to guide you. 

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When to get started 

Whether it’s Dry January, Sober September, or any month of the year, there is never a wrong time to build healthier habits and change your relationship with alcohol. While you may not feel 100 percent ready to stop drinking, you can start by taking small steps towards sobriety or moderation and discovering how they impact your wellbeing. Cutting back the frequency, duration, or amount that you drink are all meaningful steps towards a healthier life. 

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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.

Sources: 

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

https://www.paho.org/en/news/12-4-2021-alcohol-consumption-sole-cause-85000-deaths-annually-americas-pahowho-study-finds 

https://mountainside.com/blog/alcohol/25-reasons-to-stop-drinking-alcohol-for-good/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7763183/ 

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What Are Alcohol Shakes And Tremors?

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If you’re asking yourself this question, you may have heard about the risks of withdrawal symptoms when quitting alcohol cold turkey or significantly reducing your alcohol consumption. Seeking more information about alcohol shakes or tremors is helpful in understanding both alcohol dependence and alcohol recovery. However, if you believe you are currently experiencing shakes, tremors, or any other alcohol withdrawal syndrome side effects, please contact your health care provider immediately. If this is a medical emergency, please call 911.

For those looking for non-urgent information about shakes and tremors to inform conversations with your healthcare provider and/or loved ones, I’m here to share more about the causes and signs of these alcohol-induced symptoms. Alcohol shakes and tremors are uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening signs of alcohol withdrawal that typically occur 6-24 hours after alcohol was last consumed  and reach their peak within 24 to 72 hours.¹ To understand why they occur, let’s dive into the brain chemistry of withdrawal.

The chemical explanation behind alcohol withdrawal 

Alcohol can affect brain chemistry while we are drinking and after we stop. Frequently asked questions from my patients include ‘is alcohol a stimulant or depressant?’ and ‘why do I feel so horrible when I stop drinking?’ A sudden cessation or reduction in alcohol intake can lead to alcohol shakes and tremors, among other alcohol withdrawal symptoms. That’s why before you cut back on consuming alcohol, it’s crucial that you connect with a health care provider to discuss your safest course of action. Regardless of your drinking habits, whether you classify them as long-term daily use, binge drinking, or otherwise, it’s always recommended to check in with a professional. Now, let’s dive into the chemistry of alcohol withdrawal.

In a normal state, your brain keeps you alert and calm by keeping what’s called your inhibitory and excitatory systems in balance. This is also known as E-I balance. Alcohol throws off this balance by enhancing the activity of a major inhibitory chemical in your brain called GABA, resulting in you feeling relaxed and drowsy. As you continue to drink regularly and spend more time in the inhibited state, your brain tries to find E-I balance again. The brain seeks this balance by reducing your natural inhibitory activity (because alcohol is already unnaturally increasing inhibitory chemicals) and increasing excitatory activity. 

When you suddenly stop drinking or decrease alcohol consumption significantly, you remove the unnatural inhibitory chemicals, and your inhibitory and excitatory systems are imbalanced. Your inhibitory system is depressed, and your excitatory system is overly enhanced. This leads to an overexcitation of your brain and the development of signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including the possibility of shakes, tremors, and other symptoms. 

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Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal 

Alcohol withdrawal can have mild to severe symptoms. Severe withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, and it’s crucial to both be aware of them, and discuss potential risks with your healthcare provider.

Alcohol shakes and tremors

One possible symptom is alcohol shakes and tremors, which refers to an uncontrollable shaking or involuntary quivering, commonly in the hands and feet. In addition to alcohol withdrawal shakes and tremors, people may experience anxiety, sweating, agitation, headache, nausea, and vomiting. 

About 80% of people who are dependent on alcohol experience withdrawal symptoms to some degree, though most improve within a week without complications.² However, in more severe cases, people may have auditory, visual, or tactile hallucinations, among other symptoms. A common tactile hallucination is feeling a bug crawling under your skin. If you’re experiencing symptoms, including shaking hands when not drinking alcohol, you should check in with your healthcare provider. They will work with you to provide the safest course of action, and also provide relief by answering your questions.

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Hallucinations

Hallucinations can occur without any prior symptoms and are most likely to develop 8 hours after the last drink and peak at 24-96 hours.² If you believe you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately at your local emergency room and call 911 in case of emergency. 

Seizures

In addition to hallucinations, seizures are another potentially severe symptom of alcohol withdrawal. Withdrawal-related seizures can occur even if you don’t have other symptoms. Seizures can begin as early as 12 hours after the last drink and can last up to 48 hours.² About 5-15% of people withdrawing from alcohol develop seizures.²

The risk is the greatest for people who previously had seizures and those withdrawing from other sedatives such as benzodiazepines. When navigating alcohol treatment, it’s especially important to accurately share your medical history and alcohol consumption history with your provider, so that they can provide the safest and most appropriate care for you. Hallucinations and seizures can also be part of a severe alcohol withdrawal response known as delirium tremens.

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Distinguishing between delirium tremens (DTs) and tremors 

Delirium tremens (DTs) is among the most severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. As the name suggests, the signs of delirium tremens include confusion, disorientation, fever, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and drenching sweats. Withdrawal delirium typically begins between 1 to 3 days after the last drink and peaks on the 4 to 5th day.²

What is the difference between the two?

As a physician on the Monument platform, I often hear patients confuse DTs with tremors when first learning about alcohol withdrawal. While DTs symptoms may include alcohol tremors and shakes, DTs is also characterized by other signs of severe alcohol withdrawal, like high blood-pressure and seizures. In comparison, alcohol tremors and shakes are more common than DTs, and can be a sign of mild or severe withdrawal.  

The safest way to ensure you don’t experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms is to first consult with a medical professional to assess your risk and align on the appropriate level of care. Depending on the risk level, medical withdrawal management, commonly known as “detox,” may be recommended. Supervised alcohol detox may require medication and frequent monitoring to be done safely. Furthermore, other medical conditions can mimic acute alcohol withdrawal or post-acute alcohol withdrawal, so it’s important to get immediate medical attention to receive accurate diagnoses and care. 

It’s difficult to predict the course of acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which is why it’s recommended to seek expert guidance. Some people have very mild symptoms that resolve quickly, while others have more severe and prolonged courses. There is also the possibility that an individual develops prolonged withdrawal symptoms, also known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which can last a few weeks to a few months. You can learn more about withdrawal, and PAWS specifically, by taking a closer look at the alcohol recovery timeline

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Understanding alcohol dependence, alcohol use disorder, and withdrawal 

Another question I’m often asked by my patients is ‘are withdrawal symptoms a sign of alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence?’ Many people use the terms alcohol dependence and alcohol use disorder interchangeably, but they are not the same. 

Alcohol dependence and withdrawals

Technically, alcohol dependence refers to having withdrawal symptoms due to the cessation or reduction of alcohol consumption. So, in brief, alcohol withdrawal symptoms are a sign of alcohol dependence. However, if you experience withdrawal symptoms, you may also meet the clinical criteria for alcohol use disorder, or ‘AUD.’ 

Alcohol use disorder and withdrawals

Defined by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as “a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences,”  experiencing withdrawals is one of the criteria used to diagnose alcohol use disorder. An individual needs to meet two of eleven criteria outlined by the American Psychiatric Association to be diagnosed with AUD, which may or may not include withdrawal symptoms. 

However, having withdrawals is a strong indication that you’ve been drinking heavily for a prolonged period, and that there is a higher chance of developing or having AUD. To take an AUD assessment, you can sign up for the free Monument Community. If you do meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, it’s essential to understand that treating alcohol withdrawals is not a treatment for alcohol use disorder. It’s undoubtedly a critical first step in your recovery, but you will likely want to engage in longer-term treatment and support to treat alcohol use disorder itself. 

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Long-term online alcohol treatment

Seeking support to change your relationship with alcohol is something to be proud of, and working with a physician and therapist is a great way to prioritize your health and safety. If in-person supervised alcohol detox is recommended due to the risk of alcohol withdrawal, you are not alone. After safely completing detox and reducing the risk of alcohol withdrawal, many people pursue longer-term care such as online alcohol treatment. Monument connects you to physicians like myself, and licensed therapists who can help you build a treatment toolkit to empower your long-term success. 

That treatment toolkit may include medication to stop drinking, online alcohol therapy, and/or alcohol support groups. In addition to working with an expert Care Team, finding community  with other people with shared challenges and experiences can provide additional encouragement and accountability. Regardless of your pathway to recovery, your experience is valid, and you deserve to feel safe and supported. To connect with a physician to discuss your personal needs and goals, explore your treatment plan options today. 

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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.

 

  1. Miller S. The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine. Wolters Kluwer Health; 2018.
  2. Maldonado JR. Novel Algorithms for the Prophylaxis and Management of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndromes–Beyond Benzodiazepines. Crit Care Clin. 2017;33(3):559-599. doi:10.1016/j.ccc.2017.03.012
  3. Becker HC. Kindling in Alcohol Withdrawal. Res World. 1998;22(1):9.
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15 Sobriety Podcasts to Listen to in Recovery

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When you decide to change your relationship with alcohol, it can be incredibly beneficial to build a sobriety or moderation toolkit to help you honor your goals. Online alcohol treatment includes tools for accountability and behavioral change such as medication to stop drinking, online alcohol therapy, and alcohol support groups. In addition to your treatment plan, it can be empowering to seek other forms of motivation, including books, podcasts, Instagram accounts, and other resources about navigating the sobriety or moderation journey.  Fortunately, your options are plentiful.

Sobriety podcasts are a great way to seek encouragement and accountability on the go. You can listen on the way to a social event when experiencing a craving or anytime you’re looking to hear how others have built an alcohol-free life that they love. Not sure where to begin your listening experience? Here are 15 of the best sobriety podcasts, curated by the team here at Monument. Happy listening! 

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1. Soberful:

If you’re looking to gain insight into sobriety and recovery from hosts with both lived and professional experience, this is a great podcast option for you. Hosted by recovery experts Veronica Valli (recovery coach) and Chip Somers (psychotherapist), this recovery podcast offers expert insights via interviews with people who have built a “soberful” life. The hosts cover a range of topics like emotional sobriety and trauma, and have been sober for a combined almost 50 years. Soberful is full of advice for those who are sober curious, navigating the early stages of sobriety, or in long-term recovery.

Check out this episode:Intergenerational Drinking”

"Recovery Happy Hour. Hosted by Tricia Lewis" Image of Tricia Lewis sipping from a teacup.

2. Recovery Happy Hour 

With over 130 episodes, Recovery Happy Hour podcast host Tricia Lewis has had dozens and dozens of meaningful conversations that remind us that sobriety is worth celebrating, and that life doesn’t stop when you stop drinking. Tricia stopped drinking in November of 2016 and features a wide range of stories and perspectives on her podcast. In fact, she interviewed Monument CEO & Co-founder Mike Russell about his own journey, focusing on how medication to stop drinking supports his sobriety. Recovery Happy Hour is also on Mike’s personal list of best sober podcasts! 

Check out this episode:M.A.T./ Mike

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3. Sisters Who Followed The Yam: Two Women in Self Recovery

This podcast is hosted by the founder of Sober Black Girls Club (SBGC), Khadi Olagoke, alongside SBGC Sunday meditation leader Taquiyyah. SGBC is a recovery community full of resources and inspiration for Black women navigating recovery, sobriety, or just looking to live a happier, healthier life. Sisters Who Followed The Yam is a podcast about healing, joy, and community, from the perspective of two women in self-recovery. You can find discussions related to personal development, racism, fear, self-esteem, and much more.

Check out this episode:Naomi Osaka and Self Actualization

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4. The Bubble Hour 

Jean McCarthy, recovery author and blogger, began hosting The Bubble Hour in 2016, and now holds an impressive listenership of more than 75,000 monthly downloads. Tune in as Jean cultivates community and compassion by sharing conversations and interviews with those who have been affected by unhealthy alcohol use. This candid and encouraging podcast gets its name from the idea of the “Bubble,” which is what we use to stay safe and happy in sobriety (especially early sobriety).

Check out this episode:Victoria Vanstone from Drunk Mummy Sober Mummy Blog” 

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5. In Recovery with Dr. Nzinga Harrison

Dr. Nzinga is physician board-certified in psychiatry and addiction medicine. She digs deep into the complex factors involved in substance use disorders (SUDs), and how they show up in a person’s life. In Recovery focuses on helping people see SUDs as medical conditions. Similar to a call-in radio show, Dr. Nzinga answers questions that come from listeners through email, voicemail, tweets, and more. You can find episodes related to mental health, recovery, trauma, and all of the complex subjects surrounding them.

Check out this episode:A look at ADHD’s link to addiction

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If cutting out alcohol entirely best supports your health and wellness goals, you are not alone. Join an encouraging conversation about how to achieve and maintain a sober lifestyle that you love.
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6. The Sober Gay Podcast

This recovery podcast is hosted by two friends named Aubrey Lee and Dillan Gay (As Dillan says, “Yes, Gay is my real last name”). Their podcast, The Sober Gay Podcast, consists of sit-down chats where both hosts discuss their experiences as a sober person in the LGBTQIA+ community. The duo’s new-age approach to sobriety is fun, relatable, and helps listeners feel empowered and supported throughout their journey. No topic is off limits!

Check out this episode: Scared Sober

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7. The Only One In The Room 

This podcast is hosted by Laura Cathcart Robbins, who describes herself as a “recovery-thriver.” The Only One In The Room’s concept is based on an article Laura wrote about her experience being the only Black woman at a writing retreat. Laura was overwhelmed by the amount of “othered” folks who could relate to her story. So now, she interviews them. With topics related to sobriety, race, politics, and more, each guest featured on each week’s episodes shares their personal experience being “The Only One in The Room.”

Check out this episode: Sunday Edition: Nate Kelly is the only one who drank himself into a stroke and kept drinking”

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8. Brobriety Sobriety Podcast

The Brobriety Sobriety Podcast is all about the intersection between sobriety and masculinity. Hosted by VanSober, this podcast tackles conversations about substance use, mental health, and wellness in the 21st century. With new guests featured on every episode, this podcast features candid discussions and eye-opening perspectives on what it means to navigate both recovery and masculinity. 

Check out this episode:Building a purposeful life with Lou Redmond”

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9. A Sober Girls Guide: 

With a casual, conversational, and witty approach, A Sober Girls Guide podcast host Jessica Jeboult invites various inspiring guests to join her in tackling topics such as dating, relationships, sex, fitness, mental health, and beyond. This podcast is accessible and fun, and even featured Monument’s own partnership manager, Daisy Gumin, in an episode about joy, sexuality, and self-discovery.

Check out this episode:Daisy: Find Your Joy”

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10. That Sober Guy Podcast:

Shane Ramer is the inspiring host of That Sober Guy Podcast. After struggling with substance use disorders from a young age, Shane sought out professional care and began his journey to recovery. Shane’s podcast is dedicated to helping others discover the benefits of sobriety and a life without substances. Featuring a diverse group of guests, Shane shares all things recovery ranging from personal stories to professional advice. 

Check out this episode:Dating, Marriage and Sober sex | Tripp Kramer”

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11. Recovery Rocks: 

Lisa Smith and Tawny Lara host this dynamic, fun, and authentic podcast about sobriety (with a touch of rock and roll). Lisa is a rock-and-roll-loving Gen X lawyer in recovery, and Tawny is a millennial writer who found sobriety through blogging. They cover a wide range of recovery-related topics such as forgiveness, relationships, and anxiety, which provides insightful tips on how to stay sober throughout a variety of circumstances. They also invite special guests to take a deeper dive on select themes. 

Check out this episode:Talking to Friends and Family About Your Drinking

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12. Getting Your Sh*t Together

Cynthia is a queer writer, military brat, photographer, and the founder and host of the podcast: Getting Your Sh*t Together. Navigating a sober life in her 30s, Cynthia has dedicated herself to crushing stigmas and finding beauty in the chaotic side of life. In addition to her episodes on recovery and trauma, you can also find episodes that discuss “leveling up,” self-acceptance, guilt and shame, and toxic relationships. You can join Cynthia every Thursday for a new episode!

Check out this episode:What If I Can’t Stay Sober?”

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13. Sober Curious 

Many of us are familiar with the term sober curious or sober curiosity, and it’s thanks to Ruby Warrington. She’s the author of the Sober Curious book series, host of the Sober Curious podcast, and a well-known thought leader in the sobriety community. Additionally, Ruby is also the co-founder of the sober curious event series “Club Soda NYC”, and the online spiritual mentoring program Moon Club. On her podcast, she speaks to various people in the sobriety community to discuss their personal relationships with alcohol and how they navigate life, alcohol-free. 

Check out this episode: “Quitting for Kids with Clinton Schultz”

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14. The Sober Therapist: 

Host Lynn Matti, author, clinical counselor, and master recovery coach, offers her professional and personal wisdom for those looking to discover more about holistic mental wellness. Lynn’s mission is to help others choose moderation or sobriety, and recover from substance use disorders. With an original, quirky approach, Lynn shares her knowledge and tips for healing from stress, substance use disorders, codependency, overworking, relationship problems, perfectionism, and more. 

Check out this episode:Focus on your strengths to improve your sobriety, recovery, and mental health

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15. Sobersips – Your Weekly Fix: 

Hosted by Emily Syphas, founder of the Sober Social community, the Sobersips podcast talks to inspiring and influential people ranging from Vas J Morgan (TV personality) to Ellie Webb (founder of Caleno AF drinks), and many others to discuss their own journeys in changing their relationship with alcohol. With unique perspectives and honest discussions, these episodes are relatable and inspiring. 

Check out this episode:Vas J Morgan- Becoming the life and soul of sobriety”

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These podcasts can provide hours of diverse perspectives about sobriety and recovery. Hearing other people’s stories can provide hope, encouragement, and relief. In addition to these great resources, you can always post in the Monument Community chat, and check out our therapist-moderated support groups. There are plenty of recovery resources and communities to choose from, and finding what works best for you is an act of self-care.

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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.
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How a Parent’s Drinking Can Affect a Child

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Let’s start with an important reminder. Your relationship with alcohol is not a reflection of your love for your family, and working to make a change is incredibly admirable. If you’ve struggled to manage your drinking while parenting, you may be wondering specifically how a parent’s drinking patterns can impact a child. While the thought of your own struggles affecting your loved ones can be incredibly difficult to face, I often encourage my patients to keep their relationship with their child close at heart while they work to change their alcohol consumption through sobriety or moderation. This is not to instill guilt, but to provide purpose and empowerment as you navigate the changes you’d like to make for yourself and your family. It’s my hope that by reading this article you will better understand how a parent’s drinking habits can affect a child, and learn steps you can take to help your family move forward in a healthy and connected way. 

How exposure to alcohol use disorder can affect children

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by drinking more than you want and for longer than you want, despite wanting to cut down. AUD is not a moral failing, and it can be treated with evidence-based care. Despite anyone’s best intentions, those close to someone with AUD, whether that’s a young child or older adult, can be significantly affected by their drinking. Children, in particular, face a unique set of challenges. 

One of the largest studies done on childhood trauma is called the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, or ACES study. This study followed over ten thousand individuals throughout their lifetime, gathering information on their health. A correlation was made between the amount of toxic stress experienced from ages 0-17 and an individual’s health outcomes. Having a parent with alcohol use disorder was one factor of adverse childhood experiences included in the study. This study illuminated that being a child of a parent with a substance use disorder can increase the likelihood of physical and mental health problems (largely due to genetic and learned behavioral factors). 

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Depending on how many factors an individual listed, a young person was more likely to later encounter challenges such as depression, anxiety, or experiencing a substance use disorder themselves. Stressors faced in childhood are also closely associated with the development of one’s attachment style, which is the way someone connects with others throughout their lifetime. 

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.
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Understanding attachment styles 

Attachment patterns are influenced by the distance or attention caregivers provide to a child’s needs. The four major attachment styles are:

  1. Anxious
  2. Avoidant-dismissive
  3. Avoidant-fearful
  4. Secure

Anxious attachment

An anxious attachment is typically indicative of a fear of abandonment due to inconsistency in parenting. 

Avoidant-dismissive attachment

Avoidant-dismissive attachment is characterized by fear of intimacy, commonly driven by a parent being distant or unable to fully validate their child’s needs.  

Avoidant-fearful attachment

Avoidant-fearful attachment forms with inconsistent and sometimes fear-based parenting. 

Secure attachment

A secure attachment is one where most of a child’s needs and emotions are validated and attended to. A secure attachment translates into more trusting relationships in the future, increased self-esteem, and an overall ability to regulate emotions and take care of oneself. 

Attachment styles characterized by unmet needs and abandonment can influence the likelihood of an individual developing AUD. If you’re navigating alcohol use disorder, that doesn’t mean your children will necessarily develop any of the above attachment styles, or that responsible drinking isn’t attainable for them. However, any unhealthy drinking behavior can consume our time, energy, and attention, and can create distance between ourselves and the people we love the most. If that rings true to you, you are not alone. 

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How to start building a more secure attachment

It’s important to remember that none of this is irreversible. As a parent you can take steps to assess and address any potential strains in attachment that have been linked to your drinking habits. Inevitably, this usually leads to the realization of needing to assess your own attachment style and “reparenting” yourself by building a more secure understanding of your own needs. 

If you catch yourself resenting an aspect of what your child receives from you or another loved one, this is often a cue to reflect on your own childhood memories and learned behavior. This may mean facing unmet needs from your caregivers, recognizing what you have not felt safe to fully experience as a young child, and rebuilding confidence in how well you were able to overcome challenges. In online alcohol therapy, a specialized therapist can help you identify how your experiences have shaped your life, and how to manage your needs and emotions while changing your relationship with alcohol. Cultivating a sense of self-forgiveness in recovery can be a powerful way to reconcile with your past actions, and understand what may have influenced them. Once you start a journey of self-reflection and reconciliation, you become more free to explore who you really want to be as a parent. It also allows you to model unconditional love (including self-love), and create an environment where it feels safe to make mistakes and persevere. 

Many parents have navigated these same questions and challenges when drinking alcohol, and throughout their sobriety or moderation journey. Hearing others’ stories about how drinking alcohol impacted their parenting and how they made a change can provide relief and motivation. Monument contributor Celeste Yvonne shared how she navigates wine mom culture without wine, with tips including how to replace an alcoholic beverage with alcohol alternatives and how to prioritize your own needs. You are not alone. 

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Answering your child’s questions 

As you continue to work on understanding your relationship with alcohol, you will gain greater clarity into your ‘why.’ However, these complex, interconnected influences can be challenging for children to grasp. Throughout my years of working with families, I’ve identified common patterns of questions that children, at all stages of development, have about their parents’ relationship with alcohol. Answering these questions can provide reassurance and enable collective healing. Common questions include: What can I do to help? Will things ever change? Is there something I did wrong for my parent to feel they need to drink more? Will they always need to drink? How will I know I can trust they’ll be there when I need them? 

Every parent wants their child to know they can count on them for a sense of safety and trust, so these are hard questions to confront. That said, there can be several long-term impacts to a child’s emotional development if these questions about parental drinking are not discussed. When you’re ready to address your child’s questions, it can be incredibly helpful to have family therapy sessions or prepare with your own therapist ahead of time. If this is not feasible at this time, know that the greatest healing comes from taking ownership of your own health, validating your child’s emotions, and coming up with collaborative next steps for what skills or activities of self care in recovery you can practice individually and together. Creating a space where everyone can voice their emotions, especially when shame, blame, or guilt arises, is so vital for the overall health of the family system. Establishing boundaries is also crucial. This means taking ownership of your own body and health, while modeling ways your child can collaborate on shared healthy habits. This balance reduces the risk of your child feeling isolated, helpless, or left to take on the responsibilities of the parent. 

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How stigma influences treatment 

From my clinical practice, I have come to find that those who have a family history of AUD often have an increased sense of stigma around their struggle to find care, because they have previously associated it with something morally wrong. They may have sought out support sooner if they did not have the extra stigma from their past experiences of witnessing loved ones struggle without proper tools to heal. That said, many come to find through their treatment journey that they have not only healed themselves and their younger selves, but have had a positive impact on loved ones who start to seek treatment as well. Never underestimate how much your self-care impacts everyone around you. Especially as a parent, you can break the cycle and heal the generations of the past, while also being a role model for the generations to come. 

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It takes a village to raise a child, and there is no shame in needing support to change your relationship with alcohol. There’s community and expert resources to get your drinking habits and relationships to where you want them to be and our online alcohol treatment is available whenever you need it. Having the courage to reflect on your habits and envision a better life for yourself requires a tremendous amount of determination, vulnerability, and bravery. What could be a greater gift to your child than to set that example?

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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.

 

Sources:

Ainsworth, M. S., & Bowlby, J. (1991). An ethological approach to personality development. American Psychologist, 46(4), 333–341. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.46.4.333

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfact.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fviolenceprevention%2Facestudy%2Ffastfact.html

Tsabary, S. (2010). The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children. 

https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ps.53.8.1001

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Is Alcohol a Stimulant or Depressant?

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The human body is incredibly complex, and oftentimes its initial response to substances and circumstances may not fully represent their long-term effects. The physiological response to  alcohol can be especially misunderstood. As a physician on the Monument platform, one question many of my patients have is if alcohol is a stimulant or a depressant. While alcohol may replicate a stimulant in the short term, understanding why it’s actually a depressant can help illuminate the long-term effects of alcohol on the body and the benefits of sobriety or alcohol moderation. 

What is the difference between a depressant and a stimulant? 

To understand why alcohol is a depressant, it’s important to make this distinction. A depressant is a chemical that slows the central nervous system. The slowing of the central nervous system in turn slows down brain function and brain activity, which can cause a lack of concentration, coordination, and alertness. A drug or substance that has a depressant effect or sedative effect on the Central Nervous System is called a CNS depressant. On the other hand, a stimulant is a chemical that speeds up central nervous system activity, causing an increase in alertness, attention and energy. A stimulant also often leads to an increased heart rate and increased brain activity or brain function. When assessing if a substance is a stimulant or a depressant, it’s important to look beyond just the immediate, often euphoric, effects. Whether a substance is classified as a stimulant or a depressant is based on its long-term, cumulative impact on nervous system tissues.  

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The common misconception that alcohol is a stimulant

Some people falsely assume that alcohol is a stimulant because the initial effect of drinking can include becoming chatty, more confident, or more assertive. This ‘stimulating’ phenomenon is explained by a surge in the release of dopamine in the tissues of the brain after the first few sips of alcohol. Dopamine can be thought of as a “feel-good” or pleasure chemical. As more alcohol is consumed, dopamine is continuously released, and has a stimulating effect that can make it especially challenging to stop drinking. Dopamine also causes a chain-reaction that stirs up a rush of chemicals called ß-endorphins, which are more “feel-good” chemicals. Drinking alcohol and the resulting dopamine and ß-endorphins rush can also cause an increased heart rate. This flood of dopamine and ß-endorphins is very short-lived (approximately 30-75 minutes) depending on the amount and potency of alcohol consumed. 

This dopamine reaction is also the reason people can develop alcohol cravings and why others might take naltrexone to combat them. Naltrexone benefits include indirectly decreasing the release of dopamine, and helping to weaken the association between alcohol and pleasure.   Naltrexone is a medication to stop drinking that can be prescribed by a physician on the Monument platform if safe and appropriate. 

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Is alcohol ever considered a stimulant?

Alcohol is only considered a stimulant when paired with stimulating substances. There have been many examples of this through time. From the “hot toddy” liquor paired with coffee to recent caffeine-alcohol beverages (CAB’s) or energy drinks like Four Loko. These drinks are a dangerous mix of caffeine (a stimulant) and alcohol (a depressant). This combination of substances sends your central nervous system very mixed messages, and can have significant health consequences 

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So alcohol is classified as a depressant, what does that mean?

Alcohol is classified as a neurocognitive depressant because it “depresses” the central nervous system. This means it slows down communication between the brain and the body, which causes impairment such as speech slurring, motor incoordination, brain fog, delayed reaction time, disorientation, intoxication, memory loss, and black-outs. As alcohol is consumed more and more, the depressant effects also become more likely to develop. While some may seek the sedative effect of alcohol in an effort to relax, alcohol consumption is also proven to exacerbate anxiety and depression in the long-term. 

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How does alcohol consumption interact with depression?

Another common question I get is “how will a depressant affect my pre-existing depression?” Research shows that if a person has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and they also meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, continuing to consume alcohol will worsen and intensify their depression, and make them less responsive to mental health treatment. Another concern can be the interaction between alcohol and the pharmaceutical medication prescribed to treat mental health conditions. Speaking with your health care provider directly can provide the most clarity on what is safe for you. Additionally, with a patient’s permission, the physicians at Monument can coordinate care with psychiatric prescribers to ensure your mental health care and substance health care are coordinated and well-managed. 

For anyone navigating depression and seeking relief through drinking alcohol, you are not alone. You deserve healthier coping mechanisms. Tools like online alcohol treatment can help you navigate intense emotions, restructure negative thought patterns, and so much more. Therapy is a great tool for addressing unhealthy alcohol use and depression simultaneously. You deserve support and relief, and it’s within reach. 

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Understanding the effect alcohol has on your body and your life is a major step towards cultivating a happier and healthier version of you. Learning more about this topic today is already something to be proud of. There are many options to help you change your relationship with alcohol and its depressant effect. These include medication, specialized alcohol therapy, and therapist-moderated support groups. There’s great relief and healing that comes with freedom from substances, and we’re here to help you get there.

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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.
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Naltrexone Vs. Antabuse (Disulfiram): Which Is For You?

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Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute health care services. If you’re interested in medication to stop drinking, please consult your healthcare provider or enroll in a Monument treatment plan to discuss what tools are best for you. This article is intended to help inform conversations with your provider.

As a physician on the Monument platform, my patients often remark that they wish they had known about medication to stop drinking sooner. Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition, and it’s important that evidence-based alcohol treatment options such as medication and online alcohol therapy are well-known so that more people get the care that they deserve. There are two medications that physicians on the Monument platform prescribe when deemed safe and appropriate: naltrexone and disulfiram. Disulfiram is also commonly known by its brand name, Antabuse. There are several factors taken into account in order to determine which medication, if any, is appropriate for each individual. 

The best way to understand what medication is right for you is to discuss your sobriety or moderation goals with a physician. Monument’s online alcohol treatment connects you to expert physicians and therapists from the comfort of your own home. Your physician will thoroughly explain naltrexone vs Antabuse (disulfiram) in the context of your needs and answer any questions. In the meantime, here is some background information to keep in mind when considering medication to stop drinking alcohol or medication to help reduce your alcohol consumption. Before we dive in, I also want to remind you that there is no shame in using medication as a tool in your toolkit. Taking care of yourself is something to be proud of, and like many other medical conditions, medication can be very effective. While medication is not a ‘silver bullet,’ it can address the biological influences on our drinking habits and help empower behavioral change. 

How do physicians determine which medication is right for you?

When I discuss medication with patients, I first ask them how much and how often they consume alcohol. This is important because it allows me to understand where they might fall on the alcohol use disorder spectrum. Depending on a patient’s history drinking alcohol and risk for alcohol withdrawal symptoms, detox may be necessary before starting any medications. I also ask about if their personal goal is to achieve sobriety or to drink in moderation, their potential drinking triggers, if they have participated in treatment programs before, and if they’ve ever taken naltrexone or disulfiram. All of these factors and more are taken into account when a patient and physician are assessing if medication is an appropriate option, and if so, which one.  

Monument pill bottle

While they are both FDA-approved for the medication assisted treatment of alcohol use disorder, naltrexone and Antabuse (disulfiram) are completely different medications and act in very different ways. If medication is the right treatment option for you, the decision of which one is often a matter of your previous alcohol consumption patterns, medical history, and your personal goals for changing your drinking habits. Understanding how each medication works will help illuminate why. 

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 detox near you. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

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What are the key characteristics of naltrexone? 

Naltrexone is an FDA-approved medication that has been found to help support sobriety or moderation. A meta-analysis of 50 randomized clinical trials with 7793 participants concluded that oral naltrexone was effective at reducing the amount and frequency of drinking.¹ Naltrexone works by blocking the effects of dopamine, a ‘feel-good’ hormone released during alcohol consumption, so that the brain’s association between alcohol and pleasure weakens. This can help curb the feeling of alcohol craving, and can also decrease one’s desire to continue to drink after having one drink. To better understand naltrexone benefits, you can learn more about how naltrexone works and the science behind alcohol cravings. Some people use oral naltrexone to begin their sobriety or moderation journey, while others use it as a tool to help maintain long-term sobriety. Many of my patients also begin naltrexone without knowing their end goal, and that’s completely valid. 

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How does Antabuse (disulfiram) work differently than naltrexone?

While naltrexone can be used to support moderation or sobriety, disulfiram, also known as Antabuse, is exclusively for those looking to practice alcohol abstinence. But how does disulfiram work? Disulfiram inhibits alcohol from metabolizing. After taking disulfiram, the body doesn’t break down alcohol the way it normally would. This leads to accumulated ethanol in the body, which can cause a negative response to alcohol consumption called the “disulfiram reaction” or the “Antabuse reaction”. This response can include flushing, headache, nausea, vomiting, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, and other symptoms. Because of how disulfiram works, it can be dangerous to drink any amount of alcohol while taking disulfiram. Many people who are interested in taking disulfiram believe they would benefit from the strong biological reinforcement not to drink. Others may start on naltrexone, and for a variety of reasons choose to switch to disulfiram (or vise versa). The alcohol recovery timeline looks different for everyone, and all pathways are valid. 

If you consume alcohol while taking disulfiram and experience symptoms such as trouble breathing, seizures, loss of consciousness, and chest/jaw/left arm pain, you should seek medical attention immediately and call 911 in case of emergency. 

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How do you know which medication is right for you?

To answer this question, I’d recommend spending some time reflecting on your current relationship with alcohol and your goals for what you want to change. Engaging in alcohol therapy or joining a therapist-moderated alcohol support group are great ways to receive support and guidance as you explore what you want out of your journey. 

Ask yourself these questions to help discover what’s right for you:

  • Are you hoping to achieve long-term moderation, long-term sobriety, or sobriety with a return to moderate alcohol use later on? 
  • Are you looking for a gradual start or a strict reminder to practice alcohol abstinence

Your Monument Care Team can help provide guidance that aligns with your medical history and needs as you answer these questions. Both medications can be effective in helping people to stop drinking. You don’t have to figure it all out at once, but engaging in personal reflection and discussion with your physician and therapist can help clarify which medication would be the best place to start. 

Why is it important to keep in contact with your physician?

If and when a medication is chosen as part of a personalized medication assisted treatment plan, it’s crucial to keep a close relationship with your physician. This allows your physician to determine if the medication is working the way it should, if your drinking habits are changing in accordance to your goals, and if you need a change in dosage or the medication itself. Your physician can also help guide you through any challenges you may experience throughout your journey, and address any adverse side effects. Like we often say at Monument, changing your relationship with alcohol is a non-linear journey, and your physician is there to provide support at every turn. 

It’s also important to note that based on your past medical history, it’s possible that a certain medication may not be safe and appropriate at this time. Your physician will provide you with this information. 

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Medication to help stop drinking can be an incredibly impactful way to make progress towards your goals. Receiving additional support can also empower sustainable behavioral change. Alcohol therapy and therapist-moderated support groups can help you develop new coping mechanisms, establish boundaries, restructure negative thought patterns, and much more. Your Care Team also recognizes that your goals and circumstances can change and ensure your treatment plan responds to your needs and preferences. It is their hope to create a flexible, shared decision-making process to help you achieve success. This journey is your own, and you should feel empowered to engage in any and all tools that can help you get to where you want to be.

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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.

 

¹Rösner S, Hackl-Herrwerth A, Leucht S, Vecchi S, Srisurapanont M, Soyka M. Opioid antagonists for alcohol dependence. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD001867. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001867.pub3

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 for a patient 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.*Monument Inc. provides administrative and business support services to independent medical and clinical practices and providers. Monument Inc. does not provide medical or clinical services and does not own medical or other clinical practices. All medical services are provided by Live Life Now Health Group, PA d/b/a Live Life Now Medical Group. All counseling and therapy services are provided by independent licensed practitioners including licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) and licensed mental health counselors (LMHC). Individuals should contact their physician or therapist with any questions about their treatment.

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What is Sober September?

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Sober September is Dry January’s lesser-known but equally meaningful counterpart. For people navigating long-term sobriety, Sober September is another month to recommit to their goals and honor their boundaries. For others, Sober September is a time to take a break from drinking, reflect on their relationship with alcohol, and set themselves up for more mindful alcohol consumption in the months to follow. No matter what Sober September means to you, the choice to participate is an act of self-care. 

Reasons behind Sober September

If the idea of Sober September is new to you, you may have questions like ‘What is sobriety?’ and ‘Why September?’ While there is no single known origin of Sober September, September does mark the end of the summer and can symbolize renewal and recommitment to work, school, and productivity after much-needed summer vacations. Similar to how Dry January is during a time of resolution setting, Sober September can build upon our collective motivation to turn over a new leaf with a new season. 

While seasonality and clearly defined ‘starting lines’ can be motivating for many, it’s also important to remember that it’s always a good idea to check in on your relationship with alcohol. You don’t have to wait until a specific day, week, or month to reevaluate your drinking habits. Hundreds of members join the Monument Community every week to connect with others, learn tips and tools, and build healthier habits as it relates to their drinking. You don’t need to check any boxes or identify with any labels to make a change. 

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The benefits of Sober September

Participating in Sober September is a tremendous act of self-care. The benefits of sobriety are plentiful, and a month without drinking presents its own set of unique rewards including: 

1. Community motivation

Sobriety ‘challenges’ like Sober September and Dry January are becoming increasingly popular with the rise of the sober curious movement and the broader recognition of the harmful effects of alcohol. Knowing you’re participating in this alcohol-free month with many other people can be motivating and reassuring. You can join the free Monument Community to connect with others throughout the month or at any time during the year. 

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2. Time to reflect

Alcohol can influence our decision-making, clear-headedness, and all dimensions of our wellness. Taking a break from alcohol can create the clarity and space to assess how alcohol currently shows up in our lives and how we’d like it to in the future. Additionally, if taking a month break from alcohol is especially challenging, it can be an indicator that you could benefit from support like online alcohol treatment.

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3. A taste of sobriety benefits

If you’re unsure how sobriety might feel, this is a great way to get a taste of life without alcohol. Benefits of sobriety include overall health benefits, better sleep, more energy, improved physical fitness, reduced anxiety, and so much more. If you’ve been sober curious or think drinking less can give you more, Sober September is a great time to explore that.

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4. Confronting challenges together

For some people, especially those who have been drinking heavily for an extended period of time, the first 30 days of sobriety can be really challenging. It can also be dangerous to quit alcohol cold turkey, so it’s important to consult a physician to identify the safest path forward. It might take longer for the sobriety benefits to materialize, but they are within reach. Navigating those more challenging early days with a community can be incredibly helpful. Read more about what you may expect throughout your alcohol recovery timeline

5. The start of a rewarding journey

Sobriety challenges are a time of reflection, learning, and growth. We’ve seen many Monument members begin their journey with a sobriety challenge, and continue to build upon that progress through long-term sobriety or moderation. Sober September is a great way to kick-start sustainable, enriching lifestyle changes. If Sober September feels good to you, you may want to continue into Sober October and beyond. 

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Tips for Sober September success (whatever that means to you) 

Changing your relationship with alcohol can be both rewarding and difficult. If Sober September isn’t easy for you, you are not alone. Regardless of your current drinking habits, you can make meaningful progress. Here are a few tips to empower you along the way.

1. Explore alcohol alternatives

Saying no to alcohol can be challenging if alcohol shows up strongly in your social life. Finding delicious alcohol alternatives can be a great tool for navigating social events where alcohol usually may be present. Having a non-alcoholic beverage in hand can make you feel more comfortable and can also build new celebratory rituals. (For example, toasting with non-alcoholic wine or beer can be equally as festive and delicious!)

2. Find an accountability buddy

Letting a friend know about your Sober September goal can help you navigate social situations, and also provides additional accountability. If you’re looking for a supportive community to encourage you, you can also join free, therapist-moderated alcohol support groups at Monument. 

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3. Schedule rewarding activities

If you drink out of boredom, or because your social activities center around alcohol, you are not alone. Seeking out fun things to do besides drinking can open your eyes to new experiences and hobbies that fill your calendar and bring you authentic joy.

4. Build new routines

Looking to introduce new healthy habits to support your Sober September goals? That could look like a new meditation practice, fitness class, daily gratitude exercise, or anything that supports your overall wellness. Here are tangible tips for building new routines, whatever they may be. Spoiler alert: scheduling, repetition, and rewards are key.

5. Prioritize progress over perfection

One of the most important reminders for Sober September is that even if you’re not 100% abstaining from alcohol, you can still make incredible progress. If you have a drink, you can keep going.  That’s why therapists often recommend setting goals instead of resolutions and recognizing that growth is a non-linear process. 

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Sustaining your progress

If you’ve done any sort of sobriety challenge, whether that’s Sober September, Dry January, or any other sober month or a weekend without drinking, you may be wondering where to go from there. As a first step, you can join our free, therapist-moderated support group, Turning a sobriety challenge into a lifestyle, to continue to build upon your progress. If you’re not looking for a completely sober lifestyle at this time, you can also document what you’ve learned throughout your sober month and identify new boundaries that meet your goals and aspirations. There are many people in the Monument Community navigating moderation, and they are here to support you throughout your journey. 

If your sobriety challenge was really difficult, there’s absolutely no shame in that. You deserve support to change your relationship with alcohol. There are tools like medication to stop drinking and online alcohol therapy to empower long-lasting progress. Whatever path you choose, know that it’s always a good time to build healthier habits, and that you deserve support 365 days out of the year. 

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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.