I asked my 10-year-old son, how a person with an addiction could stop drinking.
He said three things:
1. Find something you like to do more than you like to drink.
2. Find some sober friends who like to do the same things.
3. Use an app to find those friends - something like facebook for sober people.
Pretty wise and obvious suggestions I thought. It seems that if a person were to follow these steps a they could successfully get sober. It’s not that any of these things are that hard to do with a little bit of thought and effort. So why is it we struggle to follow through?
Shouldn’t it be easy to find something you like to do more than drinking alcohol? I mean, wouldn’t that be just about everything? After years of hangovers, surely alcohol has lost its appeal? Yet, somehow, the dark side of drinking seems to fade away from your mind, at the end of the week when you try to think of a fun way to spend your time. How could you go out for dinner without drinking? Beers after the game? Wine with girlfriends? Almost every activity in life has somehow been paired with alcohol. Even though it is the activity itself that we actually get the joy and reward from, each experience has been artificially boosted with booze for years or decades. Alas, we can no longer imagine these activities without a drink in hand.
‘Sober friends’ is a great concept, but a challenging reality. When a person first quits drinking, she is typically surrounded by a community of people who drink. Drinkers hang with drinkers. So in the beginning stages of sobriety, when you really need a sober friend, you must reach out to new people. Sober or not, this can be an intimidating thing to do. Making friends can be very difficult. Making friends takes skills - skills those of us who drink (or used to drink) never learned. We leaned on alcohol to give us the confidence to communicate, engage - or dance.
I don’t know if there is a sober app for finding friends but I do know there are a number of online communities. These are great for chats and for venting, but they are not great for genuine, real-world connections. The only way to create these vital relationships is to go out into life and make them happen.
And now the good news….
It is possible to think of things you love to do more than drink, you just have to go back in time. What did you love to do before you ever took an alcoholic drink? Were you an artist? a poet? an athlete? a reader? thinker? dreamer? Revisit those things and pick up where you left off.
I will admit, when I was drinking I did not want any sober friends. I thought they were boring. I didn’t even like the word “sober”. I had such a negative perspective - visualizing all sober people as white-knuckling addicts, or church-going uppity snobs. Oh the ignorance! My perspective on sober people now is more like the picture of health. Sober people have goals and get things done. Sober people contribute to the community. Find these friends!
I thanked my son for the wise advise and he then said to me, “Mom, I never want to drink alcohol.” For a minute I wondered if I had pressured him? I asked him if he feels like drinking would make his day better in anyway? Like, going to the park, hanging out with friends, after the game? He said no, of course - he couldn’t imagine drinking being added to any area of his life. He is ten.
He may change his mind when he is older but for now I am happy he can enjoy a happy life without being surrounded by alcohol (we don’t keep alcohol in our house). He is great model for me, as I continue to learn the skills he has already fine-tuned: doing what he loves and making friends to do those fun things with.
If you have any questions for my wise son… please leave us a message below :)