Disclaimer for our overly litigious society:
The following hints and tips are culled from my personal experience, and
that of other MMers over the past couple of years. They are not presented
as magic cures for drinking situations. I make no warranty as to their
effectiveness for your particular case. I take no reponsibility for any
damage resulting from application of these hints and tips. I wish I didn't
have to say all this, but I'm afraid not to.
WORKING AT HOME
1. Make a schedule for yourself. It doesn't have to be heavy with every
minute of 8 hours spoken for, but there have to be predictable anchor
points. It is especially important to have a regular start time for your
work, a time when you put work away for the day, and a time for you to have
2. Have appropriate food in the house, and eat it at normal times. I have
found the following tricks very helpful:
Big cooking once a week, divided into lunch size portions for midday
Putting together a crock pot meal in the morning and letting it simmer
all day--don't have to cook dinner!
Keeping emergency food in the house, something I can grab from the
cabinet and eat quickly if there's some kind of crisis or my schedule gets
askew. My blood sugar is a bit dicey so I use olives, canned refried beans
and sugar-free peanut butter as my emergency food staples, and I often have
cheese and cold cuts in the house as well;
Make 1 1/2 times, or even 2 times as much pasta or rice as you need for
dinner time. The leftovers can be used for several days as the base for a
ten minute lo mein lunch, or just heated up with some bottled sauce. My
particular favorite is cold sesame noodles made with leftover spaghetti.
And, of course, if there are any leftovers from the previous night, they are
great for lunch.
3. Exercise, and do it in the morning if it is at *all* feasible. It does
NOT have to be a huge deal with a $$$ (???) gym membership, nor does it have
to be an endurance event which leaves you feeling exhausted for hours. It
should be something that makes you break a sweat. For some people who
haven't exercised in a while, walking around the block can be enough.
4. Keep hydrated. I keep a squeeze bottle of water nearby throughout the
day. One of my worst problems used to be drinking wine as if it were water.
I eventually discovered that I was gulping a wet beverage because I was
*thirsty.* I would drink wine, and of course the thirst would get worse, so
I would drink more, and more and more.
5. Find some kind of "ritual" to get you from Working Mode to Relaxing Mode
at the end of the day--one which does NOT involve alcohol. Yes, you can
still have your drink(s) at the end of the day if you want...but you are
more likely to become a successful moderator if you also have *other*
options besides drinking. We don't want to take away the choice to drink,
we want to *add* other choices to the list.
Quite a few people have become accustomed to the weekly "happy hour" with
colleagues or friends, and do not want to give it up. Here are some tips
for those in this situation:
1. Drink a LOT of water before you leave for the HH. I mean a LOT. The
first thing you may need to do when you get there is run for the bathroom!
This will eliminate dehydration and its accompanying thirst.
2. If you have a "trigger drink" like G&T or Jagermeister, avoid it. Use
the opportunity to try something different. This is difficult for many
people at first, because a lot of us have made "our drink" part of our
3. Plan *in advance* how many you are going to have at the HH, and do
whatever you have to do to stick to it. IMO sticking to your advance plan,
whatever it may be, is crucial. Which means--if you know there is no way
you are going to stick to only 1 drink, then plan for 2 or 3, but do *not*
exceed whatever your pre-decided limit is. That is critical for rebuilding
your trust in yourself.
IF YOU CANNOT GET THROUGH A 30
Build up to it slowly. If all you can do is a few days, then PLAN for a few
days. If all you can do is ONE day, then plan ONE day. There is no crime
in that. If your habit is getting crocked every day, and then you have one
day where you don't drink at all, that is *progress.* The worst thing you
can do for yourself is to set a goal of 30 and consistently fail at it.
"Baby steps" are the key words here. The next time you abs, add ONE more
day...and so on until you can do about two weeks comfortably. If you can do
two weeks, you might want to consider trying a 30. The 30 is very highly
recommended, but it is not some kind of magic key. Some MMers have reduced
their drinking to healthy levels without ever doing a 30...however, most
have done the 30 and quite a few have done more extended abs.
1. Memorize the following formulae:
a) "I'll start with ________" (water, iced tea, Coke, etc). This is
used when they come around for the drink orders as soon as you are seated.
I started doing this the first month I was in MM, and I still do it today.
Saying "I'll *start* with" an alterna-bev, does not make me feel deprived
because it reminds me that I can order a drink later if I want it. Not
feeling controlled or deprived is extremely important to me.
b) "With the meal, please." This is used when you are selecting from
a wine list, to keep them from bringing the wine 20 minutes before the food
comes. Alternatively, "With the entree, please," if you are ordering an
appetizer but don't want to be in that awful position where you drink up all
the wine with it and are tempted to order a second bottle.
2. If you have a long wait (say at the Outback or somewhere similar), don't
spend it at the bar if you can avoid it. I once spent a long Outback wait
having a snowball fight with my dinner companions. We had a great time,
broke a sweat and were more than ready for our juicy steaks and a bottle of
Shiraz between three people. Alternatively, don't patronize restaurants
that refuse to take reservations.
3. If you are extremely hungry when you are seated, order an appetizer and
NOT an alcoholic drink. Order a drink later, if you like, but get your
blood sugar up first. Believe me, whatever calories you spend on the
starter will be recouped in the form of empty-alcohol-calories you are *not*
taking in. You will also avoid an insult to your liver.
PARTIES AND OTHER GATHERINGS
1. EAT SOMETHING BEFORE YOU GO TO ANY PARTY OR RECEPTION. I cannot stress
this enough. You cannot count on there being enough food to support healthy
drinking, or when it will be served, or if it will be the right kind of food
for you. Some MMers actually bring appropriate food with them if they are
not sure...discreetly of course!
2. Do *not* drink before you go to any gathering, if you can possibly avoid
it. Sometimes this is hard to do if you have social anxiety or if the
situation is awkward and tense. I had a stiff bourbon before Xmas dinner
with my new lover's parents, I'll admit it. ?But, mindful of that, I limited
myself to two half-glasses of wine. As I've said before, I was appalled at
even the *thought* of being drunk in front of her parents.
3. Start with a non-alcoholic beverage.
4. Alternate EtOH beverages with non-EtOH ones. One of the best ways to do
this is by pouring the alterna-bev right into the same glass. Some people
keep adding mixer or water to their drink as it goes down, until the thing
is mostly mixer.
5. Many people have social anxiety which is relieved by having a glass in
their hand and being able to sip from it. Try this tactic with a
non-alcoholic drink and see how it works for you.
6. Ask for water if none is provided.
7. Decide in advance how many drinks you will have, and stick to it.
Again, as long as you are not doing harm to yourself/others, the actual
number of drinks IMO is less important than the self-trust gained by
sticking to a plan.
HOME ALONE DAY AFTER DAY AND NIGHT AFTER NIGHT
This is a trigger issue for many of us, myself included.
1. Have some activity that you do at the same time each day and for a
specified period. Examples: a daily 10:00 AM trip to the gym, 20 minutes of
meditation or an hour of answering email. The important thing is that it is
done at the same time each day, and preferably in the morning...the earlier
the better. It is good to get the commitment going on abs days so that you
have a pattern of doing it where alcohol is not an issue. If you are hung
over, do your activity ANYWAY at the same time. Meditating or working out
with a hangover can be a powerful negative reinforcement. I know from
experience. Having a workout buddy, meditation group, writer's group or
some such is also very useful in this regard. This is part of teaching
yourself the natural consequences of over-drinking.
2. The hard part about being home alone is that there is no one you must
answer to. If this is a problem for you, borrow a page from AA's book and
get yourself a "buddy" with whom you can discuss your abs/mod plans and how
you did in real life. The ABStar roster, maintained by MMers, is another
place where you can get some accountability.
3. Delay your first drink as long as possible. If you would normally have
a drink at 5, put it off till 8 or even later. Again, you *can* have a
drink if you want it, we are just playing with the time. This simple tactic
has kept me moderate more often than I would like to admit.
4. If alcohol is "hooked into" other activities, sever the link. It is not
necessary to drink in order to surf the Web, watch television or talk on the
phone. Have some other beverage instead, maybe all you need is something
you can sip from at intervals. Try it and see.
5. Get out of the house at least once a day. This is important to
reconnect with the world and stave off depression. It doesn't have to be a
6. Have alterna-bevs just as easily available to you as alcohol is. If
your alternatives are ready to hand, you are less likely to reach for EtOH
out of convenience. My drugs of choice are red wine and whisky. These are
not things that go in the refrigerator. The booze can be sitting on the
counter, ready to pour. My primary alterna-bev is water, but my tap water
is not quite what you'd want to drink (strong mineral/chlorine taste), so we
use a Brita filter. The first thing I had to learn was *never,* and I mean
*never,* to let that filter run out of water. That helped, but what I
finally had to do was keep the filter on the counter RIGHT NEXT to the wine
and whisky so that I had to CHOOSE to pour EtOH instead of the water that
was right there. I felt stupid doing this, but it worked. I felt less
stupid when I read “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, where he states
that most people will not file a piece of paper if it takes more than 30
seconds to do it. Maybe it is just basic human laziness. :^)