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Tips During a 30

Excerpts from MM conversations
about what has worked for us while abstaining for 30 days

motivation to abstain

Humbled on day 15

I'm on day 15 of my 30 and have arrived feeling humbled by all I've learned so far about myself now that I'm clear headed. The last 15 days have been challenging to say the least. I sincerely hope that there will come a time where drinking will be the exception and not the rule.

I am determined to make it through the next 15 days. I'm very aware of the fact that just abstaining for thirty days isn't the magic bullet for moderation, but an opportunity to really feel life as it should be the majority of the time.

Just for now

I'm doing this so I can get to moderation at some point. I keep trying to remember WHY I'm doing it and then it's easier to focus ahead.

This isn't a life sentence, it's just for now. And I decided to do it because I'm really tired of the way it's been. I definitely want the change.

Muscle-building

We not only get to feel good because we don't have a hangover, but also because of keeping our resolve!

Keep building that self discipline muscle!!!

Signs of health

When drinking every day our complexion suffers greatly. Notice with each passing day of abstinence how our skin feels more hydrated, our face regains a normal healthy glow that it had lost, and we're losing those 'cute' puff-bags under the eyes.

Overall, the general feeling of being sober, wide awake, fresh breath, and on-time for work with my own car, not a taxi, is enough reason for me to abstain.

Shared experiences

"Thoughts from the Crew"

planning for the 30 and after

Abstaining until I'm ready to moderate

For all those concerned about the 30, my experience is that it really helps to plan for it. And working on the steps described in the book. And formulating a plan that will work for me. I am still working on mine, and don't think I'll be finished by day 30, so no moderation for me until I know I am ready.

Remind ourselves

Keep the commitment to moderation uppermost in our minds by making a screen saver of it. Decide on a concise sentence that expresses our goal best. We can make it scroll across the screen in big bold letters.

Trading habits

As we go through the abstinent period, we may find some cues that we associate with drinking (some surprise us!), and we will learn new coping skills to deal with situations besides drinking.

We often make some changes in all areas of our lives. The best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. It can be a time to acquire new interests or rediscover old ones. Many of us have implemented an overall "get healthy" regime to support our new healthy drinking habits.

Sorting out priorities

Can we fill the nondrinking hours with some other activities? What are they? Are we really serious about moderation?

The 30 is not just a 30. It is one of the tools to help us sort out our priorities, our strengths and our weak areas. We now have more information and know what to focus on the most in order to reach our goal of becoming a moderate drinker.

Remove the temptation

Keeping alcohol in the house can be fatal for a 30 dayer. If there's a bottle in our house that's calling us each time we are in earshot, make it go away. Better to dump it, give it away, ask someone to babysit for it until we are done. If it's really a temptation chipping away at us, we can eradicate the problem and work on our other triggers.

Plan answers to questions

I was concerned about "what will people think if I refuse a drink?"

The reality is that very few people notice...or care.

I remember being at a business meeting with someone who I knew was a big drinker. He ordered a vodka tonic. I had a club soda. He asked why I wasn't drinking. I told him I had an early breakfast meeting and it never came up again. He went on to have 4 drinks, and never noticed that I wasn't drinking.

When abstaining at a larger function, I was also surprised at how many other people did not drink. Never noticed them when I do drink.

Anyway, the question, "why are you not drinking?" is much easier to answer than, "why did you drink like THAT last night?"

Triggers

I found it most helpful to use the 30 to try to identify what set me off on those days where I overdid it. If I can see what my triggers are, I can develop a strategy to minimize them or deal with them in non-alcoholic ways.

what works during the 30

Setting the stage for post-30 success

A lot of folks do a 30 and immediately fall right back into old habits. How do we prevent this? Do steps 3-6 during the 30! The 30 day day abstinence is only step 2.

  • Step 3: Examine how drinking has affected our lives.
  • Step 4: Write down our life priorities.
  • Step 5: Take a look at how much, how often, and under what circumstances we used to drink.
  • Step 6: Learn the MM guidelines and limits for moderate drinking.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to do them before we start drinking again. It is a record of exactly what we were thinking with a clear mind while doing our 30. It is an invaluable point of reference.

Tips on day 14

I'm almost at my halfway mark. How do I do it?

  1. Keep myself busy - don't be bored.
  2. Choose company that doesn't drink excesively or choose company that moderates.
  3. Tell friends and associates that I'm abstaining for 30 days and ask for their help.
  4. Read the Responsible Drinking book and work through the remaining steps.

Interact with the group

My tip? Stay active on the MM list!

I really want to emphasize (especially to the newcomers) that staying with the list, even if we don't post much, can be of great value. And now, having learned how difficult moderating can sometimes be, I realize how important it was over the last year for me to have stayed with the list even when I thought I was on cruise control with it.

Reward yourself

Each day, take the money that you would normally spend on liquor, put it in a jar or box with "MM" on it.

Then, when the mood strikes, go thru it and count how much you've got in it and treat yourself to something special.

From all the moderation I have done this month the visa bill just came in and it was all of $26.95 from the liquor store. It usually was $104.00 for a month!!

I love the dollar savings as a measure of the outcome of our success here. I was able to save enough in monthly wine expenses to pay for the therapist I was seeing in conjunction w/ MM!

Alternate beverages

I found ginger beer (the kind with the ginger bite) to be helpful. Mixing juice with 7-Up, Sprite, or similar sparkly beverage is festive and seems somewhat decadent (not really but I tell myself that). Also N/A beers: Buckler, ST. Pauli Girl NA, Clausthauler, Bitburger Drive, Haake Becke, and Kaliber are all good and getting easier to find. They do have calories, however, but one thing at a time.

Whenever I'm abstaining I like to freeze lots of orange juice in plastic cups, then I chew and suck on orange ice all day, just trying to keep my mouth busy.
Over the past year I've experimented with coffee drinks in the winter & fruit drinks in the warm months. If you don't already have a juicer or espresso/cappuccino machine, treat yourself! Use the money you're saving on alcohol!

You'll not only fix yummy drinks to have in place of alcohol, but it's a fun way to spend an evening. I bought books with recipes, different flavorings for the coffees, etc. Play time!

One day (or hour) at a time

Thinking in terms of "I'm not drinking today" was very helpful in changing my focus from the whole 30 days to the situation I had right in front of me.

There were some times when I broke it down to "I'm not drinking this hour," and that seemed to help. If my willpower can give me an hour, I use the hour to find some other activity I can get involved with that distracts me from drinking.

At the same time, it is also very helpful to go thru the other steps in the MM book. The MM steps help us look at the consequences of our drinking and help us develop a plan for how we will be spending the time we used to spend drinking, and try to figure out how we will handle moderation.

I found the simple act of thinking about what I would rather be doing instead of making an ass out of myself to be a very effective way to stop myself from drinking on a given day.

A lot of us have found that moderating after the 30 is far more challenging than the 30 was. Those who use the 30 to plan for life afterwards seem to have more success than those who just stop drinking for 30 days.

Cleanse the palette

I know it sounds silly, but brush your teeth as soon as possible after your evening meal or snack. Alcohol doesn't taste very good with that minty, toothpaste taste in your mouth. Plus, for me, it signifies that I'm DONE ingesting anything for the day. I know I'd feel like a big loser if I drank after brushing my teeth for the night. So, I don't!

It works well for moderating, too. After I've had my limit for the day, I get out that floss and toothbrush. (I tried it Wednesday, and it worked great.)

Multi-pronged approach

I wanted to drink, and get drunk, really badly all evening. Seriously considered it. But remembered my commitments, not only to this week's 3-dayer, but to 30 days of by-the-book moderation, as well. Had to pull several defense mechanisms out of my arsenal:

  • Played hookey from the gym.
  • Treated myself to a hot fudge sundae.
  • Went to a movie and ate popcorn.

Still wanted to drink when I got home, so I pulled out the big guns and flossed and brushed my teeth.

Visualize the support; craving will go away

On Friday evening during the cocktail hour, I mentally composed an e-mail to this group describing my cravings and begging for support. Just the process of trying to describe my feelings put the situation in perspective; I then imagined all kinds of encouraging and humorous responses from the nice people on this list.

I took 2 Valerian capsules, which helped take the edge off my grouchiness and anxiety. My wine craving is usually accompanied by extreme irritability.

I decided (for a change) not to worry about calories, and shifted my focus to the abundance of rich food and gooey desserts I would have at dinner. Ordering a rich chocolate dessert made me feel self-indulgent and less sorry for myself.

I've figured out that the craving will go away on its own, whether I act on it or not. When it comes I remind myself that it's only temporary, and sure enough I soon start thinking of something else.

Importance of food

Food makes a huge difference. After a big meal not only do I not have an urge to drink (follow that double negative?), but the alcohol has minimal effect.

I've used food as a regulator for years. When I have an urge to drink but feel I shouldn't, I eat something filling and the urge usually vanishes

Honoring the ritual

The ritual is something I've thought about a lot. For me, having my wine glass full of grape juice works. I never have more than one and a half or two. It allows a timeframe for having the glass in my hand, while also being a nice addition to a meal. Not giving up the ritual, but sort of helping to set it so there's a beginning, middle and END.

dealing with setbacks

Failing at first

Many, (if not a majority, it's close) of us who have tried a 30 have failed on our first try. It's not whether we make it all the way the first time, it's what we take from having tried. Think about what happened for a couple of weeks, then think about trying again. Bad habits aren't always unlearned at once.

I have tried to do 30 a few times. I started with 1 day, then 3 days, 6 days and then tried for the whole 30. We have to take small steps toward our goal. It works!

Overcoming fear of failure

It took me about 6 months to start my 30. I was so afraid that I couldn't do it and I hate failure so I just didn't start.

I tried moderating during the week and only drink on weekends. Well every weekend I would really overdo it and then during the week I would beat myself up and convince myself that I was a loser and would never be able to do it.

When I did it I was so afraid of failure that I just decided to do it one day at a time and see how long I could go. It was on about day number 9 that I finally thought maybe I could and told people about it.

Once I declared it I was determined to do it. For me getting over the fear of failure was the biggest obstacle.

I had a lot of events during my 30, my birthday, an annual wine tasting festival, a family wedding, hosting a packer party, my book club meeting, my family visiting for a weekend. Before I started my 30 I used those kind of events as an excuse for not doing it, but when I look at it there is never a month where nothing is going on.

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Revised 07.26.2003 mm@moderation.org