In the early stages of addressing this challenge, you will most likely have a wide variety of troubling thoughts. There is no need to hammer yourself about this, it would be very unusual if it didn’t happen. The good news is that for most alcoholics who quit drinking, these bothersome thoughts fade over time. It is my belief, and experience in my study group, that by using this program, you can expedite this fading process.
We will be identifying some of the more typical thought patterns experienced by alcoholics, so you will recognize them if they pop up. Rather than spending an inordinate amount of time examining these feelings, which I believe is detrimental, just know that as your journey progresses these will fade. In the next step, we will examine specific strategies to deal with these situations.
The Permanence Issue
What I’m referring to here is the fear of quitting drinking ‘forever’ or ‘permanently.’ The strategy that we will implement in step 4 will basically be breaking this down into manageable pieces. For right now you should know that the permanence issue tends to be an overwhelming one, especially at first, for a majority of problem drinkers who quit drinking. The advantage you now have is that you have identified this situation and will soon be designing specific strategies to deal with it.
Loss of Friends
The fear of losing friends as a result of quitting drinking is exaggerated. Some friends will change, that’s true, but the whole process is far less troubling than it first appears.
Inability to Party
The fear that you won’t be able to function normally in a party atmosphere. You will probably be making some adjustments in your social calendar at first. The amount of time needed before one feels comfortable in a party atmosphere is different for each person, but I think you will be surprised how quickly this can happen.
Concern about Scorn
A general concern of scorn from a variety of people including coworkers, family members, and friends. Again, this differs for everyone. The consistent theme here is that across the board, your fears in the early going tend to be exaggerated. Many of the things that seem monumental now won’t even be a part of your thought process soon.
Fear and Shame
Overwhelming fear that you can’t do this and shame that you have to are typical at the onset. Know this going in. Don’t let it be your main focus. It’s just the result of deeply entrenched habitual thought patterns. Learn to see these thought patterns as “things” that are not at all representative of who you are.
Not something you’ll be concerned with at first, but watch for it as your sobriety progresses. When you first start to feel that you really will be able to abstain from drinking, you may start to feel invincible. Not a bad thing, unless you find yourself shunning friends who have always been there to support you. It’s OK to feel great about your accomplishment, but not at the expense of present relationships.
Lots of fear to deal with initially in relation to many situations. You have identified that and will be designing strategies specifically for it, rather than being caught off guard by it. Your most worrisome fears will be fading soon.
You are now ready to begin designing your new life in Step 4.