You are so right. Telling yourself, "If I don't drink I can do x" is a great strategy. Simple but very effective. I also like how you added we miss out on so much when we are drinking. Not only with rewards, but also in day to day living. Drinking can really sap our energy, mood and motivation.
In my opinion, goals are much better than rules. When I decided to stop drinking my goal was to get to the next day. It seemed to take forever but the days became weeks. Eventually, I set a goal of 90 days. I stuck to that goal but I think what got me through that time wasn’t the long-term goal but the “rewards” I allowed myself.
I had to find something to get me through the day. Rather than telling myself I couldn’t drink, I would say, “if I don’t drink, I can do X.” I made it a priority to do all those things I couldn’t do when I made the decision to spend my nights drinking. I quickly found out I had missed out on so many things. I hope everyone finds their way on this journey we are on.
Thanks so much for all the great information Ashley and your support! I guess I have been doing some of this anyway in an informal way such as exercise, bubble baths etc. But I would like to be more intentional. I will give this some good thought and get back to you.
Yes, rewards as a planned occurance but perhaps unplanned too. When we drink alcohol, dopamine and other feel good neurotransmitters are impacted and this is why we feel good when we drink alcohol. Our brain learns quickly that there is a relationship there and associates alcohol as a kind of reward. There are many things we can do to impact our feel good neurotransitters - exercise, hugging a loved one, rewards, setting and reaching goals, etc. all can impact these neurotransmitters which in turn impacts our mood. When we quit alcohol we miss out on our regular dopamine fix so it's important to look for other ways to feel good. Rewards teach our brain that staying away from alcohol is a positive it also keeps us more committed to our goal. It takes time to set up a new pattern but our brains can be changed. It takes thoughful planning, hard work and practice. Rewards is an important addition to any quit plan.
It is important to note that although alcohol makes us feel good temporarily in the long run it worsens our mood. You likely have felt a bit depressed after a night of drinking and this is thanks to alcohol being a depressant as well.
Rewards don't have to cost money. Anything that you feel would work for you would be great. If you decide to come up with a reward schedule please share it with us if you feel comfortable. I would love to hear what you have planned.
Thanks for sharing your journey Nodrama. It really is helpful to hear about how others are doing. Also, thanks for sharing the positives that you have found along the way.
I spent Canada Day, last night at friends' place. Everyone else was drinking except me; but again I noticed that no one else had more than three drinks. Interesting! Some had only one and were not driven to have more. Best of all, I enjoyed myself alcohol free and it really wasn't difficult at all. Never considered it. I brought lots of drink choices of my own and just said that I was the DD (which was true) versus publicly announcing it. This morning I woke up feeling optimistic and proud!
Glad that you are back on the site! Thanks for the support!