Giving up alcohol is a major life change, and one of the early hurdles will be making it through the first sober weekend. This is the time of the week when most tend to do most of their drinking, traditionally a time to go out and have some fun. It is common for newly sober individuals to approach their first weekend with a real sense of dread, but it does not have to be too much of a challenge. Some steps that one could take to make things easier have been listed below.
Get Plenty of Support
If you belong to a recovery fellowship then it may be a good idea to plan to attend some meetings over the weekend. If you live in a large city then you will usually find that there are late night meetings at the weekends, which means you have somewhere to go instead of a bar. Once you have been in recovery for a few weeks, sober weekends will not seem such a big deal; however, it is recommended that you get plenty of support initially.
Remember Your Reasons for Choosing Sobriety
It is vital that you have clear, positive reasons for committing to recovery. If you do not have these in place then it can be very hard to keep going if you begin to experience cravings. It is recommended that you write down your motivations on paper and keep this document nearby. Try to make sure that at least some of these reasons are positive (for example, ‘I want to achieve X) because motivations based on fear only are not usually that powerful; the mind is more attracted to potential benefits than threats.
Have a Strategy for Dealing with Thoughts of Relapse
On your first weekend away from alcohol, you may experience thoughts of relapse. Withdrawal symptoms are rarely any worse to those of a mild flu but can feel harder to deal with because you know how easy it would be to escape them. Cravings will come and go during these early days of recovery and, if they catch you at the wrong time, could easily put you on the road to relapse. It is vital that you have some type of strategy for dealing with any wavering of your determination because it can be hard to think rationally when actually in the middle of this type of event. Your plan could include things like calling somebody you trust, getting help from a sponsor, or going to a fellowship meeting. The most important thing is that you do not just sit there with these thoughts.
Have Fun on Your First Sober Weekend
Boredom is a common relapse trigger, so it is recommended that you find something interesting to do on your first sober weekend. This could include going for a walk with friends, going to the movies (if you feel up to it), or just spending some time in the garden. The important thing is that you do not act as if you are serving some type of prison sentence by not drinking. One benefit of going to a rehab is that there will be plenty of things for you to do.
Keep Away from Your Old Haunts
Going to a bar on your first weekend sober would be seen as asking for trouble. There will just be too much temptation to relapse. It is much better to be around those who are in recovery because these individuals can inspire you and give you strength. Even if you go to a bar and do manage to stay sober, you will still be starting your new life on the wrong foot.