Welcome to the Sober Sprint!

In this first post you will find out:

  • what to expect from the next 30 days
  • what kinds of things you will learn from the Sober Sprint
  • some tasks to get you started
  • how to record a drink diary (creating a baseline)
  • all about taking the alcohol survey and interpreting its results.

So what can you expect from the next 30 days?

Well here we are. The first steps towards a great alcohol-free month.

The better prepared you are the more likely you are to succeed. So we have a few days of ‘planning’ to get you ready for your Sober Sprint.

To get you started and tracking your progress, there are also a few bits and pieces to fill in or sign up to.

But first of all it is important to let you know that the Sober Sprint is not appropriate or safe for people who are physically dependent on alcohol. You will learn more about that when you take our alcohol questionnaire. But if you are in any way concerned, you can have a confidential online or phone conversation with the Club Soda team at any time. To do that just email helen@joinclubsoda.co.uk.

What kinds of things will I learn and do during my Sober Sprint?

By the end of the Sober Sprint you will not only have gone a month without alcohol, but you will also:

  • understand more about your relationship with alcohol and the reasons why you drink
  • set and track personal goals for your month off – whether it’s health, productivity, moods and emotions, sleep, relationships, wellbeing, healthy eating, weight loss, saving money, etc
  • learn what your high-risk situations are for drinking
  • implement strategies to manage and cope with your possible pitfalls
  • develop a short daily routine for reviewing the challenges to being alcohol-free that day, and prepare and rehearse your coping strategies
  • review and reflect upon your alcohol-free month and consider what you want your relationship with alcohol to be in the future
  • become part of Club Soda: an online community of people who want to change their drinking.

Getting started

There’s a bit of housekeeping today just to get you started in our community, and get prepared for your Sober Sprint. Don’t worry, there isn’t this much to do every day!

  • Write down your drinking goal for the month ahead. It might seem obvious right now that you are taking a month off booze, but you can help yourself during your Sober Sprint by writing this goal down and putting it somewhere you’ll see it often.
  • Check that it’s safe for you to stop drinking. Some people who drink every day become physically dependent on alcohol. If this is you, it’s best to cut down over time rather than to stop suddenly. If you’ve ever experienced alcohol withdrawal symptoms before (like shakes, sweats or feeling nauseous – more than a bad hangover) and needed a drink to feel better, please speak to your doctor before continuing this course.
  • You are also welcome to sign up to the Club Soda Private Facebook group and follow the conversations in our community (you need to request to join).

Record a drink diary of your typical drinking week

So you know where you are at today with your drinking you should record a drink diary of your typical weekly drinking. You can download and use our template, or you can use your own template. There are also apps and trackers you can use – we list some on a separate post. This picture will help you work out your units:

Or you can use this DrinkAware online calculator which helps you search more specifically for particular brands.

More about physical dependence

‘Dependence’ is a scary thought, and fear of developing dependence is maybe why you want to try a Sober Sprint.

There is no exact science to predicting ‘when’ or ‘how much you need to drink’ to develop a physical dependence on alcohol, but “taking regular breaks from alcohol is the best way to lower your risk of becoming dependent on it” (DrinkAware).

‘But I drink every day, and I feel as though I need to – surely that’s dependence?’ To answer this we need to look at the difference between psychological and physical dependence.

Many people can become psychologically dependent on alcohol – using it to cope with the spectrum of life’s worries, emotions, mental health problems, grief, stress, loneliness etc. Alcohol has become your go-to coping mechanism, a habitual way of handling problems. So when you stop drinking you might feel more upset, or experience more anxiety or stress in some situations. The answer to this is that you will need to discover and learn other ways of coping.

Experiencing this does not necessarily mean you are also physically dependent on alcohol. Someone who is physically dependent on alcohol will have withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking (or even if they cut down too much), which are associated with how the body, especially the central nervous system, experiences withdrawal from alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms are pretty obvious – shakes, sweats, feeling anxious and craving a morning drink being common. More frightening, serious and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms include seizures and the ‘DTs’ – delirium tremens – that can cause hallucinations. If you have ever experienced any of these symptoms in the morning or when you have tried to stop in the past, and the symptoms only go away once you have had a drink, you might be physically dependent on alcohol, and therefore a MOB will not be safe for you. However, there are other treatment options available which will usually involve some kind of medical intervention so you can withdraw safely and without the risks and side-effects.

The main withdrawal phenomena that are associated with physical dependent are in the table below. If you experience any of these symptoms in your first few days off alcohol, please seek medical care before continuing with your MOB.

Physiological Behavioral Sleep
Nausea Agitation/restlessness Insomnia
Sweating Irritability Disrupted sleep
Shakes/tremors Depressed mood
Increased body temperature Aggression
Seizures Loss of motivation
Increased pulse rate Anxiety

If you are concerned you might be physically dependent on alcohol, do not stop drinking, but do email helen@clubsoda.co.uk outlining your concerns. Helen will respond within 48 hours. If it is not possible to answer your questions by email, a Skype call will be booked, based upon her available slots. Helen is a chartered psychologist, and abides by a strict code of conduct, which includes protecting your confidentiality.

You can also talk to your doctor if you’re at all concerned; you can read our advice about doing that here.

 Coming up

Tomorrow, we continue our MOB preparations by setting up our “survival kits”.

11 Responses to “Welcome

  • Victoria
    7 years ago

    Funny, I wake up most mornings regretting how much I drank the night before and tell myself I must do something about it. Yet now, receiving your first email, rather than feel excited about the challenge ahead of me and the possibility of a better quality of life I just feel a bit tearful and terrified. It’s almost as if I can’t be bothered to read your email. I feel like it requires concentration and effort that I don’t have in me.

    • Helen O'Connor
      7 years ago

      Hello Victoria, I think it’s really honest of you to admit there’s both excitement and fear in change. These earlier emails do contain some of the more ‘serious’ facts and information about drinking, and words like ‘risks’ and ‘dependency’ can increase our anxiety. Once the MOB gets underway we hope the daily emails increase your excitement about the change you are making.

      If you would like to arrange a short chat over Skype, just let me know.

      Warm regards, Helen

  • Paul hemingway
    7 years ago

    Already saying, yep, that is me, seems like a mountain at the moment, but I now see people round me.
    Sorry but will miss the live webinar – I am out and not down the pub!

    • Helen O'Connor
      7 years ago

      Thanks for commenting Paul. The process of understanding (and changing) our own relationship with alcohol can be a long one. But you have started! Hopefully we’ll meet on another webinar during the MOB
      All the best

  • Laura Willoughby
    7 years ago

    and the Webinar will be recorded – so you can send any questions in advance and we will answer them on the webinar and you can watch later 🙂

  • Just read Victoria’s post from 3 years ago – no point me typing the same thing. – Funny, I wake up most mornings regretting how much I drank the night before and tell myself I must do something about it. Yet now, receiving your first email, rather than feel excited about the challenge ahead of me and the possibility of a better quality of life I just feel a bit tearful and terrified.

    Tomorrow I start, not drinking, never got past day 3, ever!

  • I actually changed my drinking habits a few years ago so rarely would I drink in the week now, but I’ve fallen back into bingeing at weekends – even if that’s being home alone and I’m not actually out with anyone. This is what I would like to change – the automatic feeling that to enjoy my relaxing Friday or Saturday night, I must be switched off from all activity by around 7pm and be welcoming in the weekend with a large gin or watching tv with red wine! So yes, that’s my goal. But already somewhere in my head is reading other posts and saying I obviously don’t drink as much as some people, so should I really be stopping etc etc…..!! But I need to remember my thought processes and that this is MY goal and not about comparing myself to other people (as invariably I’m only comparing myself to people who drink more than me!)

  • Two years ago I took 3 months without a drink and thought I could moderate. However, it crept back up and now I’m finding it difficult to get off the starting block again! I wake up with the best intentions and by the end of the day my little monster is on my shoulder again telling me to relax with a drink! So I’m going to try for Monday… I know I can do it again. I just have to make alcohol small in my life again and it will eventually lose its power right? Thank you for being there

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