You may be someone who wakes up and immediately starts thinking about drinking, even if you promised yourself the night before that you wouldn’t drink today. You may also be the type of person who makes it through most of the day before thinking about drinking.
Either way, when you’re an alcoholic, sooner or later those thoughts are going to enter your mind. Whether you’re a few days into a bender, or it has been weeks since your last drink – when those thoughts start to creep in, what can you do to avoid giving in to the temptation?
You may not always win, but sometimes just having a plan in place, some ideas of ways to distract yourself until you can fall asleep or until the urge passes, for the time being, is enough to make it through the day. And that’s what it’s all about… getting through the day, one day at a time.
How to use this page: Instead of just making one big list of things, we’ve included a lot of tips and advice, and ideas in the paragraphs below, because it’s important to read everything to understand the context of some of these suggestions and we really want people to take a few minutes to soak it all in. After that, if you would like to get a checklist of ideas, we’ll include that at the bottom of this page, too.
Your Old Hobbies
Did you use to have more hobbies before you started drinking more? Maybe you’ve become depressed and lost interest over time, maybe alcohol replaced a lot of your hobbies. If that happened to you, try reclaiming your hobbies, reclaim the things that bring you joy and make you smile, and start to slowly get pleasure from them again.
It doesn’t matter what kinds of hobbies we’re talking about, as long as they aren’t harmful. From playing video games, to drawing, to knitting, to writing, to exercise, or whatever else you used to enjoy doing more often – make it EASY to start doing it, so that it becomes the path of least resistance.
On that same note, making it harder for yourself to drink can also give you more opportunities to decide to follow your hobby instead. For example, if you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get alcohol, but your video game console is sitting right there, it’s updated, you’ve got your controllers charged, your account is logged in and the game is loaded… you’ll be able to find some excitement and fun from your games, with minimal resistance. However, if you know you’re going to have to charge your controller, set up your system, and do a bunch of work before you can actually start playing, you may find it’s a lot easier to just pour a drink. That’s what we’re talking about when it comes to putting minimal resistance in between yourself and other hobbies and activities you could be doing.
If you aren’t the type of person who has had a lot of hobbies over the years, or if your old hobbies simply don’t interest you as much anymore, why not try to find some new ones? If there’s something that interests you, that you haven’t really dug into it, now’s a perfect time – what have you got to lose?
You’re never too old to explore new hobbies, and most hobbies will enable you to dip your toes in the water without spending a fortune – specially thanks to online shopping, used marketplaces, and more. If you want to get into photography, for example, you don’t need to buy a $5000 camera, just use the one on your phone for now.
If you aren’t sure where to start, you can spend some time going down a YouTube rabbit hole on just about any topic that interests you, but here are some ideas of hobbies that are easy and affordable to get into, that can branch off into all sorts of obsessions that will distract you from wanting to drink, and give you a purpose in life, and things to look forward to.
- Nutrition and cooking
- Psychology, philosophy, and other studies
- Building model cars, boats, buildings, etc
- Music (playing it, listening to it)
- Movies and TV shows
Note that if you’re listening to music, try to avoid songs are partying or songs that might remind you of drinking. If you’re watching TV or movies, you may want to avoid shows that focus on drin
It’s up to you to choose the ones that stand out to you, and this is only 0.00001% of all the hobbies out there, and each of these hobbits has plenty of branches that lead to other more specific version of the same hobby. For example, gaming is very broad but there are dozens of types of games, so you can narrow it down as you go!
Follow your interests, it’s a fun feeling to engage with a new hobby and to spend all of your time reading about it and learning about it. It can be a very good way to distract yourself from drinking, especially if drinking has been your hobby for a long time. It helps to replace drinking with something else, so you aren’t just sitting around thinking about drinking all the time.
Talk to Friends, Family, Strangers
If you have friends and family that you can reach out to talk about your struggles, that’s a good thing to do, as long as they’re open to listen and hear you without always trying to offer a solution. You already know the solution, the solution is to stop drinking, the solution is to stop putting alcohol into your body.
Obviously. But friends and family members can’t always understand that it’s not that simple. Sometimes, talking to a friend or a family member who doesn’t understand, or doesn’t know how to talk to an alcoholic in a productive way, can actually be a trigger that makes you want to drink evne more – so be careful with this one.
Sometimes, just chatting with a stranger online can help to take your mind off things. Making a new friend, or even something you’ll just talk to once on a random chat site. Be mindful about how personal you get, it’s probably not a good idea to give out any super personal information to a stranger, but it can still be nice to vent to someone sometimes, especially if they’re eager to listen.
Just remember, you have to make sure this is actually helpful for you. If it stresses you out or makes you want to drink, then try the other distractions on this page instead. And remember, your friends and family and strangers probably aren’t experts, so when you’re having a crisis or severe mental health problems and just talking to someone isn’t helping, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out the help of a professional. Sometimes, you’ll need to visit multiple professionals to find someone who is a good fit and can help you. Don’t give up on that.
Our Community Forum
We have a small but growing forum here on StopDrinking.com/forum, it’s a place where you can post a message, reply to an existing thread, and meet some new people who are also doing their best to overcome alcoholism. We don’t offer any medical advice, and you shouldn’t assume that anyone there is a trained addictions specialist – it’s just a place to hang out, share your stories, talk about your interests, and meet some people who are fighting the same battles that you are. It’s a way to remind yourself that you aren’t alone.
Sometimes, just getting some feelings off your chest and knowing that someone is listening can make a big difference. If you’re dealing with tempating and you just need a little help, a little distraction to keep you on the right path, come join us and tell us a little bit about what you’re going through.
Write a Journal
Keeping a journal that you write in whenever you’re feeling triggered to have a drink, if you’re able to do this, can be very useful. Sometimes, writing out your feelings and what is making you want to drink, and spending 15 minutes on this mindful and deliberate action, can be enough to keep you sober for the rest of the day.
Some people will tell themselves “I’m just going to write in my journal, and then I’ll have a drink. I’m better off writing first, then drinking – instead of going right to the alcohol,” and after taking the time to write out their feelings and get things off their chest, they’ll end up being able to resist the temptation to drink at all.
That isn’t always the case, but taking these mindful moments to center yourself and collect your thoughts, even if you still end up drinking, these moments may help you to not drink as much or to not binge for as long.
Have a Huge Glass of Water
Pour yourself a giant glass of water and sip on that until you finish it. Sometimes, just drinking something healthy like water or juice can help to dull the temptation of alcohol, even if it’s just a little bit. You’ll feel more full, and you’ll gone through the motions of drinking, and that can be enough sometimes. Even if it’s not enough to stop you from drinking alcohol, at least you’ll be properly hydrated and might be able to stop a little sooner since you’ll be very full.
Just remember, it’s possible to drink dangerous amounts of water and to hurt yourself with water poisoning. Unless it’s very hot out, or you’ve been very active, you generally won’t need more than 2.5L or 3.5L of water in a day. It’s believed that women require a bit less than men, on average, and if you’re a larger person you may need a bit more, and if you’re very active or sweating a lot, you’ll need more water as well. If you’re using water to help fill yourself up to avoid alcohol, just make sure you don’t drink dangerous quantities of water, and pace yourself too! Speaking to an alcoholic, this probably sounds strange to hear about pacing yourself when it comes to water, but it can be dangerous when you drink way too much water.
Run Out The Clock
Each day is only so long, so if you can find ways to distract yourself from drinking until it’s time for bed, you’ve won the day. At the very least, you’ll be cutting back on how much time that you have to drink that day, which is good too – it means you’ll be drinking less.
Sometimes, whatever you’re doing when you start wanting to drink, you can just say “I’m going to wait another hour.” When that hour comes, can you decide to wait another hour? We hear about people taking it a day at a time, but sometimes you’ve got to take it a minute at a time until the temptation passes.
You may always have that little voice in the back of your head that’s trying to get you to drink, even if you don’t want to drink, even if you know the damage and the harm that drinking can cause – but the more you suppress that voice, the more you ignore it, the more you find strategies to distract yourself, the quieter the voice will get over time.
It’s not something that gets fixed overnight. Some days you’ll feel more powerful than other days. The trick is to have strategies and plans in place for the days that you don’t feel as strong because if you can get through those days, you’re well on your way.
Download Our Distractions from Drinking Checklist:
If you want all of the ideas from this article, without any of the extra words, we’ve created a helpful checklist with ## ideas on it that you can download and print out. Try them out, see what works, see what doesn’t work… use this as a resource to learn how your mind and body work together, and to figure out the best ways to keep your mind off of drinking.
Please feel free to share this PDF with people you care about, print it out, and make as many copies as you’d like!