Early days

Advice for the first few weeks after you've stopped drinking.

Keep your eye on the ball

Once you've had your detox, don't forget how important it is to really concentrate on continuing your recovery. Detox has only been worthwhile if you can continue to work hard on re-engineering your life so that you do things differently to protect yourself from relapse. This is the most common reason for people failing.

I encourage everybody who's had a detox with me to stay in touch. You're better off having too much follow-up treatment than not enough. In particular, stay in touch even if you're doing well and don't think you need any more help.

Have patience

Things might feel worse before they feel better.

You might need to wait a bit before you feel OK. In the early days of not drinking, it is possible that things will feel worse before they feel better. For many years you've been 'borrowing' peace of mind and a change of mood by drinking. Once you've stopped drinking, you can't escape paying this back, with interest, for a period. It's important, therefore, that you:

  1. Brace yourself for feeling uncomfortable and sometimes distressed for some time after you've stopped drinking. It's especially common for people to suffer from anxiety and low mood in the days or weeks immediately after detox.
  2. Realise that this isn't what the rest of your life will be like. Things will soon stop getting worse and will then gradually start to get better.

It takes some time for your mind and body to settle down and reach a new equilibrium without alcohol.

Don't run away with yourself

On the other hand, some people have a bit of an artificial high after detox. Fantastic - it's terrific to be enjoying life again. Just be careful though, and don't go feeling invincible.

One of the first danger points is when you have a lovely honeymoon for a month or so post-detox, everything's terrific, and you think you're cured. You stop thinking about how you'll cope with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Then: "Life leaves you surprised - Slaps you in the eyes"1

Keep positive & focussed

Remember that whilst staying off alcohol will be difficult, it's a fantastic thing to do; it's something you should be proud of; and it's something you should do with optimism - because you believe it's going to make your life better.


1 Totally Wired, The Fall