The Right Time?

Is it ever the right time to stop drinking?  Before I quit I used to ponder this question a lot.  Although I no longer drink I still consider myself a drinker, in the same way that I consider myself a smoker who no longer chooses to smoke, so thinking about this isn’t hard.  If I was still drinking I could think of several reasons why now would not be a good time.  Our wedding anniversary is this week, my niece’s 18th b day party is in a couple of weeks, Easter holidays approaching fast, etc, etc, etc.  Always a bad time and I would put it off and inevitably never come back to it.

So if it is never a good time then how do you decide to change and know if you are ready for change?  For me, because it would never be the right time I just bit the bullet and stopped even though it was 4 weeks before my birthday!

What you could do is fill out a readiness for change questionnaire (University of Rhode Island Change Assessment Scale, URICA).  This is a list of 14 questions that you can mark as disagree, undecided or agree with disagree scoring 0, undecided scoring 1 and agree scoring 2.

The questions are:

  1. As far as I’m concerned, I have a problem that needs changing
  2. I think I might be ready for some self-improvement
  3. I am doing something about a problem that has been bothering me
  4. It worries me that I might slip back on a problem that I have already changed, so I am looking for help
  5. I am finally doing some work on a problem that I have
  6. I’ve been thinking that I might want to change something about myself
  7. At times my problem is difficult, but I am working on it
  8. I’d like to understand myself and my behaviour better
  9. I have a problem and I really think I should work on it
  10. I have not been following through with something I’ve already changed and I want to prevent a relapse of the problem
  11. I thought I had once resolved this problem, but sometimes I find myself struggling with it
  12. I’d like to hear some ideas on how to solve my problem
  13. Anyone can talk about changing, but I am actually doing something about it
  14. Even though I am not always successful at changing, at least I am trying

If you score over 14 you are open-minded to the concept of change around your drinking.  Much like the contract to change, you can do a score intermittently to see how it changes and while you are not ready to change keep drinking or moderating and then come back and repeat it.  Also like the contract to change it can be used for anything, not just booze, and I shall be using it next to tackle the sugar issue that I seemed to have replaced booze with!!

18 thoughts on “The Right Time?

  1. I think you instinctively ‘know’ when the time is right for you. I’ve tried to moderate in the past and failed big style, I’ve also unsuccessfully tried to give up a few times. This time was different. The day before the Decision I cried and hid myself away. My shame and disgust with myself was huge. I knew I had to stop. I was killing myself, destroying my marriage and my biggest fear was what I was doing to the children. So, I vowed to quit 10 days before Christmas (just after I’d bought a dozen bottles of Prosecco, which are still sitting in the garage). I could have waited until after Christmas, but then it would be New Year, then my birthday, then my wedding anniversary. There is always an excuse to drink if we want it. I think once you decide you have to do it then and there. To me, that told Wolfie i was committed and he hasn’t bothered me so much. From the beginning I felt so determined to do this and that determination hasn’t failed me yet.

    1. I think you’re right as I was pretty much the same. Just plain fed up with the battle against booze so a chance conversation led to another discussion with a close friend over wine(!) and then I acted. Haven’t looked back since 😉 xx

  2. I tried briefly to quit just before moving house, but then felt so overwhelmed, I put it off for a few weeks. But then after I moved, I felt this bizarre sense of urgency, I think because I hard already come to terms with it in my own mind, it was like an on / off switch rather than a slow realisation. I felt like there was a train leaving marked “sober” and if I wasn’t on it, I was going to miss my chance – a proper “now or never” feeling. Not sure why.
    Sugar – aghh! I have never had a sweet tooth, this is doing my head in. I’m even doing it between 6 and 7 every night, like clockwork, a mini-chocolate binge every day. Grrr.

    1. I think we all reach that place of urgency – it’s whether we act on it that is crucial and you did 🙂 Forgive yourself the sugar stuff for now you have bigger fish to fry 😉 xx

  3. SUGAR!! Oh my God, I really did think that I did not have a sweet tooth and that I only liked savoury things! Wow isn’t it incredible how much our bodies had got used to all that carbohydrate and sugar that is in booze, and how we feel the need to replace that with sweet things (especially chocolate). Still it is better than the booze – so long as we do LOTS of exercise and clean teeth obsessively! Great post Lucy x

    1. Hi Jude, thanks for reading and commenting and thanks for the compliment 🙂 Yep a 5 mile run a week forgives some of the chocolate munching 😉 xx

  4. Great post, Lucy. I think I was building up to a change but going about it in the wrong way by trying to moderate. Complete abstention seemed such an extreme solution that I couldn’t face doing it until it was the only option left for me. And even then I think I struck lucky by finding the right tools at the right time. We can be ready to open the door but if we have both hands tied behind our back and no key it is going to be hard! I suppose I am saying more publicity for ways of getting sober will reach more people (eg the great work that Soberistas are doing) and make more keys readily available. The sugar thing, ack yes. Wine is basically sugar with added poison (yum, huh?!) so am not surprised it is proving hard for me. I am trying to keep sugar till after supper which is helping a bit. xx

    1. My mission is now to make more keys available to help people with the door problem 😉 I’m not winning the sugar battle quite as successfully as you – she says having eaten a jam doughnut and Snickers bar already today and it’s only 3 o’clock!! 🙂 xx

  5. oh and also meant to say that I also used to smoke….. but in no way now would describe myself as a smoker who doesn’t smoke. I am an ex-smoker. I am not there yet, but I am determined to be an ex-drinker too!

    1. I still describe myself as a smoker as I feel that under the right (or should that be wrong) circumstances and pressures I might start again – whether I really wanted to or not. I still suck on Nicotine lozenges every day so haven’t quite beaten that demon either, but in my head that’s okay as it’s clean nicotine!

  6. This is a great objective way to help figure out where your mind is: I agree about the sugar thing but don’t know if I would be able to make the changes required, maybe I don’t want it enough? or maybe its not worn me down enough yet? Maybe I should do the questionnaire!! thanks for posting it. Rx

  7. I took so many of those self evaluation tests in the years leading up to quitting. I knew I had a problem, but as you said, you don’t stop until you are really ready to stop.
    Once I stopped, it took 3 months before I could even utter the word alcoholic when referring to myself. I guess it is all a learning and growing process.

  8. I struggle with the idea that I am an alcoholic as opposed to a strong woman choosing not to drink. But a recent slip has led me to investigating some AA materials. I have been trying to make sense of why I would drink again after doing so well for so long and the only answer seems to be that it doesn’t make sense. A friend on soberistas spoke to me about the idea of being defenceless against that first drink and for me that seems to explain it. I was definitely ready for change and agreed with all the statements but even that determination is maybe not enough. I guess that we can always learn more about how to choose to become and then to stay sober.
    Really enjoy your blogs – it is so true that we can always find plenty reasons to avoid giving up. Like you I simply reached that point where I couldn’t go on as I was. The day I decided to stop wasn’t even after one of my more excruciatingly embarrassing escapades but was more a result of just being sick at heart of the whole thing. However we get there the main thing is we need to be ready. The support of my on-line community has made the difference for me. They have stopped me talking about it, starting and stopping and actually got me doing it.

    1. Kim I agree and fear that I could slip so easily in the future for no logical reason. That’s why I still see myself as a drinker who is actively choosing not to drink. Although I am not powerless over alcohol (which I believe is the AA first step) I am human and can at times be vulnerable and that is where the defensive fault line may crack. Willpower is never enough and as you say this community is also my strongest defence against a relapse. Glad you like my blogs – that means a lot to me 🙂 xx

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