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How Long Does it Take to Get Sober?

Woman standing in front of a lake with her armd wide open

It's a great question! If you want to learn how long it takes to sober up from alcohol, you may never find a specific answer because every person is different. 

Everyone's road to sobriety is as individual as they are, and it takes a varied period of time for people to get alcohol out of their system. 

Some people ask me what 'Seven' represents in Sober in Seven.

It represents seven stages to getting to a place where you start to make the choices you feel are compatible with the kind of person you are and the kind of life you want to live, as opposed to feeling forced to make the choices you are compelled to, and don't want.

Sometimes people ask me, "Does this mean, Andy, you can never drink alcohol again?" and my answer is always the same:

"Of course, I can. I simply choose not to - in the same way that I choose not to smoke, or take Cocaine or Crystal Meth. Other people do these things, but I choose not to."

This removes all the pressure. The minute you tell yourself you can NEVER do something again, a little part of you wants it more. It becomes the 'forbidden fruit'. If you give yourself time for alcohol to leave your system and don’t think about it as something you’ll never drink again, you’ll have an easier time getting sober.  

Finger pressing a red button
Don't press the red button! 😳

Imagine if I told you that above all else, you must not click the red button on this page. At best, you would be mildly curious about why you couldn't.

More likely you will start to ponder what the button does, and why you couldn't push it.

"What would happen if..."

" What is the button hiding...?"

"Is this some kind of a test...?"

You get the idea.

This is what happens when you focus on ' stopping drinking '. It becomes a source of focus and for some people an obsession.

So, in my view, getting Sober is simply not caring about alcohol at all. Once you stop worrying about how long it’ll take to get sober from alcohol and stop thinking about alcohol completely, you are on the road to recovery. 

Is there a specific moment when you achieve this? Not really.

The journey in and out of addiction is subtle.

When you fell into alcohol addiction, the journey was subtle, and unconscious and was the result of repeated behaviours.

The way out is exactly the same.

Everything you repeatedly do, becomes normal over time.

If you drink heavily and regularly, it becomes normal. If you don't drink alcohol, that becomes normal too. So, if you make not drinking alcohol a habit, you won't have the desire to consume it.

This is good news. While this is different for everyone, you can simply get to a point where you simply break the link to alcohol being the solution for whatever problem you used to think it solved. This will make it easier to get alcohol out of your system and speed up the time it takes to get sober. 

Getting sober didn't make my life perfect. Far from it. However, whenever I am having a rubbish day, I always make a point of chuckling and reminding myself:

"This could be worse. I could be doing it with a hangover too."

Getting sober is a state of mind, and however long it takes to get sober is determined by you. It's about having the ability to make choices. Iit's about not having to fight yourself anymore. 

It's about the removal of the self esteem-crushing "What did I do last night?" or the horrible sense of defeat when you tell yourself you are not going to drink tonight, and yet you do it anyway.

Check out the video below:

Andy talks through the journey into and out of alcohol dependence

How do we handle this?

The programme has 2 aspects to it:

The Seven lessons: "Getting Sober"

7 powerful learning modules to do 2 things:

  1. Challenge your emotional relationship with alcohol (and you do have one) to help you want to get alcohol out of your system. I used to use phrases like, "It's an old friend" or "It's like a warm blanket". Well, that old friend cost me a marriage, my physical health, my mental health and over £100,000 over the course of 20 years. Some friend!
  2. Develop a new relationship with a future with alcohol in it's proper place - whatever that looks like to you. This is not only the 'fun' bit, but it is actually where the lasting solution is to be found and the moment you decide to remove alcohol from your system. After all, when you find that your life is better without it, why would you go back?

The 100 day follow up: "Staying sober"

Gentle nudging and reinforcement to keep you on track.

People sometimes say to me, "There is no way you can get sober in a week" and while they aren't technically wrong, they are missing the point completely. My answer to the question, “how long does it take to get sober” is this – you can get sober in an instant. 

You can find that strength within you to make better choices in a blink of an eye. In fact, every morning when you wake up, you are technically 'sober' as you are not drinking and removing alcohol from your system - the key is to make the right choices to stay that way!

It's all about finding the key to unlock that moment.

On the way to the realisation that this has become an issue, there will have been several 'moments' along the way. Basically, bad stuff will have happened - drunk texts, out-of-character behaviour, others putting you to bed, waking up with injuries you can't even remember etc. - we've all been there.

The journey out of addiction also has its 'moments'.

Things like:

  • When you would normally drink, but don't feel like it anymore.
  • You see that stupid 'It's Friday, get drunk' social media post for what it really is.
  • You see someone who is really drunk and actually feel sorry for them.
  • You wake up feeling fresh and clear and feel grateful.
  • A friend you haven't seen for a while, compliments you on how much better you look.
  • You see the sun rise and feel glad to be alive.

I could go on. I get emails every day from people who are rediscovering themselves and their joy of life.

What does success look like?

This is different for everyone, but it is often simply feeling like you are back in control of your life again.

So when will alcohol be out of your system? Once you regain control and learn to function without alcohol.

I often talk about 'fishing money out of the toilet' as by not - literally - p*ssing your money away, you can start to pay off the credit cards, book a family holiday, save for your kids' education, you name it.

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Author of Sober In Seven and wellness and sobriety coach in the UK, here to use my own experience of overcoming alcohol addiction to support you on your journey to a better healthier life.

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