View Full Version : The Abstinence Pledge or ODAT?

February 27th, 2008, 12:08 PM
Obviously we are all different and have to do what 'works' best for us, but I'd be interested to know from those people who have been AF for some time how you approached quitting. What worked best - ODAT or making a strong decision to quit for good?

I'm re-reading Sober for Good (Anne Fletcher) which covers this question.

I can really understand the ODAT approach afterall the toughest part of packing in is accepting the fact that our drinking days are over. But then we are left with the question "How long will I quit for?" and do the cravings stay alive as long as that unconscious question has not been answered??? Interesting eh? At the end of my 30 day goal last year, once I achieved it thats when drinking thoughts started coming back.

Personally, and this IS personally, I feel I need a commitment in front of me, I need discipline and I'm not so sure ODAT gives me that, to me I feel as if I'm saying "I'm not drinking today but I might drink tomorrow" and then I still have drinking thoughts going round my head. Does that make sense?

Would be good to hear your views and what works best for you as I say, especially the longtermers??



February 29th, 2008, 06:07 PM
Neither ODAT or “strong decision to quit for good?” were what made it possible for me to quit drinking. I made a strong decision to quit for good every day; or ODAT. EVERY day. It was always easy to quit, but staying quit was impossible for me. It was not until I decided I was going to do whatever it takes to get free of this albatross that I was able to finally let go.

When I reached that point I surrendered everything I thought I was to the realization that I could no longer continue in my Hell of alcoholism. I started calling Dr. I didn’t even know trying to find someone who would help me. I went for counsel with a Church of Christ preacher I had never heard of because he was the only one who could “see” me. For the first time in my life I started to admit to people how much I was really drinking. I threw myself on the mercy of the system and said, “I give”.

I finally found a Psychiatrist and he gave me some meds to help and started counseling me. I felt like crap but I was determined to do whatever he told me to do, and I did. I surrendered everything to the fact that I was out of control and was on the verge of dying. The first 30 days were hard. I wondered if I would make it. It took the first two months for me to get the Poisson out of my system and start sleeping (resting) and thinking.

By the 3rd month I was starting to feel civil. But of everything I couldn’t remember about drinking; I couldn’t forget the last time I drank and almost died. Anytime a thought about a drinking comes to mind the next thing in there is my last drunk. I never ever want to be in that position again. My life depends on it.

I am sober now 10 months and I don’t have any cravings at all. I go out with my friends and they drink and I could care less. I am a non-drinker. Period. They respect that and no one ever says anything about it. It has come to be accepted that when ordering for themselves, if they order for me, I get the sparkling water with a twist. I don’t like being around a bunch of drunks anymore, but I enjoy friends who drink normal and accept the new me.

If I were trying to pick out a word to describe why I am able to stay sober and my cravings are gone it would be SURRENDER. Quit trying to control something, which is uncontrollable. Become a new person. Drinking is not an option for me. Nothing is more important than my sobriety. NOTHING. Everything in my life I love and cherish would once again be nothing if I were drunk again. If I have to give up my job, my house, my car, even my wife; I must not drink. If I were to start drinking I would lose them all anyway. This sobriety is the kinder gentler way.

God Bless

March 3rd, 2008, 10:49 PM
I do understand what you are saying about being at deaths door renegade. I wish I could have quit when I was still young and had some healthy time left to enjoy the sober life. I believe I had to spend a lot of time learning before I was able to start doing. The thing about this disease is that many people do die. From the alcohol, or from their own hand. The distance between someone who realizes they have a problem drinking and cannot stop; and someone who believes this life is not worth living, is not as far as you might think.

I wish you well


March 4th, 2008, 04:40 AM
Thank you so much for your thought provoking responses. Bear, your last paragraph hit the nail on the head for me.....that is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you all.... Janicexxx

March 4th, 2008, 07:36 AM
I feel I'd like to respond even though I don't have very much sobriety yet. I feel that (after 33 days AF), I'm starting to send myself the message that I am a non-drinker. I don't want to give myself the option of drinking. Maybe ODAT was for me when I was in the white-knuckle stage. But now that I've gotten alcohol out of my system, I'm thinking about a future wo/it. I too try to remember my worst moments when any kind of a trigger or urge strikes. Mary

March 4th, 2008, 07:44 AM
I haven't really thought about my status. Non drinker, recovering alcoholic, just not drinking today, disease, brain malfunction...hmmmm food for thought. Not drinking just for today has worked for me so far..It has beat me, I surrendered, and just going day to day. I never want to forget my worst moment (s) though, cause I know that is one place I never want to be again!!!

March 7th, 2008, 08:16 PM
Hi Janice
I think for me, I used both. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to quit drinking & never have another drink, but to do that, I could only approach that goal ODAT. Sometimes I even have to take it hour by hour! :H
But as the days started to accumulate into months, I can now see my long term goals as becoming reality. I've been quit for a little over 7 months now... when I passed the 6 month mark, my sobriety seemed to settle in, and I have become more comfortable with myself & situations. I'm hoping that as time goes on it gets even better & that living sober will be how I want to live & will enjoy life fully as a non-drinker.

March 7th, 2008, 09:55 PM
Janice, wow this thread really is some food for thought.

When I came here a few short months ago, I was a mess. I thought I would never find a way to help me quit drinking. For years I told people that I wasn't an alcoholic, but I was a beeraholic. I still have hard liqour in my closet that literally is years old because I never would just drink anything. I guess in that respect I'm lucky.

I'm actually very lucky compared to some of the people here. As bad and as much as I drank, at least it was just beer. And for that I think it was easier for me to quit because when I had a bad craving in the beginning, I would just drink 1 or 2 non-alcohol beers. For some people, the NA beer doesn't help, but it really got me through. Some people have their Topa and Camp, I had my NA beer instead. But I no longer even need that as a crutch. I have had only 1 and half of those in the past 11 days.

When I came here, I knew I needed to cut back on my drinking at home. I could go out to lunch or dinner and have 1 or 2 and go home and be done. But when at home, and surrounded by 4 other heavy drinkers, I always wanted a beer too. Just beer, but 1 easily turned in 10-15 by nights end.

So when I started I was advised here to try and get at least 30 days AF before I tried to mod. I figured I was here for advise, so I better do as they say. At the end of my 30 I was still unsure if I would mod yet. I was just too scared to try. During the next 30 day stint, I continued to research as much as I could on what alcohol does to the brain and body over the years. I slowly came to the conclusion that I never want that poisen in my body again. NEVER. Will I ever slip? God knows, but I hope not. I've just come to the conclusion that for all the bad it causes, is one or two drinks really gonna make me feel like a responsible adult? Probably not. My heart aches for so many here who state they hope they can get to the point of having just 1 or 2 then stop. I think to myself, why are you hoping you get to the point were you can start "responsibly poisoning" your body again? I think one of the tricks to quitting is to educate one's self on what they really are doing to their bodies. Some people just don't want to know, but I tell you it will scare you straight. The good news is it's all reversible (if you quit).

I know this long post probably does not answer your question. But I know that when I came to the conclusion that I was too scared to mod and AF was for me, all it took was another day or two to set my mind to AF and the cravings stopped. The obsessing of alcohol stopped. I may have started out one day at a time to get to that first 30, but it is the ABs pledge that keeps me sober. I hope that helps.

Love, Me

March 7th, 2008, 10:16 PM
hi there.. for me the saying ODAT alpies to all of the way that iam doing .because yes i still have craving for al but some what got a handle on it and for me there is no mod because one will lead to 23456789 and so on.to the point living with this al problemis a daily thing.and thinking before and when the craving comes .reading way more then i have to. to learn the best way out for me PS BELIEVING IN THE SPIRIT OF GOD HELPS

March 7th, 2008, 10:56 PM
Thank you Janice, for this thread.
And THANK YOU Bear, for your reply. I'm yet again facing the seriousness of my drinking. I've cut back to less than half my past quantity, but have just realized it is still too much. And reading what you've written is a tremendous inspiration and help. Yes, I must change who I am. Not be a drinker who has decided to not drink - I need to be a non-drinker. Plain and simple.

And Janice, for me, ODAT for me gave me an excuse to say "Well, I didn't say it would be forever" and come Saturday night I guzzle the wine. Though I do see it as a way to get through the singular days (especially the difficult ones) within the framework of "forever."

Thanks again for the thread. I'm determined to be AF this weekend. I am going to make a commitment to myself, and this conversation is very helpful.

March 11th, 2008, 03:15 PM
Hi Everyone: I think I want to wade in on this one again. I think ODAT applies to the daily struggle of just not drinking for today. In my mind though, I have to know that I won't be drinking any more, so ODAT is the daily footwork. It's what I have to do every day. I'm not sure if that makes sense or not.


March 13th, 2008, 09:00 AM
Hi janice,

just catching up on reading...
glad you open this thread janice...
still learning....
Tkeene.... your right i do feel lucky to have read this thread.

Thanks Love


March 15th, 2008, 07:43 PM
Wow - Janice this is an awesome thread - thanks so much for starting it.

I really appreciate each and every response. Thank you bear, renegade, Fallen, Thankful, Mary, T, MOW, Charlie and Teardrop.

One thing is clear for me - this is a mind game that has a common theme with some variations. It's great to have this community to gather up all the good ideas and have lots to try.

One thing I know from my falls in the last 6 months - I can NOT entertain thoughts of Mods or Just One or any of that. That fantasy won't fly here.

Janice, I have Sober for Good but had never read it. I pulled it out a couple days ago, but haven't gotten very far. Have you finished it yet? Just wondering if you think it's worth the read!


March 16th, 2008, 10:50 AM
Doggygirl, to be honest I read it all the way through when I was AF May last year....now I keep dipping in and out of it for motivation...it's sort of become my bible!!!!

March 16th, 2008, 11:47 AM
Janice;292114 wrote: Doggygirl, to be honest I read it all the way through when I was AF May last year....now I keep dipping in and out of it for motivation...it's sort of become my bible!!!!

Thanks for the feedback! It just made the top of my reading pile.


March 22nd, 2008, 06:18 PM

Great post. It gave me a lot to think about. Ditto for the replies. I was not at the door of death but if you know you cannot control you drinking...you will be knocking one day. I am
:new: and what keeps me from drinking is the fact that the hangover last a lot longer than the buzz.


March 22nd, 2008, 06:23 PM
Bear, thank you, thank you, thank you for that post. I don't have words right now...


March 23rd, 2008, 02:42 AM
This is a good thread Janice. It am glad to see someone get something out of what I have learned from experience. In acutallity, I really do live ODAT, but what I have learned about ODAT is not to worry about the future, and don't hold regrets about your past. Today is all we have and we might as well live it like it is our last day. I believe in the saying "yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come." I know we have to take care of our responsibiities...pay bills, buy groceries, etc. But we can be thankful for the day God has given us, and live "today" as if it is our last day. Live, love, and dance; life is a blessing and was ment to be lived to the fullest every day. living life on life's terms isn't easy, but it is simple.

I do love you all, and wish you all the best.

April 1st, 2008, 02:10 PM
This is a great thread. I can relate to what many of you have said. MOW, like you, when I first came here, I played with the idea of MODing....I made up a bunch of rules for myself. Only drink when out to dinner. No "Red Wine", something in that makes me crazy! No more than two drinks per day, with one day off every two days.............Each rule worked, but, only for a short time! Then I decided to do the 30 days AF and go from there! My first try at 30, ended up with drinking a bottle of wine on day 28. I began again the next day........Like, Bear, I am now a non-drinker, for nearly 90 days! I do not count days, there is only one rule......I do not drink!

I am so grateful and happy to be a non-drinker!!!!

Thank you All!

April 1st, 2008, 03:42 PM
I can relate Kate...this time round has been so much easier simply because I have accepted abstinence. Janicexxx

May 4th, 2008, 09:52 AM

I hope that I'm not resurrecting a dead thread - it's just I don't get that much time to read & there is so much on MWO. Hubby already think's I'm loopy, so I try to keep things short.

Everything said on this thread hits home one way or another. The lack of self value and self esteem when AL is there for me is a very scary part!!

For me ODAT took me from the end of March thro to now. Some mornings I knew before I opened my eyes that it wouldn't work, but that was only 8 days out of 40.

ODAT is also helping me live in the present, experiencing NOW. With AL, there was never a NOW!!!

I am here for the long haul!!!!!

Daily Goal - Today
Monthly Goal - May
Seasonal Goal - Winter (that'll be 3 months)

So far that's it. I will go further, but the non-drinker forever thing is still daunting. I know cognitively it's poison etc and for me 1 will lead to *******. I am wanting to be in a position when someone says "Do you fancy a drink?" I can honestly say something like "Yes - A coke (water, whatever) please" because that's what I truly want and not because it's 2nd choice. :)

Do you know what I mean!?!

Take care

May 22nd, 2008, 10:49 PM

I don't know if this will be read or not (which doesn't really matter that much), but I reread this entire thread. It felt kind of sad seeing MDBikers posts, but there was so much feeling in them. Since I shared earlier in this thread, I've been in a relapse struggle w/myself. I've only been AF since 5/16/08, & that gives me a real perspective on how much of a hold alcoholism has on me. For now, I have to stick to the daily struggle of not picking up a drink. I can count days & hope for a sober life. However, I know how vulnerable I am. Thank God, I stayed sober today. My plan is to stay sober tomorrow. Love, Mary

May 23rd, 2008, 12:51 AM
Mary thanks for reviving this thread as I missed it first time around. I had a lapse a few weeks back myself and reading this thread has really brought home to me how I need to live in the day and the moment and not get caught up in analyzing 'life'. I need to live the bloody damn thing and leave the rest to something that is beyond my control.

Just don't pick up that first drink TODAY Mary. Tomorrow is another day and deal with that when it comes.

Love and Happiness

May 23rd, 2008, 09:58 PM
Somehow I missed this thread the first time around also. I'm so happy I have found it.

First of all, I am so struck by Bear's beautiful words. Oh Lord how I miss that wonderful man. I'm sorry. I just had to say that.

I don't know what I can add to all the great stuff that has been said already. I know for me it has been sort of a combination of the long term commitment and ODAT. I was kind of where Bear was - I was physically very ill from drinking, was about to lose my job and probably my family - all the really bad stuff - and I had to stop right away or lose everything. And I was a really big time 24/7 drinker. So it had to be ODAT for quite a while because it was just so damn hard. I sort of knew it had to be long term, but all I could possibly focus on was one day - make that one hour at a time. Gradually the time scale began to widen. I thought less in terms of hours and more in terms of days. Then in weeks. The cravings were there but I learned to live with them. At the same time I began to accept my long term abstinence more and more. The whole thing was a gradual process of transition ffom short term goals to longer term goals. And the cravings began to diminish.

It is still dynamic and the equilibrium can move back and forth. I still struggle at times and become more ODAT. Or I may have a very good period and think in strictly "rest of my life" terms. It varies.

I think it is always some sort of combination of the two if you want to be successful long term.

Whatever. Just my two cents.

September 19th, 2008, 04:45 PM
bringing this thread back to page one because every single post is worth reading ... i am at 17 months in few days but ever aware that the craving i cope with today may 'get me' tomorrow.... It never hurts to read and re-read, get support and give support

A Work in Progress
September 19th, 2008, 05:00 PM
Thanks, Heavenly. Great thread! I don't spend a lot of time thinking specifically about ODAT, but I work quite a lot at keeping my attentional focus on the here and now (mindfulness). I have decided that I am a non-drinker. Period. And I use that very simple statement to myself, when urges/impulses/wishes/cravings arrive. "I don't drink." Then I take a deep breath, and shift my attention to something else that is happening right now... I look at the sky, or I attend to all the sounds my ears can detect, or I focus on the sensations in my feet, or the sensations of breathing... whatever. It brings me back to reality, and away from/out of fantasy and delusion and the crazy stories and bullshit my mind makes up to throw at me.


September 24th, 2008, 01:04 PM
Thanks WIP and everyone else including our dearly loved Bear. When I re-read my posts from earlier this year and how committed I was to my abstinence I can't believe I tried to moderate in June. What was I thinking of? I'm going to go back over this thread several times to re-read every bit of valuable advice as I finish day 3.


September 24th, 2008, 01:22 PM
Janice, your last reply has made me finally accept I am an abstainer...just hope I can stick to it... no need fooling myself is there ?




October 12th, 2008, 07:39 PM
I love the combo approach: ODAT when I'm really needing that mindset...Abs for life as the long-term goal. This is such a great thread. When I have more time, I'm going to read it all the way through.


October 12th, 2008, 08:13 PM
A bit spooky and sad to read some of Bear's posts. He was around when I joined MWO so long ago. He sure had a lot of important things to say.

October 13th, 2008, 05:31 AM
retteacher;439422 wrote: I love the combo approach: ODAT when I'm really needing that mindset...Abs for life as the long-term goal.

I was going to write a bit how I was feeling and how I was doing but I think Mary says it quite succinctly... I use ODAT when shaky (now !!!) and abstinence as my long term objective.

Funnily enough, I started on ODAT (well 30 days actually...) but as it was fairly easy to stop drinking I changed it to long term abstinence...how my words have come back to bite me... and I am trying to reflect more (not my forte) and thinking back I was so self-assured and I thought if it is so easy to quit what's all the fuss about ?? LOL

Oh how I am dressing my wounds now...for me it is staying OFF the alcohol that is giving me a good shake .... my wake up call ?? I don't know ... but I would advise that in preparation for these times I was lucky enough to have gathered around me the physical, chemical, herbal, and the two most precious of all spiritual & human resources, to help me cope with such times when I could fall into that glass of cider .... :cool:

I am fortunate.

That's why my signature says thanks... I sometimes forget, so there it is as a reminder for now.
None of us should be scared to pm or email another for support if we need it, and as it is shown on here there are plenty of people with similar backgrounds, social life or education etc that you will find someone to get support off or give support to ....

Good luck in your own journey to sobriety,


October 13th, 2008, 05:47 AM
I've not read all the threads, but personally for me when trying to be AF - setting myself a target date is most helpful. I've tried ODAT and I just think 'Will I or won't I?' all day long and end up drinking anyway.

October 13th, 2008, 06:33 AM
hi janice,good question,drink or not to drink,ive found tht it is not so easy for some,im gonna abstain tomorrow,cause thts what i want,truthfully i have not a clue how i do it,just stop,but cant stay stopped,it is like many, a never ending battle,but i do after finding this site, there is hope,tallking about it,hope i helped gyco

October 13th, 2008, 06:33 AM
oppppppppppppps want to join uss hahha

October 14th, 2008, 01:50 PM
ODAT & Complete Abstinence - combined approach

Hi All,


I'm new. My story is much the same as alot of others - 1 bottle to 2 bottles of wine a night for the past 6-8 years on and off - I know my health is failing so this is crunch time for me. I cant just have one drink.

This is a great thread for everyone to read because I feel that any discussion that helps to change one's mindset on what alcohol does to you and what you think it does for you is a good place to start.

I think Im with those who see the plan of action as being a combination of ODAT and complete abstinence forever. I think being mindful of today rather than thinking to tomorrow or even to yesterday takes some doing but it has helped me to overcome anxiety issues and to help keep problems on a smaller scale, so I think Im going to try this approach as a starting point...cant say I'm not gonna drink today because I already have ...but tomorrow morning I can start the plan of action ODAT...all we can do is try and to keep trying is so much better than not.

Coming on to this forum tonight has given me food for thought...so thank you all for posts and just for being out there!

Best wishes to everyone.

October 14th, 2008, 06:32 PM
Jellybelly: Welcome! This is a great thread, & there are others too. The daily thread on 30 day abs is also very good. I try to check in there every day (ODAT). I've been w/MWO since Apr. 07 & have had my ups & downs. That said: I've had more success here than I had in the previous several years. It took me a whole year to admit that I cannot drink like a normal person. Once I start, I cannot stop. Please keep coming & sharing. Mary

October 14th, 2009, 04:58 AM
:)just reading through this thread,great advice and reading :) personally for me it was abstinence as i was swimming in the murky river of alcohol, but still heading for the bottom. great to be here :thanks:

October 14th, 2009, 05:43 PM
What a great thread this is! Such good advice and lots of wisdom here.

I use a 3 prong approach to staying AF. My main goal, since first starting here, has always been total abstinence. I use the ODAT approach to get through the rough spots in a day. But neither one of these would have done me any good without the support I've found here at MWO.

October 14th, 2009, 06:09 PM
Interesting posts....For me, the first few months of sobriety were definitely ODAT. No will I or won't I and leaving No Room for AL in my life. I can remember thinking.....I just have to get past the next 15 minutes, the next 30, finally the urge to drink would pass. Many, many nights I went to bed extra early in order to escape the urge to go and buy alcohol. Gradually over time, the days of just not thinking about alcohol began to become the norm for me. These days, for the most part, alcohol and thoughts of drinking are rarely present. But, if a drinking thought arrises, I quickly get busy and think of other things or go for a walk........these thoughts pass more quickly this long into sobriety.

With all this being said. I am still, ever aware, that just one drink could lead me back to the dark path that I used to be on!