How Having a Sober Playlist Helps Me Kill Cravings

It’s a low-effort, high-impact trick I use whenever I want to drink

Picture it: it’s 7 p.m. — you’ve been sober for a few days, weeks, months and you feel like you definitely 200% have a handle on it this time. You can have, no deserve to treat yourself to a cocktail, beer, glass of wine, or two. Or ten. You’re quietly and ashamedly worried that you might fail at moderating — like you have done so many times before. Take a beat, close your eyes, make a conscious effort to feel present in your body, and attempt to quiet the noise.

Listening to music can (and in my personal experience, will) reduce stress levels and encourage the relaxation response.

I have always made playlists centered on a particular song, months/times of the year/holidays, new relationships, breakups, losses, for studying, for dates, for game nights… so why not have one for when I need to remember why I got sober in the first place — and why I want to stay that way?

It’s easy to look back on drunken nights and romanticize the good parts… but as with any breakup, it’s critical to recall an old partner’s negative and toxic traits.

For me, when the anxiety sets in and I hear my intrusive thoughts loudly making excuses and attempting to convince me that “it will be different this time” — it helps me to listen to someone else.

The Avett Brothers

This has always been #1 for me when I want to imbibe. Other than “saying things I don't want to say and doing things I don’t want to do,” the emphasis on the next day’s hangover is a good reminder. We only have so many days and when they are wasted, in pain on the couch, vomiting, or unable to eat it upsets me to think about how I treated my body. For a temporary escape, I would sacrifice a day.

And as they say, “Maybe I don’t have to be good but I can try to be at least a little better than I’ve been so far.” Baby steps. The effort alone is worth celebrating.

But when I drink
I spend the next morning in a haze
But we only get so many days
Now I have one less
Just do your best

Phoebe Bridgers

Bridgers has been vocal about her father’s alcoholism and even named Al-Anon as inspiration for her latest album, Punisher. While her songs aren’t about her struggling with addiction or sobriety, I also grew up with an alcoholic parent — and it’s nice to hear grappling with that in a song.

With Scott Street, I remember shower beers. I remember how so much of my life centered on acquiring booze and planning my whole day around it. Kyoto is about a strained relationship with a parent claiming to have gotten sober — and while I, personally, don’t have any children… I don’t want my friends to think of me that way. I don't want them to always half-wait for me to fuck shit up again and fail. I want to stay sober for myself, but also for those that love me.

Walking Scott Street, feeling like a stranger
With an open heart, open container
I’ve got a stack of mail and a tall can
It’s a shower beer it’s a payment plan

&

They still got payphones
It cost a dollar a minute
To tell me you’re getting sober
And you wrote me a letter
But I don’t have to read it

Liza Anne

Bitch Media published an amazing article in July of this year on how Liza Anne found community in vulnerability on her latest release, Bad Vacation. She both has gone through Adult Children of Alcoholic meetings and begun her own journey with sobriety early this year, celebrating 100 days in February.

This is a similar journey to my own and her voice and experiences feel so familiar. Not listed below is the line “I think I’ve kissed too many of my friends to make a sober decision” and …. yeah, same. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

With I Shouldn’t Ghost My Therapist, I remember how I was really a half-friend to those around me. I had my own issues to figure out and imbibed to avoid that. With Desire the lyric “It always starts with good intentions” hits me right in the gut every time.

And now I’ve hurt the ones I care about
Because I don’t know how to stop

I can’t keep going on like this
Gonna run away all my friends

&

Desire feels like too much tequila
And I’ve had plenty
There’s a part of me that knows when party leads
Maybe I should just go home

It always starts with
Good intentions
I think I want it
Oh no I really want it
Oh god I really need to calm down

Santino Fontana/Crazy Ex Girlfriend

Greg’s sobriety journey is amazing and hilarious. One of the many Crazy Ex-Girlfriend musical numbers to magnify and destigmatize mental health is Greg’s “Drinking Song.” Whenever I’m feeling a bit blue about not drinking alcohol, this song always makes me smile.

While some can enjoy
A scotch with a steak
Or one glass of wine
Then they’re barely awake
For me it’s much different
What happens when
I try to have one, it just turns into ten

Another playlist that has been helping me lately:

I am rooting for you! Whether you are just taking a break or want to quit for good, you are stronger than you think you are.

If you have a song you love about sobriety or struggles with substance abuse, please leave it in the comments.

Writer (she/her) of the foodish, bookish, & feminist. Author of Bright Blue (poetry) Dancing Girl Press / Website: www.aliciabanaszewski.com / Twitter: @b___ski

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store