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“How can I build back my confidence without using props like alcohol?”

Cancer nurse Beth says...

Think about what’s worked well in the past – starting again from zero. Take a date night. A lot of people do use alcohol, as it takes away inhibitions and allows some people access to behaviour they might not do in sober circumstances. If you do decide to drink, make sure that watch your alcohol intake (be the same level of drunk as your partner, and watch for excessive drinking). If it’s a fairly newish sexual relationship – make sure to get your boundaries clear beforehand. It’s ok to have a drink to ‘loosen’ up but an overreliance can become a problem sometimes. Be gentle with yourself.

Sex toy expert Renee says...

Genuine confidence comes from within. Spending time around people who genuinely care for you and want the best for you is a great way to boost your confidence, so ditch any fake friends and set about making new, lovely ones.

Start small and build as you go. You could try joining a group with like-minded people (if you have a hobby), or practise chatting to the staff in your local shop. Find the best version of yourself; treat yourself to a new haircut or a new outfit that makes you feel great. Accept compliments with a ‘thank you’ and a smile, rather than shrinking away. Straighten your shoulders, lift your head and go get your fabulous future!

Patient advocate Maria says...

Find new interests and hobbies. If you were used to hanging around certain people that encourage those aspects of you which you’re trying to avoid, try limiting seeing or speaking to them all the time, to curb the temptation of those unwanted behaviour.

It is ok to go to local support groups – there are also a tons of support groups online, and you won’t even need to leave your house. In either groups online or in person, you can share – in confidence – your thoughts and feelings regarding the reasons behind why you feel like you need these props.

On the other hand, being open to joining these support groups, perhaps like a running/ walking club can help you get out of the house, keeping you active and taking your mind off maybe drinking or using drugs as a prop.