How to Give Up Alcohol or Cut Down
Do you want to lay off on the drinking, but not sure of how to give up alcohol?
If your answer is “yes”, there’s some good news for you.
Research has found that there are actually quite a few things that you can do in order to make the whole process a little bit easier. Whether you’re planning on quitting altogether, or think that you could just cut back to drinking in moderation, the suggestions below can go a long way toward helping you to meet your goal.
First of all, if you’re on the fence whether you should either cut back or stop your drinking completely, here’s something to consider:
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There’s a few factors that can serve as fairly reliable predictors of whether or not a person will be able to successfully go from heavy to moderate drinking. The best candidates for switching to a reduction in alcohol intake are generally those who:
- Have been moderate drinkers in the past
- Are under the age of 40
- Are female
- Do not have a history of alcoholism in their family
- Have had a drinking problem for less than a decade
- Are not facing other major problems in their life
- Are not experiencing withdrawal symptoms and have not had them in the past
Regardless of which direction you decide to go, these 5 tips on how to give up alcohol will offer you somewhere to start:
1. Tell People That You’re Quitting
If you let the people in your life in on the fact that you are quitting alcohol and tell them why you are making this decision, you’ll often find that you have managed to create a very effective support system that can help you through the process. They’ll be better able to understand why you aren’t drinking with them, and they’ll also be much less likely to inadvertently undermine your efforts by offering you booze. Another benefit to sharing your goal to stop drinking with your family and friends is that the people around you can take part in your recovery and will be prepared to offer you congratulations or help when it’s necessary or appropriate.
2. Avoid Temptation
You’ll want to find ways to remove yourself from the places where you have been drinking heavily or from situations where it would be exceptionally easy to have a drink, at least early on. That might mean that you’ll need to quit joining your co-workers for cocktails after work for awhile, or that you should avoid going to a social event where you know that there will be heavy drinking. If you find that you can be around others who are drinking without joining in, you could offer to serve as your group’s designated driver for the evening. This will give you the responsibility of ensuring that everyone else gets home safely.
3. Reward Your Progress
For anyone who has looked into how to give up alcohol, this is one of the easiest and most fun ways to keep your efforts on track. The first thing to do is to give yourself a short-term goal and come up with a reward for when you meet it. This could mean that your first goal is not to drink for a full week. Once you get to the end of the week, make it a point to treat yourself to the reward that you decided on earlier, whether it’s binge-watching your favorite TV show or a trip to that café that you love. After that, try moving on to a month without drinking and increasing the reward to a new outfit or dinner at your favorite restaurant.
4. Identify Triggers
Triggers could refer to people, places or situations that set your mind to drinking. Really think about what the triggers for your drinking are. There are both internal and external triggers that could cause a person to want to drink alcohol and they may take awhile to identify.
Internal triggers can be especially tricky. After all, they may be something fairly obvious, like loneliness or anger, but a trigger could also be something a bit more difficult to identify or predict. In fact, one of the most common internal relapse triggers for alcoholics who have recently stopped drinking may surprise you. It’s often referred to as “pink cloud syndrome” among those in recovery, due to the fact that the person will become so over-confident of their ability to manage their sobriety that they decide to have a drink.
There are also external triggers that can make a person feel the urge to drink, and these can range from a specific time of day to a certain sight, smell or taste. Smoking cigarettes is a common external trigger and being around those who you have habitually had alcohol with is another very powerful one.
The best thing to do is to try to track your urges for alcohol for the first few weeks after you quit. Once you identify the most obvious triggers, you’ll be more able to avoid them when possible and to resist them when it’s not. More triggers will likely present themselves over the course of your recovery, but being aware that that might happen will make it easier for you to spot them when they do.
5. Find Something Better to Do
Start exercising, take up knitting, join a book club or volunteer at the local animal shelter. You’ll find that when you quit drinking, you’ll suddenly have more time (and money!) then you did before. While the money is great, the extra time on your hands could be a drag if you don’t have anything else going on. Boredom can also be a pretty effective trigger for a lot of people. That’s why it’s important to have something else to do, and it needs to be something that you really do enjoy.
Trying to figure out how to give up alcohol can certainly feel overwhelming, but if you know these things ahead of time, you’re already one step ahead of the game.
Read my own battle, how I overcame it, and suggested resources.