You have decided you want to stop drinking, good, that is the first step. Like any successful project, stopping alcohol use requires some thought and planning. Consider this project as you would any other and follow these stop drinking tips.
How to Stop Drinking:
1. Develop a plan of action. Look at the reasons why, when, where and with whom you usually drink. You will need a strategy to address each of these. If you usually grab a drink after work to unwind, brainstorm other ways to de-stress after work. Come up with several things you can do in the evening that will both help you unwind and avoid the temptation to grab a cold one.
For example, if playing golf always involves drinking, you might want to avoid the golf course for a while. Find another activity that doesn’t place you at risk of drinking. Do you have certain friends that you drink with routinely? You might want to tell them what you are doing and ask for their support or only see them when they are not drinking.
2. Enlist the help of others. Everyone needs support. Find a few people who can offer support when things get tough or you are having a particularly bad day. Those are the times your plan is most at risk. Chances are that now you usually turn to the people you drink with when you need someone to talk to or something to do during stressful times. Replace these people with those who don’t drink.
It is important to remember that if you keep doing what you have always done, you will get the same results. Include your doctor as part of your support team, and consider seeing a counselor or going to a support group for help.
3. Boost your physical and psychological health. Alcohol takes a toll on your body and brain. The first few weeks of sober living may be difficult physically and emotionally, depending on how much alcohol you generally use and how long you have been drinking. Get a physical and tell your doctor that you plan to stop drinking. S/he may offer other tips for giving up alcohol. In some cases, your doctor may provide medication to make the process easier and safer.
Many who drink alcohol are deficient in important vitamins and minerals (often leading to cravings). Talk to a nutritionist about your diet and drinking history for recommendations. If your diet is unhealthy, a nutritionist can also help you find simple dietary changes to support your goal to stop drinking within the next month.
4. Make a list of reasons you want to stop drinking. It helps to have concrete reminders of why you want to stop drinking. Make a list of why you want to stop and what your life will look like when you are not drinking. Instead of focusing only on negative things that have happened because of your drinking, consider how things will be better when you are not drinking.
- “I will be more involved with my children and be a better parent.”
- “I will be a better husband/wife/partner and have stronger relationships.”
- “I will return to school and finish my degree.”
- “As my health improves, I will feel/sleep/think better.”
- “I will do a better job at work and have more opportunities for advancement.”
5. Don’t make too many changes at one time. Many who have been drinking for a long time have given up on their hopes and dreams. While having hopes and dreams is important to good mental health and may help you stay the course of sobriety, taking on too many changes at once can lead to being overwhelmed and eventual failure. If you want to go back to college, plan to do so in six months – not six weeks. Give yourself time to recover physically and psychologically before you add many new stressors.
As you begin to feel better and have more energy, you may want to take on new things. Many who drink have difficulty with moderation in other areas of life, and most are not good at delayed gratification. Waiting to pursue long-term goals may be difficult, but you can take on some short-term goals in the interim. If you really think now is the time to go for one of your goals, try baby steps. Instead of enrolling full time at the local college, take one class. Rather than training for a marathon the first month, consider starting with a 5-mile ride/run/walk for the first event and work up to the marathon.
Many who stop drinking find themselves with lots of surplus energy, both mentally and physically. Alcohol may have been how you managed to contain or suppress all that energy. Find healthy outlets such as hobbies and projects to keep you busy and focus your interests. Try to avoid doing anything just for the sake of numbing out. Talk to your doctor or counselor about this, as you may have some underlying anxiety or other issues that lead you to drink initially. Some reports indicate over 20% of alcoholics have an anxiety disorder.
Thinking about giving up alcohol?
You have likely come to the decision to stop drinking within the next month for a variety of reasons. These tips will help you succeed. If you need some help giving up alcohol, you may want to join other former problem drinkers from around the world who have used the Give Up Alcohol Course to get free of their alcohol issues once and for all.