Drinking is a socially accepted coping mechanism. It’s an acceptable way to deal with a breakup, stress at work, or social anxiety.
But maybe you’re starting to find that drinking alcohol is affecting your family or work relationships. Or maybe you’ve reached a point where you realize you don’t actually enjoy drinking.
Are you curious about how to stop drinking alcohol?
Follow this process to cut your drinking habit:
- Identify your goal. Are you striving for complete sobriety or moderation management? Why do you want to stop drinking? Identify your goal and write it down.
- Review your drinking habits. Take a few minutes to think about why you drink in the first place and how often you do it. When you are more aware of when you feel compelled to drink, you can make a plan to prevent yourself from drinking when the triggers come up.
– Why do you drink? What triggers the drinking habit? Maybe you find yourself drinking when out at dinner with friends or as a coping mechanism when you feel stressed.
– How often do you drink? How much do you drink when you do?
- Create a plan. Once you’re aware of your drinking habits, you can start creating a plan to stop drinking – especially during the moments you find yourself drinking the most.
– What will you do instead of drinking when you start craving alcohol? Maybe instead of drinking to relieve stress after work, you can exercise for 30 minutes.
– Who will you call if you need in-person support? Let that person know what your plan is and what kind of support you might need.
– Are there any activities you can do instead of drinking on the weekend? Maybe you can replace Friday nights at the bar with Friday nights playing board games.
- Practice how you will respond when offered a drink. Now that you know what situations in which you are likely to drink, practice how you will respond to others in social drinking situations.
– Find a new drink to enjoy.
– Decide how you will answer when someone asks you why you don’t drink.
– Practice your firm yet polite “no, thank you” if someone suggests you drink just one.
- Find support. Talk to family and friends about your intentions, as well as what you want to accomplish. Find a community (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) that can support and relate to you while you change your drinking habits.
- Reward yourself. Studies show that rewards help train your brain. How can you reward yourself when you choose not to drink? Maybe you can buy yourself chocolate with the money saved from not buying alcohol.
- What’s in it for you? Write it down. Research also shows that when you keep reminding yourself of the benefits that you’ll receive from achieving your goals, the actions you regularly take to achieve them lead to permanent change. Remind yourself about the benefits and enjoy them as you experience them.
– Some benefits include reducing your risk of alcohol-related illness, saving money, more energy in your everyday life, and closer relationships.
- Develop a self-care routine. Get to the point where you’re too busy being productive and healthy that you believe a drink of alcohol would ruin it for you. Start exercising more, reading, and eating healthy! Learn or revisit a hobby. Start finding fun ways to take care of yourself.
- Don’t give up. You’re bound to have periods where avoiding alcohol is harder than usual or you fall back on your old habits. When this happens, look back at the benefits you’ve written down and reach out to a trusted friend for support. Take a deep breath, remember you are human, and try again.
Remember that big change takes time.
Whether you want to quit drinking completely or reduce your drinking, you’re making a big change in your life! The steps you take can dramatically impact your health, relationships, and quality of life for the better.
You’ve got this!