Are you ready to quit drinking or cut down to the healthier levels? These tips can help you get started on road to recovery.
How do I stop drinking?
Most people with the alcohol problems do not decide to make a big change out of blue or transform their drinking habits overnight. Recovery is usually more gradual process. In the early stages of the change, denial is huge obstacle. Even after admitting you have drinking problem, you may make excuses and drag your feet. It’s important to acknowledge your ambivalence about stopping the drinking. If you’re not sure if you’re ready to change or you’re struggling with decision, it can help to think about costs and benefits of each choice.
Evaluating costs and benefits of drinking
Make a table like one below, weighing costs and benefits of drinking to costs and benefits of quitting.
Is Drinking Worth The Cost?
Benefits Of Drinking
It helps me forget about the problems.
I have fun when I drink.
It’s my way of the relaxing and unwinding after stressful day.
Benefits of NOT drinking
My relationships would probably improve more.
I’d feel better mentally and physically too.
I’d have more time and the energy for the people and activities I care about.
Costs of Drinking
It has caused the problems in my relationships.
I feel very much depressed, anxious, and ashamed of myself.
It gets in way of my job performance and family responsibilities.
Costs of NOT Drinking
I’d have to find another way to deal with the problems.
I’d lose drinking buddies.
I would have to face responsibilities I’ve been ignoring.
Set Goals And Prepare For Change
Once you’ve made decision to change, the next step is establishing clear the drinking goals. The more specific, realistic, and clear the goals, the better.
Do you want to stop the drinking altogether or just cut back? If the goal is to reduce your drinking, decide which the days you will drink the alcohol and how many drinks you will allow yourself per day.
When do you want to stop the drinking or start the drinking less? Tomorrow? In week? Next month? Within six months? If you’re trying to stop drinking, set specific quit date.
How To Accomplish Your Goals
After you’ve set the goals to either stop or cut back your drinking, write down some ideas on how you can help yourself accomplish the goals.
Get rid of the temptations. Remove all the alcohol, barware, and other alcohol-related paraphernalia from home and office.
Announce your goal. Let the friends, family members, and co-workers know that you’re trying to stop or cut back on the drinking.
Be upfront about new limits. Make it clear that the drinking will not be allowed in your home and that you may not be able to attend the events where alcohol is being served.
Avoid bad influences. Distance yourself from the people who don’t support your efforts to stop the drinking or respect the limits you’ve set. This may mean giving up certain friends and the social connections.
Learn from the past. Reflect on the previous attempts to stop or reduce your drinking. What worked? What didn’t? What can you do differently this time to avoid the pitfalls?
Cutting back vs. quitting alcohol altogether
Whether or not you can successfully cut back on your drinking depends on severity of your drinking problem. If you’re an alcoholic which, by definition, means you aren’t able to control the drinking—it’s best to try to stop the drinking entirely. But if you’re not ready to take that step, or if you don’t have alcohol abuse problem but want to cut back for the personal or health reasons, the following tips can help:
Set a drinking goal.
Choose limit for how much you will drink. Make sure your limit is not more than one drink a day if you’re woman, or two drinks day if you’re a man and try to schedule some alcohol-free days each week. Now write your drinking goal on the piece of paper. Put it where you can see it, such as on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror.
Keep a “the diary” of your drinking. For example, write it down every time you have the drink during the week. You may be surprised very much how your habits are.
Watch it at home. Try to limit or remove the alcohol from your home. It’s much easier to avoid drinking if you don’t keep the temptations around.
When you drink, sip your the drink slowly. Take a break of 30 minutes or one hour between the drinks—or drink soda, water, or juice after each of the alcoholic drink. Drinking on an empty stomach is never good idea, so make sure you eat the food when you drink.
Take breaks from alcohol. try to stop the drinking for one week. Think about how you feel about how physically and emotionally on these days you have become. When you succeed and feel better, you may find it easier to cut it down for good.
Alcohol addiction treatment options
Some people are able to stop the drinking on their own or with the help of 12-step program or other support group, while others need the medical supervision in order to withdraw from the alcohol safely and comfortably. Which option is best for you depends on how much you’ve been drinking in past, how long you’ve had the problem, the stability of your living situation, and other health issues you may have.
Alcohol treatment programs
Residential treatment involves living at treatment facility while undergoing the intensive treatment during day. Residential treatment normally lasts from 30-90 days.
Partial hospitalization is for the people who require ongoing medical monitoring but have stable living situation. These treatment programs usually meet at hospital for 3-5 days a week, 4-6 hours per day.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) focus on relapse prevention and can often be scheduled around the work or school.
Therapy (Individual, Group, or Family) can help you identify root causes of your alcohol use, repair the relationships, and learn healthier coping skills.
Tips for finding the best addiction treatment
There’s no magic bullet or the single treatment that works for everyone. Everyone’s needs are very different, so it’s important that you find program that feels right to you.
Treatment doesn’t have to be limited to the doctors and psychologists. Many clergy members, the social workers, and counselors also offer addiction treatment services.
Treatment should address more than just alcohol abuse. Treatment success depends on examining way alcohol abuse has impacted you and developing the new way of living.
Commitment and the follow-through are key. Recovering from the alcohol addiction or heavy drinking is not quick and easy process. In general, longer and more intense alcohol use, the longer and more the intense the treatment you’ll need. But regardless of treatment program’s length in the weeks or months, long-term follow-up care is crucial to your recovery.
Get treatment for other medical or the mental health issues. People often abuse alcohol to ease symptoms of an undiagnosed mental health problem, such as the depression or anxiety. As you seek help for the alcohol addiction, it’s also important to get the treatment for any other psychological issues you’re experiencing. Your best chance of the recovery is by getting combined mental health and the addiction treatment from same treatment provider or team.
Withdrawing from alcohol safely
The symptoms of the alcohol withdrawal range from the mild to severe, and include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Stomach cramps and diarrhea
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually start within the hours after you stop the drinking, peak in a day or two, and improve within the five days. But in some alcoholics, withdrawal is not just unpleasant it can be life threatening.
Seek the emergency medical help if you experience any of following withdrawal symptoms:
- confusion and disorientation
- extreme agitation
- seizures or convulsions
The symptoms listed above may be sign of a severe form of the alcohol withdrawal called the delirium tremens, or DTs. This rare, the emergency condition causes the dangerous changes in the way your brain regulates your circulation and breathing, so it’s important to get to hospital right away.
Whether you choose to tackle the alcohol addiction by going to rehab, getting the therapy, or taking self-directed treatment approach, support is essential. Don’t try to go it alone. Recovering from the alcohol addiction or abuse is much easier when you have the people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance.
Support can come from the family members, friends, counselors, other the recovering alcoholics, your healthcare providers, and people from faith community.
Lean on the close friends and family – Having support of the friends and family members is invaluable asset in recovery. If you’re reluctant to turn to loved ones because you’ve let them down before, consider going to the couples counseling or the family therapy.
Build a sober social network – If your previous social life revolved around the alcohol, you may need to make some new connections. It’s important to have the sober friends who will support your recovery. Try taking class, joining church or a civic group, volunteering, or attending the events in your community.
Make meetings a priority – Join recovery support group and attend the meetings regularly. Spending time with the people who understand exactly what you’re going through can be very healing. You can also the benefit from shared experiences of the group members and learn what others have done to stay sober.
Five steps to a sober lifestyle
Take care of yourself. To prevent the mood swings and combat cravings, concentrate on eating right and getting plenty of sleep.
Exercise is also key: it releases the endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes the emotional well-being.
Build your support network. Surround yourself with the positive influences and the people who make you feel good about yourself. The more you’re invested in other people and your community, the more you have to lose which will help you stay motivated and on recovery track.
Develop new activities and interests. Find the new hobbies, volunteer activities, or work that gives you sense of meaning and purpose. When you’re doing the things you find fulfilling, you’ll feel better about yourself and drinking will hold less appeal.
Continue treatment. Your chances of staying sober improve if you are participating in the support group like the Alcoholics Anonymous, have sponsor, or are involved in therapy or an outpatient treatment program.
Deal with stress in a healthy way. Alcohol abuse is often the misguided attempt to manage stress. Find the healthier ways to keep your stress level in check, such as the exercising, meditating, or practicing breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques.
Plan for triggers and cravings
Cravings for the alcohol can be intense, particularly in first six months after you quit drinking.
Avoiding drinking triggers
Avoid things that trigger your urge to drink. If certain people, places, or activities trigger craving for the alcohol, try to avoid them. This may mean making the major changes to your social life, such as finding the new things to do with your old drinking buddies or even giving up those friends and finding the new ones.
Practice saying “no” to the alcohol in social situations. No matter how much you try to avoid the alcohol, there will probably be times where you’re offered the drink. Prepare ahead for how you’ll respond, with firm, yet polite, “no thanks.”
Managing alcohol cravings
When you’re struggling with the alcohol cravings, try these strategies:
Talk to someone you trust: your sponsor, the supportive family member or friend, or someone from your faith community.
Distract yourself until the urge passes. Go for walk, listen to the music, do some housecleaning, run an the errand, or tackle quick task.
Remind yourself of your reasons for not drinking. When you’re craving the alcohol, there’s tendency to remember positive effects of the drinking and forget negatives. Remind yourself of adverse long-term effects of the heavy drinking and how it won’t really make you feel better, even in short term.
Accept urge and ride it out, instead of trying to fight it. This is known as “the urge surfing.” Think of your craving as ocean wave that will soon crest, break, and dissipate. When you ride out craving, without trying to the battle, judge, or ignore it, you’ll see that it passes more quickly than that you’d think.
How to help someone stop drinking
Alcohol abuse and the addiction doesn’t just affect person drinking it affects their families and the loved ones, too. Watching family member struggle with drinking problem can be as heartbreakingly painful as it is frustrating. But while you can’t do hard work of overcoming the addiction for your loved one, your love and support can play the crucial part in their long-term recovery.
Talk to person about their drinking. Express your concerns in caring way and encourage friend or family member to get help. Try to remain the neutral and don’t argue, lecture, accuse, or threaten.
Learn all you can about addiction. Research kinds of treatment that are available and discuss these options with the friend or family member.
Take action. Consider staging family meeting or an intervention, but don’t put yourself in dangerous situation. Offer your support along each step of recovery journey.
Don’t make excuses for loved one’s behavior. The person with drinking problem needs to take responsibility for their actions. Don’t lie or the cover things up to protect someone from consequences of their drinking.
Don’t blame yourself. You aren’t to blame for loved one’s drinking problem and you can’t make them change.
Take care of yourself. You don’t need to face this alone. Turn to the trusted friends, support group, or your own therapist to help you cope. It’s also important not to neglect own needs. Schedule the time into your day for relaxing and doing things you enjoy.
Overcoming the addiction to alcohol can be long and bumpy road. At times, it may even feel very impossible. But it’s not. If you’re ready to stop the drinking and willing to get support you need, you can recover from the alcoholism and alcohol abuse no matter how heavy your drinking or how powerless you feel. And you don’t have to wait until you hit the rock bottom; you can make change at any time. Whether you want to quit the drinking altogether or cut down to the healthier levels, these guidelines can help you get started on road to recovery today.
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