There are certain situations in your life where you might know without question that alcohol is causing problems in your life. In these instances, you may realize you need help to stop drinking.
An example might be if you’re arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Depending on the situation, if you are charged with a DUI or DWI you could face jail time, fines, and the loss of your license.
In that situation, it might be best for you to consider a professional alcohol addiction treatment program.
There are other times when maybe there aren’t any real issues that you’re facing, but you realize that your alcohol use is problematic and you’d like to do something about it. This doesn’t mean you’re an alcoholic, but you might want to stop or at least cut back on your consumption.
The following are some tips that may help.
Identify Your “Whys”
When you can identify in a very concrete and specific way why you want to stop drinking, it can serve as a good motivator.
Once you’ve identified your reasons, write them down.
You can then remind yourself of these whys when you need to.
For example, maybe you want to be more present with your family, more productive, or perhaps you’re doing it for your health.
Have a Plan
Cutting back on your alcohol intake or no longer using alcohol can be challenging, especially if it’s something that’s part of your routines or your patterns.
Create a plan and structure that you can follow, including details.
Start by identifying your drinking patterns and your triggers.
This can then help guide your plan. For example, maybe there are certain situations where you are more likely to drink than others. Once you have a plan, you can work on avoiding these situations.
If you can’t avoid certain situations or triggers, knowing that they create problems for you can help you when you face them.
Before you actually start putting into action your plan, it can be helpful to keep a diary of your drinking habits. Aim for journaling around three to four weeks of your activity. Write down every time you have a drink, how much you have, and the specifics surrounding your drinking.
Find Replacement Activities
Part of your plan can be identifying activities that will use to fill your time when you would ordinarily be drinking.
Have a list of go-to activities that you enjoy doing.
If you typically drink after work, for example, maybe you go to a yoga class in the evenings instead.
Have Someone Hold You Accountable
Sometimes, if we tell a friend or loved one our plans, they can help us stay accountable. It makes it more real if we tell someone else what we plan to do.
If you want to cut back or quit drinking, have someone close to you serve as somewhat of an accountability coach for your efforts.
Depending on your situation and your reasons for wanting to change your alcohol habits, you don’t have to do everything all at once.
A lot of people find that starting out with one or two alcohol-free days a week is good for them.
Then, once you get used to that, maybe you go for a few more days, or perhaps you have a week every month where you don’t drink.
This is an incremental way to start changing your habits, and that may be easier for you than trying to do it all at once.
Set short- and long-term goals as you work to cut back on your drinking. Then, when you meet those goals, treat yourself.
Maybe you get a massage after you’re sober for a month, for example. Perhaps you start saving for a big vacation to celebrate six months sober.
Whatever it is that you enjoy, you should reward yourself for your progress.
Talk to a Counselor
Finally, while you don’t necessarily have to go to rehab to stop drinking, particularly if you don’t have an alcohol use disorder, talking to a counselor can be helpful. A counselor can help you identify negative patterns in your drinking and your life and can provide you with support and coping strategies.
If you aren’t comfortable or able to do counseling in person, you can always do it virtually.
It will give you a new place to channel your emotions and help bolster your efforts to reduce your drinking if you see a counselor.