It’s not easy to quit drinking alcohol. After years of drinking, your brain becomes programmed to crave alcohol, and it’s hard to ignore what your brain is telling you to do. Do you find yourself thinking, “Work is over; I should probably have a drink,” or “I drink every night. It’s weird not to,” or “I’m worried and I want to relax and forget about it…pour me another?”
If you drink frequently and have a high tolerance, you may think that you can handle drinking five or more drinks in one sitting. You might have lost your spouse, your kids, your license, or your job because of your drinking tendencies. You might have killed someone or almost killed yourself. Alcoholism, when it is so engrained in your behavior that you cannot stop despite consequences, is a dangerous addiction that is difficult to overcome.
To quit drinking alcohol is not easy; it requires extensive planning, action, and social support to carry out. If you are thinking of putting an end to your alcohol dependency, consider taking the steps outlined here:
Admit You Have a Drinking Problem
The first step, as popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous, is admitting that you have a problem with drinking alcohol. No one is inspired to do anything about a problem that doesn’t exist. First, you have to recognize that drinking has caused you problems. Think, “my wife didn’t just leave me…she left me because I am intolerable when I drink alcohol,” “I drank all of the money,” “I hurt the kids because of my drinking,” etc.
Think About Why You Drink Alcohol
Do you really need to drink? Is it because you are surrounded by others who drink? Does it relieve physical or emotional pain? Do you drink because you’re bored? Keep the reasoning in mind when developing your plan on how to beat alcoholism.
The next step is planning. Because alcohol is so commonplace in society, it is difficult to simply quit being around it. You’ll go to an event with no intention of drinking, but then everyone else is and you feel like you don’t fit in. Make plans to avoid alcohol when possible, and develop an exit strategy to use in cases of emergency.
Figure Out How to Spend Your Time
Put together a list of things you can do in your spare time. You can find some activities to invite your regular friends to that don’t involve drinking alcohol. Invite them to play tennis or to attend your yoga class.
Find Meaningful Activities to Do
If you have lots of spare time, find a nonprofit organization that matches your values and volunteer. If you’re family-oriented, consider spending time at a retirement home or a daycare center. If you’re more interested in animals, volunteer at an animal shelter. There are different projects for all interests!
Figure Out How to Cope with Stress
Getting in a fight with a friend, losing your job, or learning that a family member died could put you in a depression that sends you reeling back into alcoholism. Stressful situations are a part of life, and you need a plan to handle them.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer on how to deal with stress. You could retreat to a cabin in the woods and think. You could discuss your circumstances with a friend. You could discuss with people on social media, write letters, or go for a run.
Finding and establishing a relationship with a psychologist is highly recommended to handle extremely stressful situations. They can help you analyze the situation and determine the cause of the problem, help you learn from the situation, and determine how to react. A psychologist can keep you on track thinking positively and help you prevent relapse.
Figure Out How to Not Drink When Around Drinkers
In the beginning, you might try to avoid joining your friends when they are drinking, but you’re eventually going to have to figure out how to be in the vicinity of others when they are drinking. There are a number of strategies for helping you not drink in these difficult situations.
One thing that is helpful to do is to make sure everyone knows you don’t drink. When they know you don’t want to drink, they will hopefully not offer you a drink, which should reduce the need for figuring out how to reject an offer.
If you’re at a house party, try bringing a drink you really enjoy. You like chocolate milk? Bring it! You might even find some of your friends like chocolate and want some. You can also try drinking non-alcoholic mixed drinks to feel like a part of the crowd.
Find Social Support
Having family and friends who support your decision is helpful when quitting alcoholism. However, this is usually not enough. Building new relationships with other people battling their addiction and a psychologist who specializes in addiction is essential to kicking the habit.
Making friends with other former addicts is beneficial for the moral support they give and also to find ideas of other strategies to use when you are faced with difficult situations. Places where you can meet these people would be in psychologist-recommended group therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous, and SMART Recovery. Start seeing a psychologist and attending local meetings when you begin your plan to quit.
Put the Plan Into Action
Tell your friends and family that you’ve put a lot of thought into it, that you’re finally going to quit drinking alcohol, and you need their support. As you carry out your objective to quit drinking, continuously refer to your plan and make adjustments to the plan as needed.
Do You Need to Detox?
It is recommended that you figure out if your addiction warrants detox treatment before quitting to avoid dangerous withdrawal symptoms. At Two Dreams, we do not offer detox services, but we can refer you to a specialist that will keep you safe and help you make this decision. Call us today to find out how we can help you with alcohol dependency.