A and total abstinence are not the only options if you want to change your drinking habits. According to findings from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the majority of people who quit drinking do so without participating in AA or a rehabilitation program. Many people decide that completely quitting is the best option, but just as many, if not more, deal with their issues by drinking less or becoming safer drinkers.
1) Safety first: If you’ve been drinking and engaged in unsafe behaviors like drunk driving, unsafe sex, drunk dialing, or any other number of them, there is a way to help you avoid doing them again. Take a piece of paper and make a list of the risky actions you have taken and rank them in order of importance. Keep in mind that the riskiest actions should be avoided first. Before taking your first drink, make a written plan to avoid your high-risk behaviors. Take a taxi to a bar if you want to drink, for instance, so you won’t have to take a taxi home. If you don’t have a car, you can’t drive. Remember: Make a plan before you sip. Always prioritize safety before all else. You might also save someone else’s life.
2) Choose the type of drinker you want to be. Many people find that quitting alcohol completely is the best option. Anyone can choose to completely avoid alcohol, regardless of how much or how little they drink. Others will choose to set a goal of drinking moderately and never becoming intoxicated, believing that this is the best goal for them. By making plans ahead of time, even those who are unable or unwilling to avoid excessive drinking can work toward becoming safer drinkers. Since any plan to be safer is always an improvement over drinking that is unsafe, safer drinking may be an important goal for these people to reduce their risk of harm. Safer drinking, less drinking, or abstinence from alcohol are all legitimate targets for reducing harm, and any of them is preferable to nothing at all. Keep in mind that your goal is not set in stone; many people who set goals of drinking less or safer decide later that abstinence is best for them. Being adaptable and willing to change with life’s changes is beneficial.
3) Add some days off from alcohol Many people find that having a few days off from alcohol each week helps them control their drinking. On the off chance that you have been drinking consistently for quite a while you could find that including even one non-drinking day every week can assist you with beginning on your change plan. When it comes to adding alcohol-free days to your week, you can do so at your own pace. Warning: If you stop drinking all at once, you may experience alcohol withdrawal if you have been drinking heavily every day for a long time. If you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms after quitting drinking, the safest course of action is to either gradually taper off, enter a detox, or seek medical assistance with alcohol withdrawal in the form of medication.
4) Count and record how much you drink Counting your drinks and keeping a daily record on a calendar or other drinking chart is one of the best ways to control your drinking. You will need to understand what a standard drink is in order to accurately record your consumption. In the United States, this is one 12-ounce beer with 5% alcohol or one 5-ounce glass of wine with 12% alcohol or one and a half ounces of alcohol with an 80 percent proof. When charting your drinks, keep in mind that one drink in a bar can contain up to six standard drinks. To get a feel for how much a standard drink actually is, practice measuring at home. Every day, mark your drink numbers on your calendar; jot down a zero if you have an abstinence day. The act of charting helps a lot of people cut back on spending.
5) Make a Drinking Plan You can plan how many drinks you’ll drink on a given day using the same calendar where you record your drink numbers. For instance, you might want to set aside every Sunday to make your drinking plan for the upcoming week. You could write down which days you will not drink alcohol and how many drinks you will drink on those days. Some people may choose to only write down their plan once because they want to use the same strategy every week. A person might decide, for instance, to drink responsibly at home every Saturday night and not drink at all the other six days of the week. Feel free to create the strategy that works best for you because there are as many different drinking plans as there are people.
6) Make a list of the benefits and drawbacks Take four sheets of paper. Write down the benefits and drawbacks of your current drinking habits on the first line. On the third page, list the benefits of your planned change and the drawbacks on the fourth. Don’t be afraid to point out the benefits of alcohol; If you try to suppress the positive things in your life, they will just stay in your mind and cause you problems in the future. You will be able to recognize it and find other positive things to replace the benefits of alcohol if you bring this up now. Feel free to complete the pros and cons list on a regular basis; writing them down every time will bolster your resolve to change.
7) Take a Break from Drinking For some, abstaining from drinking for a while is the best way to get them started on a new drinking routine. If you want to improve your relationship with alcohol, taking a few days, a week, or even a month off can be very helpful. You’ll be able to relive all of your old drinking situations without alcohol after a period of time without drinking, and you’ll learn new ways to deal with them without alcohol.
8) Make a List of Things You Can Do to Have Fun Without Drinking There are a plethora of things you can do to have fun without alcohol, including knitting, swimming, and solving the New York Times crossword. Make a list of fun things you can do without alcohol on a piece of paper and keep it close by so you can refer to it when you feel like breaking your drinking plan.
9) Focus on the Good Things Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t follow your plan exactly. According to research, most people don’t get it right the first time. Usually, it takes several tries to change something, and you’ll make mistakes along the way. If you beat yourself up over a minor error, you may end up going on a major booze binge or making yourself so miserable that you want to drown your sorrows in alcohol. People who praise themselves for each positive change are the ones who ultimately succeed. If you decide to abstain from alcohol for ten days out of a month and manage to do so, praise yourself for those ten days because you will never lose them. Get right back on the plan, whether you decide to finish out the remaining twenty days, go for thirty consecutive days, or go for a whole new plan. Don’t waste a lot of time beating yourself up about not making the full thirty days.
10) Have a “Plan B” in place When people try to change their habits, they usually make mistakes; Only a small percentage of people make the change all at once. However, you don’t have to eat the entire chocolate cake if you only have a piece. It is not necessary to be a drunk to have a drink. Make sure to drink safely if you intend to abstain but slip up and decide to do so; Take a taxi to the bar if you are out in your car and want to return home first. In the event that you do make a mistake, have a backup strategy ready. Whether your objective is safer drinking, less drinking, or quitting altogether, you need a backup plan.
Keep in mind that better is always better. No matter how little you change from your old drinking habits, it’s a success!