If you have an alcohol problem, it can be incredibly hard to stop drinking. Luckily, it’s possible to get help for this disorder.
The first step in changing your relationship with alcohol is understanding the root of your issue. A therapist can help you develop strategies for getting better control over your drinking and developing healthier habits.
You can also join a support group to share your experience and learn from others who are in the same boat as you. These groups are often therapist-moderated, which means they offer accountability and encouragement for members.
Try to avoid situations where you’re likely to drink, especially when you’re feeling stressed or uncomfortable. This can be hard to do, but it’s a good way to keep yourself from overindulging and causing problems for yourself or others.
Be open with your friends and family about your intentions to cut down on alcohol use. Let them know that you’re trying to do so for yourself, and encourage them to support your decision.
Keep nonalcoholic beverages on hand for yourself and others, such as water or a juice drink. This will reduce the temptation to grab a glass of wine or beer while hanging out with friends.
Make it clear that you’re trying to cut back, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel pressured to consume alcohol. Talking openly about your goals can give you the courage to stay strong when it’s time to make changes in your life, says Cyndi Turner, LCSW, LSATP, MAC, a Virginia therapist who works with patients with alcohol use disorders.
Write down your reasons for cutting back on drinking, and make a list of alternatives to alcohol. These can include things like spending more time with friends, taking a walk or going to the gym, meditating, playing a sport, reading a book, painting, working on a craft, or doing any other activity that doesn’t involve alcohol.
When you’re craving a drink, try to remember that the urge is temporary and won’t last long. The urge to drink is caused by a combination of your emotions and your desire for comfort.
Focus on your breathing instead of the urge to drink, and try to breathe deeply. This will calm your heart rate and blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and relax your muscles.
If you’re feeling particularly anxious or stressed, consider exercising or taking a bath before heading to bed to relax your body. This will help you fall asleep faster, and will increase the chances that you’ll have a good night’s sleep.
Take a break from drinking at least four hours before you go to bed to reduce the likelihood that you’ll have trouble falling or staying asleep. This will allow your body to metabolize the alcohol you’re drinking before it affects your sleep.
Keeping a journal can also help you manage your feelings and track your progress toward stopping drinking. Writing down your thoughts and feelings about alcohol helps you recognize patterns that might lead to cravings or unhealthy behaviors.