If you drink too much, too frequently, or find it difficult to stop drinking even when you know it’s causing you harm, you may have a drinking problem. But not everybody who drinks a lot is an alcoholic. Sometimes, you simply need to take a few steps to reduce and eventually stop drinking on your own in order to solve your drinking problem.
Alcoholism is a disease that requires professional medical treatment, just like any other disease. But often people who think they are alcoholic actually just lack self-control. By taking charge of your life and directing your activities away from drinking, it’s often possible for non-alcoholics to return to a normal life.
Step 1 – Admitting You Have a Problem
The steps to overcoming a drinking problem are similar to those of treating alcoholism. In both cases the first step is recognizing that you can’t control your drinking. This is often the hardest step for many people because they are blind to the problems alcohol is causing in their lives.
Often, you can tell you are a problem drinker because other people are telling you that you are, either directly or indirectly. If a friend or family member has intervened and told you that you need to stop drinking, you need to listen. Similarly, if you notice that people tend to avoid you because you drink or when you are drinking, it could be time to stop.
Here’re a couple of ways to tell if you are a problem drinker:
- Do you drink when you sometimes don’t even feel like it?
- Is your drinking affecting your relationships with your friends, family or co-workers?
- Do you drink alone more often than drinking socially?
- Are you unable to stop drinking after just one or two drinks?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be a problem drinker. It’s time to face reality and do something about it before your problem gets out of control.
Step 2 — Committing to Change
If the first step is the hardest, the second step is the easiest. Sincerely committing to stop your drinking doesn’t take much. After all, it’s only words. Most problem drinkers have committed to changing their behavior dozens of times. But that doesn’t mean they actually follow through with it.
Step 3 – Actions Speak Louder than Words
Don’t just say you are going to stop drinking. You actually need to do it. Get rid of all the alcohol you have in your home. Stop hanging out in the places you normally drink or with the people with whom you drink. Instead, change your behavior so that you avoid alcohol and drinking, preferably by replacing it with more positive behavior.
Spend more time with your family. Take a class and learn something new. Start a new hobby that interests you. Throw yourself into your work to keep you distracted. Do anything you need to do to avoid the triggers that normally cause you to drink.
Step 4 – There’s No Half Steps
Spoiler Alert: When it comes to removing alcohol from your life, there are no half steps. Unlike smoking cessation, step-down programs for alcohol don’t work. You can’t simply plan on drinking less and expect it to change your life because inevitably you will go back to your normal drinking levels, if not drink more.
Eliminating alcohol from your life is an all-or-nothing proposition.
Step 5 – Start Living Again
When you are a problem drinker, alcohol ruins your life. Effectively everything you do is built around supporting your drinking.
But when you remove alcohol from your life, you may be surprised to find that you have a lot more time and freedom to do the things you used to enjoy. Spend time with your family and friends in alcohol-free social situations. Join a gym. Start dating if you are single.
Because you no longer have alcohol in your life, you are going to look and feel better. Make the most of it.
Step 6 – Don’t Backslide
Invariably, things are going to happen in your life that are going to make you want to go back to drinking. This is especially true if you used alcohol to deal with things such as stress and anxiety.
Now, that’s more easily said than done, but it’s possible to stay sober even when you want to drink due to situations or events. All you need to do is keep reminding yourself why you wanted to stop drinking in the first place. Think about all the positive benefits of staying sober and compare them to the problems that drinking caused for you in the past.
Wait for the craving to drink to pass. If necessary, get help and support from somebody else, such as a trusted friend or family member. It will pass and you can continue with your alcohol-free life.
Author Bio – This guest post is written by Olaf Hendersson on behalf of The Cabin Sydney, a prominent yet effective alcohol rehab centre in Sydney, NSW.