There are many methods to wean off, reduce, or cease alcohol consumption. The utility value of tips is somewhat based on if an individual only has the occasional drink, has a daily habit of drinking within moderation, has an alcohol use disorder (AUD) or a full-blown alcohol addiction.
A basic method involves time of day. Forcing yourself not to have a drink before nightfall is one way to ensure that you are not “day drinking”. During certain times of the year, when it gets dark earlier, this is a less effective method.
Keep a Record
Keeping a record or journal of how many drinks you have forces you to confront the reality of your choices. You can discreetly write the number on a personal calendar. If you see you’ve written “4”, for example, on a large number of days in a given month, you may want to consider a change in your lifestyle choices before you develop a psychological or physical dependency on alcohol. Once you develop a dependency, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings which can fuel the cycle of abuse and turn into an addiction.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
If you think you’ve started to drink too much, you may want to consider only keeping the amount of alcohol in your house that you intend to drink on a given evening. This way, there is friction that would require you to go out to the store and purchase more alcohol if you wanted more. Additional friction makes it less likely you will make a negative decision.
Having planned alcohol-free days is a good way to avoid forming a habit. For example, only drinking on weekends or only drinking socially is a way to avoid turning to alcohol as a form of self-medicating when you are feeling anxious or depressed at home alone. That being said, it’s also important to create boundaries with friends and loved ones.
Do not let peer pressure result in you drinking more than you feel is reasonable or safe. Just because someone else is drinking, offering to buy you a drink, or encouraging you to have more drinks, is not a reason to consent to having more drinks. It’s best to avoid individuals that have a habit of encouraging excessive drinking as they are more likely to promote and engage in risky behaviors.
The Carrot and The Stick
A carrot and stick approach in which a person rewards themselves or punishes themselves, so to speak, is one method for reducing your alcohol intake. There are apps, websites, and other tools that can allow you to keep yourself accountable with your friends and loved ones as motivation. An example is that if you meet your goal of reducing your drinking to a certain number of drinks then you allow yourself to have a drink or, as a form of punishment for failure to follow through with your game plan, you donate to a charity.
Drink something that is non-alcoholic. We live in a drinking culture. There are many American holidays where drinking has been normalized. Especially at family gatherings or celebrations, you may be encouraged to drink more than you would typically. There are many ways to avoid excessive drinking or drinking any alcoholic beverages in these situations. Looks can be deceiving. If you’re holding a red plastic cup, no one has to know what’s in it.
Non-alcoholic beverages you might consider bringing to an event can include:
- Mineral water
- Root beer
- Iced tea
- Mocktails (imitation cocktails)
There are many beverages you could choose instead of one that contains alcohol. If you know you’re attending an event and are unsure if there will be non-alcoholic options, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask the host in advance. If you feel unsafe at the last moment, it is always ok to cancel. People cancel for all sorts of reasons at the last minute. No one needs to know that your reason has to do with drinking.
Oasis Recovery Can Help
If you are in recovery, it’s always a good idea to have someone on call in case you feel the temptation to drink in a high risk situation. Having a strong safety net and support can make all the difference.
It’s important to remember how to have fun without drinking. If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcohol abuse or seems to have developed an alcohol use disorder (AUD), we encourage you to reach out to the professionals at Oasis Recovery about the benefits of an alcohol addiction treatment program. Our treatment programs combine traditional and holistic therapies and services designed to meet your personalized needs. It’s always important to treat the whole person. That’s why at Oasis Recovery we provide a wide range of mental health therapies. Contact us today to speak with a specialist about how we can best help you.