Alcohol addiction recovery can be a challenging and drawn-out process. It might even seem impossible at times. Yet it isn’t. No matter how much you drink or how helpless you feel, if you’re ready to stop and be prepared to obtain the help you need, you can beat alcoholism and alcohol abuse.
Furthermore, you can change at any time; you don’t have to wait until you’ve reached your lowest point. These recommendations can assist you in starting on the path to recovery right away, whether your goal is to stop drinking completely or reduce your consumption to more manageable levels.
Most persons with alcohol problems do not decide to make a significant shift out of the blue or transform their drinking patterns overnight. Recovery typically happens over time. Denial is a significant barrier during the early phases of change.
Even once you acknowledge that you have a drinking issue, you could still find reasons to put things off. It’s critical to identify your conflicted feelings around quitting drinking. Consider the costs and benefits of each option if you’re unsure of your readiness for change or are having trouble making up your mind.
Weighing the Benefits and Costs of Consuming Alcohol
Create a table similar to the one below and compare the advantages and disadvantages of drinking and stopping.
Advantages of Drinking
- It aids me in forgetting about my issues.
- I enjoy myself when I drink.
- It’s how I wind down and relax after a challenging day.
Advantages of Not Drinking
- I think my relationships would get better.
- Both psychologically and physically, I’d feel better.
- I would have more time and energy to devote to the people and things I cherish.
Cost of Drinking
- It has impacted my relationships negatively.
- I experience anxiety, depression, and a sense of self-blame.
- My ability to accomplish my job duties and take care of my family is hampered by it.
Cost of Not Drinking
- I’d have to find alternative means of resolving issues.
- I would lose my drinking companions.
- I would have to take care of the obligations I’ve been avoiding.
Set Objectives and Get Ready for Change
Setting up specific drinking goals is the next step after deciding to change. Your goals should be as definite, reasonable, and transparent as possible.
Do you wish to reduce your drinking or completely stop it? Decide which days you will drink alcohol and how many drinks you will allow yourself each day if your goal is to cut back on your consumption. Try to commit to not drinking for at least two days every week.
When do you want to quit drinking or cut back? Tomorrow? Next week? Month after? within six months? Set a definite date to stop drinking if you’re trying to do so.
How to Achieve your Objectives
After you’ve decided to stop or reduce your drinking, jot down some suggestions for how you might support yourself in achieving these objectives. For instance:
Eliminate all temptations. Remove all alcoholic beverages, bar equipment, and other alcohol-related items from your house and place of business.
Declare your objective. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers that you’re attempting to cut back or stop drinking. If they drink, urge them to refrain from doing so in your presence in order to assist your recovery.
Inform every one of your new restrictions. Make it known that you won’t allow drinking in your house and that you might not be able to go to gatherings where alcohol is provided.
Avert negative impacts. Keep a safe distance from anyone who doesn’t appreciate your efforts to stop drinking or the boundaries you’ve set. Giving up particular friends and social ties may be necessary to achieve this.
Take lessons from history. Think back on prior attempts to cut back or stop drinking. The solution? What failed? What can you change this time around to avoid pitfalls?
Reducing Consumption Rather than Quitting Altogether
Depending on the extent of your drinking issue, you may or may not be able to reduce your consumption. It is best to try to stop drinking completely if you are an alcoholic, which means you cannot regulate your drinking by definition. The following advice can be helpful if you’re not ready to make that change or if you don’t drink excessively but still want to cut back for personal or health reasons:
Make a drinking target. Pick a limit for how much alcohol you’ll consume, but make sure it’s no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Additionally, try to have certain days each week when you won’t consume any alcohol at all. Your phone or the refrigerator, for example, are good places to keep a written copy of your drinking goal.
To assist you in achieving your objective, keep a log of your drinking. Write down when you drink and how much you drink for three to four weeks. You might be shocked by your weekly drinking patterns after reviewing the results.
Don’t drink as much at home. Limit or get rid of the alcohol in your house. Don’t keep temptations close by if you want to avoid drinking.
Sip more slowly. When you consume alcohol, sip it carefully and wait 30 or 60 minutes between each one. Alternately, sip juice, soda, or water in between alcoholic drinks. Make sure to eat before drinking because it is never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach.
Plan to abstain from alcohol one or two days per week. then attempt to abstain from alcohol for a week. Record your physical and emotional well-being on these days; by recognizing the advantages, you might be able to quit permanently.
Options for Treating Alcoholism
Some people can quit drinking on their own, with the aid of a 12-step program, or with the assistance of another support group. Others require medical assistance to safely and comfortably stop drinking alcohol. Depending on how much you drink, how long you’ve had a problem, how stable your living situation is, and any other health difficulties you might have, you should choose the choice that is ideal for you.
The initial step is frequently to speak with your GP or primary care physician. Your doctor can examine your drinking habits, identify any co-occurring conditions, evaluate your general health, and provide treatment recommendations. To help you quit, they may even be able to prescribe medicine.
Examples of Alcohol Rehabilitation Services
Living at a treatment center while receiving rigorous therapy throughout the day is known as residential treatment. Typically, residential treatment lasts 30 to 90 days.
People who need continuing medical supervision but have a stable living environment can consider partial hospitalization. Typically, these treatment programs meet 3-5 days a week for 4-6 hours at the hospital.
Relapse prevention is the main emphasis of intensive outpatient programs (IOP), which can frequently be planned around work or school.
You can learn more about the origins of your alcohol use, how to mend broken relationships, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and how to cope with triggers that might lead to relapse by seeking therapy (individual, group, or family).
How to Choose the Most Effective Addiction Treatment
There is no all-purpose cure or panacea that works for everyone. Since everyone has various demands, it’s crucial that you choose a program that appeals to you. Any approach to treating alcoholism should be tailored to your particular issues and circumstances.
It’s not necessary to only use doctors and psychologists for treatment. Additionally, a lot of counselors, social workers, and clergypeople provide addiction treatment services.
Your alcohol abuse should not be the only issue addressed in treatment. Your relationships, work, health, and psychological well-being are all impacted by addiction. The effectiveness of treatment depends on your ability to assess how alcohol consumption has affected you and create a new way of life.
Key components include dedication and persistence. Alcoholism or binge drinking recovery is not a quick and simple procedure. Generally speaking, the length and intensity of your treatment will depend on how long and heavily you used alcohol. But regardless of how many weeks or months the treatment program lasts, long-term aftercare is essential to your recovery.
Get care for other medical or mental health conditions. Alcohol misuse is a common strategy used by people to treat the signs of untreated mental illness like depression or anxiety. It’s crucial to receive treatment for any additional psychological problems you may be dealing with, in addition to seeking help for your alcohol addiction. Receiving treatment for both addiction and mental health issues from the same team or physician will increase your chances of success in recovery.
Safe Alcohol Withdrawal
Your body develops a physiologic dependence on alcohol when you drink significantly and frequently, and it experiences withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly quit. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal range from mild to severe and include:
- nausea or diarrhea
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Constipation and diarrhea
- difficulty sleeping or focusing
- elevated blood pressure and heart rate
When you quit drinking, alcohol withdrawal symptoms often begin within hours, peak in a day or two, and subside within five days. However, for some alcoholics, withdrawal is not only uncomfortable but also potentially fatal.
You might require medically supervised detoxification if you’ve been drinking heavily and for a long time. You can do detox on an outpatient basis, in a hospital, or in an alcohol treatment center, where you might be given medication to ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent medical issues. To understand more, consult a doctor or an expert in addiction.
If you develop any of the following withdrawal symptoms, get immediate medical care right away:
- vomiting that is acute,
- confusion, and disorientation
- acute agitation
The above-mentioned symptoms could indicate delirium tremens, or DTs, a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. It’s critical to get to the hospital as soon as possible since this uncommon, emergency condition results in potentially harmful alterations in how your brain controls your breathing and circulation.
Support is crucial no matter how you decide to address your alcoholism—whether that’s through therapy, rehab, or self-directed treatment. Never attempt to go it alone. When you have people you can rely on for support, comfort, and direction, recovering from alcohol addiction or abuse is much simpler.
Family, friends, counselors, other alcoholics in recovery, your healthcare providers, and members of your spiritual group can all offer support.
Lean on close family and friends. The help of friends and family members is a crucial tool for healing. Consider attending family therapy or couples counseling if you’re hesitant to turn to your loved ones because you’ve let them down in the past.
Create a sober social network if your prior relationships with people were centered around drinking. Having friends who are sober and will help you with your recovery is crucial. Consider enrolling in a class, becoming a member of a church or civic organization, volunteering, or going to local events.
Prioritize meeting attendance. Sign up for and consistently attend meetings of a recovery support organization, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Spending time with others who completely comprehend your situation can be quite therapeutic. The group members’ shared experiences might be helpful to you, and you can pick up tips on how others have managed to maintain sobriety.
New Significance for your Life
While quitting drinking is a crucial first step, your journey to recovery from alcoholism or heavy drinking has just begun. Rehab or medical care can help you get started on the path to recovery, but if you want to stay sober for the long term, you’ll need to create a new, fulfilling life in which drinking has no role.
Five Stages to Leading a Sober Life
Ensure your own well-being. Focus on eating well and getting enough sleep to reduce cravings and prevent mood swings. Exercise is also essential since it boosts emotional well-being, releases endorphins, and reduces stress.
Create a network of supporters. Be in the company of inspiring individuals who will make you feel good about yourself. You’ll be more driven to stay on the road to recovery if you have a greater stake in other people and your community.
Create new hobbies and interests. Find new interests, volunteer work, or employment that satisfies your need for meaning and purpose. Drinking won’t appeal to you as much when you’re engaged in activities that make you feel good about yourself.
Keep up the treatment. Your chances of remaining sober increase if you attend therapy sessions or an outpatient treatment program, have a sponsor or participate in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Take healthy steps to cope with stress. Abusing alcohol is frequently a misguided effort to reduce stress. Find more beneficial ways to manage your stress, such as exercising, practicing meditation, or using breathing exercises or other relaxation methods.
Prepare for Cravings and Triggers
Alcohol cravings can be very strong, especially in the first six months after you stop drinking. An effective alcohol treatment program helps you overcome these obstacles by teaching you new coping mechanisms for handling pressured circumstances, alcohol cravings, and peer pressure to drink.
Preventing Triggers for Drinking
Stay away from the things that make you want to drink. Try to stay away from individuals, places, or activities that make you crave alcohol. Your social life may need to undergo significant change as a result, such as finding new activities to do with your former drinking mates or perhaps letting go of those friends and making new ones.
Get comfortable declining alcohol in social settings. You will undoubtedly occasionally be given a drink, despite your best efforts to abstain. Plan ahead for your response, which should be a nice yet firm “no thanks.”
Managing the Desire for Alcohol
Try these methods if you find yourself suffering from alcohol cravings:
Speak with someone you can trust, such as your sponsor, an encouraging relative or friend, a member of your faith community, or your sponsor.
Till the urge passes, distract yourself. Take a stroll, enjoy some music, clean the house, run errands, or finish a fast task.
Recall the reasons you choose not to drink. There is a propensity to remember the benefits of drinking and ignore the drawbacks while you are wanting alcohol. Remind yourself that excessive drinking has negative long-term repercussions and doesn’t actually improve your mood, even momentarily.
Instead of fighting the urge, accept it and let it pass. The practice of “urge surfing” is this. Imagine your craving as a wave that will eventually peak, break, and disappear. You’ll discover that the urge goes faster than you anticipate if you simply ride it out without attempting to fight, condemn, or ignore it.
The first three steps in urge surfing are:
Analyze how the craving is affecting you. Place your hands in a relaxed position and feet flat on the floor while you sit in a comfy chair. Inhale a few times deeply, then direct your attention inward. Permit your focus to stray throughout your body. Keep an eye on the area of your body where the craving is coming from and how it makes you feel. Tell yourself how you feel. For example, “My craving is in my mouth and nose and my stomach.”
Concentrate on only one place where the impulse is present. What sensations are there experiencing? Do you, for instance, experience heat, cold, tingling, or numbness? Do you have stiff or relaxed muscles? How much space is at stake? To yourself, describe the feelings and any changes that take place. “My mouth feels parched and dry. My tongue and lips are clenched. I continue swallowing. I can envision the taste and tingle of a drink as I exhale.
Repetition is important for every area of your body experiencing a yearning. What modifications do the sensations undergo? Watch how the urge changes throughout the day. After a few minutes, you’ll probably realize that the craving has subsided. The goal of urge surfing is to experience desires in a novel way rather than to make them go away. However, with little experience, you’ll be able to endure your urges until they pass on their own.
Managing Setbacks in your Rehabilitation
Recovery from alcoholism is a journey that frequently includes setbacks. If you slip or relapse, don’t give up. Relapsing into drinking does not imply that you are a failure or that you will never be able to accomplish your goal. Every drinking relapse is an opportunity to grow and renew your commitment to recovery, making future relapses less likely.
- Getting rid of the alcohol and leaving the area where you slipped should be your next steps if you slip.
- Keep in mind that one drink or a minor slip-up doesn’t have to result in a full-blown relapse.
- Don’t let feelings of shame or guilt prevent you from starting over.
- Make a support friend, a counselor, or your sponsor your first call for assistance.
How to Aid Someone in Quitting Drinking
Alcoholism and addiction damage, not just the drinker but also their families and loved ones. It may be both heartbreakingly difficult and irritating to see a family member battle with a drinking issue. Although you can’t do the difficult work of helping a loved one overcome addiction for them, your love and support can be extremely important to their long-term recovery.
Discuss the person’s drinking with them. Carefully express your worries and urge your friend or family member to get assistance. Try not to fight, lecture, blame, or threaten; instead, maintain your objectivity.
Find out everything you can about addiction. Do some research on the various therapy alternatives, then talk to your friend or relative about them.
Make a move. Put yourself in a safe place rather than conducting a family meeting or an intervention. Throughout each stage of the recovery process, extend your assistance.
Don’t rationalize your loved one’s actions. The individual who has a drinking issue must accept accountability for their behavior. Don’t make up stories or lie to shield someone from the effects of their drinking.
Put no blame on yourself. Your loved one’s drinking issue is not your fault, and you cannot force them to stop.
If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one about helping someone with a drinking problem.