There are lots of reasons to stop drinking alcohol. At BeClink, we recognize and respect those reasons. Whether you’re an expectant mother, on a medication which reacts with alcohol, trying to live more responsibly or simply trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, your reasons to avoid alcohol matter.
If you are trying to reduce alcohol’s presence in your life, know you are not alone. According to one study published by The Washington Post in 2014, 30% of American adults don’t drink at all. Another 30% consume less than one drink per week, on average. In fact, only the 10% of consumers drink over half of the total alcohol consumed in any given year. So, the idea of “everyone drinks alcohol” is simply inaccurate. If you choose to give up alcohol in your life, you might actually be in the majority of the country.
Still, depending on how frequently you drank beforehand, weaning yourself off of alcohol can be a challenging task. However, there are a few practical ways to remove alcohol from your life. Here are some tips for how to give up alcohol.
Set a date.
The first step in giving up alcohol is setting a “quitting date.” Establish a date in the near future when you want to fully give up alcohol from your life. This gives you time to prepare for the transition mentally, physically, emotionally and even socially. It also provides a logistical starting point, and gives you a chance to remove alcohol from the home, tell friends and family and set up boundaries.
Establish smaller goals.
As you purge alcohol from your life, an important thing to keep in mind is establishing smaller goals. If you go into it with the mindset to “never drink again,” it could be a very challenging and daunting task. Instead, start with a smaller goal in mind, such as not drinking for a month, a semester or even a full year. Depending on where your relationship starts with alcohol, establishing smaller, more attainable goals will leave you feeling encouraged, rather than looking down a long runway at a goal which feels unreachable.
Bring in allies.
Giving up anything is tough enough, but giving up alcohol can be particularly difficult, especially if you try to do it by yourself. Instead, enlist some allies who can support and encourage you throughout the process. Tell the people you usually drink with you’re taking a break from alcohol for a while, and ask them for their support in the transition. Who knows? Perhaps they have felt the exact same way, but needed someone else to take the initial leap. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, etc. the plan, your reasonings for giving up drinking and how they can help support you when temptation kicks in. Your true friends and family will be there to encourage you every step of the way.
In the early stages of detoxification, it’s probably a good idea to avoid any situations where you might be tempted to drink. This could mean opting out of the Friday bar visit with coworkers, asking a friend to go grocery shopping with you or even avoiding certain restaurants. Consider times in your current schedule when you’re likely to drink, e.g. rewinding after a long day at work. Prepare and plan for the time beforehand by filling the gap with something else. For instance, if you usually enjoy a glass of wine after work, try grabbing a cup of coffee on the way home instead. As the detoxification process continues, temptation will subside, but in the beginning, be careful to avoid challenging situations.
As you go about this process, it’s important to recognize you are making a drastic and difficult lifestyle change. So, be sure to reward yourself for progress along the way, and don’t be too hard on yourself when you do slip up and make a mistake. For instance, if your goal is to give up drinking for one month, reward your progress each week you go without a drink. Maybe the reward is a sweet treat, a shopping trip or even a personal affirmation. Give yourself consistent rewards each step of the way to keep your spirits up and continually self-motivate.
Try non-alcoholic drinks.
Finally, if you really find yourself in a pinch when you crave alcohol, give non-alcoholic drinks a try. Alcohol-free wine and beer are great alternatives to their alcoholic counterparts, because they provide the same great flavor, without the worry of alcohol. In fact, there are plenty of surprising health benefits to both non-alcoholic wine and beer. Or, get even more creative and give alcohol-free mixed drinks a try. Pick out some flavors you enjoy and try them out to see how they can help you kick alcohol to the curb.
Removing alcohol from your life is definitely a challenging task, but not impossible. If you want to give up alcohol for a short time, a season or even for life, try these tips to make the process as smooth as possible. You may just be surprised at how easily you adapt to a healthier, happier alcohol-free lifestyle.