Drinking alcohol is a common way to unwind, but not everyone knows when to stop. A study from 2017 found that 1 in 8 American adults meet the criteria for alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder.
Being unable to meet basic obligations at work or home is a sign of alcohol use disorder. Putting yourself in physical danger is another sign. Someone who drives drunk isn’t always an alcoholic, but it’s a definite red flag.
Recognizing alcoholism is the first step to fighting alcoholism. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you need a plan. Keep reading for three tips to stop drinking.
Set Specific Goals
If you’re asking. “How do I stop drinking?” remember that it helps to get specific rather than general. That means don’t go out at night and think, “I should drink less.”
That’s too vague. Instead, think of ways to not drink at all, if possible. If you don’t feel like you need to stop completely, then limit yourself to one or two drinks.
What if you’re worried about the frequency of your drinking? In that case, you can limit yourself to drinking one or two nights a week rather than almost every night.
Giving up alcohol requires commitment. You’re more likely to commit if you set rules for exactly how far you can or can’t go.
Examine Underlying Issues
You’ve had a bad day at work, so you kick back with a couple of beers. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. But there might be something wrong if you’re using alcohol instead of addressing other issues.
We tend to talk more about alcoholism than mental health problems. Yet it’s common for them to co-exist.
Someone who is anxious might drink to feel less anxious. The same is true of someone who gets depressed (even though alcohol is a depressant).
A 2015 data review found that 37 percent of alcohol-dependent patients also suffer from additional mental disorders.
Treating the excess drinking is important. But you have to treat that underlying problem as well. That’s where dual diagnosis treatment centers can be particular helpful.
Let’s say you have generalized anxiety disorder. You can stop drinking, but you’re still going to feel anxious. If you can’t self-medicate with alcohol, you may do something else destructive.
But if you treat the anxiety symptoms along with the alcohol use, you’re both less likely to drink and less likely to feel anxious all the time.
Change Your Social Habits
Most of us hang out with a certain group because we feel comfortable there. That’s why changing your social habits can feel like the hardest part of giving up alcohol.
One of the best ways to stop drinking is so obvious it almost seems too easy: Don’t go to bars as often. You should also avoid going to house parties where the alcohol flows freely.
Your friends don’t have to stop going to bars, of course. But they should be willing to meet up with you at alternative venues. Find friends who will support you.
Keys to Fighting Alcoholism
Fighting alcoholism is a lifelong battle for most people. It’s not something you can focus on for just a few months or even years.
Remember that controlling your alcohol intake is only one part of leading a healthy life. For more tips, bookmark the health sections of our blog.