Overcoming an addiction to alcohol can be a long and bumpy road. At times, it may even feel impossible. But it’s not. If you’re ready to stop drinking and willing to get the support you need, you can recover from alcoholism and alcohol abuse—no matter how heavy your drinking or how powerless you feel.
You don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom; you can make a change at any time. Whether you want to quit drinking altogether or cut down to healthier levels, these guidelines can help you get started on the road to recovery today.
Do you want to stop drinking altogether or just cut back? If your goal is to reduce your drinking, decide which days you will drink alcohol and how many drinks you will allow yourself per day. Try to commit to at least two days each week when you won’t drink at all.
When do you want to stop drinking or start drinking less? Tomorrow? In a week? Next month? Within six months? If you’re trying to stop drinking, set a specific quit date.
After you’ve set your goals to either stop or cut back your drinking, write down some ideas on how you can help yourself accomplish these goals. For example:
Get rid of temptations. Remove all alcohol, barware, and other alcohol-related paraphernalia from your home and office.
Announce your goal. Let friends, family members, and co-workers know that you’re trying to stop or cut back on drinking. If they drink, ask them to support your recovery by not doing so in front of you.
Be upfront about your new limits. Make it clear that drinking will not be allowed in your home and that you may not be able to attend events where alcohol is being served.
Avoid bad influences. Distance yourself from people who don’t support your efforts to stop drinking or respect the limits you’ve set. This may mean giving up certain friends and social connections.
Learn from the past. Reflect on previous attempts to stop or reduce your drinking. What worked? What didn’t? What can you do differently this time to avoid pitfalls?
Tips for cutting down on your drinking
Set a drinking goal. Choose a limit for how much you will drink. Make sure your limit is not more than one drink a day if you’re a woman, or two drinks a day if you’re a man—and try to schedule some alcohol-free days each week. Now write your drinking goal on a piece of paper. Put it where you can see it, such as on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.
Keep a “diary” of your drinking. To help you reach your goal, keep a “diary” of your drinking. For example, write it down every time you have a drink during the week. Try to keep your diary for 3 or 4 weeks. This will show you how much you drink and when. You may be surprised. How different is your goal from the amount you drink now?
Watch it at home. Try to limit or remove alcohol from your home. It’s much easier to avoid drinking if you don’t keep temptations around.
Drink slowly. When you drink, sip your drink slowly. Take a break of 30 minutes or one hour between drinks—or drink soda, water, or juice after each alcoholic drink. Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea, so make sure you eat food when you drink.
Take breaks from alcohol. Pick a day or two each week when you will not drink at all. Then, try to stop drinking for one week. Think about how you feel physically and emotionally on these days. When you succeed and feel better, you may find it easier to cut down for good.