If you feel that you're drinking too much, sometimes it's too much to stop by just quitting "Cold Turkey". You can make little changes that will reduce your drinking small maounts at a time. In the long run this will significantly cut down on your changes to have problems related to alcohol abuse. Below is a list of different strategies that you might try. Now not every strategy works for everybody some might work for you better than others. If you try one, make sure to give it a fair go... at least 8 to 12 weeks worth before you give up.
Also remember that these strategies are no substitute for professional help or counseling.
- Track your drinking. Count the number of drinks and how many drinks you drink. There are lots of different ways to keep track of your drinking including checking it off in your calendar, using a notebook or using an application on your smart phone. Also if you count the drink BEFORE you drink it, it will help to slow down your drinking.
- Know how much you are drinking. Understand how much alcohol is in each beverage so that you can accruately keep track of how much you drink. It's easy with a standard sized drink such as a beer, but sometimes harder with wine or mixed drinks where you don't know the size of the glass. If you're at home you can actually measure the drink yourself. It's harder when you are out at a friend's or a restaurant, but make sure not to let the server or host top off your drink if you're not finished with it yet. You can easily lose track this way.
- Set drinking targets. Before the week begins, choose exactly the maximum amount you plan to drink for the week and on what days you'll be drinking. If possible, decide on a few days that you won't drink anything at all. Research has shown that alcohol use is the lowest for people who have drinking targets.
- Pace yourself. Make sure when you are drinking that you are doing it slowly and not guzzling. That means sip your drinks. You can also alternate your alcoholic beverage with a non-alcoholic beverage such as water or juice.
- Eat when you drink. By drinking when you have food in your stomach, the alcohol will be more slowly absorbed into your blood stream. Also, if you're already full from a meal, you're less likely to drink as much.
- Do something other than drinking. If alcohol consumption is something that takes up much of your time, then maybe you should have something else on your agenda. Think about healthier things to do such as a new hobby or relationship. Or maybe you can rebuild an older relationship that went by the wayside.
- Don't get stuck with "triggers." What is that thing that keys you to drink? Maybe it's coming home from work or watching sports on TV or maybe dinner. Be aware of the times that you really feel like drinking and actively create something different to occupy that time.
- Be ready for urges. Sometimes an urge to drink is completely unexpected. Be ready for this to happen. Tell yourself again, why you want to change your drinking habits. Often people will keep this in a notebook or on a piece of paper that they can easily reference. Or find somebody that you trust and talk it out. A lot of times it's good to write down "what I should do when I have the urge to drink" because it's easier to read a list than think of things to do and fight the urge at the sametime. Remember also that urges are like clouds, they will pass. So sometimes you can just wait it out.
- Turn it down. Have you "no" prepared when you are offered a drink. The "no" is usually something polite like "no thanks" or "I'm not drinking this week". So you're completely ready when you're offered that alcoholic beverage and know how to turn it down.
I hope you find these skills helpful. Also consider the availablilty of alcohol awareness classes which can teach you even more skills to cut down on your drinking.