How to Avoid AlcoholAnna Ciulla
These days, encountering alcohol at a social or work event is pretty much unavoidable whether it be for a client meeting, birthday party, date night, or watching a sports game. Unfortunately for many, it has become an integral aspect of many human interactions thanks to the pleasant effects that arise from one too many drinks. We live in a culture that indulges binge drinking behavior, it is far too easy for a social binge drinker to turn into someone with a drinking problem. So, how do you stop binge drinking before it becomes a real issue?
For those who wish to be healthy and lose weight, learning how to stop drinking every night is one of the quickest methods for dropping your calorie and fat count. While that alone should be encouragement enough to avoid drinking altogether, if you’re drinking becomes a habit, there are a variety of health and social problems you may have to face. So, whether you are a recovering alcoholic or someone who simply wants to cut back, below, here are some tips on how you can avoid alcohol.
Tip 1. Set Your Goals
Before you begin, it is essential that you sit down and consider the reasons you want to avoid alcohol. Grab a pen and paper and write down your goals and motivations for wanting to cut back or completely stop. If you are someone with an addiction, it will benefit you to seek an alcohol detox program from an inpatient alcohol treatment facility. This matters because someone who is trying to avoid a relapse will have to take much more austere measures than a person who simply wants to cut back. Ask yourself:
- Are you trying to stop drinking indefinitely?
- Are you trying to stop drinking for a short while, if so, how long? A month? Two?
- What are the reasons you want to drink less?
- Was there a single moment that made you realize you need to stop or cut back?
- Who was negatively affected by your alcohol consumption?
- Who (besides yourself) would benefit from you drinking less?
- What are some examples of the ugly effects of your drinking habits?
- What do you want to do with the free time that you won’t be spending drinking?
- Are there hobbies you want to pick up?
- Are there books you want to read?
- Are there obligations you need to fulfill?
- Who will you tell about these goals? Who will support you, encourage you, challenge you?
Writing down your thoughts can help you chart a course of action, especially if you bring someone alongside you to help fulfill your goals. Having a sheet with these answers can be a great motivator to return to as a reminder of why you want to avoid alcohol in the first place.
Tip 2. Identify Your Social Influencers
We are social creatures that depend upon each other and on our community in order to prosper. While others can build us up, they can also break us down. Peer pressure can affect even the strongest of wills, so it is vital that you surround yourself with people who support you, care about you, and will encourage you in your alcohol avoidance. This is especially important for recovering alcoholics since even a slip can lead to a massive backward slide into relapse.
Beneath your goals, write down the names of the people who can support you in your alcohol avoidance. These should be people that love you unconditionally, forgive you for past mistakes, and will not tempt you to pick up a bottle. Answer the following questions:
- Who did you drink with?
- Did you spend as much time with them before you drank?
- Who can you spend time with without needing to drink?
- Who has gone out of their way to encourage you or lift you up when you were down?
- Who are your closest friends?
- Are they positive or negative influences?
- Do they have drinking issues themselves?
- Who do you spend time with that makes you feel good about yourself?
- Who do you spend time with that makes you want to drink, whether out of annoyance or comradery?
- Is there anyone in your life who has themselves cut back or stopped drinking altogether?
- Can they mentor you?
We are often only as strong as the people around us. If you are witnessing that a loved one is having problems with alcohol, you have to learn how to help your alcoholic friend get back to sobriety. Therefore, it is vital that you surround yourself with those who will lift you up rather than drag you down. If there are people who you only spend time with drinking, perhaps they need to be cut out of your life, or you might have to see if a friendship can be maintained doing other activities. Find people who have a positive influence on you.
Once you have identified the relationships that are beneficial, tell them of your struggle, let them know how they can bolster you or encourage you or avoid tempting you. If it is too much of a temptation to be around the presence of any type of alcohol, consider asking them to either not drink (if your case is severe) or drink in moderation around you. Share your goals and ask them to keep you accountable. If you have an alcohol use disorder, you should cut everyone out of your life that influences you to drink.
If you have already burnt all the bridges in past relationships, perhaps a change of setting might be your best bet, especially for recovering alcoholics. Forge new bonds and make new and healthy friendships through a club, a rec league, a church, or community service. Build healthy relationships with shared goals and values. Find role models who can walk this path alongside you and give you advice.
Tip 3. Identify Your Triggers and High-Risk Situations
We all drink alcoholic beverages for various reasons and some of these reasons can be quite innocent or innocuous. That said, if you are trying to avoid drinking alcohol, then it is essential that you thoroughly plan for and identify all the reasons you might drink, or turn to alcohol when things go wrong. By charting these out, you can create a game plan for how to avoid these situations or to not let triggering emotions devolve into drinking or substance abuse.
Emotional State Triggers
- Hungry – Hunger is your brain and body communicating, and while it may be actual hunger residing in that feeling, often it is more about being bored, tired, or experiencing other emotions. All too often, a person who is feeling hungry may turn to drink to fill that void, even though it has nothing to do with food. In order to keep this nebulous hunger from turning into drinking, keep healthy and nutritious snacks at hand—fruits, veggies, nuts, and other foods can help eliminate that craving and will help you lose weight!
- Anger – Anger is one of the most powerful feelings a person can experience. It can overwhelm and consume all other emotions as well as create stress on the body. Frequently, alcoholics or unhealthy drinkers will turn to alcoholic beverages when they are mad or upset. It becomes a way for them to cool off or settle down. In reality, alcohol tends to fuel those fires rather than help kill them. When angry, it is important you recognize why you are upset, what caused it, and then figure out healthy ways you can burn off steam such as exercise, yoga, prayer, or meditation.
- Loneliness – Changing patterns or habits can be a difficult and lonely experience, especially if most of your friends drink regularly. When people feel lonely, they frequently turn to alcohol or substances to feel better about themselves or their situation. One of the ideal ways to avoid or manage loneliness is to find a support group such as SMART or AA. Having healthy places to go to when you feel like this can help you avoid turning to alcohol.
- Tired – When you are tired, either emotionally or physically, your barriers are lowered or are absent altogether. It is hard to fight cravings or avoid a relapse when you are worn down. Many people also use alcohol to help them fall asleep. If that’s you, it is crucial you find new methods for helping you sleep such as prayer, meditation, or breathing techniques.
Besides the more obvious emotional states, there might be certain events, places, or individuals that might stress you out and make you want to drink. While you cannot sequester yourself off from the world or avoid work because it induces stress, you should not go out of your way to put yourself in situations that might make you want to drink. Generally, it would be wise to avoid the following:
- Old spots that you used to hang out and drink
- Remembering the “good times” with friends you drank with
- People that bring you nothing but stress
While sometimes it may be unavoidable to attend something that might tempt you to drink, by acknowledging it beforehand and preparing for it, you can go with your guard held high. By identifying triggers and stressors, you can also help alert those who are supporting you for signs to look out for or situations to avoid.
Tip 4. Create Routines and Healthy Habits
Handling stress, hunger, anger, loneliness, tiredness, and other such emotions can be challenging, especially when you take away the salve (alcohol) you used to deal with such things. Because of this, it is critical that you find healthy ways to blow off steam without turning to alcohol. By creating habits, routines, and structure to your life, you can avoid boredom and loneliness, and thus avoid alcohol cravings. Filling your day with goals and tasks, focused on improving yourself, can help fill the void that alcohol can no longer satisfy.
Consider the following healthy ideas:
- Exercise every single day – This means raising your heart rate for at least 30 minutes a day. While this could be merely running or walking, you could also take up hiking, biking, swimming, aerobics, yoga, weight lifting, CrossFit, karate, etc.
- Join a sports league – While this is a form of exercise, it is also a fantastic way to build friendships and comradery. There are adult rec leagues for soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball, flag football, golf and a variety of other sports in just about every city.
- Pick up a new hobby – Learn a new skill or develop an older one. Take up woodworking, painting, coding, knitting, an instrument, dancing, or gaming.
- Read a book – Books are nourishment to the soul, they let you live a hundred different lives and visit a hundred different places, all from the comfort of your home.
- Volunteer – Giving back to your community or others less fortunate is a fantastic way to avoid feeling sorry for yourself. Churches and volunteer centers, and homeless centers can be found everywhere, and each one of these can always use another helping hand.
Tip 5. Go to Group
Although this is more intended for people who have gone through alcohol rehab and are in recovery, it can still apply to those who just wish to cut back on their drinking. For alcoholics, regularly going to group programs such as twelve-step is one of the most vital ways a person can avoid relapse. A person who quits going to their support group is exponentially more likely to relapse and fall back into a pattern of alcohol abuse.
Although it is critical to surround yourself with friends and family, you also need a community of individuals who have struggled with alcohol abuse. Groups help form bonds and judgment-free zones where a person can be honest about their struggles with alcohol. If you struggle with alcohol abuse, you should be attending a group at least once or twice a week, if not more. It is also important that you obtain a sponsor from the group who you can turn to when you feel tempted to drink.
Avoiding alcohol and quitting drinking altogether can be a tricky proposition. If you wish to cut back or stop completely remember to do the following:
- Set your goals
- Identify your social influencers
- Identify your triggers
- Create healthy routines and habits
- Go to groups
If you do these things, you will be far better prepared to reduce your alcohol intake and avoid it altogether. For more tips on how to quit drinking or to get sober, contact our Florida treatment program facility today.