Table of contents
Whether you drink every day or only on weekends, you may want to cut back on your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a psychoactive substance that has physical, psychological, and social repercussions, both in the short term and in the long term.
But reducing its use is not only about drinking less, it is also about reviewing all of your daily habits and questioning yourself.
If alcoholism is a part of your life, considering getting rid of it gradually is an excellent choice. To help you, you will find in this article twenty tips that will help you achieve your goal.
What is alcoholism? (definition)
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is an addiction to alcohol caused by excessive and repeated consumption. Alcoholism is to alcohol what drug addiction is to drugs.
The person who suffers from it continues to consume alcohol compulsively, despite the harmful consequences of the product. Little by little, she loses control and a process of habituation makes her more tolerant. She needs to increase the doses to get the desired effect.
As with other addictions, alcohol then takes up all the space in his life: in his head, instead of his surroundings and his activities. The individual spends more and more time around the drink (buying it, consuming it, hiding his disorder).
The term “ social alcoholism ” is sometimes used: it is chronic alcoholism.
It is the act of drinking socially tolerated amounts of alcohol every day, often in the company of other individuals, but without realizing that the habituation has set in.
Faced with addiction, not everyone is equal. Certain factors favor the onset of alcohol dependence: genetic variability, personality type, and environment. Similarly, starting to drink early increases the risk of addiction in adulthood.
Alcoholism has consequences:
- Social: arguments, estrangement, debts...
- Professional: difficulty concentrating, accidents at work, dropping out of school, etc.
- Medical: cancers, cardiovascular diseases, addiction…
- Cognitive: neurological disorders, memory problems, etc.
- Psychological: depression, anxiety, sexual disorders...
Consuming alcohol while pregnant induces significant risks, sometimes irreversible. A third of fatal road accidents are caused by alcohol. Drinking also increases risky sexual behavior.
In the event of stopping, an alcoholic person will present a syndrome of withdrawal, which is a response of the body and the head to the lack. This causes symptoms such as tremors, agitation, insomnia, or convulsions.
This is why any sudden abstinence is strongly discouraged without appropriate medical support. A therapeutic follow-up is necessary on the psychic level, but also on the somatic level: the dependence on alcohol is as much physical as psychological.
How to reduce your alcohol consumption?
Do those around you comment on your consumption? Your recurrent drunkenness prevents you from carrying out certain activities but you are not ready to complete alcohol withdrawal and you prefer to start by reducing your consumption?
First of all, congratulations: this is an excellent first step that will save you! Here are twenty tips to apply to achieve this more easily.
Tip 1: Evaluate your consumption
Before even starting to reduce your consumption, it is important to evaluate it: do you drink every lunchtime or rather throughout the day? Do you consume during the week or only on weekends, excessively?
To do this, write down every evening, for at least a whole week, ideally a month, everything you have consumed: Number of glasses drunk: per day or per week; Number of days without drinking: or a number of hours; Degree of alcohol: beer is not equivalent to a glass of vodka.
You can plot this information in a table. Over time, this will allow you to take a step back from your consumption. You will realize the amount absorbed per day, week, and month. The numbers don't lie and you might be surprised at what it represents.
Tip 2: Set your SMART goal
To be successful in cutting down your alcohol intake and gradually ending your alcoholism, you need to set your cutback goal. This will allow you to keep a course in which to orient yourself.
To put the odds on your side and move forward clearly, your objective must be SMART:
- Simple: “I am going to reduce my consumption”;
- Measurable: “I want to go from five glasses a day to two glasses”;
- Achievable: “it is an ambitious project, but acceptable”;
- Achievable: “my motivation and my resources will help me”;
- Temporal: “I give myself three months”.
It is up to you to define your objective so that it is best suited to what you have been able to analyze concerning your consumption. For example, for some people, it will be a question of setting a period without alcohol between noon and two, or of not drinking any more while being alone. For others, the goal will be to stop drinking alcohol in the evening or to go one day a week without alcohol.
If, despite everything, it is difficult for you to define your goal on your own, here are some ideas to guide you: “In a month, I will no longer exceed two glasses of alcohol per day. “As of tomorrow, I will stop mixing alcohols together. » « In three months I will be able to drink my first glass of alcohol from 7 pm. "As of Monday, I no longer drink after 6 p.m."
Tip 3: Set up a stop contract
You can turn your goals into a set of rules for getting out of alcoholism. To motivate you, you will post it in a place where you pass regularly: why not on your refrigerator? It will take over your commitments to yourself, for example:
- No more drinking before 6 p.m.
- No more than 3 drinks per evening
- Two large glasses of water between each glass of alcohol
- Stop drinking with colleagues at lunchtime
- Friday is a day without alcohol
It's up to you to make it a “contract” that you will date and sign: you are making a commitment with yourself, for a better life.
Tip 4: Use an app to help you
Your phone can accompany you in your decrease. Indeed, there are now applications to support you in your project.
In addition to offering you an analysis of your alcohol consumption, these applications allow you to track your daily use. You follow your progress curves while receiving timely advice. In case of abuse and risky use, you are also alerted.
Does this type of application seem complex to you to use? You can use a simple diary and record your consumption in a small week.
Tip 5: Establish your motivations to cut back on alcohol
Defining the reasons for your drop-in of alcohol will help you achieve your goal. Becoming aware of the consequences of drinking on your life is essential.
In the short term, excess alcohol has repercussions on your quality of life on several levels:
- Your health: headaches, blackouts, intoxication, stomach aches, weight gain...
- Your cognitive abilities: memory loss, difficulty concentrating, etc.
- Your mental state: mood disorders, anxieties, aggressiveness, sleep disorders...
- Your self-esteem: self-confidence, the problem with the law…
- Your entourage: tensions, disputes, financial problems…
- Your work or your studies: drop in performance, delays, absence, danger in case of driving…
- Your intimacy: sexual disorders, nymphomania, or reduced libido.
In the long term, the consequences can be extremely serious, in particular an increase in the risk of cancers and of the affections already present.
So what are your reasons? Make a list and keep it handy so you can read it again every time you want a drink.
Tip 6: Analyze risky situations
Essential to reaching your goal, understanding your moments of weakness in the face of drinking requires a little analysis.
Think about those moments when it is impossible for you to do otherwise and ask yourself:
Is it related to certain emotions: when you are bored or to dispel a feeling of sadness?
If you drink out of shyness, is it to disinhibit you and make you feel more comfortable socially or to strengthen and nurture your relationships?
Are these fixed habits in your daily life?
By reporting all these elements (in your table of consumption), you will realize the moments at risk: it is about those when alcohol has the most power over you. Other times are safer, when you know you won't use it at all, regardless of your emotional state (at work, for example).
This exercise will allow you to anticipate these moments, then modify your attitudes, or even replace them.
Tip 7: Change up your drinking routines
When you rated your drinking, after reviewing your last few weeks, you certainly saw “key” times when you consistently drink, regardless of your mood.
These are routines, and habits, that you put in place that is part of your chronic alcoholism.
For some people, it is the midday aperitif that is essential. For others, it's the Sunday night bottle of wine.
These habits constitute your alcoholism because they certainly represent a large part of your consumption, and by modifying them you will necessarily reduce it.
To do this, think about what you can do instead, which will bring you as much pleasure and which could, in the long term, replace this moment of intoxication.
For example, if you have a drink every night when you get home from work, in order to "cut" and feel good: wouldn't a hot shower or a walk in the fresh air has the same effect?
Try, and replace that after-work drink of alcohol with an activity of your choice, twice a week, to start with.
Tip 8: Test Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Whether they are non-alcoholic cocktails or more varied soft drinks (sodas, fruit juices, lemonades…) there is an impressive quantity of drinks that will bring you a real moment of pleasure! Remember to buy and test them, to discover your preferences, and above all, to always have some in stock at home.
However, beware of energy drinks, which usually contain stimulants like caffeine. By consuming them with alcohol, it is less perceived by the body, which can lead to drinking even more.
You can try new alcoholic cocktails, replacing certain drinks with others, which will be less strong, but just as pleasant in taste.
Sparkling water, for example, goes wonderfully with a large number of alcohols. In addition, it will help you reduce your consumption, bringing you satiation with its bubbles.
Be careful with "premixes" which contain little alcohol (5 to 7%), and are mixed with very sweet sodas. Their mild flavor masks the taste of alcohol and also makes you want to drink even more.
Tip 9: alternate with water
When drinking, try to alternate each glass of alcohol with water or soft drinks. Think about this: when you consume alcohol, you should always have a glass of water near you. By doing so, you can go so far as to halve your usage.
When you are thirsty, drink water first, and never start with alcohol, which is a diuretic. It, therefore, has dehydrating functions: it will never quench your thirst.
Tip 10: Think Savings
Alcoholism entails a significant cost and sometimes leads to contracting debts in certain cases. In the same way that you have estimated your consumption, you can also estimate how much the drink costs you, by keeping a log.
Some usage tracking apps can do this for you.
To reduce, you can set yourself the objective of reviewing this budget downwards, by a third for example. As for the money saved, why not put it aside to reward yourself and treat yourself to something pleasant with each new level reached?
Tip 11: Change your home practices
To reduce your consumption, it is important to review certain habits that you realize without even realizing it.
When you eat, don't leave bottles of alcohol on the table: pour yourself a glass, then put them away. Indeed, it is much more tempting to refill when the drink is at hand. Ideally, drink slowly, eat at the same time and alternate with water.
Regarding quantities, try to use standard glasses, such as those served in bars. This corresponds to a "unit of alcohol", which can also help you to measure your consumption as well as your reduction.
At home, you may tend to fill glasses more consistently. By following this dosage, of about ten grams of pure alcohol, you will reduce your use. Obviously, for this, you must respect the appropriate containers.
Stop stocking up on alcoholic beverages. The less you have at home, the less tempted you will be.
Finally, always drink from a glass and not from a bottle. It is more difficult to limit yourself to a bottle of which you cannot see the bottom.
Tip 12: Warn those around you about your alcohol reduction
Share your alcohol reduction project with your loved ones and family.
Already, the fact of verbalizing your objective to others will give it a pragmatic dimension: you have signed this contract with yourself, but you have shared it with others. Also, you should get their support and not have to deal with guilt phrases… that would push you to use.
However, if the entourage that accompanies you is pressing and you find it difficult to say no, two solutions are available to you. The first is to anticipate and visualize these events.
For example: if you know that you are going to meet people who will insist that you use drugs, you can provide a reason to justify yourself, even if it means lying. Remember, the main thing is your well-being and the achievement of your goal: to end your alcoholism.
The second is, as far as possible, to sort it out. Indeed, if your loved ones do not respect your decision and encourage you to drink, is it not time, perhaps for a moment, to impose distance and reconsider this relationship?
The choice to reduce your consumption is up to you and social pressure can undermine it because it is not always easy to say no when you lack self-confidence: protect yourself.
Tip 13: Reduce to several
To put the odds on your side, why not carry out this project to reduce alcohol with a friend? In addition to supporting each other in the event of hard times, you will be able to motivate each other and encourage each other in your goals.
If you do it as a couple, this will be an opportunity to start new pleasant activities, which will replace the moments of drunkenness: sports walks or board games... the choices are many!
Tip 14: Stay in control of your consumption in festive events
Initially, to foster your new rhythm and encourage your tapering off, it's best to avoid party events where you might break down and indulge in binge drinking. It's like with cigarettes when you decide to quit smoking, it's best to stay away from any temptation.
However, you can still face situations of temptation by keeping in mind these few tips:
- Set yourself a number of drinks for the evening and stick to it;
- Set yourself a time from which you no longer drink;
- Do not mix alcohol;
- Avoid drugs and watch your drink;
- Take the time to drink your glasses, try to take pleasure in consuming them;
- Eat and alternate alcohol with water and soft drinks;
- Do not participate in drinking games.
You can also ask a trusted loved one to be your safeguard and kindly remind you of your goals during the evening.
Tip 15: Become Sam
If you continue to participate in festive events where alcohol is likely to flow freely, a good solution to not drinking (and thus considerably reducing your weekly use) is to take the role of Sam.
Who is Sam? It is the person designated at the beginning of the evening who drives and therefore who does not drink, allowing the whole carpool group to be brought back to their destination.
Tip 16: Change locations
Do you usually go to bars for drinks? Instead, prefer cafes, tea rooms, or juice bars! You can spend just as pleasant moments while being accompanied and without alcohol.
Similarly, if you watch sporting events in bars: prefer home or spend this moment with your loved ones. It will be easier for you to keep control over your alcohol intake.
Do you usually use it at home and alone? Why not turn this into a moment of pleasure shared with a loved one you appreciate, by going to a restaurant, once a week for example?
Tip 17: Face Your Emotions
It is important that you can only attach the notion of pleasure to alcohol: the drink should no longer be a support or a tool to face your fears. It is this emotional connotation associated with alcohol that is problematic.
Some alcoholics suffer from a deficit of emotional regulation: they do not have enough resources within them to manage their effects, which can be a source of great distress.
You may have started drinking to escape negative emotions that were too much to handle. As a result, at the slightest sign of the appearance of this intolerable effect, alcohol has become the only solution available to you. But that did not solve the root of the problem, which is still present.
Worse still, a vicious circle could be set up: you drink to relieve yourself of an evil that you do not wish to face, but alcohol generates states of depression. Negative feelings then appear, such as guilt, which pushes you to use again to cope with this.
If you want to end your alcoholism, facing your feelings is a key part of your journey.
When you feel the intolerable emotional feeling rising within you that pushes you to have a drink, sit down, make yourself comfortable, and for at least thirty seconds, try to fully experience what is taking hold of you. It may not seem like much to you, but it's already a big step.
Little by little, increase this duration and live your effect completely, without trying to judge it, simply welcome it.
Don't forget that emotion is there to signal a need to you: listening to it is taking care of yourself. Mindfulness meditation can help you develop these skills.
Tip 18: Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself involves meeting your essential needs (eating well, having quality sleep, maintaining rich and satisfying social relationships, etc.), but also through the pleasure you feel. Alcohol shouldn't be your only source of well-being.
To do this, test activities, whether related to your creativity, your alertness, or your body: painting, puzzles, reading, massages...
It is imperative that you take time for yourself in order to discover new forms of happiness. Finally, try to be gentle and kind to yourself, especially on more difficult days, if you fail to achieve your goals.
It happens, do not blame yourself and first of all, try to understand what the associated reasons are.
Tip 19: Practice a sporting activity
If reducing your alcohol consumption means saving time in your diary, why not start (or resume) a physical activity? Alone or with others, by joining a club or remaining free, the practice of sport causes a release of endorphins in the body.
In addition to making you capitalize on your health, exercise contributes to your well-being.
Beyond that, setting goals to achieve, both individual (for example: running five kilometers in thirty minutes within six months) and collective ("accompanying my friend to the gym three times a week") constitutes a great motivator.
Eventually, you will even see the beneficial effects of your alcohol reduction on your athletic ability.
Finally, rest assured: nothing forces you to invest in an intensive practice, which could be frightening, even harmful. Walking in the fresh air is just as effective!
Do yoga in a park or go to the pool to swim a few lengths: the main thing is to try and establish this new habit at least once a week.
Be careful, however, not to replace alcohol addiction (alcoholism) with another addiction, such as sports addiction, also called bigorexia. Addiction to a sports practice can also be dangerous for your health.
Tip 20: Ask for help
Never forget that you are not alone.
If reducing your consumption seems complicated to you and you are going from failure to failure, contact a professional: general practitioner, school nurse, occupational health service, or addiction specialist.
This may mean that your level of alcoholism is higher than you imagine and that you need more specific support for your level of consumption.
Everyone will know how to listen to you, without judgment, with kindness, in order to provide you with the support and advice you need.
If you do not have this possibility, you can contact dedicated services, which provides a telephone line. Similarly, do not hesitate to go to discussion groups or mutual aid associations.
Finally, a therapeutic follow-up, with a psychologist specializing in addictions, will allow you to make the best progress in your objective while looking for the root causes behind your consumption.
There are many tips for reducing your consumption and ensuring that you do not sink into deeper alcoholism.
This reduction will bring you significant benefits: better shape, alertness, savings...
However, for some alcoholics, a drop is not enough to better manage their addiction, and withdrawal then turns out to be the only solution.
Don't forget that getting out of alcohol is possible: you will considerably improve your quality of life. Get accompanied as soon as you feel ready.
❤️ Enjoy this Newsletter?
If you enjoyed this edition, please share the love with your friends and family members. And let them know where they can subscribe [here]
Follow Me on Twitter [@f_djiometio]
Until next edition, take care.
- How much alcohol and how often? Population-based case-control study of alcohol consumption and risk of a major coronary event
- How well does the theory of planned behavior predict alcohol consumption? A systematic review and meta-analysis
- Alcohol consumption among young consumers: a review and recommendations
- La Clinique E-Sante