Alcoholism is something many people struggle with. It’s just the harsh reality of life. People start out drinking socially, until they find themselves abusing alcohol, and then before they know it they lose control. They become alcoholics.
And so this harsh reality must be faced with equally realistic solutions. There are alcohol rehabilitation centers and detoxification methods that can get the person out of this sticky situation. But what if they don’t have access to these programs? What if they don’t have a strong support system that encourages them to keep going? Are they supposed to just keep on abusing alcohol?
The answer is no. This post is for people who are starting down the slippery slope of binge drinking, not those that are have realized that they are in fact alcoholics. Those that know they cannot use alcohol ever again. Maybe you are not there yet. Again this post is for those that are waking up with hangovers on the regular. Those that are starting to “abuse” it. We want you to correct your actions and paradigm before it’s too late.
We want you to live a life free from addiction. First let’s define a few terms that get tossed around in Addiction circles.
What is Moderate Alcohol Use?
First things first: what exactly counts as moderate alcohol use? According to the guidelines set by the US Department of Health, “moderate” means drinking no more than 1 drink per day for women, and no more than two drinks per day for men. For context, a drink is defined as 12 oz of beer, 1.5 oz of spirits, and 5 oz of wine.
Meanwhile the World Health Organization defines moderate drinking as having no more than 2 drinks per day, and no more than 5 drinking days per week. WHO recommends two days dedicated to non-drinking. Of course, stockpiling your drinks and having them all at the end of the week does not count as moderate drinking.
Keeping a Journal
The first step in taking control of your alcohol consumption is being completely honest with yourself. You need to accept the truth that you have a problem that needs to be addressed. Once you decide to look for a proper solution, you can start keeping a journal of your drinking habits.
You can’t rely on memory alone because it’s unreliable. Having a journal is not only more accurate, but also more motivating. You can jot down your drinks in a diary to see exactly how much and how often you drink.
Seeing this list constantly reminds you of your goal and what is yet to be done. Be as honest as you can while writing on this journal. And keep doing it every day for six months.
The reason we recommend doing this for half a year is because it’s easy to start controlling your alcohol consumption for the first few days. You’re feeling really motivated during that period. But sticking with it for half a year is difficult. And if you manage to control your alcohol consumption throughout this period, you will have already made significant progress.
Take note of days when you drink more than a moderate amount, and try to identify your triggers. What caused you to drink more? Review your journal regularly.
Setting a Realistic Goal
The journal can help you chart a course toward recovery. This may not work well with alcoholics, because they are already physically unable to quit drinking. But if you are not yet experiencing withdrawal symptoms, then chances are you can still help yourself using these methods.
Even if you’re not yet an alcoholic, you must be very realistic with your expectations. It’s going to be a difficult journey trying to stop your alcohol abuse. You must be kind to yourself.
Use your journal to plan realistically, based on the progress you’ve made so far. Decide ahead of time how often you would like to drink and how you’re planning to get rid of this habit once and for all. This will help you be more mindful of your drinking habits.
Don’t Drink on an Empty Stomach
In those moments when you absolutely have to drink, be sure not to do it on an empty stomach. You have to make eating a part of the experience, because an empty stomach will absorb alcohol more quickly. Hunger will make you drink more alcohol than you need.
If you remain full, you can slow down the alcohol absorption. Also, try to avoid situations that are associated with heavy drinking. This will just make it more difficult to stick to your plan.
On the topic of food and hunger, do not eat salty snacks like potato chips and peanuts while drinking. Salt makes you thirsty and inclined to drink more.
Mixing it Up
There are ways to limit your alcohol consumption even as you’re drinking. For starters, you can drink slowly and put down the glass after each sip.
If you want to quench your thirst quickly, start with a non-alcoholic drink. You can also choose to buy low-alcohol alternatives such as light beer. This is particularly helpful during social events. Thirst can make you drink more alcohol than usual.
Drink plenty of water or soft drinks. Take a break every now and then to do other things such as dance or socialize. If you find yourself drinking with friends, make every second drink a non-alcoholic beverage. The key is in not taking all your alcoholic drinks at once, or else you’ll be tempted to drink more than you planned.
Again, record everything in your journal afterwards.
Changing Your Habits
It can be very helpful if you can find another way to channel your energy, other than drinking the night away. You can find other hobbies, or try out new sports. You can change your habits by making better choices. Before you develop alcohol dependence, try and change your habits now.
If you have followed these steps, or have been down this road before, perhaps you need professional help. It’s ok. We all need help from time to time. Detox of South Florida is here to help you overcome your alcohol addiction. We want you to call us right now. If doing it on your own has lead you back to “rock bottom” then its time to seek professional help and join a community of like minded people.