Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused substance in Canada. With nearly one in five Canadians drinking excessively, and alcohol becoming an increasingly accessed substance to cope with the uncertainties of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you may be finding yourself in need of a break from alcohol, or even considering quitting drinking altogether.
Recovery is a gradual process, and in the early stages, denial can be a huge obstacle. Even after admitting you have a drinking problem, you may find yourself making excuses and dragging your feet when it comes to quitting. It’s important to acknowledge that you may have mixed feelings about recovery.
If you are wondering how to stop drinking, the following steps may help.
1. Talk about it
Create goals, make an announcement, share with your inner circle, or join an online sober community and share your thoughts and feelings. Letting others know about your choice to stop drinking and your sobriety goals may help motivate you to stick with your decision. By involving loved ones, you will have family and friends who can provide encouragement and support throughout your recovery journey.
2. Notice your triggers
You may have places, people, or events that are tied to drinking, and being around them could make it harder to stay sober. Whenever possible, avoid these triggers. If avoiding them isn’t possible, call or text a loved one who is supporting you on your recovery journey and have your goals handy to remind yourself why you decided to stop drinking in the first place.
3. Know what to say
During the recovery process, you are likely to be in situations where you’ll be offered a drink. For example, in situations like family get-togethers or workplace networking events, alcohol is often present. Planning ahead and knowing how you’ll turn down the offer ahead of time will be very helpful and will relieve some of the stress around attending these events. Why you choose not to drink is nobody’s business but your own, so your response can be as short or as detailed as you’d like it to be. Some examples of responses are:
“No thanks, I’m sober.”
“I’ll have a Diet Coke, please.”
“No thank you, I’m driving.”
“None, for me, thank you. I don’t drink.”
If you find yourself feeling nervous about attending an event where alcohol is involved, ask a supportive friend to come along with you, and have an exit strategy prepared ahead of time in case you feel like you need to leave before the event is over.
4. Fill your time
Social activities are often centred around drinking. Consider after work happy hour, concerts held at nightclubs, and even simple catch-ups with friends — these activities often involve alcoholic drinks. If your hobbies have typically involved alcohol consumption, it may be time to try some new activities. Perhaps taking an art or fitness class, meeting friends at coffee shops instead of cocktail bars, or hosting friends for an evening of tea, snacks and board games will become your new favourite — and sober — activity.
Additionally, planning a busy morning the day after attending an event where alcohol is present can help to deter yourself from taking a sip. The promise of a fun and fulfilling morning will motivate you to stay sober so that you can enjoy your morning without feeling the effects of the previous night
5. Manage alcohol cravings
When quitting alcohol, it is common for cravings to arise. To combat these cravings and avoid relapse, you may wish to:
Talk to a loved one
Talking to someone you trust and who supports your recovery journey can help to get difficult thoughts off your chest and stay on track.
When a strong craving arises, a physical distraction may be needed. Try going for a walk, listening to your favourite music, cleaning your house, or running an errand to pass the time.
Remind yourself why you have stopped drinking
Sometimes, in the thick of giving up alcohol, it may be easier to remember the positive effects of drinking rather than the negatives. Remind yourself of the negative effects of drinking and why you decided to give it up in the first place.
When to ask for help
If you feel that you are drinking too much, too frequently, or are using alcohol to cope with issues or stresses going on in your life, it may be time to seek professional help. EHN Sandstone, our inpatient addiction treatment centre in Calgary, helps you build the foundation for lasting recovery through a number of evidence-based approaches including individual therapy sessions that utilize techniques such as CBT and DBT, group therapy sessions, mindfulness and physical exercise, art therapy, relapse prevention groups, and an aftercare program once treatment has been completed. Our private bedrooms, communal spaces, and chef-prepared meals are designed to provide a relaxing, comfortable stay. Our high staff-to-patient ratio ensures you’ll enjoy unparalleled personal attention from our licensed medical team.
If you are ready to make fundamental, lasting change in your life, our team of admissions counsellors are ready to help you. Contact us today at 587-350-6818.