People develop a habit of drinking alcohol in various ways. For some, wine and spirits are part of their upbringing. Special occasions or formal dinners are marked with a toast or a perfectly paired wine while an after-dinner drink may be a standing offering. Others find their first exposure to alcohol in college, where beer parties are their entrance into the collegiate social scene. Still, others learn to use alcohol as a way to release tensions after a stressful day at the office or to ease the anxiety of contentious relationships.
Many people can go their entire lives using a controlled amount of alcohol as part of their daily or weekly meals and social activities. They know what they enjoy and they know how to limit their indulgences. Others may reach a point where they choose to eliminate alcohol from their diet for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s the result of an acknowledged addiction. Other times, a doctor’s order requires eliminating alcohol for health reasons. Still, others decide to eliminate alcohol as a means of removing empty calories from their diet and getting more physically fit.
Whatever the reason for deciding to stop, social pressures can weigh heavily in the success or failure of those efforts. If you’ve always enjoyed a glass of wine with family dinners, looked forward to happy hour with co-workers after work or frequented parties with friends where alcohol flows freely, you may have a tougher time going cold turkey than someone who faces no outside pressures. It is possible to quit drinking alcohol, however, in spite of the actions of your friends. The decision rests with you.
- Develop a clear understanding of why you have decided to quit drinking alcohol.
Addiction or serious health concerns are definitely motivation enough, but you have to make the decision for yourself, knowing it is one of the most important ones you can make. Only you can carry it out. Focus on your inner strength and determination to set a strong, specific goal. Write it down. Keep that written goal where you can see it often.
- Enlist the aid of your spouse or your closest and most trusted friend.
If you can form an alliance with a like-minded soul who understands just how important this decision is to you, you will have doubled your odds of success. If your ally will commit to the same goal of abstinence, you can be strong enough to succeed.
- Going cold turkey isn’t easy for a lot of people.
Seek out the aid of a medical professional or counselor to help you with the internal motivation you will need, especially in the early stages. Professionals have experience in recognizing and dealing with the obvious pitfalls of breaking old habits. There are resources in most communities to inspire you toward reducing, and eventually eliminating, your alcohol consumption.
- Find a new interest that doesn’t include the possibility of introducing an alcoholic beverage in the activity.
If you’re trying to improve your health and lose weight, sign up at the gym. Spend more of your free time with a trainer, learning fitness practices to improve yourself. As you see your health and body improving, you may find yourself less and less interested in blowing today’s efforts with a couple of beers. You may also find some new, non-drinking, friends in the process.
- If alcohol is the only common ground you have with your friends, maybe it’s time to find a new circle of friends.
If there is more depth to your relationships, focus on the other activities you can enjoy with your friends. It may surprise you to discover that one or more of your friends, totally on board with your decision to eliminate alcohol, had been waiting for the opportunity to find someone to help them also.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself in a situation where alcohol is being served and succumb to the temptation.
After all, weddings and other celebrations come along from time to time, and you won’t want to miss out on the happy occasion. Unless you are involved in an addiction recovery program, you can indulge on a limited basis. Once you control the amount of alcohol you consume, it loses its power to control you.
Many studies point to positive effects on your health from limited alcohol consumption. Still, after considering the pros and cons, based on your personal goals and expectations, you may decide the benefits do not outweigh the risks. Ultimately, you are accountable to yourself, and your friends have to make the same judgments for themselves. Separating yourself from the pack can be one of the biggest hurdles you face in your struggle. It helps to have a game plan when you begin.