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Should I cut down on alcohol or just quit drinking?

By Posted in Ask Dru

Club Soda exists to help you cut down or quit drinking. If you’re struggling to address a problem with drinking right now, we can help.

The decision about cutting down or quitting drinking can feel important. But it can actually become a stumbling block in the way of change. It’s all too easy to go around in circles wondering whether you can cut down, uncertain about whether it would be better to stop drinking alcohol altogether.

And indecision will keep you stuck.

There isn’t a “right” answer to the question of problematic drinking. The only change that matters is the one that works for you. You’ll find passionate advocates for sobriety and moderation all over the internet, but in Club Soda, we support you to make your own decisions. There are many members of our community who change their minds as they change, switching from moderation to being alcohol-free and vice versa.

This article explores some questions you can ask yourself about your drinking habits. If you’re stuck on the decision about whether to cut down or quit drinking, read on.

Can you cut down on your consumption?

The biggest upside of cutting down is that you can choose whether to include alcohol in your life or not. If you have decided to quit drinking, alcohol will not be an option. But if you can moderate your consumption, you’ll be able to say yes to an occasional drink.

But doing that in practice can be complicated. Your decision to only have two drinks is easy to stick with – until you’ve had two drinks. Self-control dissolves in alcohol and good intentions can disappear by the bottom of your first glass. If you want to be able to moderate your drinking, you need to be able to say no to yourself.

Self-control dissolves in alcohol and good intentions can disappear by the bottom of your first glass.

If you can cut down, you’ll find that your tolerance for alcohol changes over time. And your approach to moderation may need to evolve. So it’s useful to think about cutting down as an ongoing process, rather than a one-off event.

Many people can and do successfully moderate. If you think cutting down is the right approach for you, ask yourself:

Is it better for you to quit drinking?

The decision to quit drinking sometimes follows some unsuccessful moderation attempts. But perhaps you don’t have a functioning off-switch, and you just need to stop. When you are changing your drinking, quitting isn’t the only option. But it might be the most realistic choice for you right now.

Quitting isn’t the only option. But it might be the most realistic choice for you right now.

The clearest benefit of not drinking alcohol at all is that it is a straightforward position. Some people feel that moderation is an ongoing burden of decision-making. But if you quit drinking, you can make your choice and move on.

That doesn’t necessarily sobriety is easy. But it means you’ll never have to decide whether you’ll drink in a particular situation or not. And you’ll never have to worry if you can just have one. You can make life easier for yourself by being alcohol-free in every situation.

One factor that might hold you back from quitting drinking is worrying about your social life. But you will find that the world changes around you as you change. Your initial decision can feel like a dramatic u-turn, but the overwhelming majority of your friends will support you.

The decision to quit drinking can feel daunting though. You may feel some relief at removing alcohol from your life. But it’s normal to wonder if it’s even possible, and doubt whether you can stick to your plans. So it’s important to remember that quitting is a process, not a one-off event. You may not get it right first time, and you may need to fine-tune your approach. But at some point, you will have your last drink.

If you are wondering whether to quit drinking, ask yourself:

Don’t get stuck deciding to quit drinking

When people sign up for Club Soda’s courses, we ask about their intentions for changing. Some people say they want to quit drinking while others intend to cut down.

The most interesting group are those that don’t know. They want to change their relationship with alcohol, but they don’t know how to. At the start of our in-depth courses, just over 20% of people haven’t made a decision yet about whether to quit drinking or to cut down. But they start their course anyway and experiment along the way.

And something really interesting happens. By the end of their course, about half of this group are still experimenting with change. But almost everyone else decides to quit drinking.

I don’t know that I can draw grand conclusions from that data. But it should prompt you to ask some more questions of yourself:

If you decide to quit drinking, Club Soda’s course How to Stop Drinking will take you step-by-step through everything you need to know. It has 31 in-depth lessons, tracking tools, real-world experiments and reflections that you can take at your own pace.

You don’t have to do everything at once. It’s OK to change your mind and try new things. Just don’t let indecision trap you in patterns of drinking that don’t work for you.

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