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How to quit drinking

By Posted in Getting Started

So many people come to the Club Soda community without the foggiest idea on how to quit drinking or cut down. That’s what we’re here for, to help you get started and to find the best way for you. Everyone will have different goals and motivations when it comes to changing their relationship with alcohol. It’s our job to guide and support you along the way.

January is when many folk make new year’s resolutions, and we always see more people looking to change their drinking at this time. We’ve put together our top tips for getting started for anyone who is thinking about changing their drinking habits.

Starting where you are

Take some time to figure out where you are right now. Think about how alcohol is affecting you, and how you perceive your relationship with alcohol. If you think that drink gives you confidence, consider that you already have that confidence somewhere within you. The same goes for relaxation, and for fun. Alcohol is not a magic wand, you already have the ability to be all of these things.

Change is not about becoming someone new, it is about becoming who you already are and realigning with your beliefs.

You may wish to assess your current intake, particularly if you are worried about the possibility of withdrawal. Our free course How To Change Your Drinking has a comprehensive self-assessment which will give you personalised feedback on your drinking habits. You’ll also find our range of courses here if you want to dive a little deeper and receive more guidance on changing your drinking.

Frame the change positively

You probably have some very specific reasons for changing your drinking. Maybe you’re just tired of feeling rough, or drinking is giving your mental health a beating. Perhaps you feel you aren’t being present with your family because of regular hangovers. Are health concerns driving your decision to quit, or do you worry that you embarrass yourself when you drink? 

Take some time to think about why you want to make this change, and let this desire for change motivate you. Try to focus not on what you think you might be losing, but instead on what you stand to gain. You might get up early at the weekends to enjoy breakfast with your family. You may feel better able to make healthful choices around food and nutrition. Anxiety might be lessened when you get rid of the hangovers. You may find more time for doing the things you love, or for starting that hobby you’ve always thought about.

It’s important to think about the positives that will come from reducing or stopping drinking. If you trap yourself in the mindset of feeling that you are depriving yourself of something, you will need to rely heavily on willpower to stick to your plans.

Think of willpower as a battery that needs recharging, it doesn’t have an endless supply of energy. If you use it all the time, it won’t have enough charge to see you through. By focussing on the more positive aspects of making change, you can make things a little easier for yourself.

Planning how to quit drinking

Changing your relationship with alcohol is a big shift, and will likely affect more areas of life than you expect. You may come up against challenging scenarios in which other people pressure you to drink. It’s also common to have your own internal battles, and to struggle with cravings or the fear of missing out. The best thing you can do is to plan for these situations. Take some time to think about the challenges that may arise, and plan for how you would deal with those. You might want to think about where you feel most tempted to drink, who you drink with, and what you drink. Think about what you might like to drink instead, how you may tackle cravings, and how you will handle any difficult conversations. Be detailed, write it down if you find that helpful. Think of places you can go to socialise where you won’t feel tempted to drink, or try new activities with friends. 

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to change the plan if it isn’t working for you. Working out how to quit drinking is personal, and it’s different for everyone. What works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. Empower yourself to find your own way of doing things.

Treat yourself with honestly, bravery, and kindness

In a world where self-love often feels like a marketing tool for big brands, these words may seem a little clichéd. But it’s true, showing yourself some compassion is a useful tool for growth. Negative self talk is a habit most of us exhibit at some time or another, and it just isn’t helpful. 

When you are figuring out how to quit drinking you may come up against some difficult emotions or memories. You might have setbacks along the way, and feel disappointed or frustrated with yourself. It’s important to be really honest with yourself about all of this, and about how it makes you feel. That’s going to take a lot of bravery. But the important thing is to be kind to yourself throughout this process. Instead of saying ‘why did I do that’, try saying ‘I can’t change what has happened, but I can change how I behave in the future’. 

Think about the forgiveness and support that you would show to a friend, and extend that to yourself. If you wanted to motivate someone you love to change or to do something they aspired to do, you wouldn’t do this through berating them. You would do this through positive reinforcement and belief in their abilities. So be that friend for yourself.

Find a support network

It can be difficult to go against the grain, thinking about how to quit drinking in an alcohol-centric society can be daunting. It can really help to find other people who are doing the same thing. We host thousands of like minded people in our Club Soda Together Facebook group, a huge network of folks helping and motivating each other. If that’s not your thing, quit lit and podcasts can provide great inspiration on how to quit drinking.

Looking for more help on how to stop drinking?

You’ve come to the right place. We offer a variety of courses to help you find your way as you tackle changing your drinking. You’ll find page after page of wisdom in our book How To Be A Mindful Drinker: Cut Down, Stop For a Bit, Or Quit. And you can check out our blog for inspiring stories, alcohol-free drinks recipes, and more. Lastly, our Club SodaGuide is a comprehensive tool for finding your new favourite drink and the venues that serve it.

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