There are lots of reasons why you might want to stop drinking alcohol. Some people need to stop drinking as a result of developing an alcohol related medical condition such as liver disease, or because they start taking medication which reacts badly with alcohol. Others choose to do so for religious reasons, or simply as a move towards a healthier lifestyle.
Practical tips on giving up alcohol
Firstly, if you think you have a serious drinking problem and are experiencing any of the associated symptoms, you should consult your doctor or another medical professional about it as soon as possible. There are also a number of national alcohol support services who you can go to for advice.
Make your intentions known
Tell your family and friends that you’re trying to stop drinking alcohol and explain why. This way, you can share your successes with them, and they’ll understand why you’ve started turning down drinks or trips to the pub.
Frequently reminding yourself and the people close to you why you want to stop drinking can help keep you on track, and may even encourage someone else to give up or cut down with you.
In the early stages, it’s a good idea to avoid situations where you may be tempted to drink. This could mean opting out of the weekly pub quiz for a while, or if you tend to drink when eating out, try going to restaurants that don’t sell alcohol, or simply volunteering to drive. Similarly, try to identify the times when you would usually drink and fill the gap with something else. So if you would usually head to the pub after work on a Friday evening, you could organise to meet friends at the cinema, or if you’re giving up alcohol in pursuit of a new, healthier you, why not fill the gap with a weekly exercise class or a trip to the swimming pool to help you wind down?
Give up or gradually reduce your drinking
If you want to stop drinking alcohol as part of a move towards a healthier lifestyle, cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink as opposed to giving up alcohol completely can help bring lots of health benefits, and can be significantly easier to sustain. Reducing the amount you drink can also be an effective stepping stone to giving up alcohol completely in the future.
It’s important that you acknowledge the fact that making changes to your lifestyle can be difficult and that you reward yourself with something if you are making progress. It’s equally important not to be too hard on yourself if you slip up every once in a while.
An easy way to keep track of how you’re doing and keep your motivation up is to give yourself short term goals. Perhaps you could aim firstly for an alcohol-free week, then an alcohol-free month, for example.
Enjoy the benefits
Whether you’re cutting alcohol out of your life completely or cutting down gradually, you may notice a number of improvements to the way you look and feel. Among other things, you might find you have more energy, that you’re sleeping better, or that you’ve lost a bit of weight. In the long term you will also be helping to reduce your risk of developing cancer, liver or heart disease and could lower your blood pressure.
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