Overcoming alcohol addiction can be a long and lonely road. Only you can do it for yourself. It may at times seem impossible, and it will be hard, perhaps the hardest thing you will go through, but with commitment and determination you can conquer this monster that is alcohol addiction.
No matter how heavy of a drinker you are, you can recover, if you decide to stop. When you make up your mind to put to an end to drinking, your journey begins.
We will give you tips and guidelines to help you on your way to becoming teetotal and addiction free.
Admitting the Problem to Yourself
You may notice that you are drinking too much and tell yourself its OK. When drinking affects your life and work, it becomes a problem that needs a solution. At times you rebuff it. Denial is normal and part of the journey. Acknowledging that you have a drinking problem is the first step to recovery. Ask yourself if you can function without, if the answer is no, then you know you have a problem.
While a few people can stop drinking alcohol entirely once they commit to, most people have to take gradual steps towards that goal. Reducing consumption is the first step towards the right direction.
- Set goals and commit to change – Change is gradual, it won’t happen overnight, but when you set goals you set yourself up for success. Start with achievable goals like not drinking during workdays and taking small amounts over the weekend. Give yourself time to adjust.
- Monitor how much you are drinking – Write down when and how much you drink. This way you will know if you are reducing and by how much.
- Tell your friends and family – Inform those close to you of your intent to get sober. Ask them to support your journey by not drinking near you or encouraging you to drink.
- Avoid temptations – Toss all alcohol in your house away. Look for new hangout places that don’t have alcohol on the menu. You may have to distance yourself from friends who drag you down or don’t support your goal.
- Give yourself a break from drinking – Pick a day or two in the week and decide not to drink. The following week, add another day. Watch how your body reacts to less alcohol. By making it through a day or a week without a drink, you will feel like you are winning and encouraging yourself to succeed.
Stopping all alcohol consumption at once may not be a good idea. Your body will need time to adjust to not getting it. You may experience shakes, insomnia, hangovers stomach pains and poor appetite. While these are known indicators of withdrawing, if they are severe, you should consult your doctor.
Your doctor may prescribe detoxification or rehabilitation depending on your condition and your level of awareness and readiness to stop drinking. That entails substituting medication that has the same effects in place of alcohol for a few days with the aim of reducing blood alcohol. This option helps curb severe withdrawals that can affect one’s health.
Withdrawals are the number one reason why people relapse. Some medicines can make withdrawals bearable. Having the right mindset and a will to come out on the other side clearheaded will help you persevere through the worst shakes and nausea.
Your doctor can advise you to check into a rehabilitation center for specialized care for alcohol addiction. That is a place where you will be monitored, get treatment and counseling in a controlled setting to help you overcome your demons.
Detoxification – In this stage, the patient (alcoholic) goes through the process of body system clean-up which entails a reduction in consumption to gradually achieve a complete stop. Whether this is done in a facility or at home will require keen medical evaluation as the detoxification process can trigger dangerous withdrawal symptoms. It is important to note that detoxification is not an end in itself as it does not necessarily ensure complete abstinence in consumption. The process is only successful if it can create a commitment and motivation to change emanating from the patient and that is his/her true reward seeing that the plan works.
Equipping the patient with knowledge and skills is the next stage of detoxification
These skills are necessary to stay sober as the setbacks are many. These setbacks include irritability, insomnia, tremors, hallucinations, convulsions, anxiety, and depression. The professional creates the patient’s awareness of the effects that alcohol has had on their health and life, enabling the person to actively set goals and choose the sobriety path.
Supplementing knowledge and skills with medications
This is applicable when the patient is experiencing severe craving or suffers health issues that often accompany alcoholism. This is actually expected and it has been reported that after three to six months, a relapse is most likely to occur after the person stops drinking thus the need for active medical help.
Maintaining sobriety is the final stage and has no clear-cut beginning point
However, once the six months is achieved, it is safe to assume that the patient is well on his way to recovery and is deemed to have stopped drinking. Maintaining means to preserve from failure or decline.
To effectively do this, certain norms require being followed:
1. Avoiding triggers – Triggers are a real part of the recovery process. Identifying triggers and avoiding temptation cannot be over-emphasized. If it works once is no guarantee that it will work always.
2. At a personal level, one should avoid hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness and substitute this with eating and sleeping well. If these are not well managed, it is easy to resort to old ‘solutions’ of drinking.
3. Joining support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous is needful as like-minded people would be more legitimate in providing helpful insights on how to cope and maintain sobriety on a daily basis without judgement. You will learn so much from them like how they deal with setbacks and what to do when you have cravings and triggers. Craig Beck, the Stop Drinking Expert says having people who have gone through these experiences is crucial and will motivate you to keep going on.
4. In the event that one finds themselves in a compromising situation and become a victim of temptation, this is not a cause to declare defeat and throw in the towel. One requires to rise up and continue with a healthy positive outlook and actions and talk to either a sponsor or support group. It would be surprising to see how many have fallen victim before and are still successful in maintaining the sobriety status. Having someone who keeps you accountable and is a shoulder to lean on and a friend is a great way to keep you motivated and on track. This is also the person you call when you face temptations or are at your worst.
Alternatives to Drinking Alcohol
It is said that there is no such thing as existence in a vacuum. Displacement has to have a replacement. So now that a person has stopped drinking, what alternative drinks are available that will not hurt or trigger old behavior? There are a number of health drinks available in the market but we will make mention of the two that take the lead. These are:
- Green Tea – An anti-oxidant that helps fight cancer and also relax the blood vessels just like alcohol thus providing an excellent habitual and health substitution to alcohol.
- Mint Tea – A good muscle relaxer and controls indigestion and nausea which is a common problem with alcoholics.
Finding a New Meaning in Life
Overcoming addiction is getting a second chance at life. Don’t waste it. Purpose of a healthy life. Build better relationships with your family, get that promotion you have been wanting. Live a full life and enjoy it. Not many people get second chances. Make it count.