If you have realized that you are drinking too much and that quitting or cutting down is not as easy as you thought it would be, there are a few steps you can take to manage your drinking. Contrary to popular belief, what some may call the “cold-turkey” approach is not the only way to get a handle on your drinking. In fact, substance abuse research shows that it might not even be the best way for all heavy drinkers.
Gaining Control Over Your Drinking
No two people are the same, so the approach to managing drinking also varies from person to person. Some are able to quit abruptly and never drink a drop of alcohol for the rest of their lives. It is extremely rare – especially without professional help – but it can happen.
However, for other people, drinking in moderation can be more effective at reducing dependency on alcohol. You can cut down on your drinking without therapeutic or medical help, but it is recommended to do a bit of research and discuss the matter with a qualified professional before attempting to change your habits, especially if you are used to drinking heavily.
If you want to control your drinking, there are several steps you can take to help you in this process:
Set a drinking goal: The best way to set a drinking goal is to consider what’s best for your long-term health and what’s realistic for your lifestyle. A good, controlled drinking goal may look something like this:
- I want to be able to drink at social events without getting drunk.
- I want to lower my overall intake to a healthier level.
- I just want to drink on the weekends.
Note: While reducing your alcohol intake always seems like a good idea, you should check whether controlled drinking is a healthy option for you. Some people should not drink at all, especially if they have a family history of addiction problems or physical or mental health issues. Speak with your medical professional for more insight.
Buy alcohol in small amounts: Stocking up on liquor is not a good idea when your goal is to control your drinking. Purchase only the amount of alcohol that meets your goal limit, and only for the day you intend to drink it. Also, drink only the amount you said you would. If you get the urge to drink more in between, go for alcohol-free beverages or water.
Evaluate your current alcohol intake: Keep a drinking diary for a week (or a month, if you don’t drink that often) and record how much you drink each occasion. Also note when you drink to see if there is anything that triggers your drinking. For example, is there a friend or a family member with whom you always drink?
Write down any negative situations that arose that you’d like to avoid in the future as well. For instance, “After my third glass of wine, I got into an argument with Tracy.” This will help you determine whether your drinking is crossing into a problematic or “excessive” territory.
The better you understand your drinking patterns, the better you might be able to control them.
Assess and Moderate Your Drinking Habits With CheckUp & Choices
Looking for a clinically-proven way to moderate your alcohol intake? CheckUp & Choices is an online, self-guided program designed to help people change their relationship with alcohol. The program has two parts:
The CheckUp: This 30–40 minute program includes a comprehensive self-assessment regarding your drinking behavior, so you can decide whether it’s something you’d like to change.
Choices Program: This is a 3–12 months long subscription-based program which includes The CheckUp that can help you achieve your goal of moderation or abstinence. You will get access to a series of cognitive behavioral exercises and motivational enhancement strategies to change your alcohol/drug use.
If you are not sure where to start, we recommend taking this free 10-question screener that only takes a few minutes to complete. If you have any questions about the program, feel free to leave us a message here.