Do you for a drink all the time? Do you find yourself hung-over more often than not? Have you tried to stop drinking alcohol before but have not been successful? Then this blog is for you.
Heavy drinking is a common problem. In fact, drinking is a fairly normal activity for many people. On the other hand, if you find yourself unable to control yourself drinking after you feel any emotion, this is a problem. Fortunately, this is a problem that can be fixed. All it takes is a desire to stop drinking, learning about drinking and what causes it, understanding that you are the only one responsible for your drinking regardless of external influences, and an open mind to the ways to cease your drinking. This is the basis for QUIT, the four steps to stop drinking.
QUIT is a four step method to quit drinking. Like the acronym ROY G BIV you learned in elementary school to remember the colors of the rainbow, QUIT is an acronym to help you remember the four steps.
Q stands for “Question Yourself about Your Drinking.” It is important to question yourself about your drinking because this will give you an understanding about why you want to stop and why you drink the way you do.
U stands for “Understand What the Problem Is.” Equally important as questioning yourself about your drinking is making an effort to understand what the fundamental problem is. Many people will say they have a problem but have no idea what the problem is. There are many reasons why people drive and it is important to understand what drives you to drink.
I stands for “I Am the Sole Decision Maker in My Choice to Stop Emotionally Eating.” It is important that you stop because you want to stop not because someone else wants you to stop. You are the one who makes the decisions about you every moment of every day. You can’t blame others for your decisions.
T stands for “Take control and Think Positive.” We cover different ways you can stop drinking and other information that will aid you in your journey to stop drinking.
And there you have it – QUIT, the four steps to stop your drinking.
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Question Yourself about Your Drinking
It is important that you start this process by questioning yourself about your relationship with alcohol. The only way you can stop and continue to not drink is by learning and addressing the real reasons behind your drinking.
Here are questions you should ask yourself to assess if you have a drinking problem:
- Do you drink when you are angry or sad?
- Does your drinking impact your work performance?
- Does your drinking worry your loved ones?
- Do you drink after telling yourself that you won’t drink for the night?
- Do you forget what actions you did while you were drinking?
- Do you get hang-overs after a night of drinking?
If you have answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you have a drinking problem. You can also double-check with your doctor. Your doctor can tell you for certain whether you should cut down your drinking or stop drinking completely. If you are an alcoholic, you should seek your doctor’s advice on what is best for you. This is especially true if you have any other medical problems.
Here are questions you can ask your doctor:
- Do I need to stop drinking completely or just cut back my drinking?
- Do I need to go to detox?
- What is a reasonable goal for me to stop drinking?
You also need to ask yourself why you are quitting. There are many reasons why you want to cut down. You can write your reasons down to remind yourself if you are in a tough spot later.
Am I Stopping For The Right Reasons?
Take a moment to really think through your decision to stop drinking. If you want to stop solely because others are want you to stop, you should reconsider your decision. Read this entire blog and then ask yourself this question again. If you decide that you are going to stop because you want to stop, then you are ready to stop your drinking. You can see more on this in “I is for I am the sole decision maker in my choice to stop drinking.”
Understand What the Problem Is
Drinking for comfort during an emotional time is nothing new. However, this can only make you feel better in the short run. In the long run, drinking can only add to your issues with self-esteem and stress and can create a vicious cycle that repeats over and over again.
Stopping this cycle of drinking is not difficult but it does take some thought and honesty on your part. The first step is in questioning yourself. See more information regarding the questions you need to ask yourself in the section, “Q is for ‘Questioning yourself about your drinking.’”
Drinking is more common than you might think. In fact, it is a normal response to some degree. However, once you start putting yourself down and allow negative feelings to push you to drink even more alcohol, drinking becomes a big problem.
You begin to start drinking a little of something and before you know it you are in the midst of a full-blown binge drinking episode.
Your reasons for drinking may be different from your friend’s reasons for drinking so it is important that you only look to yourself for the answer. Some oft-cited reasons for drinking include boredom, comfort, expected, stress, and tiredness. You may drink for multiple reasons. In fact, you may even drink for different reasons at different times. What is important is that you question yourself and begin to recognize what causes you to drink.
When you quit drinking, you may undergo withdrawal because your body has become physically dependent on alcohol and goes through withdrawal if you suddenly stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal can be mild or very severe depending on how much you drink and if you have any other medical issues.
Here are symptoms you can expect to feel if you experience a mild withdrawal: a headache, anxiety, diarrhea, elevated blood pressure, elevated heart rate, nausea or vomiting, restlessness, shaking, sweating, stomach cramps, trouble concentrating and trouble sleeping. These symptoms typically start within hours after your last drink and will peak in a day or two. They usually improve within the first five days of quitting drinking.
However, some alcoholics undergo a very severe form of withdrawal called delirium tremens (DTs). This is a rare emergency condition that causes changes in the way your brain regulates your breathing and circulation. If you experience confusion and disorientation, extreme agitation, fever, hallucinations, seizures or convulsions and severe vomiting, you should call 911 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital immediately.
I Am the Sole Decision Maker in My Choice to Stop Drinking
It is important that you take responsibility for your actions and decisions. You are the only person who can make decisions for you in your life. As a healthy, normal human being, you have the right to put your health needs first. You have the right to make mistakes. You have the right to your opinions. You have the right to say no. You have the right to change your mind and take a different path. It’s okay for you to feel emotions.
If you are having trouble staying focused on stopping drinking for good, remind yourself that you are stopping for you. Remember all the benefits. You will be able to prevent or reduce health problems that are made worse by drinking alcohol. You will be able to allay any alcohol-related family concerns and repair any relationships that may have been damaged by your heavy drinking. You will be able to increase your work, school and home productivity.
Quitting drinking can improve your overall health and quality of life as well as the quality of life of your loved ones.
Take Control and Think Positive
Drinking is a behavior issue. Once you know the situations that make you feel the emotions that cause you to drink, you can start replacing your drinking with healthier ways to deal with those emotions. You are now taking control of the situation. The following are steps you can take to help you take control of the situation.
Identify Your Reasons For Stopping Drinking.
Make a list of the reasons you want to stop drinking (see Q stands for “Questioning Yourself about Your Drinking.”). Keep this list with you as a reminder during the tough times of why you are quitting drinking.
Allow yourself to feel the emotion you are trying to stuff down with food.
Choose not to emotionally eat five minutes at a time. During the process of feeling those emotions, talk to yourself. Tell your brain, “I am allowing myself to feel the full range of emotions so that I can live a fuller life”. Sometimes the feelings you are trying to avoid with food can be resolved in a relatively short period of time. You can free yourself from the pattern of drinking you have been living for good simply by confronting and experiencing the emotions head on.
Record your drinking, emotions and thoughts.
A great way to learn about your relationship with food is by recording what you eat and how you feel throughout the day in a journal. This will help you track the exact emotions that cause you to overeat. Once you notice a pattern, you can work to change it. Once you feel that emotion, write it down and allow yourself to feel the emotion (see above). At the end of the day, take a moment to write how you felt about the day as a whole.
There are many ways for you to journal now. If you are more technologically savvy, you can use type a Word document on your computer or use an online journal. There are also smartphone applications available for you to record what you eat. You can always use a good old-fashioned pen and notebook. Don’t limit yourself. Writing down the emotions you feel and what you eat makes drinking seem less abstract and will help you process your emotions.
Word of caution: do not worry about counting calories. This is only to help you discover what emotions are causing you to emotional eat. If you count every single calorie, you could wind up stressing yourself out and putting yourself in a situation that will make you overeat.
Restructure your thinking.
You are not being forced to quit. You are making a choice to quit drinking for your own good. Make a second list of constructive critiques about yourself. Be specific and realistic in your goals and how you can address what you do not like about yourself. Setting positive goals for yourself allows you to be your biggest support instead of your biggest critic.
Restructuring your thinking also allows you to change the way you view a situation. For example, say you couldn’t control your emotions for a moment and end up binge drinking. Instead of thinking you are a failure, think of the binge as a single event that happened and that you can learn from. Ask yourself the questions that we have covered earlier to discover what caused this binge and how you can better avoid a similar situation in the future.
Talk to your doctor about your drinking.
Your doctor will be able to tell how best to proceed with stopping your alcohol use. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you need to be concerned about other medical conditions as well as provide you with treatment programs that will help you on your journey to stop drinking.
Choose your treatment program.
There is no single treatment that works for everyone. Do your research and talk with your doctor about which treatment programs would work best for you. Your treatment program will need to address your drinking as well as the reasons why you drink and how drinking has impacted different aspects of life – your relationships, your work, etc. You will also need to seek treatment for any other medical or psychological issues you may be experiencing.
Alcohol treatment programs run the gamut from intensive residential programs to self-help groups to one-on-one counseling a few times a week. Which program you choose depends on how serious your drinking is and how serious any medical issues are.
The first type of alcohol treatment program is residential treatment. This is the most intense form of treatment you can receive. It consists of living in a treatment facility for 30-90 days while undergoing intensive treatment during the day.
The second type of alcohol treatment program is partial hospitalization. This is for those who have a stable living situation but need medical monitoring. It typically consists of 4-6 hour hospital visits 3-5 times a week.
The third type of alcohol treatment program is an intensive outpatient program. This is not a live-in program; however, they typically meet at least three days a week for at least two hours. Intensive outpatient programs focus on relapse prevention.
The fourth type of alcohol treatment program is counseling. It can be individual, group or family counseling. This type of treatment program often works best with other types of treatment. It can help identify the root causes of your drinking.
The fifth type of alcohol treatment program is sober living. It consists of living in an alcohol- and drug-free facility with other recovering alcoholics and/or addicts. Sober living typically follows residential treatment.
The last type of alcohol treatment program is brief intervention. This is not for drinkers who have already developed a serious problem. It is geared toward those who are at risk for abusing alcohol. Brief intervention consists of visits to a healthcare professional to discuss the harmful effects of heavy drinking and ways you can cut back on your drinking.
When you are deciding which treatment program will work best for you, you should keep these things in mind: the program’s accreditation and licensing, the effectiveness of the program’s treatment methods and the aftercare services the program offers for relapse prevention. Any treatment program you choose should be accredited and licensed in the state you live in. The program should be run by trained mental health and addiction specialists. You can also look at the program’s success rate. There are objective outside agencies that provide statistics for such matters. A very important factor you should consider when choosing the right treatment program for you is the aftercare services the programs runs for relapse prevention. Do they have a staff member that will help you with your discharge plan before you leave the program? Do they have referrals to other recovery services and support groups in your local community?
You can also use the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator online tool provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). They provide an extensive list of licensed alcohol treatment facilities all across the country.
Set specific goals.
List all of the tasks that need to be done in order of importance. Break each of these tasks into small manageable steps (think baby steps!). Set a realistic deadline for you to complete each step.
Keep a list of short-term goals that can be accomplished within a week. Short-term goals could be to weigh yourself only once a week, to eat three regular meals a day (breakfast) with one or two snacks in the late morning or late afternoon, and to stop counting calories.
Also, keep a list of long-term goals. Cross out any unimportant or unrealistic goals and keep the important ones. Stay focused on the big picture and that you will have to say no sometimes.
Be sure to reevaluate from time to time. Your goals may change.
Rethink your environment.
Your environment plays a big role in how you live. Get rid of all the bottles and cans in your home. Don’t get hung up on entertaining your friends with alcoholic drinks. It is perfectly acceptable to offer your guests non-alcoholic drinks. You can also revise any food recipes that call for wine
Savor your food.
Avoid eating while you are distracted by what is on the screen of your television or computer. Eating distracted can make you accidentally eat more than you need to eat. Take the time to savor each bite and really enjoy the taste and smell of what you are eating.
Water is a great way to flush out the toxins from your body. Water also keeps you hydrated as well as gets you drinking something much healthier for your body. You should drink 12 cups of water a day if you are a man and nine cups of water a day if you are a woman.
Take care of yourself.
Eat on a regular schedule. Get plenty of sleep each night. Take a nap during the day if you had trouble sleeping the night before. Exercise. Physical activity is one of the best ways to relieve stress. This doesn’t mean that you have to run a mile every day. You can simply walk for 20 minutes a day or try yoga. Indulge yourself with a nice relaxing bath. Learn how to cope with stress by exercise or meditation.
Read or find a new hobby.
Take your mind off the situation by reading a current book or a passage from one of your favorite books. Try arts and crafts activities such as beading, calligraphy, knitting, latch hook, origami, or sewing. You will feel better when you do activities that are more fulfilling to you
Accept the cravings for alcohol as they come.
Do not try to fight your urges to drink. They will happen and they will only last for five minutes at a time. Distract yourself during those five minutes by drinking water, walking around, listening to music or running an errand. Remind yourself of why you are not drinking and how much benefit from not drinking.
Learn how to say, “No thanks.”
You are not obligated to drink when other people are drinking. You also do not have to drink anything has been give to you. There are polite ways to say. Let others know that you are cutting back on your drinking. Stay away from your friends who are giving you a hard time about not drinking.
Don’t explain your decision to others.
Some people will not understand the fact that you truly have a problem with alcohol. They will either talk down to you or give you a hard time. Don’t give into their taunting. Just say, “No thanks.”
Having a support system in place is one of the most important ways you can achieve and maintain your goal of stopping drinking for good. Stopping drinking can be very difficult at times. When the going gets tough, it always helps to have a friend or someone who has been through what you are going through at the moment to talk you through the situation.
Surround yourself with positive influences. Exercise with a friend. Join a support group. Join an online forum. There are many ways to find support in this day and age.
If you are still having trouble, consult your doctor for more ways to help you and find a self-help group. Self-help groups can be an excellent way for you to keep yourself on track. If you are unsure if you have found the right self-help group for you, make a point of attending three different sessions before you make a final decision about that particular self-help group. If you still do not feel the group is the right fit for you, attend another self-help group’s meetings and repeat the process.
Don’t give up.
Most people don’t stop drinking all at once. It is a gradual recovery process that takes time to re-learn how to live without alcohol and how to cope with stress and other situations. If you relapse, it is okay. Take the relapse as a learning experience and learn from your mistakes. It will help you become better at dealing with the situation and you will be stronger for it.
There you have it – your four quick steps to stop your drinking for good. All you have to remember is QUIT: Q stands for Question Yourself about Your Drinking, U stands for Understand What the Problem Is, I stands for I am the Sole Decision Maker in My Choice to Stop Drinking, and T stands for Take Control and Think Positive.
Remember, that you are choosing to do this for yourself because you want to stop drinking for good. Take baby steps – you can only climb a mountain one step at a time. Enjoy your new free time with your friends and family trying out new activities or doing favorite pastimes. You can do this – all you have to do is QUIT.