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How do I stop drinking every day?

If you find that you’re drinking alcohol every day, there may be many reasons why you want to give up or cut back on your drinking. For example, you may be looking to lead a healthier lifestyle or save money. You may also be looking to stop drinking every day because you’re worried you may have a drinking problem and that you’re an alcoholic.

Does drinking every day mean I have an alcohol problem?

Drinking every day doesn’t necessarily mean you have an alcohol addiction or a drinking problem. Guidelines state that men and women shouldn’t drink any more than 14 units of alcohol each week, in order to reduce their chances of developing complications and health problems because of their alcohol consumption.

14 units of alcohol is roughly:

  • 6 glasses of wine
  • 6 pints of beer
  • 14 25ml measures of spirits

Therefore, if you’re drinking wine every day, or any other type of alcohol, this in itself doesn’t mean you’re struggling with an alcohol addiction. Rather it’s a combination of the amount of units you’re consuming each week, as well as the emotions that are underpinning your choice to drink, which may suggest you have a drinking problem.

Other signs and symptoms that could suggest a drinking problem

If you’re drinking every day as well as showing some other emotional signs, covered below, this could suggest you’re struggling with a drinking problem.

Do you ever find that you:

  • Need to have a drink before you get out of bed in the morning?
  • Are unable to function throughout the day if you haven’t had a drink?
  • Feel anxious or irritable if you haven’t had a drink?
  • Drink to help you cope with stress?
  • Need to drink more alcohol than you previously did in order to feel ‘drunk’?
  • Neglect your responsibilities?

Common signs of alcohol addiction may include:

  • Having strong cravings for alcohol, which affect your mood or concentration
  • Lying to loved ones or being defensive about the extent of your drinking
  • Drinking heavily on your own, even to the point that this causes you to pass out
  • Continuing to drink even after it has caused problems in your life

The CAGE test

If you’re worried about any of these symptoms, another way of exploring whether you may have a drinking problem is through the CAGE test, which asks the following four questions:

  • Have you ever felt as though you should Cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people ever Annoyed you by criticising your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had an ‘Eye-opener’ e.g. a drink first thing in the morning to get rid of a hangover?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, this can also be a sign that you’re struggling with an alcohol addiction.

How to stop drinking every day

If you’re drinking every day and want to stop, whether you think you have an alcohol problem or just want to lead a healthier lifestyle, there are a number of strategies you can use to help you on your journey towards an alcohol-free life. These include:

Embrace alcohol-free activities

When you’re trying to stop drinking every day, it’s important for you identify the times, places and events when you would usually have a drink, and have a think about other activities that you could be doing instead that don’t involve alcohol.

For example, you may be in the habit of regularly going for after-work drinks with your colleagues. Instead of this, you could try suggesting that you all join an exercise club as an alternative and healthier way of ‘blowing off steam’ after work. You may also find that you tend to spend most of Saturday afternoon in the pub with friends. Alternatively, you could suggest that you all go for a walk in the countryside – this way you’re still spending quality time together but doing something healthier instead.

It can also be a good idea for you to let your family, friends and other people you socialise with know that you have stopped drinking. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy alcohol-free activities together without feeling as though you’ll be judged and worrying that they might suggest opening a bottle of wine.

Learn how to say “no”

If you’re trying to stop drinking every day, it’s important that you learn to say “no” to people or invitations. If your colleagues keep inviting you to go to the pub with them after work, even though you have suggested alternatives and already told them you’re trying to stop drinking every day, remember, you’re perfectly within your rights to decline the invitation.

Also, if you have already agreed to go to certain social events, but you feel as though attending them would set you back on your journey to sobriety, don’t be afraid to cancel if you think it would be better if you didn’t go. Remember, you need to look after yourself and go with your gut instincts when you’re trying to stop drinking.

Recognise your triggers for drinking

If you’re trying to stop drinking, it’s important that you take the time to identify the triggers that make you want to reach for a drink. For example, do you tend to drink when you feel stressed or angry? Do you drink more when you’re in certain places or with certain people? By making yourself more aware of your triggers, you’ll be better placed to address them or avoid them completely.

For example, if you identify that you’re drinking every day because you’re stressed, you can take proactive steps to tackle your stress levels. This may include learning to practise mindfulness or joining a yoga class. By tackling your stress, this can help you to reduce the amount you’re drinking.

Ask other people for support

When you’re trying to stop drinking every day, don’t be afraid to ask other people for help. Your friends and family are on your side and want to support you.

Make sure you keep a list handy of the people you can call if you’re ever struggling. If you find yourself wanting to reach for a drink, call a loved one instead and they’ll be able to remind you how far you’ve come and provide you with words of comfort and encouragement. If you’ve got an important social event on the horizon that you feel you can’t cancel, such as the wedding of a close friend or family member, take a ‘buddy’ with you, who’ll be able to help you refrain from drinking alcohol at the event and support you throughout.

Ensure your house is a ‘dry’ zone

If you’re trying to stop drinking wine every day, or other forms of alcohol, it’s crucial that you make sure your house is a ‘dry zone’, to remove all temptations. Make sure there’s no alcoholic drinks in the house and also be conscious of other products that might contain alcohol, such as foods/sauces. If you live with other people, ask them to be supportive of your decision to stop drinking every day by not bringing alcohol into the house or drinking in front of you.

Be kind to yourself

When you’ve been drinking every day and think you may have a drinking problem, it’s likely that you haven’t been prioritising your own health and wellbeing. When you’re trying to stop drinking, it’s so important that you start being kind to yourself and looking after yourself properly. Make sure you try and get eight hours of sleep every night, eat healthily and do at least some form of exercise every day. By looking after yourself physically, you’ll be helping yourself feel better mentally, and ensuring you have the strength to stop drinking.

Also, try to make sure you take some time out each day to do something you enjoy and find relaxing. You could read your favourite book, have a hot bath, listen to some music or go for a walk. Self-care really can go a long way and it’s so important when you’re trying to stop drinking.

Seek professional help to stop drinking

While the above tips can help you on your way to sobriety, stopping drinking on your own can be challenging, especially if you’re used to drinking every day. That’s why it’s important to reach out for professional help for your unhealthy drinking behaviours.

At Priory, our world class Addiction Treatment Programmes, delivered by our specialist team of addiction experts, can help you every step of the way towards overcoming your drinking and getting your life back on track.

For more information on how we treat alcohol addiction at Priory, you can visit our approach to addiction treatment page.

Ultimately, our aim at Priory is to not only help you stop drinking every day, but to help you to address the underlying reasons for your drinking, and equip you with the skills to remain sober and healthy for the rest of your life.

Blog reviewed by Simon Wilson (PG Cert, PG Dip, MA, MBACP, FDAP), General Psychiatry Clinical Lead and Addiction Treatment Programme Therapist at Priory Hospital North London.

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