Congratulations! The first tip to reducing one’s intake of alcohol is to realize that there is a need to quit. Whether you regularly awaken with a fuzzy memory of the night before while drinking. Or if there is the regular prospect of an all-consuming headache flavoring your morning coffee, you have recognized a need for change. Overall reducing your alcohol intake and quitting drinking. What follows are ten suggestions or tips to help you reduce or eliminate your consumption of alcohol. We, at Coastal Detox, are at the end of a phone line if additional counseling is required.
#1: Recognize the Need to Reduce Your Alcohol Intake or Quit Drinking
As stated above, the first tip is to recognize that you need to reduce your intake of alcohol or possibly even quit drinking altogether. We each have our individual and unique reasons for believing that our consumption is more significant than our comfort level. Alcohol is a depressant drug and has long-range effects on the body. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), consumption of alcohol in excessive quantities, either in a single day or regularly, can lead to detrimental changes in the following organs:
- Brain—changes in cognition and physical appearance
- Heart—changes in muscle and electrical function
- Liver— affects the ability to detox the blood
- Pancreas—interferes with the vital functions of producing insulin and digestive enzymes
In addition, excessive alcohol intake has been implicated as a risk factor in several cancers of the head and neck, esophagus, liver, breast, and colon (National Cancer Institute). Even one night of heavy drinking can interfere with your immune system, making you more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. Quitting drinking alcohol can have vast improvements in your health!
#2: Discover What is Considered “Normal” Alcohol Intake.
What is considered a safe alcohol intake? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the safe alcohol intake for an adult female is one drink a day. An adult male can usually drink two drinks a day. No amount of alcohol is considered safe for a pregnant or lactating female or a child so reducing consumption or quitting drinking is key for expecting or new mothers.
These amounts of alcohol may also be excessive for someone who is on psychotropic medicines (pain meds, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety meds, etc.) or someone with a diseased liver, which may prevent the alcohol from being fully metabolized. Also, someone who has blood pressure problems or gait and mobility issues, consumption of any amount of alcohol may further put them at risk.
How is a “drink” defined? The National Institute of Health (NIH) describes a drink as a 12-ounce beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or a 1.5 ounce (shot) of 80 proof liquor (vodka, rum, bourbon, etc.).
Evaluate your alcohol intake. Does it regularly exceed the national recommendations? Is excessive alcohol intake worth the risks? Would quitting drinking improve your life? For additional information on how to reduce or quit alcohol intake, Coastal Detox offers the answers you need.
#3: Determine Your Personal Motivation to Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Are you a new grandparent? Have you found that it’s getting more challenging to maintain your weight? Are you tired of that hangover feeling? Do all of your friends and family members buy you wine or alcohol for the holidays? If the answer is yes than reducing your alcohol intake or quitting drinking may be a good move for you.
You know why you are searching for help. Your motivations for wanting to reduce or quit drinking alcohol are as unique as you are. Use that motivation to your benefit. Write down your motivation and post it where you will see it daily. Hang a picture of your children or grandchildren over the coffee pot. Chart your weight loss on the refrigerator door to remind you how cutting out the empty calories provided by alcohol no longer affects your weight. Celebrate your early morning clearheadedness with a brisk walk outdoors. Welcome the new variety of gifts from family members on holidays now that Aunt Sally isn’t drinking.
#4: Maintain a Journal of Your Alcohol Consumption
Life can go along pretty smoothly, then suddenly, you find yourself with many stressors. Stressful situations are not always bad things. Even good things: planning a wedding, changing jobs, moving into a new home, celebrating a football victory, can all bring stress into someone’s life. That is why when one wishes to reduce or even quit his/her drinking, it is important to evaluate the triggers that cause his/her excessive alcohol intake.
Journaling is a simple way to record how many alcoholic drinks a day that are consumed and the circumstances that encouraged the intake of alcohol. It is important to record the emotions that you were experiencing at the time. Did Ohio State beat Michigan while you were excitedly celebrating at the local sports bar? How many beers were consumed in the excitement? Were you stuck in the corner at the office Christmas party with George from accounting reciting his predictions for the stock market for the next three years, and sipping the spiked punch was the only way to keep you from telling him to shut up?
# 5: Make Substitutions For Drinking Alcohol
Granted, it is difficult to sit at the sports bar with other cheering fans and sip on Shirley Temples. Instead, always order a glass of water along with that frosted mug of brew. Having something else to sip on will delay finishing that beer. Also, have you noticed that ginger ale, root beer, and even iced tea poured into a beer mug can appear to be beer? With all the new varieties of craft beers with their fruity odors and unusual colorations, no one will be the wiser!
Wine spritzers look pretty, especially adorned with fruits and crystallized adornments but have less alcohol content when mixed with seltzers. Ginger ale sipped from a tall fluted champagne glass looks very festive.
Substitutions to your alcoholic drink of choice and help with reducing your alcohol intake and/or quit drinking with fancy non-alcoholic beverages and can help you to stay on track.
# 6: Consume Food Along with Alcohol Intake
Having an alcoholic drink while consuming food helps reduce the effects of the alcohol as it helps to slow absorption. Alcohol may have an effect on increasing appetite, thereby increasing food consumption and potentially leading to obesity (NIH). Alcohol consumption may reduce the mental/emotional inhibitions against overeating.
# 7: Maintain a Ready Reminder to Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Do you recall when people (probably your grandparents!) would talk about tying a string around their ring finger to remember to do something? Well in that same vein, wearing a constant reminder such as a plastic stretch bracelet around your wrist or a ring with a message of strength or awareness may be your secret message to reduce your alcohol intake or assist with your decision to quit drinking.
Another option is to set your watch or phone to alarm an hour after arriving at a social gathering as a reminder that that first alcoholic drink is your last for the evening. If nothing else it can be an excuse to escape George from accounting!
# 8: Enlist the Help of a Friend
Finding a friend to aid you in your journey towards reducing your alcohol intake and/or quit drinking can be, if not a lifesaver, a motivation builder. Friends want the best for us as they are reflected in our eyes. One of my closest friends maintains safe alcohol consumption by only having a drink on a Friday or Saturday. She prefers that she has that one alcoholic drink at her home and then has water with her meal at a restaurant. Granted, there are times when she breaks that rule, but it’s few and far between. I call that Maggie’s Rule. It works for her.
Pick friends and associates with good habits, and those habits will rub off on you. Also, remember that your behaviors and habits will impact those around you. Be a good friend and support your friends and family on their journeys towards reducing alcohol intake and/or sobriety.
# 9: Ask For Help From Your Higher Power
One of the more successful twelve-step programs encourages one to seek assistance from one’s higher power. There have been repeated studies showing the benefits to human health through meditation and/or prayer. Whatever your beliefs, accepting your own human failings, forgiving yourself for your own mistakes, and allowing the healing peace of meditation or prayer assist you in your striving for improved health and well-being will aid your journey in reducing your alcohol intake, to help quit drinking and/or total sobriety.
#10: Reward Yourself for Your Successes
Get the French manicure, get the dessert (it probably costs less than that glass of wine you passed on), play that extra round of golf, buy the OSU jersey from the amount you saved on beer. Changing behaviors can be difficult, but when you practice those changes, they become habits. New habits, healthier habits, become something to celebrate. Life is short; enjoy every sober moment. You choose when and if you drink alcohol.
In summation, these are my 10 tips to reduce your alcohol intake and/or quit drinking: Recognize the need to reduce alcohol intake; Discover what is normal alcohol intake; Determine your personal motivation to reduce your alcohol intake; Maintain a journal of alcohol consumption; Make substitutions; Consume food along with the alcohol; Maintain a ready reminder to limit your drinking; Enlist the help of a friend; Ask for help from your higher power, and reward yourself for your successes.
If you need additional help and your life has spun out of control because of drug or alcohol use or both concurrently, please contact Coastal Detox at 1-877-406-6623. Coastal Detox is an accredited state of the art facility dedicated to the treatment of those struggling with alcohol and drug addictions. It is located on the beautiful Treasure Coast of Florida in the quiet city of Stuart. Please call for a tour to witness the holistic therapies offered to assist you in your struggle for wellness.