The first tip to reducing one’s intake of alcohol is to realize that there is a need to quit. You’re here because you want to make a change in your life to improve your mental and physical health. Be proud of yourself for taking the first step!
Perhaps you regularly awaken with a fuzzy memory of the night before while drinking. Or maybe there is the regular prospect of an all-consuming headache flavoring your morning coffee. Whatever the case may be, you have recognized a need for change. You have noticed the need to reduce your alcohol intake or even quit drinking altogether. We’re here to tell you that you’ve come to the right place!
At Coastal Detox, we are willing and ready to help those who suffer from substance abuse and would like to find hope and healing.
#1: Recognize the Need to Reduce Your Alcohol Intake or Quit Drinking
As stated above, the first step is to recognize that you need to reduce your intake of alcohol or possibly even quit drinking entirely. Everyone who recognizes their struggle with excessive alcohol use has individual and unique reasons for believing that their consumption is more significant than their 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 seen 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. Needless to say, 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 quitting alcohol use is definitely important and necessary 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, for 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?
If you find that your drinking is becoming excessive, you may feel hopeless. But, there is hope for individuals who want to break free from the bondage of alcoholism. 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
What’s your reason for wanting 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’ to any of these questions, then reducing your alcohol intake or quitting drinking may be the best 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 you are no longer drinking alcohol.
#4: Maintain a Journal of Your Alcohol Consumption
Life can go along pretty smoothly, then suddenly, you find yourself facing stressors and triggers galore. Stressful situations are not always bad things. Even good things such as planning a wedding, changing jobs, moving into a new home, or 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 to occur.
Journaling is a simple way to record how many alcoholic drinks a person consumes every day. Individuals can also write down 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 listening to George from accounting recite 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?
As humorous as some of this may sound, you may be surprised to see just how much stressors and triggers affect your drinking habits and frequency. Keeping track of these things in a journal can help you to be more aware of what causes you to drink more. With this information, you can begin learning how to avoid these situations or cope with them differently (without alcohol).
# 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. But your health is more important than keeping up appearances. If you feel a little left out or awkward while everyone else drinks alcohol, remember that you are making the right decision, both for your present and for your future!
Still, you may feel strange. If you would still like to feel and look as if you’re having a drink, consider other options. 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 favorite drink of choice will help with reducing your alcohol intake. Try a fancy non-alcoholic beverage instead, it can help you to stay on track.
# 6: Consume Food Along with Alcohol Intake
If you choose to continue drinking alcohol but would simply like to reduce how much you drink, consider eating when you have alcohol. Consuming food while having an alcoholic drink can help reduce the effects of the alcohol as it helps to slow absorption.
# 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 your first alcoholic drink is your last for the evening. If nothing else, it can be an excuse to escape George from accounting!
You may also designate a responsible friend or family member to help you stay on track. When you’re busy socializing at events, it may be difficult to pay attention to your phone or your bracelet. So, instead of relying on your device or accessory, you might count on a good friend to help you limit your drinking.
# 8: Enlist the Help of a Friend
Accountability is key. 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. You can tell a friend about your goals and let him or her know that you’d like to be held accountable.
Be sure to listen to your friend, knowing the individual has your best interest at heart. Also, make sure you choose a trustworthy person to be your accountability partner. Being able to trust your friends to keep you on track ensures a healthy balance and, in the long run, a better future for you.
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 to 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.
Let Coastal Detox Help You Today!
In summation, these are 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
- 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. Our facility 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.