So you want to stop drinking alcohol.. Tried already? Maybe several times with no success?
It can be extremely hard to quit this addiction and it is important to realise that we are all unique, and that no one approach works for everyone…
Studies have shown that addiction is due to both genetic factors and also to poor coping strategies and environmental factors. “Genes and Addiction”
First and most important make the intention not to judge yourself, not to feel guilt and shame.. drinking a lot is often a way of coping, it is a need. Once you can discover what drives you to drink it becomes much easier to make the necessary changes to stop drinking alcohol.
Why do you drink alcohol?
When we are unable to reduce the amount we drink, or to stop completely, there is always an underlying need for the alcohol. Unless we address that underlying reason we are unlikely to be successful.
There is of course the chemical addiction to the alcohol. However, having the genetic predisposition for addiction does not mean that you will get that disease..
I have had many clients who confess to an inability to moderate their drinking. There is always a pain in their life. The emotional stressors that I see most often when clients are finding it hard to stop drinking alcohol are loneliness, rejection, physical / emotional / sexual abuse in childhood and / or adulthood, and fear. Some may have very low self esteem, a sense of having no value, no self worth.
Anxiety and depression can also be factors, along with physical pain caused by injuries, and conditions such as arthritis and headaches.
How to stop drinking alcohol
As I said earlier, there is no one size fits all.. you need to look at the options that are available, try different things and accept there is no magic bullet, one time quick fix. Most people need several different approaches to successfully stop.
You may wish to consider one or more of the following. They are in no specific order.
- Admit the issue, the fact you drink too much, to yourself and to those close to you. It is not important to label yourself as alcoholic, just accept the need to reduce / stop.
- Seek help from professionals. Resources include your family doctor, counselling / talk therapy, other healing modalities, AA meetings and other support groups.
- Avoid comparing yourself to others. We are all different, what works for one will not necessarily work for another.
- Decide whether you want to stop completely or try to reduce your consumption. Maybe as a start designate just one or two nights a week for alcohol instead of every night.
- Avoid temptation – Choose to spend time with friends who don’t drink or who are happy to avoid it when they are with you and go to places where alcohol is not served.
- Replace the alcohol with something else. E.g. If you always drink in the evening find something else to snack on, or to drink, or find an activity you can do with others.
- Look at the benefits – better sleep, less wasted time, more connected to others, more meaningful conversations, money saved.. etc..
Addressing the underlying pain
Accepting that there may be underlying emotional issues connected with your drinking can be hard. Mental health still has a lot of stigma attached to it. We all have baggage that we carry, from our own lives, our genetic memories passed down from parents, grandparents etc, and, some believe, soul memories too.
When you are ready to “go there”, or to take a look and see if that may be why you cannot stop drinking, it is important to seek help from a health professional. There are many options available including psychological services such as counselling and psychotherapy, as well as energy healing, shamanic healing, church ministers and more.
Remember healing is an ongoing process. Don’t judge yourself if you slip, accept the relapse and move on, get back on track. It is quite normal to slip a number of times before you reach a point where you are satisfied with changes you have made.
Depending on how much you are drinking and how quickly you reduce your intake you may experience withdrawal from the alcohol.
These symptoms can include psychological symptoms such as irritability, poor concentration, feeling shaky, feeling tired, difficulty sleeping or bad dreams.
Physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms including trembling hands, sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting, palpitations and lack of appetite. Severe physical side effects include convulsions, confusion, fever and even hallucinations. If you experience physical withdrawal symptoms of any kind, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
I wish you success in your journey to stop drinking alcohol!