When people successfully change their habits they usually follow a simple plan and choose a goal.
- When bored or stressed have a workout instead of drinking.
- Avoid going to the pub after work.
- Plan activities and tasks at those times you would usually drink.
- When you do drink, set yourself a limit and stick to it.
- Have your first drink after starting to eat.
- Quench your thirst with non-alcoholic drinks.
- Avoid drinking in rounds or in large groups.
- Switch to low alcohol beer/lager.
- Avoid or limit the time spent with 'heavy' drinking friends.
The first decision is to decide what you wish to achieve by changing your drinking, there are a number of choices you can make depending on your current drinking pattern. The following guide may help you in your decision but only you can make the decision that is right for you.
- Reducing how often you drink e.g. deciding to limit the number of days you drink alcohol during the week and having a number of days where you don’t have any alcohol. This choice can be difficult if you have an irregular pattern to your drinking.
- Reducing how much you drink per drinking occasion e.g. deciding not to engage in binge drinking and remaining within the low risk weekly guidelines for alcohol. Having a period free from alcohol use may not suit a binge drinker- whose drinking may not be part of every day life. In those cases it is important to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed.
- Deciding on a period of alcohol free living before returning to drinking within the low risk alcohol guidelines. If successful, many people feel reassured that they can choose not to drink and still return to a safer level of alcohol use. For this goal to be successful it means thinking about your lifestyle and taking time to decide how you are going to drink within the low risk guidelines once the alcohol free period is over otherwise there is a likelihood of returning to old habits and not making any changes.
- Stopping all alcohol use until you feel ready to start again. There is no time limit on the period of abstinence and you are aware that you can return to drinking at safer levels when you are ready.
- Stopping alcohol use completely. The benefits of this approach are simply deciding not to drink and also being able to measure your success. The decision to stop drinking brings a lot of changes to your lifestyle and relationships and also the risk of feeling like a failure if you do have a drink having decided not to. There are situations where stopping drinking completely is the sensible option particularly if you already have a serious medical problem that may be made worse by further drinking.
We recommend that you contact your local alcohol services for specialist assessment and support and advice in making your decision.