Giving up alcohol completely is no mean feat – especially not in a society which normalises excessive alcohol drinking and actively encourages us that drinking is acceptable and makes a person fun. For many people, alcohol is used as a reward: cracking open a bottle of your favourite wine or meeting friends for a cold, refreshing beer after a hard day’s work is one of life’s great pleasures. But at what point does social drinking become something dangerous, with negative consequences to your emotional and physical health?
It’s surprisingly easy to slip into drinking more than intended, and the units do add up quickly. The recommended weekly allowance of alcohol is 14 units a week, equivalent to six medium glasses of wine, or seven pints of beer. According to the alcohol charity Alcohol Change UK, 24% of adults in England and Scotland regularly drink over the Chief Medical Officer’s low-risk guidelines, and 27% of drinkers in Great Britain binge drink on their heaviest drinking days. The effects of drinking too much and too frequently are significant: alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death and ill-health in the UK among 15 – 50 year olds, and it’s the 5th biggest risk factor for death and ill-health across all ages.
If you’re worried about your alcohol consumption, or feel that alcohol is more in control of you than you are of it, then don’t be disheartened because there are plenty of positive changes that you can make. One popular initiative is run by MacMillan Cancer Support – their fundraising campaign, Go Sober for October, asks people to go sober for a month to raise money for the charity. It is aimed at challenging social drinkers to change their habits and make healthy lifestyle changes.
Having a break from alcohol or going completely sober has great advantages for your health. In order to really reap the benefits associated with stopping drinking, a prolonged break of at least 6 months is recommended. Benefits include:
- A clearer head
- More energy
- Sleeping better
- Weight loss
- Help people with cancer
- Sense of achievement
Clearly, Go Sober for October is a great start, offering drinkers the chance to gain a fresh perspective on potentially problematic drinking habits. It isn’t as daunting as the thought of going sober completely, and you can enjoy the benefits to your physical and emotional health: better sleep, more money, and reduced anxiety and stress levels. Whatever your reason for joining the campaign, making small changes to your lifestyle for just a month really does have its perks. However, for individuals with a serious problem, or those who are alcohol-dependant, we would encourage you to speak to your GP about your problem and the range of professional addiction services available to you.
Alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive illness and one with devastating effects in both the short and long-term. If you or a loved one are alcohol-dependant, entering a private rehab clinic is often your best bet to break the vicious cycle of addiction, safely detox from all substances, and address the underlying psychological issues in therapy. By removing yourself from your drinking environment, and from the people, places and things that may trigger you to take an alcoholic drink, you are much more likely to be able to stay sober, and to develop the tools you need to enjoy a lasting, happy recovery. Here at the Providence Projects, we understand that stopping drinking is a huge decision for anyone to make, but we are here to tell you that it is so worth it. You are making an investment in yourself, your future, and the freedom and opportunities you will enjoy as a result of going sober are second to none.
Whether you are stopping for a month, or going sober completely, changing your habits and challenging your beliefs are not going to be a walk in the park. But there are some things you can do to make it a little easier.
1.Make a firm commitment to yourself
Make the decision not to drink for a set period of time and stick to it, no matter what. You will gain huge self-esteem and confidence by simply keeping the promise you have made to yourself
2. Be kind to yourself
You are doing a difficult thing, so practice self-compassion along the way. Treat yourself as you would treat your child or a close friend. If you are tired, stressed, hungry, lonely or bored, don’t reach for the bottle to soothe you. Think about what you actually need in the moment – is it love, connection, some fresh air, a nice meal, massage or a hot bath?
3. Challenge your ‘Stinking Thinking’
Instead of looking at your newfound sobriety as restriction, try to think positively about what you can gain from going without the booze. Draw up a list of all the benefits you are enjoying, vs. how you feel when you are indulging in alcohol. By having the evidence in front of you, it’s easier to challenge false beliefs about what alcohol adds (or doesn’t) to your life.
4. Get Support
Use your friends, family, colleagues or loved ones as much as you can. Those who know you and love you will always want what’s best for you. By telling them what you’re doing you are making a commitment not only to yourself but to other people. That way, when the going gets tough, or you experience alcohol cravings, you will have a strong support network to lean on.
Here at the Providence Projects, we have helped thousands of individuals to recover from alcohol addiction, and go on to lead happy, fulfilled lives without the crutch of alcohol by their side. If you or a loved one are looking for help to stop drinking, please give us a call today on 0800 955 0945 to speak to one of our expert addiction counsellors, or check out our website providenceproject.org. Alternatively, you can fill out our online contact form and a member of the team will call you back straightaway.