Updated: Sep 8, 2019
Based in Leeds, Yorkshire, Start Recovery delivers private drug, alcohol and addictions help for people wanting to stop drinking alcohol or using drugs, and change their lifestyles. So, you’ve finally decided you want to stop drinking and you’ve started to lay the foundations for a change in your life and put the dark days of destruction behind you.
I’m not talking about “Dry January” or a month off the booze to supposedly detox the body… I’m talking about abstinence, stopping drinking alcohol completely, you’ve had enough and its time to change! You may have had problems at work through drinking alcohol, injured yourself, had relationship problems or got into trouble with the Police.
Maybe friends or relatives have been repeatedly concerned about your alcohol consumption, or you are having memory problems related to drinking (blackouts or not being able to remember what happened the night before).
These types of problems indicate that you may want to think about stopping drinking completely, especially if you have tried to stop before, and found yourself repeating cycles of drinking again getting yourself into more troubles. Alcohol just doesn’t suit you anymore!
Research shows that many potential alcohol dependant drinkers in the UK live in a state of denial, and lifting the veil of denial can be a difficult but humbling experience, with denial often staying with you, even once you have accepted that you may need help.
It is important to note that if you are drinking on a daily, or almost daily basis you should seek help from a professional before stopping drinking, as quitting alcohol completely without a reduction plan, or medical help for dependant drinkers, can be extremely dangerous and in some cases fatal.
This is a scary time of reflection on so many levels and more can be found out here for those wanting to explore more. Let's face it, those of us who have the problem will have probably known for some time that we need to stop….but we can’t (or we think we can’t), and we’ve been round this cycle many times, only to find ourselves slipping back into our old patterns and behaviours.
Decide To Stop Drinking!
This sounds obvious, but it is so difficult for us to truly decide to stop doing something we have done as a behavioural aspect of our lives for such a long time, and we have decided (or thought we’d decided) so many times before.
It really has to be you that decides that you are doing this for yourself, and not for the sake of somebody else (although it is often family or friends that will push you into stopping, or help you realise you have a problem in the beginning).
Problem drinking is serious and its not something that just goes away by its self, there’s a reason why we drink so much and we need to make that decision to stop so that we can start to address the reasons why.
There's always a "I'll just wait until after" event in our diaries, and there always will be, until we make the decision to give it a go (or another go)!
Stopping drinking requires planning and planned events should be taken into consideration, but we can use these as an excuse to keep us drinking.... there's always another birthday or holiday round the corner and if you are serious about quitting then there's no time like the present.
Get Professional Alcoholism Help
Consider getting help from a professional alcohol counsellor or psychotherapist. They can help you identify the reasons why you might be drinking too much and have found it so hard to stop in the past.
Addictive behaviours are our learned ways of coping with situations and emotions that we just haven’t been able to deal with, or process, which have become ingrained into our default go-to actions over time.
Time spent talking with a counsellor (preferably with someone who has been through similar problems themselves) can help you explore all aspects of your alcohol use (or misuse) helping you to acknowledge and process difficult or irrational thoughts and behaviours.
Taper Off The Alcohol
… Or "titrate" (if you prefer the more clinical term).
As mentioned earlier, withdrawal from alcohol can be extremely dangerous for heavier drinkers and it is recommended that professional advice is taken before stopping drinking.
Serious conditions can arise from alcohol withdrawal and should not be taken lightly, and if you are thinking of a home detox, then titration (whether with or without medication) should be planned.
For those who are not alcohol dependant, a period of time can be agreed to reduce your alcohol consumption, so for example if you are drinking a bottle of wine a night with more on weekends then first try choosing an 12% lighter Pinot Noir or the 4% lager rather than the 14.5% Shiraz or the 5% Export lager that you pop into your supermarket basket after work.
Just doing this alone is starting to create an awareness of consciously taking note, and you're starting to think about the problem, processing and putting into place small measurable, and achievable goals.
Pushing back the "Beer or wine O'clock" time from 6pm to 7.30pm can then be involved in the plan to reduce intake.
I know that when I was still drinking, this was the crucial time for me to focus on.. I could easily polish off a bottle of wine or a 4 pack at this time to get the evening started.
Focusing on these specific routines we have from the beginning can slowly help us to connect with the thoughts, urges and cravings associated with these drinking times.
From here we can try start to introduce alcohol free days, focusing on awareness around "danger times" and try to connect our feelings and emotions.
Learn About Your Drink Problem
Once we have reduced our intake and we feel ready to stop, we should try to learn to acknowledge and accept our problems, and keep learning, and keep planning from this point!
We need to try to find the tools to put into place and the strategies to help us stay sober, and the more we learn about alcohol, addiction, triggers, cravings, routines, defence mechanisms , belief systems, brain systems …. (the list goes on), and continue to learn, then the more we start to change as synaptic growth is encouraged in the brain.
This is a good time to take up practices such as mindfulness or yoga to help us to relax and stay focused. Peer support groups such as AA or SMART can connect us to like minded people and give us a foundation to start to build our recovery, helping us to re-connect to the self by enabling us to share our experiences in safe environments.
Recovery is a time of deep personal development that keeps giving back to us the more we learn about ourselves and how to cope with everyday life without having to self medicate.
Many people who stop drinking alcohol talk of feelings of "being reborn" and "coming out of a bubble" and truly begin to live their lives to their full potential.
Would You Benefit From Private Counselling?
These are just a few of the elements, ideas, reasons and discussions that I try to bring to my private counselling service that I deliver in North Leeds, Yorkshire, UK.
So if you think you would benefit from treatment, get in touch and we'll see what I can do to help.