It’s the habit you can’t kick. It feels like you’re never going to be able to stop. You’re questioning whether you even want to stop—after all, you think, shouldn’t you have enough willpower for this? A drinking problem might be a permanent part of your life right now, but it doesn’t have to be.
The truth is, no matter how challenging quitting drinking feels, you can do it. But it’s not just willpower that you need. You need the right education and knowledge, too. While everyone’s journey to sobriety is unique, here are the key pieces that you need to quit drinking for good.
The Rules for Recovery
According to a 2015 article published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, there are five rules for recovery. It’s not only about the actions you take, but also the mentalities you foster. Here are the rules to guide you as you begin your journey:
1. Change Your Life
Recovery isn’t just about quitting drinking. It’s about creating a new life full of healthy habits, one in which alcohol no longer belongs. If you just stop drinking and everything stays the same, you’re going to feel something missing. You need to replace drinking with new activities and people who bring you joy and meaning.
2. Be Completely Honest
Addiction tends to create a life of lying, continually trying to keep the extent of your habit secret from family, friends, and employers. But recovery requires honesty. When sharing personal details, especially with self-help groups and counselors, you should feel uncomfortably honest. That kind of vulnerability takes time to work up to. Ultimately, it’s going to help you sort out the complexities of your motivations and heal the relationships with people around you.
3. Ask For Help
Most people try to sort out their addiction on their own before asking for help. It’s only after a relapse that they realize they need outside support and treatment. Don’t wait for that first relapse to reach out. Research shows that self-help groups significantly increase the chances of long-term recovery and that the golden combination of a substance abuse program and a self-help group is instrumental.
4. Practice Self Care
It’s common for individuals struggling with addiction to push themselves in their daily lives without enough rest or food, become exhausted, and use alcohol to relax. Alcohol ends up becoming a reward for a day of working hard.
Self-care is something that many people gloss over, as it seems unnecessary and sounds almost selfish. But it’s helpful to understand some definitions: Selfishness it taking more than you need. Self-care, on the other hand, is about taking only as much as you need.
Instead of waiting until you’re exhausted and looking for a pick-me-up, give yourself the care you need now. Studies show that mindfulness, meditation, and other mind-body relaxation techniques are effective in preventing relapse. You need to understand that your physical care is critical in reaching sobriety.
5. Don’t Bend the Rules
Have you ever asked a professional for help, and then ignored the advice? Or maybe you’ve been in recovery for a while, and the techniques you learned just don’t seem like they’re necessary anymore? The final rule for recovery is that you can’t bend the rules. There are no shortcuts or exceptions. These are the building blocks of your freedom in a sober lifestyle, and bending them is like building a house on a foundation made of sand.
The first step in recovery is getting rid of alcohol entirely. Some people with milder addictions choose to detox at home with a friend or family member to monitor them.
However, alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and, in extreme cases, sometimes lethal, especially for individuals who have dealt with addictions for an extended period. It’s best to detox in a medical environment where you can be monitored for adverse effects such as fever, high blood pressure, delirium, and seizures. There, you’ll have support from doctors who monitor your vitals and help you recover lost nutrition throughout the detox process.
The time after detox is crucial. Many people begin to feel better instantly and think they are recovered, only to find themselves stuck back in their addiction a little while later. Recovery is about creating a new life, and you need a supportive community to grow into it. Often, the best place to learn how to do that is in a treatment program. There’s a spectrum of treatment methods depending on the severity of the addiction:
Inpatient alcohol treatment offers an environment where you stay at a facility full-time to focus on your recovery. At Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery, you’ll participate in counseling sessions, group therapy sessions, 12-step meetings, and holistic therapies.
Partial hospitalization is also available and is an intermediate step where you live at home but participate in therapy, classes, and other recovery activities during the day.
Outpatient programs are for motivated patients who are ready to live in transitional housing or a private residence. In an outpatient environment, you can access most (if not all) services available in inpatient treatment.
Recovery is an ongoing process, and every day is a journey to building a sober life in which you can find real fulfillment. Aftercare helps reinforce the skills you learned for dealing with stress and cravings and gives you access to support groups and individuals who will help you as you grow. It’s also an essential part of building a relapse prevention plan.
Alcoholics Anonymous is among the most popular and successful approaches to recovering from alcohol addiction. Meetings are free to members, who are asked to contribute a small donation of time or money to keep the meetings going. AA meetings, other recovery community groups, and ongoing counseling are all parts of aftercare.
Throughout your recovery process, there are a few techniques that you’ll likely hear about over and over again. They’ve been helpful for many people who have overcome their addictions, and most (if not all) will likely prove essential steps for you to free yourself.
Get Rid of Temptations – Don’t keep alcohol around “just in case,” or think that it would be a waste of money to throw it out. You have to go all-in.
Tell People – It really does take a community. Tell people you love and trust about what you’re going through at every stage. You may be surprised how many people are willing to come alongside you and help you on your journey.
Avoid Triggers – What makes the cravings stronger? Pay attention to your mind and body and identify what pushes you to drink. Then make tangible changes to avoid them.
Keep a Diary – If you haven’t quit yet, use a diary to track your drinking habits. Once you’re committed to recovery, you’ll find it valuable to identify your triggers and sort through your thoughts as you tackle fresh challenges.
Exercise – Exercise brings new strength and lots of mood-balancing endorphins. You’ll start to learn the amazing things your body is capable of doing when you care for it.
Develop a Healthy Identity – There are two types of people in recovery: non-users, who are ready to move past their addictions, and denied users, who secretly can’t imagine life without drinking. They might tell themselves that they’ll get healthy enough now to handle a drink better someday or use the anniversary of being sober as an excuse to imbibe.
But you also must change the way you perceive yourself. Everyone starts their journey of getting sober as a denied user. Your job is to learn to see yourself as someone who has left their drinking days entirely in the past.
Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction
Are you ready to change your life? We’ll stand by you as you discover a meaningful life of sobriety. Call us now and learn more about our treatment programs today. We can help!