Many people worldwide drink beer, wine and liquor, but do not understand what constitutes excessive alcohol consumption or how to scale back once drinking becomes a habit. Because alcohol is readily available and commonly advertised as a stress relief outlet, you may rely on it as a misplaced coping or self-care mechanism without recognizing when you’re drinking too much or too often.
If you are concerned about your alcohol intake, here are some warning signs to watch for and tips for nipping a worsening drinking habit in the bud.
Red Flags of Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Some people are drinking more in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, making the past year and a half a particularly vulnerable time to develop alcohol use disorders. When you feel your stress levels are unmanageable, it can be tempting to reach for something that provides even short-term relief. However, the more you drink, the more likely you are to experience adverse side effects such as:
- Irritability, mood swings and an overall lack of motivation
- Increased depression or anxiety
- Relationship conflicts
- Ongoing guilt or worry around how much you are drinking
- Lying to loved ones about your alcohol consumption
- Craving alcohol when you are sober
Reasons to Stop Drinking
Alcohol use disorders do not develop overnight. As an alcohol dependence progresses into an addiction, it will eventually begin affecting your personal and professional responsibilities. Your health and well-being will also suffer if you continue drinking regardless of the consequences, potentially leading to ramifications such as financial issues, legal problems and severe organ and tissue damage.
If alcohol use has jeopardized your health, your doctor will likely suggest that you taper off considerably or stop drinking altogether. However, for those who have abused alcohol for a long time, quitting cold turkey may lead to dangerous or potentially fatal consequences such as seizures and delirium tremens. In that case, medically managed detoxification is your best option to safely wean yourself off alcohol and control unpleasant withdrawal symptoms in a clinical environment with 24/7 supervision.
Alcohol Cessation Tips
Many people who successfully stop drinking require several attempts to do so. If you have tried to taper off or quit entirely, only to return to alcohol use when times get tough, don’t get discouraged. Here are some strategies you can try to stop drinking for good.
- Find new hobbies: If you associate drinking with a specific activity such as watching TV, develop an alternative strategy for something enjoyable you can do during that time. Crossword puzzles, drawing and coloring are all examples of stress-relieving pastimes you can try instead of drinking alcohol.
- Monitor your feelings: When you’re worried, angry, sad or lonely, you might feel especially tempted to reach for an alcoholic beverage. Try keeping a journal or working with a therapist to help you process complex emotions.
- Choose alcohol-free days: One way to stop drinking is to start small. Consider abstaining for a week or a month to see what a difference it can make. Taking a short break from alcohol will help you lay the groundwork to start drinking less, and when you notice how much healthier, happier and more energetic you feel, it might motivate you to make a permanent change for the better.
- Attend a qualified treatment program: Enrolling in a substance abuse treatment program can help you address the root cause of your problem drinking with therapy and other activities designed to foster lifelong sobriety.
Compassionate Addiction Treatment Services in Long Beach, CA
At New Found Life, we have provided our evidence-based continuum of care to adult women and men living with substance abuse disorders for nearly three decades. Our role is to serve as your partner and advocate in the recovery process, helping you stop drinking and achieve lasting freedom from alcohol use. When you’re ready to learn more, contact us today.