Evaluating the costs and benefits of drinking
Make a table like the one below, weighing the costs and benefits of drinking to the costs and benefits of quitting.
|Is drinking worth the cost?|
|Benefits of drinking|
|It helps me forget about my problems.I have fun when I drink.It’s my way of relaxing and unwinding after a stressful day.|
|Benefits of NOT drinking|
|My relationships would probably improve.I’d feel better mentally and physically.I’d have more time and energy for the people and activities I care about.|
|Costs of drinking|
|It has caused problems in my relationships.I feel depressed, anxious, and ashamed of myself.It gets in the way of my job performance and family responsibilities.|
|Costs of NOT drinking|
|I’d have to find another way to deal with problems.I’d lose my drinking buddies.I would have to face the responsibilities I’ve been ignoring.|
Set goals and prepare for change
Once you’ve made the decision to change, the next step is establishing clear drinking goals. The more specific, realistic, and clear your goals, the better.
Example #1: My drinking goal
- I will stop drinking alcohol.
- My quit date is __________.
Example #2: My drinking goal
- I will stop drinking on weekdays, starting as of __________.
- I will limit my Saturday and Sunday drinking to no more than three drinks per day or five drinks per weekend.
- After three months, I will cut back my weekend drinking even more to a maximum of two drinks per day and three drinks per weekend.
Do you want to stop drinking altogether or just cut back? If your goal is to reduce your drinking, decide which days you will drink alcohol and how many drinks you will allow yourself per day. Try to commit to at least two days each week when you won’t drink at all.
When do you want to stop drinking or start drinking less? Tomorrow? In a week? Next month? Within six months? If you’re trying to stop drinking, set a specific quit date.
How to accomplish your goals
After you’ve set your goals to either stop or cut back your drinking, write down some ideas on how you can help yourself accomplish these goals. For example:
Get rid of temptations. Remove all alcohol, barware, and other alcohol-related paraphernalia from your home and office.
Announce your goal. Let friends, family members, and co-workers know that you’re trying to stop or cut back on drinking. If they drink, ask them to support your recovery by not doing so in front of you.
Be upfront about your new limits. Make it clear that drinking will not be allowed in your home and that you may not be able to attend events where alcohol is being served.
Avoid bad influences. Distance yourself from people who don’t support your efforts to stop drinking or respect the limits you’ve set. This may mean giving up certain friends and social connections.
Learn from the past. Reflect on previous attempts to stop or reduce your drinking. What worked? What didn’t? What can you do differently this time to avoid pitfalls?