How to Quit Drinking
In July of 2020, over 10,000 people googled “How to Quit Drinking.” Why is this? How did we get here? And more importantly, what is the answer?
Since the COVID pandemic began in March of 2020, alcohol sales have increased 54% when compared to March of 2019. Online sales of alcohol were up nearly 500% in late April. According to a Morning Consult poll given to adults in the United States at the end of March of 2020, 16% of participants reported higher rates of drinking since the pandemic began.
So…the question we need to ask ourselves is how to quit drinking or at least slow down our drinking during this pandemic? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) suggests that the following steps may be helpful:
- Put it in writing. Making a list of the reasons to curtail your drinking — such as feeling healthier, sleeping better, or improving your relationships. Seeing this in writing can motivate you to make it happen.
- Set a drinking goal. Set a limit on how much you will drink. You should keep your drinking below the recommended guidelines: no more than one standard drink per day for women and men ages 65 and older, and no more than two standard drinks per day for men under 65.
- Keep a diary of your drinking. For three to four weeks, keep track of every time you have a drink. Include information about what and how much you drank as well as where you were. Compare this to your goal. If you’re having trouble sticking to your goal, discuss it with your doctor or another health professional.
- Don’t keep alcohol in your house. Having no alcohol at home can help limit your drinking.
- Drink slowly. Sip your drink. Drink soda, water, or juice after having an alcoholic beverage. Never drink on an empty stomach.
- Choose alcohol-free days. Decide not to drink a day or two each week. You may want to abstain for a week or a month to see how you feel physically and emotionally without alcohol in your life. Taking a break from alcohol can be a good way to start drinking less.
- Watch for peer pressure. Practice ways to say no politely. You do not have to drink just because others are, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to accept every drink you’re offered. Stay away from people who encourage you to drink.
- Keep busy. Take a walk, play sports, go out to eat, or catch a movie. When you’re at home, pick up a new hobby or revisit an old one. Painting, board games, playing a musical instrument, woodworking — these and other activities are great alternatives to drinking.
- Ask for support. Cutting down on your drinking may not always be easy. Let friends and family members know that you need their support. Your doctor, counselor, or therapist may also be able to offer help.
If you have tried these steps on how to quit drinking and still are having trouble giving up alcohol, please reach out to our office, Olney Counseling, at www.olneycounseling.com or 301-570-7500.