How to stop drinking
1. Make a no alcohol list
Make a list of your thoughts and feelings about stopping drinking for a month (What will you miss? What are some good things?). Why is it important to you to stop drinking for a month? Remind yourself at the start of each day why it’s important to you to do Dry July.
2. Focus on alcohol-free positives when you stop drinking
Focus on the positives of not drinking. Plan for new opportunities in Dry July. Start something new to replace the old habit (start exercising, use the mornings, try different activities on a Friday or Saturday night). Program these things into your alcohol-free month of July. Keep to your plan and at the end of a day rate each activity out of 10 for enjoyment in your diary.
3. Avoid alcohol risks
Plan for any perceived risks and threats during your Dry July. Do a risk assessment for the month ahead and avoid risky places or risky people.
Build in some protection. Tell others you’re doing Dry July, ask them to support you by doing some alcohol-free activities, or see different friends, change venues or times so you’ll be less likely to want to drink.
Plan around your ‘risk time’ (do you usually have a drink when you get home from work or with dinner? What can you do instead?)
4. Assess your alcohol-free progress weekly
At the end of each week evaluate the differences in the way you think, feel and behave. Do you or others notice any changes in the quality of your relationships, in your mental clarity and productivity, your sleep patterns and energy levels, your weight and appearance? How much do you value these things?
5. Reward yourself with an alcohol-free treat
It’s not easy and you may be interested to know that the original founders of the concept dreamed it up in a pub as a challenge: “I bet you can’t do it”. But now that you have, reward yourself with something that make you feel great. Take yourself to the movies, book a massage, go shopping with a friend.
6. Be kind to yourself if you fall off the wagon (it’s not easy to stop drinking)
If you do have a slip up and have a drink, just accept that you have and move on. Keep going with the Dry July – you can always add an extra day at the end.
Do yourself a favour and start Dry July now even if you’ve missed the first few days. You’ll start a whole new relationship with yourself that you’re sure to embrace.
Contact Linda Magson, Sydney life coach and counsellor specialising in addiction treatment and alcohol help.