How Do I Learn Self-Control While Trying to Recover?


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Question of the Week

ShayyPocket wrote:

“I don't know how to just have 'a few beers' I end up wanting to be trashed, to not feel anything for the day. Especially now that my relationship has begun to slowly fall apart it's even worse. I often spend entire paychecks at the bar, and coming up with excuses to why I am broke until I get paid next. I need to learn how to control myself.”

Our Answer

When looking to start a path towards recovery, it is important to determine whether you just need to cut back on your drinking or if you need to stop drinking completely. Whether you can successfully cut back on drinking will depend on the severity of your drinking problem. If you are an alcoholic, which means that you unable to control your drinking, it is best to try to stop drinking altogether. However, if you are not ready to take that step there are several steps you can take help you to cut back slowly:

  • Set goals for yourself. Try to choose a limit for how much you will drink. If you are a woman, try to limit your drinking to one drink per day, or two drinks a day if you are a man. You can write your goals on a piece of paper to create a reminder for yourself. Place this reminder somewhere visible like your refrigerator or bathroom mirror, so that you can refer to it periodically throughout the day.
  • Keep a drinking journal. In order to track your progress and to help you reach your goals, try to log your drinking activity in a journal. You can start by writing down every time you drink for three or four weeks. This will help you to be more aware of how much and when you are drinking. Self-awareness is an important key to recovery, as it can help you to discover what environmental and emotional triggers are causing you to drink.
  • Drink slowly. When you drink, try to pace yourself and sip your drink slowly. If you are going to drink more than one drink, try to take a one-hour break between drinks. You can also try to drink soda, water or juice after a drink with alcohol. Lastly, remember not to drink on an empty stomach. Always eat before you drink.
  • Take a break from alcohol. Choose a day or two each week when you will not drink at all. Once you have successfully gone a few weeks like this, try to stop drinking for a whole week. Think about how you feel both physically and emotionally during these days. When you have succeeded in abstaining for more extended periods of time and feel better, you may find it easier to cut down on drinking for good.
  • Get rid of temptations at home. Try to keep temptations out of your home by keeping a small amount or no alcohol at home. Remember to not only remove all alcohol, but also barware, and other drinking reminders from your home and office.
  • Communicate with your loved ones. Once you have come up with your goals, let your friends, family and co-workers know that you are trying to cut back or quit drinking. If they are drinkers ask them to support you in your recovery by not doing so in your presence. Try to distance yourself from people who are not supportive of your efforts to stop drinking.
  • Be honest with yourself and recognize your limits. One of the most important steps in recovery is to be self-aware of one's limits. Recognize what obstacles may lie ahead and how you can overcome them. Keep your goals in mind and accept the changes that this may bring to your life. Know that you may not be able to attend certain events where alcohol is being served, or that you will not be able to keep alcohol in your home any longer.

Adhering to these tips can help you to start a plan for recovery and can help you recognize the difference between a few drinks and a binge. If you are an alcoholic but are not ready to stop drinking cold-turkey, these steps can help you to accept recovery both emotionally and physically more gradually.



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