If you have also undergone alcohol addiction treatment, you may be looking for ways to sustain the recovery and stay healthy.. While others can drink alcohol sometimes, it is not recommended for a sober person to drink even on special occasions because the rate of relapse is as high as 40% to 60% and most people return to addiction within the first year. Because addiction is a lifelong process, abstinence from alcohol is important even when you have received the all-clear from a rehab center. Moreover, certain situations can trigger the urge to consume alcohol. Here are some tips that will help you to tackle these urges to protect yourself and maintain sobriety.
- Keep a journal
Journaling is very helpful in staying mindful and keeping a log of your habits. Or even by writing about your feelings! If you are trying to cut back on alcohol, you should keep a journal where you record whenever you drink, how much you drink, and why you drink. Cutting back on alcohol is the first and foremost thing to consider. This will allow you to take more control over your habits. By assessing your drinking practices, you can understand your triggers. These triggers may include a party where alcohol is being served or the feeling of loneliness. Moreover, you can also know whenever the things are getting out of hand and get in contact with your counselor to help yourself. If you have been sober for a little while, you can keep track of the days you have gone without drinking.
2. Meditate or practice mindfulness
Anxiety and stress can be the by-product of addiction treatment. Practicing meditation and mindfulness in your life while pursuing sobriety can be very beneficial. Meditation helps in sustaining and promoting positive feelings in a person, like peacefulness and awareness. Mindfulness helps increase concentration and improve memory (a cognitive ability that is affected by addiction). Once you cut back on alcohol or completely forsake it, your brain will feel the urge to drink your happy chemical to feel good. Here’s where meditation and mindfulness come to the rescue. The techniques instigate calmness and reduce stress, thus helping you curb the urge and desire to drink. Techniques including mindfulness have proven to be effective in addressing behaviors like substance misuse. Meditation for addiction approaches may help patients with addiction disorders focus primarily on the here and now and provide a basis for mental health.
3. Say no
Going back to social life is a very healthy sign of recovery. However, like most gatherings, alcohol is readily available. In fact, people are going to offer you drinks personally, and it can be tempting to not refuse and drink; sometimes, it may feel bad to say no to a loved one. However, you need to learn to say no respectfully. Most likely, people will understand if you refuse. It is wise to refuse meetings with those acquaintances who compel you to drink and trivialize your problem. Remember that there is no harm in setting boundaries, particularly if you are trying to exercise self-control for the sake of living a healthy life. Nothing can be more important than your health. Refraining yourself from drinking will instill good feelings in you, and you will feel motivated. If someone offers you a drink, don’t say yes just because they want you to.
4. Stay engaged
Many people turn to alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of life. Sadly, alcohol can hijack your life and start eliminating healthy habits from it, which can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. However, this necessitates the fact that, to get your life back on track, the best way to avoid drinking is to stay busy with something else. Our brains are wired to adapt, and the good news is that once you have decided to replace healthy habits with unhealthy ones, you can do that. It is important to note that when you’re bored, it’s easy to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. But this can lead to poor health and other problems. Try to avoid being alone and bored. Instead, go for a walk, jog, or decide to play any game you want. In fact, acquiring a new skill can also be healthy for you. Eventually, you will start finding fun in these activities, which can take your mind off of alcohol.
5. Seek help
Do not shy away from asking for support from your friends. It is important to realize that the desire to consume alcohol is a disease and that the process of recovery has its highs and lows. Sometimes, it may feel like something you can neither overcome nor control alone. It is natural to feel this way, which is why you should let your loved ones know whenever negative feelings try to take over. Remember that isolation fuels the need to drink, and it can be very difficult to curb these feelings at times. You need help from your loved ones, friends, and family members who care about you. A lot of people are able to stay away from alcohol because they have a support group of friends or family members who will help them stay away from alcohol. They will also help them when they have the urge to drink alcohol again in the future.
6. Stay in touch with a counselor
While self-motivation is a tempting concept, we need to keep in mind that we always need professional support to manage alcohol cravings. Whenever you feel like things are difficult for you, remember that the urge to drink may not go away completely, so contact your therapist or support group. A therapist can help you find ways to cope with it and minimize the urge. Therapy can help people in a number of ways, such as by identifying triggers for drinking and developing coping skills. With the help of an SUD specialist, you can better assist yourself in sustaining recovery and reducing the desire to indulge in drinking habits. You can also join an alcohol rehab center near you.
7. “Know thyself” and embrace individuality
Individuality is very beautiful. Because we are all different, our ways of coping with a problem are also unique. Realizing that, though your problem is universal, you can still deal with it in your own way. While therapists and doctors are at your disposal, the responsibility of maintaining sobriety will one day fall on you. You will have to understand:
- Your triggers are different
- The root cause of your addiction is different
Once you have studied and observed your habits, you can move on to personal solutions. Like journaling, you can also engage yourself in other habits that you find interesting; for instance, exercising when encountering a trigger or painting when you feel upset. While it may seem tiresome to you, once your habit is formed, it will become second nature to you! Make your creativity help you manage the urge to drink alcohol.
8. Don’t penalize yourself
There is no need to take a stick and whoop yourself for not being able to fight an urge. Instead, sit down and reflect on what prompted you to drink. A lot of times, there are underlying reasons that we do not want to encounter. We may feel compelled to seek solace in alcohol because we are dissatisfied with something in our lives, such as our job or a relationship. In such instances, sit with yourself and question the urge. Know that we seek out other things that can make us feel better temporarily, but in the long run, they won’t solve the problem. When you face this situation again, try to handle it differently. Always be mindful of the fact that a lack of self-love can make things far, far worse. It is important to take care of ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally.
9. Break the habit cycle
Habits are hard to break. Though we cannot expect to put a stop to drinking immediately, it is possible to keep trying. Once habits are formed, it feels easy to give in rather than trying to fight off the urges. However, it is imperative to realize that the loop of habit needs to be broken in order to move forward. Once you know your triggers, you can certainly force yourself to do the opposite of what you feel like doing. For instance, if you get into an argument with your partner, the urge to drink may hit you strongly. However, instead of drinking, you sit down and meditate by combating the first instinct. This will help you in the long run and even motivate you to exercise more frequently than you already do. We understand that it is not as easy as it sounds, but it is certainly possible.
These tips can be beneficial and effective for those who remain persistent. It is important to remember that it may feel like a constant battle with yourself but blaming or self-loathing can only worsen the problem. Therefore, be sympathetic towards yourself. Always be mindful that it is a disease after all.