It’s January, the first month of the year. The longest night of the year is behind us and the days are very gradually beginning to get longer. Many people think about making new beginnings or changes in January. It’s a great time to make changes because so many people are making resolutions that would be beneficial to them or to stop doing something harmful. If you have thoughts about not drinking anymore, January is a great time to quit. If you have been sober but have relapsed, January is the perfect time to recommit to sobriety.
A Great Time to Quit
If you decide to quit drinking for good during January, you will have lots of company. January is traditionally a time for new beginnings, for people to evaluate what’s working in their lives and what isn’t working. For many people, what isn’t working is drinking alcohol, so they decide to quit permanently. Other people take a month-long break from alcohol, participating in what’s known as “Dry January.” Dry January began in 2013 in the United Kingdom as part of a campaign to raise money for alcohol abuse and treatment and has since blossomed into a worldwide phenomenon. While participating in Dry January is not in and of itself a treatment for alcohol use disorder, it can be easier to give up drinking because lots of other people won’t be drinking either. Alcohol consumption is very prevalent in our society and Dry January has helped normalize sobriety and remove some of the stigma associated with not drinking.
A Great Time to Quit Again
For some people who have previously given up alcohol and then begun to drink again, January can serve as an impetus for them to recommit to sobriety and either seek treatment again or start attending a support group. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60 percent of people who have stopped drinking alcohol or using drugs end up relapsing. Relapsing after an attempt to stop drinking or using drugs is not a failure, but because of the “chronic nature of addiction…[that] can be part of the process…Treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply rooted behaviors, and relapse doesn’t mean treatment has failed.” What relapse does mean is that it is time to consider treatment again and going back to a support group if you have stopped.
Tips to Make Your Decision to Quit Drinking Stick
Deciding to quit drinking is a huge first step on your path. Here are a few tips to help you stick to your decision.
- You don’t have to go it alone. Let friends and family members who will be supportive know what you have decided. You may be surprised by how much encouragement you receive. You may want to seek more structured support like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery. Both have meetings around the world that are free and you will find yourself surrounded by other people who have made or are making the same decision you are.
- Spend some time thinking about why you drink. Are you bored? Lonely? Did you recently suffer a loss and you are drinking to dull the pain? Many people use alcohol as a coping mechanism, but there are healthier coping alternatives available to you. You may want to start therapy.
- Think about what you will say in social situations when someone offers you a drink. You could say that you have an early flight to catch, an important meeting that you need to be ready for, or a heavy-duty workout scheduled for the next morning. Or you could just smile and say, “No, thank you.” You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
- Find something else that you like to drink. You may find that you love sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice and a lime twist or that fixing a cup of tea when you get home from work can replace your former evening cocktail.
- Find something else to do during the time that you used to drink. Maybe you have decided to attend AA meetings and you find that there is a great meeting that happens at happy hour. Or you may find that you love to go for a nice long run right after work.
- You may want to make giving up alcohol part of a larger commitment to your health. Make it a priority to eat healthy, nutritious food. Cook more of your meals at home. You can control the nutrition and calories and you will save a lot of money. Make sure that you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Also, this is a perfect time to start an exercise program.
You have decided to quit drinking–congratulations! The benefits of not drinking are numerous, lots of people will join you on your journey, and January is a wonderful time to start something new that will benefit you. January is a great time to quit drinking, but the best time to stop drinking is whenever you realize that there is a problem.
If you have decided that it is time to give up alcohol–whether it’s January or July– we at Enlightened Solutions would be honored to help you on your journey of recovery. Treatment begins with a thorough assessment of your unique situation, enabling us to design an individualized plan for you. The program we offer is for the whole person, not just his or her addiction. We are licensed to treat co-occurring disorders that often accompany addiction, including major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder. Our program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and combines traditional talk therapy with a variety of holistic treatment modalities. Alternative therapies that we offer include family constellation therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, yoga, meditation, sound healing, art therapy, music therapy, equine therapy, and horticultural therapy. We are located in New Jersey, near the southern shore. For help in overcoming your addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483.