Should I Quit Drinking?   

Should I Quit Drinking?

Close up view of wine glasses in a row, each having a different kind of wine it in.

April 19, 2023

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Michele Scasserra, LCSW, LCADC, CCS

What happened last night? What was I saying to everyone? I need to apologize.. I don’t remember how I got home.. I hate myself.

After a night of drinking, have these thoughts crossed your mind? Whether you have just suffered a hangover that’s made you proclaim, “I’m never drinking again”, or you’ve decided that alcohol isn’t adding value to your life, one thing is certain. It’s okay to rethink your relationship with alcohol. 

Social worker and director of Substance Use Counseling Services at Blake Recovery Center, Michele Scasserra, LCSW, LCADC, CCS, talks through warning signs of alcohol use, when you should seek help, what resources are available and how to best maintain sobriety. 

Ask Yourself: How Does Alcohol Influence My Life?

Alcohol is everywhere – many social settings are centered around having a drink. Movie theaters now sell alcohol, yoga classes with wine, and work functions or social gatherings are centered around having drinks. You can find yourself drinking just about anywhere you go.

“For someone who can have one glass of wine and be satisfied, perhaps this isn’t an issue, but for those who ‘chase the buzz,’ it can certainly snowball,” says Michele. “I think it’s important to look at the way you consume alcohol and how it makes you feel not just in the moment, but afterwards, and how it affects your life overall. That can help you decide if you need to make some changes.” 

Some warnings signs to look out for include: 

  • You are drinking more than you used to
  • Your periodic drinking socially has become drinking at home alone
  • You aren’t able to stop drinking once you’ve started
  • You black out while drinking
  • You are drinking secretively from family and friends, and are hiding liquor around your home
  • You engage in risky behavior like driving under the influence\
  • Your daily life has been impacted by drinking, like your job, relationships, or schooling
  • You feel sick all the time and are not taking care of yourself physically or emotionally
  • You’ve gained or lost weight
  • You feel more agitated or irritable
  • You are sad, depressed or feel anxious
  • You have a family history of addiction

“Everyone is different – one person may be able to have one drink and move on, and yet another can have a sip that then leads them to blacking out, it depends on the person,” says Michele. “If you are genetically predisposed to alcoholism, it’s important to know that, but in general every person is different, there is no universal rule.” 

Drinking alcohol can also worsen your mental health – you can experience deeper depression and greater anxiety along with other behavioral health concerns,” says Michele. “If you have a co-occurring mental health issue, that can be another dangerous situation. It is important to remember that a lot of medications have adverse effects if taken together with alcohol. Also, some people stop taking their medications when they are feeling better and that could lead to increased cravings to drink alcohol." 

Resources to Help Quit Alcohol

If you decide you want to stop drinking alcohol, there are varying levels of care and resources that you can utilize. 

“If someone is drinking alcohol heavily on a daily basis, it can be very dangerous to stop without being medically monitored. When your body starts to lose the alcohol, the risk of having a seizure is very high. It’s very dangerous, and you should not detox at home alone,” warns Michele. “If you’re someone who isn’t drinking every day, or you have been able to stop for a week but still have high cravings, there are varying levels of treatment you can seek.” 

Don’t be embarrassed about seeking help. It can be overwhelming when you start researching options, but there are resources available to help: 

  • Call your insurance company, they have dedicated health lines for addiction and mental health. They can help you find a treatment center that takes your insurance
  • Call the SAMHSA’s National Helpline (1-800-662-4357). It is a free confidential line that can refer you to local treatment facilities, support groups and community-based organizations
  • Alcoholics Anonymous is a free resource and a peer-led recovery program. You can find a group within your community or online
  • SMART Recovery is another free resource that offers recovery programming and support groups, both in person and online.
  • Ask your primary care physician to help guide you to a treatment plan 
  • Lean on friends and family to help you do research, as well as for emotional support

How to Maintain Sobriety

Taking your first steps into sobriety can be challenging, especially if most of your social engagements were centered around drinking.

Be mindful of people, places and things. You are going to have to change the patterns in your life, to avoid triggering situations. There are certain people you used to drink with, places you’d go to drink, or the things you used to do, that will trigger you to want to drink. Through treatment, you will be able to develop coping skills to get through these triggering moments, when they can’t be avoided. 

Surround yourself with people who are supportive of you. Find a sponsor, a therapist and/or a trusted friend that you can rely on. You’ll want a full arsenal of support and those you can rely on, when you’re feeling the urge to drink or need someone to confide in. 

The placebo effect of seltzer water. “In social settings, many people say it’s helpful to have a drink in your hand, like a seltzer with lemon or lime. It keeps people from asking you questions like, ‘why aren’t you drinking?’ and can also just help you feel more comfortable, if you’re used to holding a drink,” says Michele.

You don’t have to explain your sobriety. If you are someone who has decided that drinking does not benefit your life, whether or not you have a chemical addiction, you don’t need to explain that choice. If someone asks why you aren’t drinking, you don’t have to give details about your life if you don’t want to. 

It’s okay to say no to things. “While in treatment, patients can be nervous about future engagements, ‘well I have a wedding coming up, what do I do?’ and honestly, don’t go. If you don’t feel comfortable being in that situation, say no. Your wellness is your priority, and that’s what is most important,” Michele adds.

Take it one day at a time. Your recovery and sobriety is your journey, and each day is something to celebrate. Try to keep the perspective of focusing on each day, rather than planning sobriety for the rest of your life, as that can be overwhelming. 

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

 

Newsletter

Subscribe to get the latest health tips from our expert clinicians delivered weekly to your inbox.

We use cookies to improve your experience. Please read our Privacy Policy or click Accept.
X