Thinking About Drinking: Tips & Tools

To Cut Down or Quit?

It’s Sunday morning... or more likely it’s early afternoon. You’re just waking up with what seems to be another in a string of too many blistering headaches. You pull yourself out of bed and reach for a glass of water, your mouth as dry as it’s ever been.

Annoyed with yourself, a tiny voice inside your head says something that sounds like this: "I’ll never drink again." 

And that's not the first time you said that to yourself. 

While this might sound familiar, many people go through this same scenario, time and again, before they even think about changing their drinking habits. The thing about being ready to quit is that it’s entirely up to you. Other people can help, but ultimately the decision to do something about your drinking starts with you. 

Pros and Cons 
One of the ways that can help you decide if you’re ready to make some kind of change is to weigh the pros and cons of drinking. Make a list of the benefits of cutting back – like, for example, more cash in your pocket, or to avoid hangovers like that poor guy in the example above. Then, make a list of the negative things that could happen if you cut back -- for example, you might decide that you’d need to find a new way to unwind. Take some time to think about the lists, and make a note of which of these are the most important to you.  

Then ask yourself: is there a difference between where you are right now and where you want to be? 

NIAAA’s website, Rethinking Drinking, has a pros and cons checklist that might help you sort out whether or not it’s time to change your drinking patterns. 

If you're ready right now 
Ready to make a change? Great. The first thing you’ll need to do is consider whether you want to cut down or quit altogether. Then, take a look at the upcoming articles for ideas about how to do either. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself having mixed feelings about this as you go. That’s all part of the process for many people. 

And, we should mention that, before making any kind of change like this, you should talk with your doctor first. For some people, it just isn't safe to quit drinking altogether without some kind of medical assistance. 

If you want to make a change but aren't sure what to do, how to do it, or how to find the motivation for it, and you are an MSU employee or are affiliated with an MSU employee, you might consider contacting the EAP here at MSU. They can help you sort out what kind of change you want to make, and help you find ways to make that happen. 

If you're not ready yet 
If you’re not at a place where it makes sense to quit just yet, that’s fine. But, in the meantime, consider these suggestions to help you continue to just think about your drinking: 

  • Keep track of how often and how much you’re drinking. 
  • Notice how drinking affects you -- your health, your relationships, your emotions, your job, your life.
  • Make (or re-make) a list of pros and cons about changing your drinking patterns. 
  • Deal with other priorities that might be in the way.
  • Ask for information and/or support from your doctor, your family, your friends, or someone else you trust.
  • Make an appointment with an EAP counselor to discuss your drinking as a way to help you sort out what it is you would like to do about it. 

Are you finding yourself curious about how to lower your risk associated with drinking? If so, click here to discover more tips and tools!

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