Changing habits such as smoking, overeating, or drinking too much can take a lot of effort and you may not succeed with the first try. Setbacks are common, but you learn more each time. Each try brings you closer to your goal.
Some people, especially those who have become dependant on alcohol, find it difficult to quit without some support. One size doesn't fit all. It's a good idea to do some homework to find options that appeal to you, as you are more likely to stick with them. Chances are excellent that you'll pull together an approach that works for you.
One potential challenge when people stop drinking is rebuilding a life without alcohol. It may be important to:
- educate family and friends
- develop new interests and social groups
- find rewarding ways to spend your time that don't involve alcohol
- ask for help from others
- join a support group
When seeking support from family and friends, be specific. This could include asking them to:
- refrain from offering you alcoholic beverages
- limit access to alcohol
- not drink alcohol around you
- provide words of encouragement and withholding criticism
- understand that your focus is on your health right now
- attend a family support group like Al-Anon
Advances in alcoholism treatment in recent years have provided more choices for patients and health professionals.
- Medications to treat alcoholism. Newer medications (naltrexone, topiramate, and acamprosate) can make it easier to quit drinking by offsetting changes in the brain caused by alcoholism. They don't make you sick if you do drink, unlike an older medication (disulfiram). None of these medications are addictive. They can also be combined with support groups or alcohol counseling. Consult with your physician.
- Alcohol counseling. Several counseling approaches are available — 12 step, cognitive-behavioral, motivational enhancement, or a combination. Getting help in itself appears to be more important than the particular approach used, as long as it offers empathy, avoids heavy confrontation, strengthens motivation, and provides concrete ways to change drinking behavior.
- Specialized, intensive treatment programs. Some people will need more intensive programs. If you need a referral to a program, ask your doctor or contact IMPACT. People who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover substance abuse treatment may qualify for a voucher to receive treatment through Milwaukee County. Talk to a counselor for more information.