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Making the change

Getting through the early stages

In the early stages, it’s likely there will be many times when you want to drink.

You may doubt your decision to change, especially if alcohol has been a big part of your life and your identity for a long time.

Take it one day at a time. As time goes on, the cravings should get less intense and things should get a little easier.

Reduce temptation

Giving up alcohol or controlling your drinking will take willpower – you will need to get through times when you have the urge to drink. But you don’t need to make it harder for yourself, especially in the early stages:

  • Don’t have alcohol at home
  • Avoid social situations where you would normally drink 
  • Keep away from friends who might try to encourage you to have a drink

Coping with cravings and urges

When the urge to drink is strong, you may forget all the reasons you want to change and feel overwhelmed by the desire to just give in.

  • Remind yourself why you’re doing this: Keep your reasons for quitting with you and read them when you feel tempted to give in.
  • Think about the way you felt and the problems you had while you were drinking heavily. Think about how you will feel afterwards if you give in to the urge.
  • Remember that cravings pass: Try to stay strong – the urge to drink will pass.
  • Get some support and encouragement: Text a friend, call a helpline or use an online forum to share how you’re feeling.
  • Distract yourself: Often it’s enough just to do something for a few minutes until the craving dies down.

Ways to distract yourself from cravings
  • Watch an episode of a TV show
  • Play a computer game
  • Read a magazine
  • Do a job around the house
  • Call a friend
  • Answer some emails
  • Read a story to your child or play a game with them
  • Go out for a walk or a cup of coffee
  • Make a snack
  • Take a bath 
  • Go to bed

Cravings can be difficult to resist, but try to weigh up the short-term discomfort of resisting a craving with the problems and pain that giving in to it can bring.

Get support

You don't need to go through this alone. Get some advice about support - from friends, people going through the same thing, or professional support.Read more

If you find it hard to make progress on your own, you may need professional support. Visit your GP or local alcohol support service for help

Read more:

Keep the change going - Advice on avoiding slipping up and building a life away from alcohol. 

Relapse - Slipping up isn't the end of the road. Advice on what to do if it happens

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