How people deal with urges and slip-ups

There are two tough situations you have to confront when you’re cutting back or quitting drinking.

The first, and perhaps the most intuitive, is confronting an urge to drink.

The second, less common but more difficult, is actually having a slip-up into problematic drinking (which of course happens when you have an urge and give into it).

For dealing with urges, there appear to be three strategies that work almost equally well:

  1. Finding an alternative drink

  2. Distracting yourself

  3. Thinking about the potential consequences

They’re completely different strategies, but each can work for the same person depending on the circumstance. When we were first quitting, we leaned heavily on tonic water. We also thought about the near-term consequences when we were considering drinking. Just remembering that awful nauseous, foggy-headed feeling was enough to get us to stay away.

When it comes to slip-ups, there are two diametrically opposed approaches to handling them, and we got an even split as to how often people used each! They were:

  1. Beat yourself up about it

  2. Shake it off

We imagine that some people respond well to negative reinforcement, but we’re personally more in the “shake it off” camp. After all, it’s impossible to change the past. So unless you can learn something from it that will prevent future relapses, it seems best to allow yourself to start the next day fresh, with a clear head and a clear conscience.

If you’re hitting the re-set button, we’d love to help. Drinker’s Helper is an app that offers exercises, tracking, and a support group to help you cut back or quit drinking. Try it out free for the first week!

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