quit drinking on your own

What we believe about drinking

Today, we were thinking about the variety of viewpoints we have seen (in books, in articles, etc.) on drinking and the right way to resolve a problem with excessive drinking.

There’s a lot more debate now than it seems like there used to be about questions like “can moderation work?” and “what is an alcoholic vs. a normal drinker?”

We decided to summarize three of our core beliefs about drinking here. Let us know what you think!

  1. We believe that drinking nothing is better than drinking moderately, but drinking moderately is better than drinking to excess. If you drink moderately (within the NIAAA guidelines, which we also share in the Drinker’s Helper app), you’re far less likely to suffer from an addiction to alcohol, which is one of the worst downsides of excessive drinking. You also won’t put yourself at risk of injuring yourself or others via accidents, or making poor judgment calls after one too many. However, if you drink moderately, you are still exposing yourself to some health risk, as recent studies have shown (see previous blog posts).

  2. We believe that there is a social stigma associated with changing your drinking behavior that should not exist. Partly this is down to an underlying desire to maintain a firm red line between “normal drinkers” and “alcoholics,” so that as a society we can avoid recognizing that alcohol is addictive, and that anyone who drinks at a certain level will likely get addicted. We believe this stigma results in people not making changes to their drinking until they’ve really messed up, and we’d all be better off if it was a more common, socially acceptable thing to do to take a break from drinking for a while. We believe most people who feel concerned about their own drinking levels will, if they carefully look at the evidence from their own experience, choose to drink moderately or quit entirely, rather than continue as they are.

  3. We believe that excessive drinking is not a moral failing to be judged, but a behavior that naturally develops when we believe inaccurate things both about alcohol and about sobriety. We believe that as a society we push alcohol so hard, across so many channels and in so many hard-to-detect ways, that it takes real work to re-program ourselves to see faults in it. As a society we train ourselves to drink to escape, relax, or have fun, among other reasons for drinking. Sobriety sounds like dull suffering, by comparison, when in fact it’s one of the best feelings there is. The work of changing those thoughts is what we try to do in the exercises in Drinker’s Helper.

If you’ve decided to cut back or quit drinking, we’d love to offer a helping hand. Drinker’s Helper offers a library of motivational exercises, support groups made up of peers at the same level of risky drinking, and drink and urge tracking and insights to help you observe your behavior and decide what you want to do.


Women vs. men in quitting drinking

We know that many people quit or cut back on drinking without getting help from community organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous or from rehab centers or doctors. Many quit drinking without any help at all, even from a stop drinking app like Drinker’s Helper.

But we’ve noticed differences between men and women in their behavior in Drinker’s Helper, so we’re not surprised to hear that research backs up some differences.

Here’s the TL;DR on some recent research (linked here) about differences between men and women who quit or cut back on drinking:

  1. Women are more likely to believe that their problem will go away on its own. This may be down to women being conditioned to ignore their own health concerns (e.g., having their pain discounted, etc.) or down to greater optimism in general.

  2. Men have higher rates of saying they’ve failed to quit before, and believing they may not be able to quit. This may reflect their higher drinking levels or levels of addiction than women, or may reflect greater pessimism.

  3. Women seek treatment for the underlying anxiety or depression, where men seek treatment for alcohol abuse disorder. This may suggest they have a clearer understanding of the source of their problem, rather than seeking to treat the symptom.

  4. Women tend to not have time for formal treatment between work and family responsibilities. They’re doing too much, over-extended as they try to support everyone they care about. Drinking is needed to calm down, but their responsibilities may not leave them time to help themselves.

We hope you find the help you need, and aren’t afraid to ask for it, from your social circle, from community organizations, or from apps like ours. If you’re interested, check out Drinker’s Helper today and try it free for a week!


Quitting drinking without AA

A lot of people wonder if it’s possible to quit drinking without Alcoholics Anonymous, the organization that is the leading provider of services to help people quit or cut back on drinking.

Surveys have found that about 75% of those who’ve recovered from drinking problems did so without the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. Many people, in fact, recover without any formal help at all. In some cases, people believe there isn’t a good program for them, because all they know about is Alcoholics Anonymous (which, per previous posts, isn’t always suitable for everyone) or a formal rehabilitation program (which can be quite expensive, out of the reach of many people who need help).

If you’re not going to get formal treatment or go to Alcoholics Anonymous (or to a similar alternative group - see previous posts on this topic), you should seek out out a few things those programs typically provide that can make it easier to quit drinking.

  1. A strong support system: All these existing institutions that help people quit drinking provide a community that allows people to see that they’re not alone in battling addiction to alcohol. It can be encouraging to know that others believe in you and support you in achieving your goals. You can get this from a partner, from family, or from friends.

  2. Accountability: When you turn up to a regular meeting, expected to account for your behavior over the past week or month, you feel a sense of responsibility to stick to your goals. You can get this on your own by really tracking your drinking, so you can see progress over time; and rewarding yourself when you do well. You can even rope in friends to help keep you accountable.

  3. A wake up call: If you’ve firmly decided to quit drinking (or get back down to moderation limits), then great. If not, AA and rehab can provide a helpful push to make sure you’re committed to making changes. Seeing others struggle with more serious problems can provide helpful motivation. If you’re going to quit drinking on your own, it can help to do your research on the health consequences of long-term heavy drinking. Scare yourself with the possibilities, so that they don’t become realities.

  4. Strategies to deal with urges: Each of the programs provides attendees with tips and tactics to figure out how to deal with the stresses of life without alcohol. If you’re going to quit drinking on your own, without AA or rehab, you need to develop your own strategies. Read books about how others have quit. Write down what works for you. Stay away from your worst triggers, and make plans to deal with others

We hope you are successful in your journey to quit or cut back on drinking, and if you want some lighter-weight help, we hope you’ll consider using Drinker’s Helper, our app which we believe provides all of the above in your pocket.