Reboot Your New Year’s Resolution to Quit Drinking

It’s not far into the new year, and if you’ve already botched your resolution to curb your drinking or quit altogether, it might be time to reconsider your approach. In the words of inventor Thomas Edison, “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” So try a little reinvention. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, and give your resolution another shot. This one is worth it.

Ways You Can Still Reach Your Resolution

Don’t get discouraged by your unsuccessful attempt to quit drinking. You’re not alone. A study that analyzed people’s efforts to quit abusing alcohol over a three-year period published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal found that only 38% of people who abused alcohol and tried to quit were successful. With help, you can beat these statistics and achieve sobriety and a better life.

If you’ve been unable to quit drinking on your own, consider these options:

Individual Therapy — Sometimes substance abuse arises as a means to cope with temporary life stressors. One-on-one therapy with a mental health professional can help you address the external or internal issues behind your problematic drinking. A trained behavioral therapist can also guide you toward healthier coping skills and thought patterns. Many counselors draw upon cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) methods to treat mental health disorders and addictions. Studies show CBT to be an effective approach for helping clients overcome substance abuse. CBT targets unhealthy behaviors, the thought processes behind those behaviors, and the emotions and feelings that surround them. With the help of a CBT-trained therapist, you can gain insight into how thoughts, emotions and behaviors interconnect and learn ways to manage them through positive coping skills, thought processes and self-talk. A mental health counselor can also assess the severity of your alcohol problem and recommend more intensive care if appropriate.

Support Groups — The structure and therapeutic, accepting nature of support groups and group therapy makes them a highly effective tool in conquering substance abuse — some experts argue even more so than one-on-one counseling. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery® help prevent isolation and provide a sense of comradery with others sharing similar challenges. They also offer a built-in network of sober peers to lean on and socialize with, which can be critical to overcoming drug and alcohol abuse. Substance abuse support groups benefit you with ongoing support and can help you get back on track if you stumble in sobriety. These types of groups can also complement the work you’re doing in individual therapy — giving you an added boost in your efforts to maintain sobriety.

Inpatient Alcohol Rehab — When substance abuse is a recurring problem that is significantly disrupting your life, when you’re not able to quit on your own, you may be physically and mentally addicted to alcohol. Comprehensive expert medical and behavioral help is needed to overcome addiction, which is a chronic disease of the brain, not a matter of willpower. An inpatient residential alcohol program provides a supportive environment removed from the stressors of everyday life that might be perpetuating addiction. You’ll have the time and space to focus on yourself and address the underlying issues that contribute to alcohol abuse like trauma, mental health disorders and relationship issues. These are factors that need to be explored while you learn healthier coping skills so that you can maintain sobriety. Expert medical and behavioral addiction professionals typically provide interventions such as individual, group and family therapy, medication (as clinically appropriate), and potentially alternative approaches like yoga, nutrition counseling, psychodrama, trauma-focused methods and other experiential therapies.

Drinking Apps — It seems like there is an app for everything these days, and trying to remain sober is no exception. Drinking apps such as CassavaSM (free on iTunes and Google Play) are available to help support sobriety. You can track days without drinks, easily find recovery meetings, note triggers and emotions and receive daily affirmations. Sometimes tangible reinforcement, like easily seeing the number of days you’ve remained sober, can help motivate you on the path to recovery.

Ready, Set, Recover

If you’re still tempted to throw in the towel, postdate this resolution for next year and resign yourself to more booze-filled months, reconsider. Ask most anyone in recovery and they’ll tell you how much more fulfilling their life is without alcohol or drugs. Sobriety brings countless benefits in physical and mental health, finances, mood and self-esteem — to name just a few. Now is the time to get the help you need so you don’t lose another day to alcohol.


“Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders.” Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Volume 33, Issue 3, Pages 511-525.

“Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy.” Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Posted on January 19th, 2016

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