How To Stop Drinking Alcohol In 5 Easy Steps

How To Stop Drinking Alcohol In 5 Easy Steps


Some people have no problem taking a break from alcohol.  They put it down and don’t ever seem to miss it.  While others are met with pressure and temptation from friends and family on occasion and cave soon after they start.

A while back I did a video on tips you can use to stop drinking:

In this article, I’m going to show you how to stop drinking alcohol in just 5 easy steps.


Step 1 – Get Committed

With any goal or shift in behavior, in order to see it through you have to get serious and commit to the length of time you’re looking to take a break or even quit drinking alcohol.

Write down your commitment to stop drinking on a piece of paper and put it on your bathroom mirror, your wall or on the background of your phone.  This will help remind you each day that your intention is to make it through today without having a drink.

Step 2 – Plan For Success

As with any goal, how do you know where you’re going without a roadmap?  What it comes to the “how” of stop drinking, you need daily actionable steps, as well as the environment to nurture this shift in behavior.

In the beginning of when I stopped drinking alcohol, I had to bulletproof my home so I didn’t have the urge to drink.  Visual cues of having a bottle of wine on the shelf or empty cans of beer in the recycling could be a trigger.  I advise in your plan to remove all visual cues of alcohol from your home to help you stay the course.  This is especially important if you’re having a rough day.  Your home is your sanctuary.  Your safe house.  If you don’t structure your home environment for success, you’re more likely to fail along the journey.

Many diet experts suggest this too.  If you’re starting a new diet, it can be just as important to remove all the foods you’re trying to avoid as it is to stock your kitchen with the foods you need for the diet.  That way you don’t cave late at night when your willpower is low.

Next, plan the conversations you’ll likely encounter when you go out to have a drink.  People may ask you what you’d like to drink or even ask you why you’re not drinking.  Preparation is key to helping you make this new shift stay in place.

Have a couple of practiced responses for these questions so it feels more natural and fluid when it comes up.

My favorite response when someone asks what I’d like to drink is “Water, ice and a piece of lime, please”.

When asked why I’m not drinking I often say, “I just feel better when I don’t have a drink.  Besides, I want to wake up tomorrow feeling refreshed.”

If pressured into having a drink I simply point to the side of my head and say “I’m too strong in mind.”

It may be different for you on what feels natural to say, but the key is to plan for these conversations in advance.


Step 3 – Track Your Progress

While it may seem a bit overkill to track your progress for something as simple as not drinking each day, there’s real power in doing so.

When you take a calendar and place a check mark on each day you don’t have alcohol, your mind sees a streak of check marks forming.  Soon you have so many in a row your brain resists the negative feelings on not being able to place a checkmark in that day.

Sound strange?  Why have some many video games adopted having “hot streaks” or checkpoints?  There’s psychological factor where you brain does not want to break the pattern.

Soon placing the check mark on each day feels like a reward and you smile as your brain gets a short release of dopamine from doing this.

Step 4 – Identify The Milestones

When starting any goal, you need to have the milestones in place so that you have digestible progress marks that can be made without feeling overwhelmed.  I like to break down my goals in 90 day chunks and work them backwards to 30, 60 and 90 day milestones.

When you have a shorter milestone, it makes it easier for the mind to comprehend seeing the success and to not get overwhelmed.

When you stop drinking, the brain starts to freak out because has a myriad of unknown situations and zero tools to deal with them when they arise:  How will I handle not drinking at the company picnic? How will I not have a drink at Christmas with the family?  How will I handle the lost of a loved one later in life?….

When you put a short container on it, like, 30 days, you can give your mind a bit of ease, knowing it’s just focused on the next 30 days.

When I reach a milestone, I’ll reward myself. But, not by having a drink…

Step 5 – Get Accountable

This has been one of my biggest secrets(though, a bit ironic as it involves sharing) to help me in reaching my goals.

When you get accountability in place, it can skyrocket your chances of staying sober for the day.

Accountability can come in two forms: Rewards or Consequences.

While you can reward yourself by, say, making it 30-days without a drink, I’ve found that consequences are far more effective in making me adhere during times where my willpower is low.

To do this, you can simply ask a friend and tell them you’re making a challenge to go 30 days without having alcohol to see how you feel by taking a break.  If they’re a true friend they’ll support you knowing it’s something to help you progress.

Ask them to hold you accountable so that if you slip on a day during the next 30-days you’ll pay them a certain amount of money.  It has to be an amount of money that would feel large enough to hurt paying, but no so big that it would derail your financial well-being.  For me it was $100.  But for you it could be $25, $50, $500… whatever.

Tell your friend you’ll check in with them by phone, text or email each day with an honest report if you made it through the previous day without drinking.   If you miss a day, pay up.

If you liked these tips, be sure to check out short video about our intentions:

So in conclusion, these five steps of Commitment, Planning, Tracking, Milestones and Accountability are what I use for all my goal setting.

If you’re serious about quitting drinking and are looking for a more indepth program to guide you, check out my 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge where we have more guidance, daily video lessons, weekly Q&A calls and a closed facebook group to help you with all 5 of these areas.


By: James Swanwick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *