Choose Recovery Alcohol Advice & Support Center

Stop or Just Cut Down. Man with Bottle


Do I stop... or should I just cut down?

When we find that our drinking is becoming a problem, the first logical thought that often comes to mind is to cut down on our drinking, so that it's no longer a problem. Although this might seem like a 'no brainer' to many who observe our drinking, it may turn out that its not quite as simple as that for many of us

Have you tried to stop, feeling genuine intentions and making sincere promises, meaning every word that you say, but find that you can't.. despite your intentions, having broken the promises you made, ending up out of control again? One thing for sure, is there's nothing easy about a drink problem

By the time we begin to seek help for a drink problem many of us may have been drinking heavily for quite a while whilst some on the other hand can feel that we have a problem much more quickly. Our consumption of alcohol can also differ significantly from person to person. In our experience the way that we drink varies a great deal and this can be the source of confusion for many

We may be the type who drink mainly in pubs and bars as opposed to those of us who perhaps drink only at home. Some of us might binge drink or drink in bouts whilst for others it is a relentless succession of daily drinking. We can sometimes simply continue to drink more and more without giving it too much thought, ending up with a habit that has started to cause problems or we may have got to the point where we're feeling desperate and isolated having lost all control of our drinking along with any hope that our lives could ever come right

Wherever you are with your drinking, you are not alone - although it can often feel like it. So many of us have felt that our whole lives seemed to revolve around drink and try as we might we couldn't ever seem to be able to control our intake once we started drinking. So often we just wanted to be able to drink like 'normal drinkers' seemed to, sociably and with control - but found that this is just about the last thing we are able to do

If we are drinking to enhance our experience in some way perhaps socially at a party, as our inhibitions drop and a sense of pleasure and mastery kicks in, we just want more, and more, and we often don't want anything to get in the way of us getting it, as we enter the realm of extreme behaviour. If we are drinking to escape our feelings, whether they be guilt, shame, fear or perhaps depression, a similar process comes into play. Once we've started drinking and a sense of relief is experienced, as we begin to change our perception of the world we inhabit, we simply crave more and more of this sense of release, often seeking oblivion - the ultimate destination for us in terms of release

We have discovered that people with a drink problem like ours cannot drink safely. We seem to have developed a fatally flawed relationship with alcohol which dictates that once we start drinking we can't stop. Some of us feel that we might have actually been born this way, but lets be careful not to get sidetracked as what really matters is what we are going to do about how we find ourselves now. There may be time for this debate later if we think it might be helpful. However if this is how we are, and control over our drinking is not present or has been lost, until we can realise this fact and admit to ourselves that this is truly how our relationship stands with alcohol we will most likely carry on trying to prove that we are actually in control of our drinking. The road we travel when trying to prove we are in control of our drinking when in reality we aren't - is without any doubt a rocky one

We often liken a drink problem to descending on an elevator… our drink problem taking us down floor by floor - right the way down to the basement if we don’t take the action needed to get off. Our experience shows us that once our drinking has become a problem to us - unless we do something about it, it just gets worse

We may feel that we only need to cut down... if this is the case we should first take a long hard look our track record. Have we tried this already? If so... how did it work out for us? If we look realistically at the evidence we will soon get an idea of whether we are the sort of drinker who is able to successfully cut down - and stick to it, without our intake creeping up again to problematic levels. If you think that you have a problem with alcohol that is no longer within your control - the next section may be of help to you


Time to take an honest look at our situation

Regardless of how we get to the point where we feel that our drinking has become a problem, we need to take an honest look at where we are with alcohol right now before we can do anything about it. Some direct questions can begin to help us see our situation more clearly…

  • Is our drinking causing us any physical problems, like... regular hangovers, general health problems, shaking, sweating or perhaps persistent stomach problems or diarrhoea?

  • Is it causing problems at work... lateness, memory problems or unreliability?

  • Is it making a difference in our homes and with our families... have we become depressed or anxious, irritable and angry or even violent? Have we become deceitful about our drinking not wanting others to know how much we are drinking… or are we perhaps hiding our drink in an attempt to keep the amount we are drinking to ourselves?

  • Has our drinking started to make us feel remorseful or guilty - and are we beginning to look back at what we do when we are drunk, with feelings of shame and regret?

  • Has our whole attitude and demeanour changed for the worse and are we becoming exhausted by the way we are living?

    If you find that the answer to some or all of these questions is yes - then two more questions follow, both being vital to you the reader and your future

    ONE. Do you genuinely want to change the way you are living your life?

    TWO. What lengths are you truly prepared to go to to bring about this change?


    These questions are about getting real and taking responsibility for how we are really thinking and acting... not always the most easy thing to do, but it is true to say that some honest thinking here can change the course of our lives. We are able to discover in these two simple questions, our genuine intention - Do we really want to change... or if the truth were known - do we actually want to carry on drinking but without all those inconvenient and painful consequences? For those of us with drink problems this is a critically important part of our journey - by asking these crucial questions of ourselves, we have come to a fork in the road. The option to carry straight on does not exist for us anymore as an awareness of our situation grows. We can choose one fork, which leads to further drinking and all the consequences that go with it... or the other fork which leads to recovery

    At this point many of us may well say… ‘I don’t need to recover – I just need to stop drinking!’

    Well.. our experience shows us that when we have got to the place on the elevator ride when crucial decisions have to be made as a result of chaotic consequences - then something in the way that we have been living our lives has gone badly wrong. Recovery is about looking honestly at the way we have been living and how that way of living hasn't worked for us. We need to discover how we can find a new way of living - growing and changing out of the old ways that got us into trouble in the first place. Our problem drinking brings us to the point were it has caused us to act in ways that are not logical and lack integrity. Our drinking has badly affected our minds, our bodies and our innermost selves

    We need to recover from the idea that we can fix how we feel by taking a drink. We need to recover from a mindset that is not working for us - a mindset that for many of us is quite literally destroying us, in one way or another

    Find out more about… recovery


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