As regular readers will know, we believe “no one size fits all” for controlling your drinking. Yet alcohol treatment services often give people the wrong idea by sticking to a very rigid, regimented schedule of treatment approaches. For example in AA, it’s follow the 12 steps and if you fail (ie drink at all) it is your fault. You have not worked the 12 steps hard enough. Now AA has helped lots of people, but it does not work for everybody.
Think jigsaw is a better approach
In reality, unless we put all the pieces of the jigsaw together in the right order, we’re unlikely to succeed in controlling our drinking. For every person, the pieces of the jigsaw are different and will need to be put together in a different way for success.
What are the pieces of the jigsaw for controlling your drinking?
Well there are many, many pieces and for everyone these pieces are different. For example, physical exercise is really important. However some people drinking too much may already be exercising on a regular basis, so exercise won’t be part of their drinking jigsaw. However it’s important they continue to exercise as it creates those happy endorphins in our brains.
Deciding whether to stop drinking or reduce drinking
In our drink soaked culture, it can be really difficult to not drink at all, because of the reaction of friends and the impact on our social life. So some people will find it easier just to drink less, others will find it easier to not drink at all. So this is a very personal decision in your jigsaw. You’ll find some useful questions to help make your decision here.
Looking at feelings around drinking
Another important jigsaw piece is understanding your feelings around drinking. Comparing how we feel when we do drink, to how we feel when we don’t drink is useful. Lucy found when she acknowledged her feelings she was better able to control her drinking. Her story is here.
Some people have difficulty identifying their feelings, they just feel numb. If this is you, this post here will be useful.
The trigger jigsaw piece
Understanding the things that make us drink more is another big piece in the jigsaw. These are called triggers which make us want to drink. This post explains more
The practical jigsaw piece
The other big piece is looking at all the practical things we can do which help. From drinking low alcohol drinks (more information here), not having drink in the house, to relationships with friends (more information here)
Controlling your drinking using the jigsaw approach
So there’s lots of jigsaw pieces to consider when controlling your drinking. We’ve just mentioned a few of them. So next time you feel you are failing, just think of the jigsaw. Keep going until all the pieces from the jigsaw box are on the table and in the right place. Might take a bit of time and organising getting there, but once we do controlling our drinking becomes a lot easier.