You have made the decision to give up the sauce. It seems scary when you don’t have a roadmap. But you remember everything in life goes through stages. Humans, the moon and the seasons go through stages. This new lifestyle doesn’t seem so bad now.

Learning to cut back on your drinking is not easy, but it can be done. The process of cutting back your alcohol intake can involve trial and error, with both ups and downs along the way. Developing a plan for how to cut back on drinking is a great step in the right direction.

To create this plan, it’s time to focus on each step you need to take in order to cut back your drinking and make it a habit. This can be seen as similar to learning a new skill, and when mastering any type of skill, there are four stages of learning:

  • Asleep: unconsciously unskilled
  • Aware: consciously unskilled
  • Awake: consciously skilled
  • Alive: unconsciously skilled

As you progress through these stages of learning not to drink alcohol after years of drinking it on a regular basis, you can eventually reach mastery - what we all strive for.

Four Stages of an Alcohol-Free Journey

Quitting or cutting back on drinking alcohol is certainly no easy task. We have the four stages of proficiency proposed by American film theorist Noel Burch to turn to for help. Successes and mistakes are inevitable. We can expect to feel a range of different emotions throughout the process just like with any new skill that we learn - from frustration and disappointment to joy and triumph.

What matters most is that we stick with it until we reach mastery, equipping ourselves with the strength and knowledge needed to drink less alcohol for good.

Stage 1: Asleep

Anything that entails learning starts with the stage of “I don’t know what I don’t know.” This is especially true when it comes to cutting back on drinking alcohol. At this stage, most people tend to live in a state of unawareness and ignorant bliss, unaware of their need to cut back on their drinking. They believe that alcohol provides them pleasure and comfort, and do not think about how to cut back or adjust their drinking habits.

It is important for people to recognize this stage in order to move forward with learning how to drink less and make other healthy lifestyle choices.

Stage 2: Aware

Reaching the second stage of understanding one’s need to learn a new skill can be quite tough. Many people decide they need to cut back on drinking alcohol as part of their learning process; however, this newfound realization is hardly blissful.

Epiphanies can lead to feelings of discomfort, frustration and even agony. Realizing you don’t yet know how to cut back on your drinking can be difficult and uncomfortable, stretching you psychologically while also awakening an urgent need to learn more.

Even when you are aware of the harm caused by drinking too much alcohol, it can still be difficult to cut back and lead a healthier lifestyle. It takes courage, determination, and self-awareness to recognize the ways that alcohol affects you, and can even leave you feeling torn on what action to take.

Many individuals feel frustrated or guilty when their efforts to cut back on drinking alcohol do not appear successful in their own eyes, when they forget they are in a learning process and are working toward creating change. There are resources available, like the Reframe app, which provide guidance and support as you seek ways to effectively cut back on drinking.

Stage 3: Awake

The “I know what I know” stage is a challenging but achievable one for those trying to cut back on drinking. At this stage, you are aware of the negative effects alcohol has on your health and lifestyle. You are capable of taking actionable steps toward reducing consumption by choosing to stop entirely or reducing to occasional beverages.

Whichever option you go with, this stage will often require efforts in mental willpower and self-discipline. Although outwardly changing your behaviors around alcohol occurs at this stage, underlying beliefs may remain untouched, which can lead to feelings of deprivation and missing out that require continued effort in order to manage.

Stage 4: Alive

Reaching the stage of mastery requires little to no conscious effort and occurs when you can forget what you know and take on a new skill with ease. Knowing how to cut back on drinking is one thing, but truly mastering it is an entirely different feat.

Being able to cut back without sacrificing your enjoyment can be challenging. If you persevere, you'll be rewarded with more relaxed and meaningful moments.

Having the ability to cut back on drinking can bring us a lot of mental and physical relief, however sticking to this practice may feel challenging at first. Over time though, not drinking will become second nature and require no effort.

Our relationship with alcohol is forever changing. No longer do we have to hold tight to outdated beliefs around drinking. Instead we can make conscious decisions that will bring us peace of mind when it comes to drinking or abstaining from alcohol. With this newfound freedom comes the opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle without being penned in by the walls of social norms and expectations.

Support is available through the Reframe app, that encourages those who are reducing their alcohol intake or opting for an alcohol-free life. From daily activities and challenges to a yearly tracking system of how much you drink, this app provides the necessary support needed to develop healthier drinking habits.