The idea of living without alcohol can feel daunting to many people, but the reality is that it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming goal! All around the world, countless people have stopped drinking by applying the right skills and techniques, and here at Reframe we’ve had over two million downloads of our revolutionary science-backed app to help you change your relationship with alcohol. So, if you’re considering a transition to a life without alcohol, let us walk you through eight ways to make the process go more smoothly. We’re confident that with the right tools and support, you’ll be able to experience a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life without the need for alcohol!

Step 1: Set Achievable Goals

Before we can accomplish anything in life, it’s always helpful to set some specific goals. Let’s say your ultimate goal is to quit drinking but you don’t think you can tackle that all at once (which, by the way, you shouldn’t do if you’re drinking heavily on a regular basis — consult with your doctor before you stop drinking if this is the case). You can start with a goal to reduce your alcohol consumption by 10% per week. That way it feels less daunting and improves the likelihood that you’ll build your confidence about living life without alcohol.

Whatever goal you set for cutting back on alcohol, make sure it’s realistic and achievable so that you won’t get discouraged and give up on the longer-term goal of quitting drinking. Perhaps for the long-term goal, you can strive towards quitting within a certain amount of time like a certain number of months or a year.

Step 2: Make a Plan

Once you have your goal(s) set, it’s time to make a detailed plan in order to bring those goals into reality. Make a list of things you can do to help yourself stay on track with your goals, such as listing out the friends or family whom you can reach out to during challenging times.

You might also list out the activities which bring you joy, such as a hobby or spending time with certain people. Something else that might be helpful is to come up with a list of alternative beverages that you can keep on hand, or which you will plan to buy when you’re out with friends. While it may seem silly to write all of these things down, the more time you invest into intentionally thinking about your drinking habits, the more likely it is that you will experience success. Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” We couldn’t agree more — and we only want to see you succeed!

Step 3: Find New Activities

In addition to the activities you’ve already listed out, you’ll also want to find new ones to add to your plan. The more enjoyable options you have when it comes to not drinking, the more likely it is that you will choose something other than alcohol. Maybe this means joining an intramural sports team, or taking a class in that subject you’ve always been interested in like cooking or graphic design. As you create new habits and find new things to do, be a little careful — don’t get stuck in an unhealthy relationship with a new activity or substance. This tendency is often a natural byproduct of trying to remove habitual alcohol use from our lives, but we can avoid it by finding a range of activities to supplement our new life without alcohol.

Step 4: Create a Support Network

Developing existing relationships and finding new ones will be critical to your success in moving toward an alcohol-free lifestyle. It’s very rare to find someone who is able to quit drinking alcohol on their own! You can seek out others who are on a similar path in online communities (like Reframe’s Forum!), and you might also consider joining a local support group for others who have the same goals as you. As you create these new relationships, you’ll have a team of people ready to help you when you’re having cravings or you’re experiencing other hardships that might lead you to drink. There really isn’t a substitute for this network of friends and family!

Step 5: Identify and Avoid Triggers

This will be easier said than done, because sometimes triggers for alcohol use can come out of nowhere. However, the more conscious you can become of the contexts of your cravings, the better-equipped you’ll be to actually resist the urge to drink. This might mean changing your routine of going out to happy hour with your coworkers or not driving past the store where you used to buy alcohol. The less you expose yourself to situations where you’re likely to drink, the more likely it is that you’ll be successful in achieving your drinking goals.

Step 6: Practice Self-Care

As you develop your everyday experience for living with less alcohol or going without it altogether, you’ll also need to hone your skills at caring for yourself. Especially if alcohol has been a big part of your reward system, you’ll need to replace that dopamine with other activities that make you feel good. This might mean anything from exercising more to treating yourself to that ice cream cone. Whatever it is that makes you feel happy — without resorting to alcohol or other unsafe activities — you’ll want to make a regular habit of doing so that your brain and body have something to look forward to. Drinking less or quitting alcohol can be a long, hard road, and that’s why it’s important to celebrate all of our wins along the way, even the everyday small victories like avoiding that daily drink after work that we used to indulge in.

Step 7: Cultivate Gratitude

One of the most helpful skills you can develop in an alcohol-conscious lifestyle is to focus on being grateful for everything you have, from the big things to the small ones. A great way to cultivate this kind of gratitude is to start a journal in which you write down at least three things every day that you’re grateful for. This might sound overly simplistic, but studies have shown that this practice can make a big difference for our outlook on life — and, when it comes to drinking less alcohol, we can very often use all the positivity we can get. So before you embark on this journey, make sure to get that journal and put it by your bed or wherever you will see it and use it on a daily basis.

Step 8: Seek Professional Support

Having a medical and/or mental health professional in your corner can make a huge difference when you’re looking to do something as dramatic as changing your relationship with alcohol. A qualified doctor or therapist can give you advice about your unique physiology and psychology that will be invaluable knowledge for your journey. (As we mentioned above, if you’re drinking heavily or you’re concerned about Alcohol Use Disorder, then you should definitely speak to your doctor before changing your drinking habits so that you can do so safely. Reframe is not a substitute for professional medical advice or support.)

How Can Reframe Help?

Reframe is the #1 alcohol reduction and quitting app. We use the latest in neuroscience and psychology to help you understand how the human brain and body work, both with and without alcohol. Our goal is to give you the facts and let you decide what you want to drink and why. We do science, not stigma!

With the Reframe app, you’ll have access to daily readings and activities which equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to thrive. You’ll also be able to chat with your peers from across the globe anytime day or night in our Forum chat. Need one-on-one support? We’ve got you covered with personal support options from one of our licensed coaches. Or, you can talk anytime to our newest AI coach, Melody, who is powered by the world’s most advanced artificial intelligence technology.

If you’re ready to start an alcohol-free journey, then the Reframe app could be a game-changer for your life — we’re excited to come alongside you and help you navigate the unfamiliar waters of living with less alcohol, or none at all! Let’s get started! Isn’t it time to be the healthiest, happiest version of you again? Discover life beyond drinking with Reframe.