As you’re reading this website, then you might be thinking that you need to change your habits around alcohol. This means you’re in a stage called ‘contemplation’.
The Stages of Change model is a well established and useful way of considering different people’s levels of motivation to change their behaviour. This is how it applies to alcoholism:
Stage 1: Pre-contemplation -
Someone who drinks alcohol but doesn’t consider that they have a problem with it, or that they need to do anything about it. Other people around them might disagree however. Occasionally they might regret drinking too much, have an accident perhaps, but they still don’t feel their drinking needs to change.
Stage 2: Contemplation -
Possibly where you are now – you might have realised that your drinking is causing more problems than it’s worth, and that you’re probably drinking too much. You’ve noticed your health is suffering, or your closest relationships have been affected. Maybe your work is not up to scratch because you’re always hungover. But then on occasion you switch back to thinking it’s not such a problem after all, and you get drunk again.
Stage 3: Decision -
You realise that you do need to do something about this, so you decide to seek help, or talk to someone professionally, join a support group, maybe check out AA, or start looking online for some possible tips to cut down your drinking.
Stage 4: Action -
You start to reduce your alcohol consumption, you set yourself limits and you achieve them. You start talking about the problems in your life that might be causing your drinking, maybe to a counsellor or another mental health professional. You might well announce your decision to cut down or quit drinking to your partner or family members.
Stage 5: Maintenance or Relapse -
Your new pattern of drinking is becoming a habit, your alcohol consumption is back to acceptable, healthy levels again. Or maybe you haven’t had a drink for a couple of months, and you’re feeling comfortable with your sobriety. You can feel the benefits of not drinking so much – you’re healthier, happier and functioning better.
There is always a possibility that future circumstances might take a turn for the worse, and you end up drinking again. Maybe you go right back to stage 1, or one of the other stages instead. The important thing is to learn from this process, not to blame yourself for it. If you see this set-back as a ‘failure’, then you’ll just feel more depressed about it. You’ve made a mistake and had a relapse, that’s all, but you can get back to where you were again.
If you think you’re ready to take action about your drink problems, contact us to arrange an online live chat with a professional alcohol counsellor.