If you are trying to cut down your alcohol use, even if you are mostly successful, there will inevitably be times when you will relapse and have a binge. Don’t be put off by this, you haven’t failed. What is important here is to learn from your mistakes and work out how you could do things differently next time.

What was it about that situation that caused you to drink more than you intended? Was it a particular trigger that you couldn’t avoid (birthdays or a bereavement for instance)? Or was it a trigger that has caught you out before? If so, you need to work out some different ways to deal with it.

Many relapses occur as a result of the beliefs you may hold about alcohol. For instance if you believe that you “can’t cope with these feelings” and so you “need a drink otherwise you’ll lose the plot”, or if you believe that the only way you can be sociable is after a drink, then obviously these beliefs will tend to make you relapse.

The beliefs you have about your cravings or urges will also determine how easy it is to avoid relapse. So again, if you believe that once you get a craving, it won’t go away until you have a drink, then every craving you get becomes very risky. Similarly, if you believe that you don’t have the mental strength to cope with your cravings, then of course you probably won’t. Your beliefs are self-fulfilling.

What you need to do now is find out what your beliefs are, and more importantly how accurate they are. This means testing out your beliefs by looking at the evidence. Most of our problems in life arise from inaccurate beliefs about ourselves and how the world works. But this is where you might need a counsellor or a therapist, because it’s very difficult to be objective and impartial about your own thoughts.

» Try this test to see what your negative beliefs about alcohol or drug use might be.

» Then try this one to examine what your beliefs about cravings are.