What Can I Expect If I Change?

If you've made the decision to change your drinking, you can expect many changes. Some changes will be long-term, others will be short term. Some of these changes will be physical, some will be emotional and others will involve changes in the relationships with people who are close to you.

Short term, you can expect changes in your emotions and in the way you feel physically. As your body gets accustomed to operating with alcohol, when you stop or cut down, you will feel the effects of your body going through a degree of detoxification. These effects are called “withdrawal symptoms.” How much or how many you feel depends on several factors including how long you’ve been drinking and how much you’ve been drinking.

Withdrawal symptoms can be very mild — you may not notice them at all. Some symptoms can include having trouble sleeping,  headaches or stomach trouble. If you’re having symptoms such as trembling or sweating you should see a health care professional immediately. These symptoms could lead to convulsions or hallucinations, the most severe effects of alcohol withdrawal.

You can expect to feel emotionally upset, anxious or depressed. If you've come to depend on alcohol, you may experience cravings for a drink once you stop.

Remember: despite being uncomfortable in the short-term, in the long-term you can expect your withdrawal symptoms and your cravings to disappear. Although you may always remember what you enjoyed about drinking, it’s important to focus on the benefits. With time, it will get easier.

Some individuals may experience difficulties and will have to try cutting down or stopping several times before you reach your goal. Even though people sometimes slip in their efforts to stop or cut down, it's been proven that if they keep trying eventually they'll get where they want to go.

Our job is to prepare and inform you so you are aware of what to expect when you cut down or stop. Throughout this process, it’s important to keep both the costs and benefits in mind. By focusing on the benefits of change, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment having gained control over your life and relationships.

In the next section we'll discuss how to set your goals, or more importantly, deciding what your personal goals should be...