Hoera! You have (almost) finished, now what?

Congratulations, you are almost at the end of your break period. Whether you are happy with your new energy, slim physique, fat wallet, or still struggling to see the benefits; Anyway, this break period has you thinking about your own drinking behavior and the role alcohol plays in your life. And now that the 40-day no-drop challenge is almost over, you might be wondering which way to go. We help you choose by presenting different directions.

First of all, it is worth making a list of the pros and cons of drinking. And as for the benefits of drinking, is there a way to experience some of the pluses without the downsides? Now that you have not drunk alcohol for 40 days, you can think more freely about this. After all, you have created some distance between you and the alcohol and are able to look at (the role of) alcohol more objectively. Remember to be completely honest – this list is just for you and you don't have to share it with anyone else if you don't want to.

Once you've completed your list, it's time to make a choice about the role of alcohol after 40 days of not a drop. Read more about your options below.

I want to stay dry after 40 days no drop

You haven't drunk for 40 days and you feel great, so now you're considering extending the break period. Whether you want to stay dry for 100 days, three months, an entire year or forever, here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Whatever you did to stay alcohol-free in the past 40 days, keep doing it! You are apparently a professional 'naysayer', you have a brother dead from peer pressure, you discovered your favorite non-alcoholic drink and you know how to enjoy yourself just as hard sober as with a drink behind you. Keep doing what works for you!
  2. Don't immediately think of 'forever sober' or 'never drink again'. Plan shorter fasting periods. Small pieces are more manageable. It can also help to think of your sobriety as something you can always change – you're not sober forever, you're just not drinking right now. You can change that whenever you want.
  3. Find support. Whether that's by reading books about alcohol-free living or joining one of the down-to-earth communities out there on Facebook. Make sure you have sources of inspiration at your disposal and stay motivated to keep going.
  4. Ask your loved ones to keep you on track. Sharing your decision can really help you keep your focus on why you want to make this change and it will be so much easier with friends and family around you who support you.

I want to drink less, but not stop completely

You would like to drink again, but not at the level before your break. A pause period helps to adjust that familiar bar and then down that is. Here's some advice to get you started.

  1. Keep a drinking diary. This way you can see whether your drinking behavior is increasing or not. Such a diary can also be very helpful in getting a good picture of your triggers.
  2. Plan how much you want to drink. It is a good idea to consider how many units you drank before 40 days and how much you would like to drink now.
  3. Take your time. Having gone through life alcohol-free for 40 days, you cannot immediately pick up the thread again, as you were used to before your alcohol break. Decide how much you want to drink and work your way up to that level by adding one or two drinks each week.
  4. Make up strategies. Moderating can be harder than drinking nothing at all, so it's worth working out some strategies that will make it easier for you. For example, if you lay a card with your neighbor every Thursday, think about how you could limit the amount you drink. Practice "saying no" and don't be afraid to stick to your plan.
  5. Only drink what you really like! There is a difference between having a drink that is really worthwhile and a 'habitual drink'. The latter are the best drinks to ditch- and you'll be amazed at the difference this makes.
  6. Ask your loved ones to keep you on track. Sharing your decision can really help you keep your focus on why you want to make this change and it will be so much easier with friends and family around you who support you.
How is alcohol measured?

Alcohol is measured in standard glasses or units. One unit of alcohol is:

-A beer glass (250 ml) with lager.

-A wine glass (125 ml) with wine.

-A shot glass (35 ml) with spirits.

-A port or sherry glass (75 ml) with port or sherry.

I want to gain more control over my relationship with alcohol

No drop during the 40 days have you dealt with cravings. Hopefully you've managed to figure out what triggers you to drink and how to overcome these triggers – you've learned a lot! Keep paying attention to these feelings and you will notice that your habits change. Now that you know you can quit for at least 40 days, you may feel it's time to make long-term plans to take more control of your relationship with alcohol. This may mean that you want to avoid certain types of drinking - think binge drinking -, drinking without really wanting to or drinking out of habit. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Calculate how much you drink. If you mainly drink at home, pour your usual glass, but pour it into a measuring cup. Calculate (see box with alcohol units), how many alcohol units your standard glass of alcohol consists of. It might surprise you!
  2. Take your time. After 40 days of alcohol-free life, you can't immediately pick up the pace again as you were used to before your alcohol break. Decide how much you want to drink and work your way up to that level by adding one or two drinks each week.
  3. Think about when you drink. What kind of situations are those and how are you going to say 'no' to a drink if you don't feel like it? How are you going to make sure you stop at the limit you've set yourself?
  4. If you want more support, talk to your doctor. Many people need a little more help in being able to drink how they want to drink.

I want to go back to how I used to drink

You want to go back to how you drank before your break. Your brain may say, "Let's have a drink!" – but your body has just gotten used to being completely alcohol-free. When you start drinking again, your tolerance (how much alcohol you can drink without getting drunk / sick / hungover) is lowered, so keep this in mind for the time to come. Here are a few tips to get you through the month of February and beyond.

  1. Take your time. After going through life alcohol-free for 40 days, you can't immediately pick up the thread again, as you were used to before your alcohol break. Decide how much you want to drink and work your way up to that level by adding one or two drinks each week. Going right back to your old drinking level will likely lead to a hangover that lasts for several days.
  2. Remember: it's okay to say no every now and then. Don't just drink because you can: drink because you want to!
  3. Schedule a soda or water after each alcoholic drink. This slows down the alcohol, prevents you from going overboard and helps with the hangover the next day.
  4. Calculate how much you drink. If you mainly drink at home, pour your usual glass, but pour it into a measuring cup. Calculate (see box with alcohol units), how many alcohol units your standard glass of alcohol consists of. It might surprise you!

It is up to you

Whatever exit you take, you are the one who decides and no one else. Be proud of your (almost) completed challenge and remember this feeling when you have doubts. Good luck!

 

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