Although the real work doesn’t start until the first of February, there are some things you can do beforehand to make your Kickstart Moderation month more enjoyable and as a result, more successful.
- Make a list of activities you’d like to pursue during Kickstart Moderation. You will likely discover that drinking took up more time than you thought, plus you’ll have more energy. Dust off that guitar or running shoes and break out the knitting needles and paintbrushes-keeping our hands busy keeps them from missing the feel of a drink in them.
- Stock up on healthy non-alcoholic beverages for those abstinent nights and for drinking in between alcoholic drinks to help you maintain your moderate goals. Now is a good time to discover some new favorites. You can throw some unhealthy ones in there, too, for the days you feel like indulging yourself. Rewards are necessary!
- Start a drinking diary or start using a drink counting app such as Cutback Coach so you can accurately track the change in your drinking habit. This may sound like an insignificant task but the Addiction Research Foundation in Ontario, one of the most highly regarded in the English-speaking world, rate this strategy as one of the most important in their progress. (Responsible Drinking Handbook; Rotgers, Kern, & Hoetzel; pg. 133) You might be surprised to find that just actively keeping track reduces your drinking without any conscious effort to drink less .
Too many times we remember only the times we don’t obtain our goals, a tracking system of some type will give us a more accurate picture of progress.
- Complete the Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire . The results provide an indication of how difficult moderation may be for you. A high score does not give a definitive answer as to whether or not you will succeed at moderation, though. “About three-quarters of people with alcohol dependence reduce or stop drinking without any kind of professional treatment or even interaction with a community support group such as AA (Dawson et al. 2005). “
- Perform a cost analysis of your drinking. Yes, write down how much you spend on alcohol each month-this is one of the most tangible measurements of a change in our drinking habit. But, also write down the effect drinking has had on your personal and professional life. How has it affected your relationships? Your work performance? Your own enjoyment of life? What benefit do you get from drinking? We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think there were some benefits. What’s the downside of your drinking? What benefit do you hope to achieve with moderation? Don’t spend too much time on the negatives of the past here, focus on the positive benefits you hope to obtain-this is more powerful (See next assignment).
- Watch the following video. Where are you in the Stages of Change? Do you have a well-formed outcome yet? If you do, what is it? If you don’t, what would you like it to be? While the MM Headstart is geared to people who are ready to enter the Action Stage of Change and start actively and physically taking steps to change their relationship with alcohol, people who are in other Stages of Change are also welcome to participate since information is sometimes necessary to advance us in the Steps of Change.