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  • Writer's pictureJillian Speck

Why Cutting Back on Alcohol Can Feel Scary

You’re beginning to think that it might be time to cut back on your alcohol usage, but you can’t shake this deep feeling of fear or dread. There are many reasons, both biological and psychological that can lead to these feelings. However, these are feelings that one needs to face during their sober-curious journey.


Let’s talk about why cutting back on alcohol can make you feel nervous or fearful. And let’s dive into why these feelings are natural, normal, and something that many people have had to face in order to remove alcohol from their lives.


Alcohol is Part of Your Identity


This is a common reason why people fear cutting back on alcohol. After habitual alcohol use, some people feel like alcohol is a pillar of their personality. You will often hear people describe people as “fun drinkers” or even “partiers”.


If you feel like these labels have been applied to you, it is understandably scary to think that they might be removed when you cut back on alcohol.


Alcohol might also be part of your identity in a negative way. In this way, even negative attachments to something can be difficult to let go of. This is why talking down or bad about others can be harmful.


If you have had people negatively refer to you in a way where they associate alcohol with you as a person, it might feel unnerving to get rid of that label, even if you don’t like it.


Understanding yourself and having a solid sense of self is a skillset that no one is born with. This is a piece of your consciousness that is worked on and exercised.




Not Sure How Friends and Family Will React


The idea of judgment and criticism from others is a genuine reason to be fearful of making a big change in your life. These are people that you love, and you naturally want to make choices that would make them proud. However, when making a change like cutting back on alcohol, you might not be surrounded by the most supportive people.


This is okay. Whether your friends and family would support you for cutting back, ridicule you for cutting back, or just notice that you are cutting back on alcohol, these reactions can be uncomfortable.


However, your family and your friends are extensions of you. They are not you. In this way, if you believe that it is time to take control of your relationship with alcohol, the only person that matters is you.


Whether your family and friends decide to be supportive of you or not, that is their own individual decision. Just know that this fear that you are facing is normal. Just keep reminding yourself: your life is yours to live.



You Don’t Want to “Fail”


This is yet another fear that you might be grappling with. If you are planning on cutting back on alcohol, the fear of failure can be enough to stop you from even starting. This fear is understandable, it goes against our very biology to want to fail at things and to want to feel bad feelings.


In fact, our brains are wired for praise and good feelings. This is why addictions can form in the first place.


So, when thinking about your fear of failure, acknowledge that this is a common human reaction to beginning something that is challenging.


Remember that progress is rarely linear. No one is expected to be perfect at everything from the moment that they start it. If your expectations for yourself are to never fail at anything ever, your expectations are not fair to yourself.


Be kind and courteous to yourself and allow yourself to have the room to grow while you’re cutting back on alcohol. And don’t forget that everyone’s journey will look different!


Afraid You’re Admitting You Have a Problem


This fear may be the most difficult one to address but it doesn’t mean that you cannot still successfully begin to cut back on alcohol. Being afraid of admitting that you have a problem is a fear that is masked by another fear. When you fear admitting that you have a problem, you are fearing admitting defeat.


In this way, admitting that you have a problem can feel very wrong and very alien, but our brains design this process to be like this. If you are struggling with this fear, your fear is justified. It is scary to admit that you have a problem.


On the other hand, admitting that you have a problem can be incredibly rewarding and empowering. In order to overcome your problem, you have to acknowledge that it exists. Only then can you gain those good feelings from your achievements from overcoming this problem.


By admitting that you have a problem, you can seek community, you can seek better for yourself, and you can strive toward upward movement in your life. And again, you can decide if it’s a problem, or just something you’re working on. It’s all about how you frame it.



Take the Leap


Cutting back on alcohol is a change and your brain usually fears change in your life. But you are capable of embracing change and making progress in your life by examining your relationship with alcohol. Remember that feeling this fear is normal.


By admitting that you want to make a change, by taking a leap and trying something new, and by putting yourself first, you can take the steps to create a relationship with alcohol that feels good for you. Try not to cast these feelings aside. Instead, sit with them and think about how you can use them to fuel your change.

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