Ways to Start Managing Alcohol Use

For many adults, enjoying an alcoholic beverage with family or friends in social settings is common. While doing this in moderation can be an enjoyable experience, 17% of Americans say they binge drink— consuming five or more alcoholic drinks on an occasion for men or four or more for women—according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, various types of cancers, memory loss, anxiety, and depression, and an increased risk for life-threatening injuries and accidents.

For those struggling to manage their alcohol use, taking the first step toward recovery can seem overwhelming. Here are a few suggestions to help people regain control and break the cycle of addiction.

Acknowledging the Problem
The first step to moving forward and getting the right support is recognizing the problem. Here are a few of the warning signs of an alcohol use disorder: an inability to limit alcohol consumption; a strong desire or need to regularly consume alcohol; and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, such as shaking, nausea, or anxiety.

Changing Habits
To limit easy access, many resolve to no longer keep alcohol in the home. Some who choose moderation over abstinence find it helpful to choose days of the week to abstain from drinking to help limit consumption.

Connecting With Loved Ones
For some, the first step toward managing alcohol use is reaching out for support. Talking to trusted family and friends about the issue may help provide the emotional support, advice, and encouragement needed to start a path to recovery.

Attending a Support Group
Joining a group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can provide a safe and supportive environment to connect with others who may be dealing with similar challenges. These connections may also offer guidance for the journey toward sobriety. Find in-person or virtual AA meetings here.

Seeking Treatment
Depending on the severity of alcohol use, professional intervention by a behavioral health provider or attending a detox program may be appropriate options. Some outpatient rehab programs even offer recovery support while still at home. Many healthcare providers can provide more information about local treatment services or programs.

Sutter Health Plus members may self-refer to confidential in-person or virtual visits with a participating behavioral health provider for substance use disorder services through U.S. Behavioral Health Plan, California (USBHPC) by calling (855) 202-0984 or visiting liveandworkwell.com. To connect to someone right away, the USBHPC Substance Use Disorder Helpline is available 24/7 at (855) 780-5955.

For more information, members may refer to the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services section of their Evidence of Coverage and Disclosure Form.