It’s common for certain environmental factors and situations to become associated with drinking. Many people turn to alcohol to alleviate any emotional distress they’re experiencing. However, relying on alcohol for comfort often contributes to dependence, which can quickly lead to addiction. Eventually, alcohol no longer alleviates any stress but causes it instead. As a drug rehab in Pennsylvania, we know that alcohol can cause many mental and physical problems if abused. However, there are safe alcohol alternatives that are just as relaxing as the real thing.
Best Alternatives to Alcohol
Stress is a factor in nearly everyone’s life, and developing healthy ways of coping with it is important. It’s also one of the most common contributing factors to substance abuse. Addiction often begins with either experimentation or reliance on alcohol for emotional and physical support. Rather than using drinking to escape or avoid certain situations, there are plenty of alcohol alternatives that provide similar effects to alcohol without the risk of addiction or physical and mental repercussions.
Below are some alternatives to drinking alcohol for emotional distress that are healthy and safe.
Dietary supplements contain minerals, herbs, vitamins, or other ingredients like botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes to promote or complement a healthy diet. Supplements may be taken as natural alternatives to medication, although they aren’t a guaranteed cure for anything.
Below are some herbal alcohol substitutes that can promote relaxation:
- Valerian: Valerian is an herb that’s native to certain parts of Asia and Europe. It’s a flowering plant that can induce sleep and relaxation.
- L-theanine: L-theanine is an amino acid that’s usually found in green or black tea and sometimes mushrooms. It can help reduce anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
- Passionflower: This is a plant, specifically a climbing vine, that grows in the southeastern United States and Central and South America. It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety and stress and even alleviate pain caused by muscle spasms.
- Chamomile: Chamomile has been used medicinally for thousands of years to calm anxiety and settle stomach pain. It’s best known as an ingredient in herbal tea in the U.S., and many people drink it to help them fall asleep.
- Lavender: Lavender is another popular herb that’s used for a variety of things. Other than décor, this plant can also be used to improve sleep, reduce blood pressure, treat skin blemishes, relieve asthma symptoms, promote hair growth, and more.
- Lemon balm: Also known as Melissa officinalis, lemon balm is a lemon-scented herb that’s native to North Africa, West Asia, and Europe. It’s been known to improve mood and cognitive function, relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and more.
These supplements are often used to naturally treat a variety of things, including sleep disorders, anxiety, stress, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and muscle pain, making them excellent alcohol substitutes. However, be sure to speak to your doctor before drinking or taking any of these supplements.
Some may interact with medications or may not be considered beneficial by your doctor. These herbs are also not substitutes for addiction treatment or any other medications. If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, the best thing you can do is undergo an alcohol detox and treatment like the ones offered at our Clearbrook Pennsylvania rehab.
Meditation is when a person uses mindfulness, focus, thought, or activity to increase their attention, gain self-awareness, achieve mental clarity, and reach a calm state of mind. This is a practice that’s been around for centuries but is also adaptable. Meditating is known for its ability to help with stress relief. It’s also used in addiction treatment and is one of the several special programs and therapies we utilize in treating substance use disorders at our rehab center.
You can meditate by sitting in a quiet room and focusing on a mantra, an image, a sound, an object, or nothing at all. Do this for 15 to 20 minutes while focusing on calming your breathing. If you were used to drinking to ease your anxiety and calm your nerves, meditation is a much healthier alternative to alcohol.
Exercise is another natural way to relieve any emotional distress or anxiety that you may have attempted to alleviate by drinking alcohol. Exercising can include running, dancing, swimming, hiking, or any other fun activity that gets you up and moving. Not only can physical activity reduce stress, but it can also contribute to an increase in self-esteem and confidence as you develop a more positive body image.
Other healthy alternatives to alcohol are hobbies. You can replace the time you would have spent drinking or thinking about drinking by working on a fun hobby. This is helpful for people who either want to cut down on drinking or are in alcohol addiction recovery. Whether you read a book, paint, make music, or build birdhouses, dedicate some time to fun activities that can help you relax and stay clean. Be sure to explore different options, and don’t be afraid to try something new.
What to Drink Instead of Alcohol
In addition to changes in your routine, we know that you may also be interested in drinking replacements for alcohol. Below are some of the most popular alternative drinks to alcohol you can try:
- Soda and fresh lime
- Berries in iced water
- Kombucha – just make sure the sugar content is no more than 5g/100ml
- Virgin Bloody Mary
- Virgin Mojito
- Alcohol-free sparkling wine
- Sparkling juices
- Alcohol-free gin
- Half soda/half cranberry juice with lime
- Soda and fresh fruit
- Mocktail mixes
There are also plenty of non-alcoholic beers you can try as well as diet drinks. While there are great alcohol alternatives, try to avoid replacements if you’re in early addiction recovery. You first want to adjust to sobriety without relying on replacements to get rid of addictive habits before introducing new things into your routine that could potentially be triggering.
More Helpful Tips to Stop Drinking
Whether you’re interested in cutting back from alcohol, want to quit entirely, or want to sustain your sobriety long-term, below are some additional tips to stop drinking that can help:
- Research what alcohol does to your body: Fully understanding what alcohol does to your body may shed more light on the severity of the situation. Especially if you’re on the fence about quitting or cutting back, this can be a humbling experience that may be enough to convince you of the benefits of quitting alcohol.
- Identify your triggers: What are the things that cause you to drink, and how can you avoid them? Is it a buddy or two who always seem to want to get drunk? Is it a stressful day at work that makes you want to crack open a bottle of wine? Identify your triggers and how to cope with them without alcohol.
- Involve your loved ones: While you may not want to involve the entire family (trust me, we get it,) pick a person or two who you trust to share your goals with in terms of quitting drinking or getting sober. Not only can they keep you accountable, but they can also offer you support.
- Find a community: Building new relationships with people who don’t prioritize drinking can help you stay sober. Some ideas include making new friends through apps like Meetup, visiting sober bars, and inviting your coworkers to do other things aside from happy hour.
- Know what to say: If you’re usually a drinker, people might ask questions when you turn down a drink, so have a response prepared. You can be as clear-cut or as vague as you’d like, depending on what you’re comfortable sharing.
- Change your environment: When alcohol becomes part of your routine, it can be hard to flip the switch. To better adjust to an alcohol-free lifestyle, we recommend finding replacements and changing up your day-to-day schedule. This can include getting rid of the alcohol in your house (no matter how much you spent on it), finding a new favorite alcohol-free drink, changing your routine to include more time with sober friends, or doing sober things.
- Get professional help: As much as we hope all of these tips and alcohol alternatives can help you get and stay clean, nothing beats professional support. Especially if you’re battling an alcohol use disorder, our residential treatment program offers medical detox and inpatient care to help you gradually and safely detox and recover.
How Can Healthy Alternatives Prevent Alcohol Use?
Healthy alternatives can prevent alcohol use because they can produce similar effects as alcohol without the risk of addiction or other physical and psychological consequences. Healthy alternatives to drinking, like natural supplements, meditation, exercise, and hobbies, can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve physical health, increase self-confidence, and keep you busy.
While these replacements are beneficial, they do not take the place of professional substance abuse treatment. If you’re struggling with alcoholism, we can help. Clearbrook Treatment Centers offers alcohol treatment that’s safe and effective and also includes a variety of therapy programs. Call us now at 570-536-9621 to learn more about our Pennsylvania addiction treatment.