There are many reasons why someone might decide they want to stop drinking. The most obvious case would be a person who is addicted to alcohol whose life has been ruined by the amount that they drink. But alcoholics are not the only ones who may decide to curb their drinking habit.
Alcohol is one of the only legal psychoactive substances in the United States. Over 86 percent of people over the age of 18 have experience with alcohol. Although alcohol is legal, and some people are able to enjoy it responsibly, it can be very dangerous. More than 15 million adults in the U.S. have an Alcohol Use Disorder.
Whether you are already seeing the negative effects of alcohol use on your life, or you simply want to know how to quit drinking, this guide can help you. Use these tips to curb your drinking, or to quit altogether.
Why Should You Stop Drinking?
For people with an Alcohol Use Disorder, reasons to stop drinking should be obvious. But for many others, they may not understand why curbing their drinking habit is important. If you are reading this article, you have likely already felt that alcohol is having a negative impact on your life.
One of the primary reasons why people choose to give up drinking is because alcohol use comes with a number of health risks. Potential health problems that can result from drinking include:
- Injuries from falling, crashing vehicles, or other accidents
- Violence including homicide, suicide, intimate partner violence, and domestic abuse
- Alcohol poisoning (alcohol overdose)
- Pregnancy complications.
- High blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, digestive problems, and stroke
- Cancer is made more likely by heavy long-term alcohol use
- Mental health problems
- Risk for developing an addiction to alcohol
In addition to these health risks associated with drinking, alcohol use can result in decreased performance at work or in school. It can also strain relationships with family and friends. Anyone who feels their drinking could result in these scenarios might want to consider giving up alcohol or greatly reducing their consumption.
Find Out What Kind of Drinker You Are
Before you can begin the process of quitting alcohol, you need to know what kind of drinker you are. This is not as simple as counting your drinks per day; everyone has a different tolerance for alcohol and different susceptibility to becoming addicted.
There are many different kinds of drinkers. From social drinkers, to high-functioning alcoholics, to people who suffer from chronic, severe alcoholism, everyone who drinks falls into a category. In order to know how to address your own drinking so you can stop, you need to know where you lie on the spectrum.
The most critical thing to know when you are assessing your own drinking is whether you have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines an AUD as a chronic brain disease.
They say that this disease is characterized by a person having difficulty stopping and/or controlling their alcohol consumption even when they see that it has negative effects on their health, work/school, and social life.
If you have an Alcohol Use Disorder, you need to seek professional treatment to deal with your drinking. The tips in this article that do not include professional treatment are not for people with AUD.
The following tips are for people who do not have an Alcohol Use Disorder. You can use these tips to help you stop drinking if you want to quit, but are not dependent on alcohol mentally or physically.
Tip #1: Go ‘Cold Turkey’
To quit a substance ‘cold turkey’ means to completely stop use all at once. Many people find this method to be difficult, but it does work for some. Anyone who has withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking should not try to quit cold turkey.
While this is the fastest way to stop drinking, it is also difficult for many people to do successfully. People who try quitting cold turkey once or twice, but find themselves drinking again might feel discouraged and decide to give up their efforts to quit.
Tip #2: Taper Your Consumption
Tapering your alcohol use so that you gradually stop drinking is helpful for some drinkers. Anyone who is physically dependent on alcohol must taper their use in order to avoid dangerous withdrawal symptoms. However, going through alcohol detox at home is dangerous and not recommended. People who simply want to stop drinking, but are not dependent on alcohol, can also benefit from tapering.
For example, someone who usually drinks three drinks per day could try reducing this number to two for a week, then one for another week, followed by one drink every two or three days. This tapering process can be done until they finally stop drinking altogether. Tapering like this can help drinkers gradually get used to having a routine that involves less and less alcohol.
Tip #3: Get Some Support
Just because you are not addicted to alcohol does not mean you won’t need help quitting. There are many reasons beyond physical and psychological dependence that can make it difficult to quit drinking. For many, they have trouble giving up alcohol because friends, family, coworkers, and peers drink around them frequently. It can feel awkward to be the only one abstaining from alcohol in certain social situations.
One great way to help yourself abstain from alcohol is to ask friends and family to support you in not drinking. This might mean that they make an effort to drink less around you, or to not drink at all in your presence. It might also mean that certain loved ones check in with you and ask whether you have been successful in your attempts to stop. This kind of accountability can go a long way towards maintaining your sobriety.
Tip #4: Use Tools
There are many great tools and resources available to those who are wondering how to quit drinking. Two that really stand out are self-help books and apps for your smartphone.
Self-help books may help directly or indirectly with staying away from alcohol. Some books have been written to help people who want to live alcohol-free. They offer tips and advice on the topic of living sober.
But even self-help books that are not written for this specific purpose can be helpful in this process. These books can boost confidence and give you the tools to become a happier and more fulfilled person, which can aid in your sobriety.
Smartphone apps that are designed to help you stay sober are also a fantastic tool. Some of these apps include calendars and timelines that help you track your drinking and sobriety. Others have motivational quotes and anecdotes that can aid in your abstinence from alcohol. These apps help you stay organized an accountable in your journey towards sobriety.
Treatment for Alcoholism
The tips above are great for people who want to stop drinking but do not suffer from alcoholism. Recovering from alcoholism is very different from simply choosing to stop drinking. Such tips for alcoholics do not exist, because once someone has a dependence on alcohol they need professional treatment.
Treatment for alcohol addiction can mean the difference between life and death. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, the time to begin treatment is right now.
When you visit a treatment center to begin alcohol recovery, you should expect to begin with detox. Detox means going through alcohol withdrawal with the help and support of professional treatment staff. Medications might be given to help ease the withdrawal symptoms.
After detox, inpatient treatment usually begins. Treatment looks different for everyone, but usually involves some combination of medication, support groups, therapy, and therapeutic activity like meditation or yoga. The full-time support of inpatient rehab helps alcoholics to gain some space from their addiction and begin to develop good habits once again.
As treatment progresses, the patient will usually gradually switch to less intense forms of care, such as outpatient treatment. Although going through alcohol treatment may seem daunting, the NIAA reports that most people with an AUD can benefit from it. The alternative may be a life that is shortened or even abruptly ended by alcohol abuse.