For many, alcohol is considered socially acceptable, and it’s legal almost everywhere. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for everyone. Any form of alcohol in excess can take a toll on your health, finances, interpersonal relationships, work, and life in general. If you’re concerned about your drinking, here are some tips on how to stop drinking alcohol, in excess and altogether.
Do You Have a Problem With Alcohol?
A good first step to making positive changes is to take stock of where you’re at with your drinking. If you’re concerned you might have a problem, one way you can assess yourself is by taking time off from drinking for a trial period. For instance, you might try not to drink for three days in a row. If you find that abstaining from drinking alcohol during that time is difficult for you, or you’re unable to stop yourself from taking a drink, that can signify that you’re no longer in control of your drinking.
Likewise, if you attempt to cut down on the amount you drink or the frequency of your alcohol consumption and can’t do it, you may consider making some changes. Even if you’re able to stop, an obvious sign that you have a problem with excessive alcohol consumption is if you abstain from alcohol for a few days and begin to experience physical withdrawal symptoms. This indicates that your body has developed a dependency on alcohol. At this point, it’s no longer just about a mental desire to drink; it’s become a physical craving.
6 Tips for How To Stop Drinking Alcohol Altogether
If you believe you have a serious alcohol addiction and want to quit drinking altogether, consider these tips.
- Remove all alcohol from your environment. Pour out any alcohol in your home. If you don’t feel strong enough to do it yourself, ask a trusted friend or family member to do it for you.
- Seek support. Peer support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), have been helpful for many people when trying to quit alcohol altogether. These free groups can provide education and support.
- Change your friend group. If you have friends who exclusively socialize around drinking, you may need to avoid them until you feel stronger or find new friends. This is another aspect of AA that many recovering alcoholics find helpful: the camaraderie and new friendships with other people who are trying to stay sober.
- Consciously change your habits and routines. For example, if you typically go to happy hour after work, you’ll need to find something else to occupy that time and help you unwind in a healthier way. You could find a cute little cafe for coffee or tea, go to the gym after work, take a relaxing swim, or join a peaceful yoga class.
- Seek counseling. Therapy can help you get to the root of your drinking problem by helping you reflect on your reasons for drinking in excess. A caring therapist can offer insight, support you, give you new tools to work through issues without turning to alcohol, and help you learn and practice healthier coping mechanisms.
- Get treatment. Seeking treatment for alcohol dependence is the most effective way to get sober. You can choose to attend treatment at an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation facility to start your journey to sobriety. To make sure you stay sober, you can continue with therapy or peer support groups after completing treatment.
9 Tips for How To Stop Drinking as Much Alcohol
If you don’t have a severe physical addiction to alcohol and can stop drinking without dramatic side effects on your health, there are many things you can do to help you stop drinking as much alcohol.
- Keep a journal about your drinking. Record how much you drink for a few weeks. Also, jot down how you feel before, during, and after drinking.
- Reflect on why you want to reduce your drinking. List your reasons for wanting to cut down on drinking and refer back to your list if your willpower starts to wane.
- Don’t keep alcohol in your house. It makes it a lot easier not to drink if a bottle or can isn’t within arm’s reach.
- Set limits. You may want to limit yourself to one or two drinks a day or schedule alcohol-free days.
- Drink slower. Focus on drinking slowly and consciously, rather than mindlessly.
- Alternate each alcoholic drink with a nonalcoholic one. Make every other drink water, seltzer, soda, fruit juice, or an alcohol-free mocktail.
- Plan alcohol-free social events. Instead of meeting up for a drink, try other activities with friends or family. Go out to dinner, play a game, see a movie, or take a walk.
- Avoid certain settings. Stop going to bars, clubs, or other events where drinking is encouraged.
- Seek support. Let your close friends and trusted family members know that you’re trying to make this positive change in your life and you would appreciate their support.
An Important Note on Physical Dependency
If you have withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to reduce your alcohol intake or when you stop drinking alcohol altogether, it may not be physically safe for you to quit drinking on your own. Medical detox may be necessary to withdraw from alcohol safely. Going from heavy drinking to stopping cold turkey can cause problems like headaches, anxiety, sweating, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, shaking, seizures, and delirium tremens to occur during the withdrawal period. Medical supervision in such cases is highly recommended.
Whether you wish to stop or reduce your drinking, staying honest with yourself is essential. Check in with yourself regularly and frequently remind yourself why you’re on this journey for your physical health and mental well-being. Let people you trust in so they can be there to support your efforts and help keep you accountable. Get the support you need from rehabilitation programs, therapy, or peer support groups. Remember, you don’t need to do this alone. Your chances of long-term success are higher if you seek help and stay connected to others for ongoing support.