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Stop Drinking Alcohol: 5 Tips for Success

Stop Drinking Alcohol: 5 Tips for Success

For some people, alcohol consumption can become problematic. Here, learn strategies for how to stop drinking alcohol.

Alcohol consumption is common. In fact, according to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 85.6% of American adults reported that they had consumed alcohol within the past year, as of 2019. While some people can drink in moderation and never experience negative side effects, the reality is that alcohol consumption can become problematic for some people. In this case, cutting down on drinking, or learning how to stop drinking alcohol altogether, can be beneficial. Some people may be able to stop drinking on their own, whereas others may benefit from additional support, such as working with a recovery coach. In cases of severe alcohol misuse or addiction, it may be necessary to find an alcohol rehab program or participate in medication assisted treatment for alcohol use. 

5 Tips to Effectively Stop Drinking Alcohol 

If your alcohol consumption has become excessive, or you’re starting to notice negative side effects from alcohol, it may be time to consider quitting drinking. Perhaps you have been spending most of your weekends drinking and you’d like to make better use of your time. Or, maybe you’re tired of experiencing hangovers. Whatever the case, there are strategies that can help you give up alcohol. Consider the tips below. 

Weigh The Pros and Cons.

If you’ve been drinking to the point that it’s starting to cause more harm than good, making a list of pros and cons can be eye-opening. Maybe you enjoy socializing while drinking, but there are probably also negative side effects, such as frequent hangovers, health problems, lack of productivity, or relationship problems stemming from alcohol use. Seeing all the drawbacks of alcohol use can give you a reason not to drink alcohol. 

Explore What You Get Out Of Drinking

Drinking may fulfill a specific purpose in your life, such as helping you to relax or giving you an opportunity to socialize. Think about why you’re drinking, and what you’re getting out of the behavior.  Once you identify your reasons for drinking, you can find alternatives. For instance, if you’re drinking merely to socialize, you can find other ways to socialize. You might consider taking up a hobby or joining a gym to connect you to other people. 

Take Some Time Off And See How You Feel.

It can be overwhelming to think about quitting drinking for good, but taking a brief hiatus may seem manageable. Commit to giving up alcohol for a period of time, perhaps a month or two, and evaluating how you feel. Chances are that you’ll feel better without alcohol, which might just motivate you to permanently give up alcohol, or at least to cut back on your alcohol consumption. 

Practice Self-Care.

Researchers have found that stress is linked to both alcohol consumption and binge drinking. If you’re drinking to relieve stress, take some time for self-care. This means getting plenty of rest, incorporating regular exercise into your routine, and eating a nutritious diet. When you prevent stress through regular self-care, there is less of a need to turn to alcohol to relax.

Consult With a Doctor.

In some cases, it is possible to learn how to stop drinking on your own; however, some people may need professional intervention to give up alcohol. This is because ongoing alcohol misuse can lead to the development of an alcohol use disorder, which is the clinical term for alcohol addiction. An alcohol use disorder is a legitimate medical condition, which leads to lasting brain changes that make it difficult to stop drinking. If you believe you might have an alcohol addiction, a doctor can prescribe medications and/or refer you to an alcohol rehab program. 

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What Is The  Best Way to Stop Drinking?

There is no single best method of quitting drinking, as everyone’s needs are different. What works for you may not work for someone else. Some people can use self-help strategies, like finding better ways to reduce stress, to help them learn how to stop drinking alcohol. On the other hand, some people may need to work with a doctor to determine how to safely quit alcohol. A doctor can provide medication assisted treatment for alcohol use.  Medications used to treat alcohol use disorders can reduce cravings and make it easier to quit drinking. 

Why Is Giving Up Alcohol So Hard?

In some cases, it is difficult to learn how to quit drinking, because you may have developed an alcohol use disorder. This is a diagnosable medical condition that causes changes in the brain and leads to compulsive alcohol consumption. This means that people with an alcohol use disorder will continue to drink, even when alcohol causes serious consequences. 

If you have an alcohol use disorder, you may be dependent upon alcohol. This means that your body will not function the same when alcohol is not in your system. Alcohol dependence causes people to experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal may involve mild side effects like tremor and sleep disturbances, but some people will experience severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including seizures and a potentially fatal condition called delirium tremens. 

Can I Stop Drinking On My Own?

If you are a social drinker and you feel that your alcohol consumption has become excessive, you may be able to stop drinking on your own. If you are binge drinking out of habit or to relieve stress, making some changes to your lifestyle can help you to quit alcohol without professional intervention.

On the other hand, if you have been drinking heavily for years, or you experience unpleasant side effects soon after you try to stop drinking, you may have an alcohol use disorder. In this case, you may be dependent upon alcohol, meaning that your body will undergo withdrawal in the absence of alcohol. If you have a severe alcohol use disorder, you will likely need to go through a professional detox program in order to determine how to safely stop drinking. A detox program can monitor your symptoms and provide medications to prevent complications from alcohol withdrawal. 

Keep in mind that you cannot self-diagnose an alcohol use disorder. If you think you might have this condition, or you’re concerned about the risks of giving up alcohol cold-turkey, it’s important to consult with a doctor. 

How Do I Motivate Myself To Stop Drinking?

Giving up alcohol may seem like a big change, but there are ways to motivate yourself. For example, think about your long-term goals. Maybe you’d like to go back to school, make a career change, or improve your marriage. Having these goals in mind can keep you on track with quitting alcohol.

You might also benefit from listing your reasons to not drink alcohol. These could include improving your health, increasing your energy, spending more time with your family, or giving yourself more time to focus on your career goals. Whatever your reasons, they can motivate you to stay away from alcohol and enjoy the benefits that come with quitting drinking. 

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Other FAQs

If you’re searching for tips on how to stop drinking alcohol, the answers to the following questions may also be of interest to you. 

Why Can’t I Stop Drinking?

If you are having a difficult time giving up alcohol on your own, you may have an alcohol use disorder. The good news is that this condition is treatable, and you can learn how to stop drinking by reaching out for professional treatment. 

What Is Considered A Heavy Drinker?

Binge drinking is typically defined as 4 or more drinks in one sitting for a woman, or 5 or more drinks in one sitting for a man. Heavy drinking occurs when people binge drink 5 or more times within a month. If your drinking falls into this category, you are at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction. In this case, it is beneficial to learn strategies to reduce drinking, or stop alcohol consumption altogether. 

How Can I Control Drinking Without Quitting?

Some people may be able to reduce their alcohol consumption so that their drinking habits are not as risky. If you have been drinking heavily or binge drinking, you can control your drinking by staying within the recommended limits of 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. You could consider drinking only on special occasions, or switching to water or another beverage when you’ve had a drink or two during a social situation. If you’re trying to reduce your alcohol consumption without entirely quitting drinking, you can find other things to do, such as reading, spending time on a hobby, or taking a walk when you are tempted to drink in order to relax or relieve boredom. 

Is It Dangerous To Stop Drinking Cold Turkey?

When someone has a severe alcohol use disorder, it can be dangerous to stop drinking cold turkey. This is because withdrawal symptoms can be severe and lead to serious side effects, like seizures and potentially fatal reactions. If you have a lengthy history of alcohol misuse, or you begin to experience severe side effects when you try to stop drinking, you should seek medical treatment immediately, and/or consult with an alcohol detox program before quitting drinking. 

Recover From Alcohol Misuse With Confidant’s Online Program 

If you’ve been unable to learn how to stop drinking on your own, you may benefit from seeking treatment for an alcohol use disorder. If you’re looking for alcohol rehab services, Confidant Health is here to help. We provide online treatment, so you can seek help for alcohol use disorder without ever leaving home. Download our app today, on either the Apple Store or Google Play Store, to begin online medication assisted treatment for alcohol use. 

This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

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