How to Quit Drinking: 5 Steps to Stop and Goals to Stay Sober
Cutting alcohol out of your life requires a fierce determination to enter recovery, as well as treatment, a recovery plan, goal-setting, support, and implementing healthy coping methods. MDW is proud to feature this guide from AddictionResource.net an online referral service for addiction.
Because of the vast amount of research that proves the strong correlation between genetics and addiction, it would be easy to blame someone’s mother, father, or another close family member for their drinking problem. Yet there are several other factors in place that influence the likeliness of a person making their way through each of the stages of alcoholism.
This is important to understand because alcohol abuse can cause serious mental and physical health effects, legal issues, financial and relationship problems, and increase the risk of someone becoming addicted or physically dependent on the substance. Thankfully, by learning how to stop drinking alcohol, a person can prevent much of this from happening.
How To Stop Drinking Alcohol: Where Do I Begin?
Like all important changes that have to be made, learning how to stop drinking alcohol begins with a modification of one’s mindset. If a person is interested in learning how to stop drinking alcohol, there are a few steps they can take to change their habits and form new ones that lend to sobriety.
Evaluate Your Drinking Habits
It is easy to stay in denial of a substance abuse problem if you have never really evaluated the facts regarding the situation. The first step in stopping drinking alcohol is to take a hard look at the number of alcoholic beverages that you are consuming each day.
This includes evaluating how much money is being spent on alcohol and how drinking has affected your education, jobs, family members, friends, and other important areas of your life.
Begin Replacing Drinking With Other Habits
Drinking, like any other habit, can be replaced in time with something healthier. All it takes is the conscious decision to change. The new habit has to be something that is enjoyable and good for the body and mind, though.
For example, instead of going to the bar after work every night, you could try attending an exercise class or joining a book club. That way, there will still be plenty of socialization from all the people around you. This can help you to feel less lonely and isolated.
Stopping Drinking Vs. Cutting Back On Drinking Alcohol
Not everyone can stop drinking at once because they may start to feel serious withdrawal symptoms, especially if they have been drinking alcohol for many years. In some cases, it may even be dangerous to do this without being medically supervised because the withdrawal symptoms could pose a major risk to a person’s health.
It may be necessary to cut back on your alcohol use at first, a process known as tapering. The only problem with this method is that it doesn’t redirect your attention to forming new, healthier ways of coping.
Reasons To Taper Off Drinking
There are several reasons why you may choose to taper off your consumption of alcohol as a way to stop drinking alcohol. The first reason is that it can help you to begin the detoxification process slowly so that your withdrawal symptoms won’t be as uncomfortable.
People who drink excessively may not realize that they can experience life-threatening symptoms from stopping drinking alcohol “cold turkey,” such as delirium tremens, high blood pressure, confusion, and seizures.
Tapering off alcohol is also helpful because it allows the process of change to occur in the mind as well as the body, which can reduce the risk of a relapse occurring and help make it easier to make the mental adjustments needed to ensure that the new changes will stick.
Reducing your alcohol intake slowly can also help prevent certain mental health effects that can occur if a person suddenly stops drinking, such as depression, anxiety, and hallucinations.
5 Ways To Stop Drinking Alcohol
Whether in formal treatment, at the beginning of stopping drinking at home, or during long-term recovery, there are a few behaviors a person can implement that lend to a sober lifestyle and help prevent relapse.
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The following is a list of five ways to stop drinking alcohol:
1. Keep A Drinking Log Or Journal
The only way that a drinking log or journal will be effective in helping you as one of the ways to stop drinking alcohol is if you are completely honest regarding what you record in it. Writing down how many drinks you have each day can help you by making it real, seeing it on paper, and allowing you to see how much you drink in a day, week, and month.
If you attempt to lie to conceal how many drinks you have each day or the reasons why you were drinking, all it does is perpetuate the cycle of addiction so that it will take longer for you to become sober.
2. Find Healthier Coping Habits
One of the main reasons to stop drinking alcohol is to ensure that you become physically and mentally healthier. Keep this in mind as you start to work towards forming healthier coping habits.
Counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy can help with this because they can both teach new ways of handling stress or other uncomfortable emotions. Everyday ways to cope may include stress management techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and spiritual support.
3. Learn Your Drinking Triggers And How To Manage Them
Just about everyone with an addiction to alcohol has a drinking trigger that makes it harder for them to refuse an alcoholic beverage. For some, it is the encouragement of a bad influence in their life, such as a coworker or friend who also drinks heavily.
Others might turn to alcohol when they have had a bad day or they are starting to feel depressed. Those who aren’t sure what is triggering their drinking may discover the root cause of their disease by keeping the above-mentioned drinking journal. Recognizing your triggers can help you identify and manage them before they occur.
4. Change Your Lifestyle To Avoid Events With Alcohol
Until you learn healthier coping methods and feel strong enough to turn away from what triggers you to drink, it may be necessary to avoid any situations where other people will be drinking.
This won’t be easy at first because those who do not support the changes that you are trying to make in your life might criticize your efforts or claim that they are offended if you don’t join them for a beer or a glass of wine.
5. Find Support To Stop Drinking Alcohol
During the initial stages of reducing your consumption of alcohol, it may be necessary to remind yourself of all of the reasons to stop drinking alcohol. A good support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, can help with this.
Asking friends, family members, or a sober sponsor to help encourage you during this time can also make the process easier because you will have someone to talk to about all of the struggles you are going through.
Setting Goals To Help You Stop Drinking Alcohol
The following is a list of three types of goals that you may set to help remind yourself why you have made the decision to stop drinking alcohol and the benefits of staying sober:
Make a list of your short-term and long-term goals regarding your sobriety. Of course, sobriety goals will be different for everyone.
A few ideas to get started include:
Having one less drink per day until no alcoholic beverages are consumed at all
Sticking to coffee at the next social gathering
Allowing yourself to decline the next beer or glass of wine that someone offers you
Heavy alcohol consumption does serious harm to the brain and body. It may take time for you to start to feel the health benefits of your sobriety.
A few mental and physical health goals to work towards can include:
Having more energy
Feeling less depressed and anxious
Reducing high blood pressure and other cardiovascular symptoms caused by heavy drinking
Helping the liver to repair itself from the damage that has been done to it
Working towards new life goals can encourage you to want to stay sober because they help give you something to look forward to. They also help distract you from your usual drinking routines and habits.
Going back to school, spending more time with your children and other loved ones, or working towards getting a new promotion at your job are three life goals that you may enjoy working toward with your newfound sobriety.
Consider Entering An Alcohol Rehab Program
If you have tried to taper your drinking down slowly without any success, you may have already developed an addiction or become physically dependent on alcohol. The best thing you can do to finally become sober is to get help from professionals at an alcohol rehabilitation center.
That way, your physical and mental health can be monitored during the process so you can get any medical care you may need. For more information on how to find an alcohol rehab center in your area, reach out to one of our treatment specialists at Addiction Resource by calling (844) 640-0175.
This article was written by the Addiction Resource Editorial Staff and medically reviewed by
Dr. Smith attended Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Smith completed her transitional medicine year at Sinai Grace Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. She completed her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan in Detroit, Michigan.
During her residency, Dr. Smith witnessed firsthand the negative effects that narcotic prescription drugs can have, and fighting the war on narcotic dependence and addiction became the focal point of her practice.
Dr. Smith is married with two children and enjoys cooking and spending time with her family.
A version of this article was originally published on AddictionResrouce.net
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Research Insights into Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse Highlighted in 10th Special Report
HAMS, Harm Reduction for Alcohol — How To Taper Off Alcohol