How To Quit Alcohol

Recovering from alcohol addiction is possible with the combination of medications and behavioral therapies.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a serious problem in the United States. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in the United States, 14.1 million adults ages 18 and older had an alcohol addiction. This included 8.9 million men and 5.2 million women. An estimated 94,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year. This makes alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic relapsing disease that is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems with controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with drinking, drinking even though it is causing you problems, having to drink more to get original desired effects, or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you reduce or stop drinking.

Alcohol Symptoms

Symptoms of AUD are being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink, spending a lot of time drinking, failing in attempts to cut down drinking, having strong cravings to drink, giving up or reducing work or social activities, failing to fulfill work, school, or family obligations, drinking even though it is causing serious physical, social, or interpersonal issues, using alcohol in unsafe situations, such as driving, developing a tolerance to alcohol, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, and shaking when you don’t drink.

Alcohol Health Risks

Drinking too much alcohol can cause serious health problems such as liver disease, digestive problems, heart problems, diabetes, sexual dysfunction, eye problems, birth defects, bone damage, neurological complications, weakened immune system, increased risk of cancer, and certain medications can interact with alcohol.

The National Institute on Alcohol and Abuse and Alcoholism also stated that in 2018, 83,517 people suffered death from liver disease and 42.8 percent of those deaths involved alcohol. Among males, 52,499 liver disease deaths occurred and 45.4 percent involved alcohol. Among females, 31,018 liver disease deaths occurred and 38.5 percent involved alcohol. Additionally, drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver, and breasts.

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How To Quit Alcohol On Your Own

Quitting alcohol at home should only be done through a slow taper with the support of your primary care doctor. For someone who has an AUD, abruptly stopping alcohol can result in life threatening withdrawal symptoms. With that being said, a few strategies for quitting alcohol on your own are to seek out alternatives to drinking, avoid your triggers, create a plan to handle urges, learn how to say no, seek out support.

Alternatives

For a lot of people who are addicted to alcohol it has consumed a lot of your time. One way to quit alcohol on your own is to find new, healthy, activities, hobbies, and relationships. If you often use alcohol in social settings or to cope with problems try to find other healthy ways to deal with those areas in your life. A few things you can try are yoga, walking, jogging, reading, getting outside, and finding a hobby, such as scrapbooking, woodworking, or fishing.

Avoid Triggers

Triggers are people, places, activities, times of day, or other things that urge you to drink. You want to avoid these things in order to not feel that intense urge to drink. While you can’t really avoid a certain time of day, you can plan a different activity to do when that time draws near in order to avoid drinking. If drinking at home is a problem, then try to not keep any alcohol in the house. You can also try to pick up a new hobby or revisit an old one. Painting, board games, playing an instrument, woodworking, all keep your hands and mind busy and are great alternatives to drinking.

Handle Urges

Sometimes you cannot avoid a trigger and it causes an intense urge to take over your mind and consume your thoughts. A few things you can do in this moment are remind yourself of why you don’t want to drink anymore, call someone and talk things through with them, and involve yourself in a healthy activity such as walking, playing a sport, catching a movie, going to the gym, or another hobby that does not involve drinking. Putting it in writing and making a list of your reasons for not wanting to drink can help motivate you to stay sober. Don’t try to fight the feeling. Accept it, feel the way it makes you feel, and know that soon that feeling will pass.

Say No

Unless you are very open about your journey to quit alcohol you will likely be offered a drink at some point even though you don’t want it. Be prepared for these situations and have a polite, “no, thanks” ready. You do not have to drink just because others are and you shouldn’t feel obligated to accept every drink you are offered. The quicker you can respond to these offers the less likely you will be to give in or be pressured.

Seeking Support

Quitting drinking is not easy. Friends, family, doctors, counselors, or therapists can be great forms of support to help keep you on track to your road to recovery.

Finding local support groups can be another great form of support for a person suffering from alcohol addiction. Friends and family might not be able to relate to your situation, so getting involved in peer support groups can really help you find that comradery to overcome your addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous is one form of peer support that is an international fellowship of men and women who have at least one thing in common, they had a drinking problem. It is a non-professional, self-supporting, multiracital, apolitical support group that is available almost everywhere.

How Hard Is It To Quit Alcohol

Quitting alcohol on your own can be extremely difficult. The pain from withdrawal, lack of family and friend support, and cravings can make it feel impossible to quit. However, overcoming an alcohol addiction is possible. With the proper medications, support, and behavioral therapy quitting alcohol is attainable. As difficult as it may seem at the time, finding the right support from doctors, friends, family, and therapists can make the road to recovery achievable.

If you or someone you love is addicted to alcohol, finding a high-quality rehab clinic can help. Rehab clinics will provide a person with all the support they need to overcome their addiction. Through trained medical and mental health professionals your loved one will be safe and comfortable as they detox from alcohol and begin their recovery journey.

References

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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