Overcoming Alcohol Addiction: How to Stop Drinking
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Giving up alcohol is not easy, especially for someone who is a heavy drinker. The first step in the recovery from alcoholism is recognizing that there is a problem. The next step is figuring out how to overcome the dependence on alcoholic drinks. What is the best way to quit drinking? Many people with a drinking problem are not comfortable going to a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Not everyone can afford professional help at an expensive rehab clinic. But there are alternative ways of giving up alcohol. It is possible to quit drinking alcohol, quietly, in the dignity of home. Some simple strategies can help a recovering alcoholic beat the bottle without spending a lot of money.
Table of Contents
10 Ways To Cut Down Drinking
Heavy drinkers and long-term alcoholics usually require inpatient or outpatient alcohol rehab to quit drinking. However, moderate drinkers who feel their alcohol intake is out of control can make some simple lifestyle changes to cut down drinking. Besides, there are self-help strategies to stop drinking alcohol. Here are ten tips for quitting drinking that are easy to implement:
- Socialize Without Alcohol. Alcohol is an integral part of many social activities. This makes it easy to overdo and difficult to cut down. However, socializing sober is not impossible. For example, instead of Friday night drinks with colleagues, sign up for a team sport. Attend a group exercise class. Go to the movies. This will not only make it easier to quit alcohol, but also improve overall health, develop genuine connections, and find new hobbies. Best of all, there’s no hangover the next morning.
- Don’t Stock Alcohol at Home. One of the best ways to stop drinking is to stop keeping any alcohol in the home. A 6-pack in the fridge makes it all too easy to reach for one at the end of a long day. On the other hand, if it’s not in the house, cutting back on alcohol becomes a lot easier. When friends bring bottles of wine to dinner, send the leftovers back with them. This way there’s no obligation to finish the bottle the next day (why waste good booze?).
- Drink Slowly. How to cut back on drinking when socializing? Pacing out drinks is an easy way to reduce alcohol intake. Sip drinks slowly. Alternate each alcoholic beverage with juice, soda, or water. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach. These simple measures can drastically bring down the number of drinks consumed on a single night on the town.
- Learn to Deal with Stress. For many people, alcohol is a temporary escape from reality and the stressors of daily life. The best way to stop drinking emotionally is to learn healthy relaxation techniques. Turn to yoga, meditation, or psychotherapy to cope with sadness, stress, and negative emotions without putting oneself at risk of becoming an alcoholic.
- Ditch the Heavy Drinkers. Moderate drinkers who socialize with heavy alcohol consumers are under pressure to keep up. Peer pressure can make cutting back on drinking very challenging. Learn to say no firmly but politely. Stick to a predetermined limit. Don’t drink just because others are. Stay away from friends who encourage drinking more and more.
- State the Intent to Quit Drinking Alcohol. For people who are actively trying alcohol reduction, stating this intent to family and friends is a good idea. Ask for support. Encourage them to give reminders about this resolution. This way, there’s a team effort towards giving up alcohol.
- Keep a Diary. One of the most important steps to quit drinking is to keep track of the alcohol consumed. Set a goal based on the recommended guidelines of 1-2 standard drinks per day for adult women and men. Try to stay within these limits. Remember, these are recommendations for healthy adults. Talk to a doctor about what is a reasonable amount of alcohol for people with specific medical conditions.
- Take a Break from Booze. Heard of Sober October or No Drinks November? Decide not to drink for a month. Try to cope emotionally and physically without alcohol. If a whole month without booze feels overwhelming, start with 1 or 2 days a week. This small step will go a long way in helping with cutting out alcohol in the long run.
- Handle Urges. Many people drink out of habit. Alcohol is addictive and can cause some pretty strong urges. Be aware of the times of day when the tendency to drink is high and keep busy at that time. Get involved in a healthy activity that distracts from mindless alcohol consumption. The easiest and best way to quit drinking is to stop drinking for drinking sake.
- Don’t Give Up. It can take more than one attempt to stop drinking. Don’t be discouraged if efforts don’t yield immediate results. Be persistent. Keep the long-term goal in mind. Take setbacks in stride. An ongoing effort will undoubtedly lead to success.
These tips to stop drinking are the first steps in reducing alcohol intake or quitting completely. They do not require spending any money or seeking professional help. They can be very effective in preventing moderate drinkers from progressing to full-blown alcoholism.
Social Drinking versus Alcoholism: How to Tell the Difference
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association, there are nearly 140 million people in the United States who consume alcoholic beverages. Of these, about 17 million are heavy drinkers and have a problem with abuse. Excessive intake of alcoholic drinks is associated with a number of serious medical problems, including liver and brain damage, heart disease, and complications with the fetus in pregnant women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there are approximately 88,000 alcohol-related deaths in America each year. Binge drinkers, underage drinkers, and heavy drinkers are at highest risk.
People who drink often do not know whether they are social drinkers or there is a need for alcohol cessation. Some of the warning signs of dependence on alcoholic drinks are when a person:
- begins to skip exercising
- neglects to eat a healthy diet
- drinks more than anyone in their family or social circle
- cannot have fun without alcohol
- needs a progressively greater number of drinks to feel high
- misses important deadlines at school or work
- does not meet social obligations
- feels uncomfortable at the thought of not having access to alcohol
- often ends up drinking more than intended
- starts drinking in the morning
- starts drinking alone
- relies on alcohol as a form of stress relief
- needs more drinks to feel high
- has escalated the number of drinks since first starting to drink
- suffers blackouts after drinking sessions
Admitting the Problem: The First Step in Alcoholism Recovery
The hardest part of getting sober is not the actual quitting, or even the withdrawal symptoms during rehab, it’s admitting there is a problem and making an attempt to do something about it. For many people who are struggling with alcohol abuse, denial is a substantial part of the addiction. Breaking out of this self-deception is the key to recovery. Some people hit rock bottom and get into financial and legal difficulties before they accept they have a problem. Others are lucky enough to realize they have an addiction before they reach a low point.
Is it simply social drinking or is it a dependency on alcoholic beverages? If someone drinks one light beer every day, is it alcoholism? Or is someone who binge drinks a few times a year at greater risk of dependency? Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer to this question. There is a large gray area between being a full-blown alcoholic and being well on the way to becoming one. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends limiting alcohol use to 7-14 drinks per week in men and women, respectively. Some of the signs that there is a serious problem with the abuse of alcoholic drinks include:
- Constantly thinking about alcoholism and wondering if there is a problem
- Сomparing one’s drinking patterns to others
- Taking online tests to find out whether there is a dependency
The one important question everyone must ask themselves is: Can I imagine life without alcohol? If the answer is no, it signals a problem.
How to Quit Alcohol: Simple Habits to Stop Drinking
Quitting alcohol does not have to involve an inpatient stay at a private clinic or endless sessions with a support group. For the majority of moderate drinkers, some simple changes in habits and lifestyle can help cut down the use of alcoholic beverages.
- Do not make alcohol a major part of social life
- Tell family and friends of the intent to reduce or quit drinking
- Avoid going to places where it is habitual to drink (for example, bars, restaurants)
- Socialize without alcohol, such as at group exercise classes or team sports
- Avoid hanging out with friends or colleagues who are heavy drinkers
- Identify triggers for alcohol use and develop strategies to cope
- Learn relaxation techniques to deal with stress
- Stop stocking alcoholic drinks at home
- Talk to a trusted friend or family member when there is an urge to drink
Simple Techniques to Quit Drinking Without AA
Alcoholism is a disease and overcoming it takes a steadfast determination. Heavy drinkers develop a chemical dependence on alcoholic drinks which have an effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain. When there is excessive use of alcoholic beverages, over time, the brain is falsely lead to believe that it is not possible to survive without alcohol.
There is no one best way to stop drinking. Different strategies work for different people. However, some simple techniques can help people to quit drinking without AA or professional help. The four-step technique described below is an easy way to stop drinking.
- Committing to abstinence: Once a person understands that alcohol is not needed to survive, they need to make a commitment to quit for good. It is not unusual to feel angry, depressed, panicky, or uneasy when this decision is first made. For the first few days of abstinence, rest and sleep may be difficult to come by. In habitual drinkers, the brain develops a chemical dependency and must be rewired to operate without alcohol. Repeating the words “I will not drink again” and “I do not need alcoholic drinks to survive” can be helpful.
- Objectifying the cravings: When there is a craving, instead of pouring out a drink, the person attempting recovery should objectify the feeling. This can be achieved by repeating the words “my booze brain wants a drink but my body doesn’t need it.” The neurons in the brain become used to receiving the buzz from alcoholic beverages. It takes some time for them to calm down and return to a normal state. During this timeframe, it is important for the recovering alcoholic to divert the mind when there is the urge to reach for a beer or a glass of wine.
- Responding to urges: When someone is trying to quit drinking without Alcoholics Anonymous or other help, it is critical to respond to urges with a firm no. The key is to gain control of the brain instead of giving in. When friends offer a drink, respond with “No thanks, I’ve stopped drinking.” Over time, the number of urges reduce as the brain stops seeking drinks. It is a good idea for the recovering alcoholic to stay away from heavy drinkers in the social circle during this time.
- Enjoying recovery from dependence: For a person trying to overcome alcoholism, learning to enjoy life without the chemical buzz can be a challenge. It is vital not to sit at home and focus on how to quit drinking alcohol. The human brain needs to remain occupied. It is a good idea to rediscover forgotten hobbies, reignite lost friendships, and reinvest in getting healthier.
How to Stop Drinking Alcohol Safely
When a person quits cold turkey, the first 72 hours of abstinence from alcohol are the toughest. This is the most difficult part of recovery as the body tries to reestablish a chemical balance. This period of acute withdrawal can be unpleasant. Some people, especially heavy drinkers and people who have been drinking for a long time, require professional help to get through this phase of rehab.
It is not unusual to feel anxious, restless, excited, or shaky when quitting. For severe symptoms, such as high blood pressure, tremors, seizures, and signs suggestive of delirium tremens, it is imperative to seek medical attention. To safely detox at home, it is a good idea to enlist the support of family and friends and consider taking some time off work. It is also important at this time to focus on a balanced healthy diet and stay well hydrated.
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