Overcoming Alcohol Addiction: How to Stop Drinking on Your Own

Deciding to Quit Drinking

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 your own home. Some simple strategies can help a recovering alcoholic beat the bottle without spending a lot of money.

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Social Drinking versus Alcoholism: How to Tell the Difference

group of people raising glasses with wineAccording 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

Multiracial group during aerobics classQuitting 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

adult daughter supports elderly mother 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.

Find the Help You Need

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If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, call our free helpline (888)-459-5511 for more information on quitting drinking. Advisors are available to answer your questions, provide information about how to quit alcoholism, and guide you towards the help you need to remain sober. Calls are always confidential, private, and secure.

Overcoming Alcohol Addiction: How to Stop Drinking on Your Own

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Comments 13

  • I’m 48, a female going through menopause and my body is changing and freaking me out. I’m also an alcoholic since my teen years. I lost my brother tragically 6 years ago and his alcoholism contributed to his death. I didn’t handle it well and ended up hospitalized for the 3rd time in my life. I have battled addiction and depression and severe anxiety since my teenage years. AA hasn’t worked for me due to my social anxiety and PTSD due to being raped at 16 and then an 11 year relationship with an abusive boyfriend. I’m so scared. My dad is 80 and mom turning 77 tomorrow and I lost my older brother so I will soon be alone with no money or credit or healthcare. I’m religious, the only thing that keeps me from tapping outbut im scared to death of ending up homeless and alone. I promised God I would never kill myself or try to again, I’ve been grooming dogs for 30 years now, I still love it, I love my dogs but it’s getting so hard with sciatica in my back plus arthritis and arthritis in my scissoring hand and carpal tunnel also in my right hand. I struggle to continue the job I love, it’s the one area of my life I can do with confidence and I see it slipping away. Now I drink to stop both my physical and mental pain and don’t know how to stop and wonder if I can even handle getting better. I also have hep c, I’m so scared. I’m a good person, very loving and giving. I probably gave too much in my life just to the wrong people. I need some hope. My precious dog Jelly Bean was diagnosed with bone cancer last year and given 4 to 6 months, I had her blessed at my church and she’s still here, I believe God is helping her and me but I know I will lose her in the near future which also scares me. Damn, I’m sorry, I don’t want to complain after so many blessings, I just want someone to tell me I can get over my disease of addiction without Aa or being comitted as that’s not an option and it didn’t cure me the last 4 times anyways!?

    • Hi Dee,

      I read your message tonight and I hope you’re ok. I’m praying for you and for your situation.

    • Hang in there I know the feeling I had to quit my job April 10th and I just don’t seem to be able to find work and I’ve got osteoarthritis fibromyalgia I’ve got severe panic attacks anxiety insomnia and I’ve already had two Social Security denials

  • I have tried many times to give up drinking.,even though over the years it has got me in some difficult situations.I am 63 years old and my drinking began after my parents split up.I was brought up by my dad bless him but he was not sure what to do with a rebellious teenage daughter.Luckily I never got into any sort of trouble but drinking has affected my life.I think nothing of it to drink a bottle of wine a night.I desperately want to stop but I do not feel comfortable going to AA as I live in a very small town.I have decided today’s the day to stop.Has anyone got any tips on how to succeed.Thankyou

  • AA has a lot to offer when it comes to having steps and structure to stop. Does that mean you have to go? No but read the big book and try putting the steps into your life that fits you. It’s scary but the alternative is worst. I know. I was in AA for years and started drinking again. Not that AA doesn’t work, it does. Just isn’t what I want. My body is done but the brain isn’t. I chose everyday, just that day, to tell the brain to take a freaking vacation from drinking so the body can recover? Sounds stupid but you find what works one day, one minute, or one second at a time for you. Even if you drink just keep trying every day.

  • Hello, my name is Ann and I
    Drink 2 bottles a night I tell
    Myself that it helps me sleep. And it does but if I don’t drink I can’t sleep.
    I know I should stop but I can’t. I can go a day without it. But the thought of not having it or having it in the house freaks me out if it’s here and I don’t want to drink I am ok because I know it in my house. My husband hates it and I told him I would try to quit but I can’t get it out of my mind. I am 49 and a mamaw of 2 and a new one on the way and I know my son hates it to. I just wish I could walk away from it .

  • You seem like a good person and you must be very stong to go through so many difficult times and yet remain positive. I am not one to say if alcoholism can be overcome, as i am struggling myself, but I do believe it is possible. I know God will be watching over you and helping you to find the right path for the rest of your life. Just remember you deserve good. God Bless you.

  • Alcohol is terrible. I wish someone warned me.

  • I think that what we have to do is taper down slowly in order to quit. Don’t want those nasty side effects when you quit cold turkey.

  • I suffer from anxiety and insomnia. I literally chug a full bottle of wine (no liquor, no beer) in 2 minutes…. personal best of 30 seconds…. this has only gone on for a few months or so. I’m not religious so AA turns me off. I just want to quit. It’s becoming a problem. Anyone else with this issue please reply to me. Maybe we can rely on each other.

  • I have been an alcoholic for 10 years now. I’m finally starting to admit that it’s a problem. My son is 15 and has been complaining about my addiction lately. I have to quit for him. I’m just really scared of the side effects. I don’t want to go to AA, I want to quit on my own. Any tips?? Much appreciated

    • I have heard of Vivitrol, a medication used to help quit drinking, has been successful with alcoholism. I’m waiting to get my health insurance so I can get it. I hope this helps anyone else out there.

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