Drinking alcohol can harm your physical, mental, and social well-being. If you struggle to control your drinking habits, you might need to stop drinking alcohol altogether. Quitting “cold-turkey” without a plan could lead you back to unhealthy drinking habits. Following these steps can help you quit drinking alcohol.
#1. Are You Quitting or Cutting Back?
You should consider what you are trying to accomplish before you begin. If you are worried that you are drinking too much and have not experienced any severe consequences, you could try to cut back at first. Be honest with yourself about what you are trying to achieve.
Not everyone who drinks alcohol becomes addicted. While heavy drinking or binge drinking are some of the most dangerous drinking habits, even moderate drinking can cause health issues or eventually lead to addiction. It might be worth considering quitting altogether.
In addition, if you have tried to cut back multiple times without success, you should consider quitting. According to MedlinePlus, being unable to cut back or reduce your drinking habits could be a sign of alcohol use disorder.
#2. What Your Drinking Habits Are Costing You?
You should write out the cost and benefits of drinking to evaluate your behavior. Drinking alcohol is addictive for several reasons — you wouldn’t become addicted or struggle to stop if you didn’t experience a perceived benefit to alcohol. For example, you might use alcohol as a “social lubricant” to ease social anxiety, or you might drink to reward yourself at the end of the workday.
When the costs of drinking, or the negative consequences, outweigh the benefits, you’ll need to keep these things in mind to motivate you to stop drinking alcohol. Often, you will realize that any “benefits” of drinking alcohol could be found in healthier ways. These benefits could be a form of self-medicating for stress relief or underlying mental health issues, like social anxiety disorder.
#3. Why Do You Want to Stop Drinking?
Once you’ve written out the costs of your drinking habits, you can start to understand why you want to stop. Some of the most common reasons to quit drinking alcohol include:
- Feeling sluggish and tired all day after a long night out
- Hangovers that disrupt your free time
- Getting into conflicts with loved ones when drunk
- Reckless behaviors, like driving under the influence and unsafe sex
- Physical health issues, like weight gain or high blood pressure
- Legal problems, such as a DUI or disorderly conduct arrest
- Failing at school or issues at work due to drinking
Giving up alcohol can be difficult. Having a clear understanding of why you want to quit can help you through the challenges of long-term sobriety.
#4. Finding Healthy Habits to Replace Drinking
When you write out the benefits you get from drinking, it is important to be honest with yourself about why you drink. You might feel like if you quit, you will miss out on social engagements, lose friends, or have no way to unwind after a long day at work.
Any benefits you get from drinking can be found through other means that will not have negative consequences. The risks of alcohol always outweigh any of the benefits. However, the benefits you feel you get from drinking are still essential to you. If you don’t find a healthy way to meet your needs, you will fall back to unhealthy drinking habits.
Healthy habits to replace drinking include:
- Finding new ways to manage stress, like exercise, meditation, or yoga
- Discovering healthy social activities, like outdoor recreation, volunteering, fitness classes, adult learning courses, or book clubs
- Speaking to a counselor if you drink to self-medicate for anxiety, trauma, or depression
- Starting a new hobby or focusing on your interests if you drink to relieve boredom
These habits alone might not be enough if you struggle to quit or cut back. Professional treatment can help you learn healthy replacement skills, along with other coping mechanisms to manage triggers and cravings for alcohol.
#5. Seek Professional Treatment to Stop Drinking
Quitting on your own can be incredibly challenging. You could have difficulty detoxing from alcohol, especially if you are a heavy drinker. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild discomfort to intense psychological duress — or even bodily harm and death.
Professional treatment can help you to quit alcohol in the following ways:
- Safely detoxing from alcohol with medical supervision
- Avoiding triggers while residing in an inpatient facility for long-term treatment
- Therapy to help you understand underlying causes of drinking
- Peer support from others going through similar struggles
- Aftercare services to help you continue sobriety and ongoing recovery
If you are concerned about your drinking habits and have been unsuccessful in quitting, you might have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). With professional guidance, you can learn how to treat your AUD and stop drinking for good.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment in South Florida
If you or your loved one want to quit drinking but can’t, you might have a treatable condition known as alcohol use disorder. Ambrosia Treatment Center of South Florida offers alcohol addiction rehab services that can help you stop drinking and get on the path to lasting recovery. Call us today or visit our admissions page for more.