How to quit drinking: Seven tips to help you kick the habit for good

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention substance use-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Support is available 24/7. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Besides the negative impact on mental and physical health, a drinking problem can also impact your ability to work, socialize, and otherwise lead a happy and satisfying life. That said, it is possible to learn how to quit drinking. 

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Tips to help you stop drinking alcohol

To help you create the alcohol-free life that you desire, here are seven tips that will help you stop drinking.

Identify the symptoms

If you want to learn how to quit drinking, you must first recognize that drinking is causing problems in your life. The first step to recovering from an alcohol or substance abuse disorder begins with recognizing the symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Getting defensive or offended when someone comments on your consumption habits
  • Having friends and family who are concerned about your drinking habits 
  • Being unable to resist alcohol when it is present, whether you are currently trying to quit or not
  • Missing important responsibilities or occasions as a result of your drinking 
  • Health problems because of excessive alcohol consumption
  • Having alcohol at the center of things in your life
  • Feeling an overwhelming urge to drink that leads you to consume alcohol and experience intense physical withdrawal symptoms once you’ve stopped
  • Developing a strong tolerance to alcohol that leads you to drink more each time
  • Making a choice to drink when it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so (such as at work or while driving)

The symptoms you experience will often depend upon the severity of your addiction and how long you have been living with it. That said, considering these symptoms or asking family and friends if they have noticed them can help you become more aware of your current relationship with alcohol. 

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Examine your current physical and mental health

The severity of an alcohol addiction can make it hard to quit. One of the biggest things to keep in mind if you are looking to stop drinking is how your addiction has impacted your physical and mental health. 

For example, someone who has just developed the disorder and who has immediately sought out help may be able to tackle their addiction with less difficulty. If you have been drinking heavily for years, on the other hand, withdrawal symptoms and other issues that may have developed during that time could require you to seek out specialized care. 

For example, someone who has become accustomed to drinking regularly may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Upset stomach and diarrhea
  • Heart palpitations and elevated blood pressure
  • Difficulty sleeping and focusing

For those who have been drinking large quantities of alcohol for a significant amount of time, withdrawal symptoms can be far worse and may even be life-threatening. If you are at risk for more severe withdrawal symptoms, it may be best to seek out a rehab facility that can provide you with the medical care you need as you go through the detox process. These facilities can often move you through the process safely and transition you to psychological care afterward as necessary.

Besides the physical symptoms of alcohol addiction, it’s important to note that addiction may be masking mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, for example. Along with your goal to quit drinking, you may need to seek support for any of these underlying conditions, so that you’re not only treating the problem, but the cause of it as well.

Set goals and take your recovery day by day

When you are trying to stop drinking, thinking about going without a drink for a week, month, year, or for a lifetime can be a difficult concept to make peace with. This may be especially true if you are dealing with strong withdrawal symptoms or powerful urges to drink again. 

One way to overcome this feeling is to set realistic, visibly achievable goals and take your recovery day by day as you learn how to quit drinking. Building your way up each day will help you slowly build your confidence over time. Try setting specific goals with a manageable time limit, such as, “I will not drink tomorrow.” Once you have seen that you can overcome your temptations and do what needs to be done to quit drinking, you can set larger goals (“I will not drink for the next seven days,” “I will not drink for the next two weeks,” etc.) and continue your path of healing and recovery.

If you do find yourself relapsing, don’t lose your confidence or your courage. Relapse is a natural part of the process. As long as you do your best to get back on track, recovery is always possible.

Remove temptations

If you suspect that you are going to be tempted to drink, especially in the initial months following your decision to stop drinking, you may want to consider removing alcohol from your life completely, whether that means throwing out your alcohol, establishing a new rule that alcohol is not allowed in the house, avoiding any areas that may cause urges to drink, or avoiding social gatherings where you know alcohol will be present. 

There are several options to prevent yourself from slipping back into the habit. Avoiding alcohol both in the house and outside of the house is key to staying sober when you are in the initial stages of quitting (and may be something you want to do long after you stop drinking as well).

Find new activities

One way that individuals experiencing substance use disorder cope with the lack of alcohol in their life is by finding a new activity to engage in. This helps them pass the time and avoid the urges that they may have to drink again. Some of these activities may include incorporating more exercise into your life, taking up a new hobby like woodworking or drawing, or taking on additional income-earning activities that keep your mind engaged and occupied. When you begin learning how to quit drinking, you may find that free time can often be one of the most difficult things to deal with.

With that in mind, you also want to avoid becoming addicted to new habits and activities. Try to take new things in moderation and make sure that no new habits or activities are becoming a new addiction as you stop drinking. Remember, the goal is not to replace one addiction with another but to fill your life with more fulfilling activities.

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Learn how to better cope with stress

Situations where you feel stressed can cause you to revert to drinking as a coping mechanism. Take a moment to think about some of the most stressful things in your life. Are there any stressors that you can cut out completely? Are there any stressors that you can make less stressful? Is there any way you can make your life more enjoyable so that you feel less prone to drinking?

Another way you may be inadvertently encouraging your urges is by engaging in unhealthy habits. Once you start the treatment process and stop drinking, you may want to also start looking for ways to lead a healthier lifestyle. Some strategies include:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Eating a healthier diet
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Exercising regularly
  • Engaging in more activities that bring you joy
  • Spending plenty of time with friends and family
  • Pursuing relaxation exercises like yoga or meditation
  • Journaling and keeping track of your emotions

Once these efforts begin developing into habits, you will be better prepared to cope with difficult emotions or stress. As a result, you’ll be more likely to turn to other activities besides drinking to deal with any problems you are facing.

Build a solid support system

It can be far more difficult to stop drinking without a support system than it is with people behind you who are rooting for your recovery. Your support system may consist of a base of close family and friends who are willing to let you talk about your issues and lend support where possible. Another possible resource is one of the many support groups created specifically for people dealing with alcohol addiction. 

Therapy can help

However, friends, family, and support groups aren’t the only necessary people involved in this process. You will also want to look for therapists and counselors who can be there for you and provide the coping mechanisms and support needed when you decide to stop drinking. Often, these counselors are available at rehab facilities via an inpatient or outpatient program. 

It's common for people experiencing substance use disorders to avoid seeking help in person, though. 

This is where online counseling platforms offer solutions. For example, BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that helps individuals connect with certified counselors from the comfort of their own homes. Whether you are just starting the path to recovery on your journey to stop drinking, or if you are looking to avoid a relapse, the counselors at BetterHelp are ready to support you throughout your journey. 

If you’re concerned about the effectiveness of online therapy, you’re not alone. This is a valid concern that many people have. However, studies have shown that telehealth has important and promising implications for the treatment of substance use disorders like alcoholism. 


Figuring out how to quit drinking can be difficult, but it is not impossible, especially when you have the right habits and support. If you are looking to stop drinking, consider the points listed above, seek out help, and find ways to continue your path to recovery.
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