How To Quit Drinking: 7 Tips To Help You Kick The Habit For Good
Updated July 10, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Tanya Harell
Some people may enjoy drinking simply for the taste of the alcohol itself, while others can become addicted to alcohol. Besides alcohol’s 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. To help you create the alcohol-free life that you are looking for, here are seven tips that will help you stop drinking, develop coping mechanisms that will allow you to continue your progress, and seek out the help that you may need to get started.
Seven Tips to Help You Stop Drinking Alcohol
- Identify the Symptoms (and Cultivate Awareness Around the Problem)
For some who are looking to stop drinking alcohol, they may not know that they actually have a problem or may have reinforced the idea in their mind that they do not have a problem. If you want to learn how to quit drinking, you have to first recognize that drinking is a problem in your life. The first step to recovering from alcoholism begins with recognizing the symptoms of the disorder. So, if you are looking for signs that you have a problem, what should you be looking for? Symptoms of alcohol disorder include:
- Getting defensive or offended when someone comments on your alcohol consumption habits.
- Having friends and family be concerned about your overall health or saying that you may have a drinking problem.
- 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 problems, such as work, family gatherings, or clubs or classes that you may have engaged in regularly prior to drinking.
- Dealing with health problems as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.
- Having alcohol at the center of things you worry about having in your life, which may even be a bigger priority than other areas that should be at the top.
- Feeling an overwhelming urge to drink that leads you to consume alcohol and experiencing 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).
- Drinking instead of going to social events or going out to take care of basic tasks.
The symptoms that you are currently experiencing will often depend upon the severity of your addiction and how long you have been experiencing them. That said, seeing these symptoms or asking family and friends if they have noticed these symptoms can help you become more aware of your current problem. Use these symptoms as incentives to jumpstart the recovery process.
- Find the Right Kind of Support to Help You Overcome Your Alcohol Addiction
As was stated above, the severity of your alcohol addiction can make it harder for some to quit drinking. 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 will be able to tackle their addiction with less difficulty. If you are someone who has been drinking heavily for years, on the other hand, withdrawal symptoms and other issues that may have developed during that time will 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
- Nausea and vomiting
- Upset stomach and diarrhea
- Heart palpitations and elevated blood pressure
- Difficulty sleeping and focusing
For drinkers who have been drinking large quantities of alcohol for a significant amount of time, withdrawal symptoms can be far worse and may be life-threatening. If you are at risk for more severe withdrawal symptoms, 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.
Besides the physical symptoms of alcohol addiction, it’s important to note that addiction may be masking mental health disorders that someone is drinking to avoid, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Along with your goal to quit drinking, you should also be looking to receive support for any of these underlying conditions so that you don’t only treat 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 forever can be a difficult concept to make peace with, especially if you are dealing with strong withdrawal symptoms or powerful urges to drink again. One great way to overcome this feeling is to set goals for yourself and take your recovery day-by-day as you begin to learn how to quit drinking. Starting small and building your way up, day-by-day, will help you to slowly build your confidence over time. Once you have seen that you are capable of overcoming your desires and doing what needs to be done to quit drinking, you can set larger goals, achieve them, and continue on 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, and we all slip up sometimes. As long as you do your best to get back on track and take it easy on yourself, recovery is always possible!
- Get Rid of Any Alcohol and Remove Temptations
If you know that you are going to be tempted to drink, especially in the 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 not going to 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 maybe something you want to do long after you stop drinking as well).
- Find New Activities That Will Help You Avoid Drinking
One way that addicts (both those addicted to alcohol and those addicted to drugs) cope with the lack of alcohol in their life is by finding a new activity that helps them pass the time and avoid the urges that they may feel about drinking 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’ll learn that free time can often be one of the most difficult things for some people to deal with when they want to put a stop to their drinking habit.
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. It is to stop drinking and fill your life with more fulfilling things that will make you forget about your previous habits. If you need ideas, there are plenty of other people who have conquered alcoholism and can recommend some great things to try.
- Learn How to Better Deal With Stress and Live a Healthier Lifestyle
Putting yourself in positions where you feel stressed and feel like turning to drink as a coping mechanism can make it far easier for some people to relapse. This can be especially true if you are dealing with a mental health disorder that is causing you to use drinking as your way to deal with the symptoms. 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 accidentally be encouraging your urges is if you are engaging in unhealthy habits. Once you start the treatment process and stop drinking, you may want to start looking for ways to lead a healthier lifestyle. Some great starting points 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 and turn to other activities instead of drinking to deal with any problems you are facing.
- Build a Solid Support System That Will Allow You to Vent and Work Through Any Difficult Feelings
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 and invested in your well-being. Your support system will often 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 great resource is support groups created specifically for people dealing with alcohol addiction. 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. Oftentimes, these counselors will be available at rehab facilities and are effective for people who are working through the process in an inpatient or outpatient program. But what about for those who may be out of rehab or may not have access to face-to-face resources at the moment?
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 home. Whether you are just starting the path to recovery on your journey to stop drinking or if you are looking for support to help you avoid a relapse, the counselors at BetterHelp are ready to support you throughout your journey. Remember, when you choose to stop drinking, you are never without support.
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 help you continue your path of recovery. Quitting drinking is possible with the right tools.