Even moderate drinking can have negative health effects, from digestive issues and increase anxiety to memory issues and problems sleeping. Other symptoms of drinking may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lowered inhibitions
- Impulsive behavior
- Slowed or slurred speech
- Difficulty staying focused
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Problems making decisions
While quitting any habit is not easy, these tips may help you stop drinking or at least cut back on your alcohol intake.
15 tips to stop drinking
- Cut back slowly: If giving up drinking all at once sounds too daunting, you can first start by reducing your alcohol intake step by step. Decide which days you can drink and which days will be alcohol-free, and then follow the schedule. Keep a record of your drinking habits, both quantity and frequency. This can help you stay on track and motivate you to stick to your goal. As you adapt physically and mentally to your reduced drinking sessions, you can eventually give up alcohol completely.
- Remove temptations: Remove all alcohol and related things from your house. Stay away from parties or places that tend to have lots of alcohol. Tell your family members and friends that you have decided to give up drinking. Learn to say “no” if anyone offers you a drink. If anyone still calls you or encourages you to drink, avoid them.
- Identify your triggers: People drink for very different reasons. You may drink to de-stress, avoid responsibilities, or handle problems in relationships. Once you identify what causes you to reach for a drink, find ways to deal with those triggers and alternatives to the behavior. You can work with a therapist or counselor who can teach you relaxation techniques such as biofeedback therapy and guided meditation. Even repeated positive affirmations can help.
- Find non-alcoholic substitutes: Whether you are in a social setting or at home, you may satisfy your cravings by switching to nonalcoholic beverages. Some of these beverages look like regular alcoholic drinks:
- Non-alcoholic beer and wine
- Club soda
- Virgin bloody Mary
- Zero alcohol spirits
- Surround yourself with the right people: If you find that you are unable to prevent your friends from encouraging you to drink, you may need to find a new social circle who can help rather than hinder your goal to stop drinking.
- Find other ways to de-stress: If you resort to drinking as a way to relieve stress, try other ways to de-stress. That can include hobbies like gardening, painting, or dancing, or practices such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga.
- Think about the bad effects: Heavy drinking may be the reason why you are feeling depressed or anxious most of the time. You may have also developed problems with your liver such as alcoholic liver disease. Remember what alcohol is doing to your body and try to keep that in mind when you feel tempted to drink again.
- Think about the benefits: Quitting alcohol can help you feel better physically and mentally, and you may have more energy for family, friends, and activities you care about. If you have been diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease, stopping your alcohol can even reverse the liver damage caused by alcohol use. Keep in mind these benefits and try to stick to your goal.
- Keep a journal: Once you start to lower your alcohol intake, start writing how you feel on those days. You may find that you spend more time with your family, your professional life has improved, or discover other benefits. When your cravings for alcohol come up, read this journal to remind yourself of the effect of drinking on your life.
- Take care of yourself: Remember to take care of yourself while you are cutting back on alcohol. Eat right and exercise regularly. Consuming nutritious foods may help curb your alcohol cravings. Exercise also releases endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that help relieve your stress.
- Seek support: Involve your family and friends in your journey. If they find you reaching for a drink, they may remind you of your goal and can motivate you to stick to your plan.
- Look for support programs: If your efforts are to no avail, your primary care doctor can offer guidance about various programs that may help you depending on how long you have been drinking and how frequently you have been drinking. They will take your medical history and evaluate whether you have any health issues as a result of your alcohol addiction. Moreover, they can prescribe medications that can help you quit.
- Get treatment for other health issues: If you have resorted to alcohol addiction to ease symptoms of a mental health condition or chronic physical condition, treating those underlying issues can help increase your chances of getting sober.
- Keep going: Once you have decided to give up alcohol, it is important to stay focused and motivated throughout the journey. If you have enrolled in an alcohol de-addiction program, be persistent. Take whatever medications your doctor has prescribed for you to help you stop drinking and treat issues related to alcohol.
- Contact a helpline: If you have tried all of these methods and still have not had success, you can contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing substance use disorders.
What are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?
The road to recovery from alcohol addiction isn’t easy, and may cause alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Tremors or shaking
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Elevated heart rate
- High blood pressure
If you develop symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, your doctor may recommend you to register for a medically supervised detox program, which provides medications that help control symptoms and treat complications.
When to seek urgent medical care
Seek emergency medical help if you experience any of the following alcohol withdrawal symptoms:
- Severe vomiting
- Seizures or convulsions
- Extreme agitation
The above symptoms may be due to delirium caused by alcohol withdrawal. It is necessary to seek medical help right away because delirium can affect your brain’s regulation of activities such as breathing and circulation.
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Getting Help for Alcohol Problems. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/getting-help-alcohol-problems
Overcoming Alcohol Addiction. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/overcoming-alcohol-addiction.htm
Thinking about a change? https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Thinking-about-a-change/
Alcohol Use in the United States. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
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