Drinking alcohol is socially acceptable, but that doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly damaging for some people unable to drink in moderation.
Although many people drink as a means of coping with stress, to smoothen out anxiety, or to self-medicate insomnia, alcohol does very little to solve these problems long-term. Indeed, alcohol abuse typically worsens existing problems as well as introducing new concerns.
Even if you drink alcohol temperately, it leaves you feeling sluggish and foggy. The more you consume, the more likely you are to trigger a range of negative health effects, including:
- Increased depression, anxiety, and irritability
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Memory problems
- Digestive issues
- Conflict in interpersonal relationships
According to the 2019 NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health), over 14 million American adults have alcohol use disorder. While experiencing the above problems doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up dependent on alcohol, it might be that you feel it’s time to put down the bottle for good.
For anyone looking to take an indefinite break from drinking alcohol, it can be confusing to know what to do first. If you recognize you have a problem with alcohol abuse and you’re thinking about recovery, we hope you take inspiration from our suggestions for moderating your consumption of alcohol or eliminating it from your life completely.
10 Ways to Quit Drinking
- Assess your relationship with alcohol
- Speak with others about your concerns
- Don’t overlook the importance of self-care
- Change up your environment and habits
- Rethink your attitude towards giving up alcohol
- Be persistent and be prepared for relapse
- Stay on guard against peer pressure
- Consider SMART recovery if you don’t like 12-step groups
- Do you really need complete sobriety?
- Always reach out for support if you need it
1) Assess your relationship with alcohol
Make a frank and honest appraisal of your relationship with alcohol, specifically your reasons for drinking.
If you feel that you’re drinking to excess or uncontrollably, try to identify why this is happening. It could be that you intend to have one or two drinks, and then find yourself unable to stop drinking once you get started. This is commonplace among abusive drinkers. Perhaps, you drink heavily as a coping mechanism, whether to help reduce stress or to mask physical or psychological pain. Whatever the reasons for your growing dependence on alcohol, understanding these reasons will help you to better manage your emotions.
Start by keeping a precise diary detailing your alcohol intake over a typical week. You may find that you haven’t consumed as much alcohol as you imagined by the end of the week. If you’re in the position of considering quitting, though, chances are that seeing a summary of the amount of alcohol you drink in your own handwriting will reinforce the extent of your problem.
Once you have a clear grasp on the nature and extent of your drinking problem, it’s time to think about voicing your concerns to others.
2) Speak with others about your concerns
Sometimes it can be highly beneficial to outline your intentions to stop drinking to others. If you’re wavering and unsure whether or not to commit to recovery, sometimes nailing your colors publicly to the mast can help you to firm up your motivation.
If you choose to speak with your loved ones about your drinking problem, they are almost certain to welcome this conversation. If you’re drinking too excess, they are doubtless worried about you and eager for you to get back on track.
Speak with friends and you may find that one or more of your friends has also been thinking of moderating the amount they drink. In an ideal scenario, opening up about your drinking problem could land you an accountability partner.
You may also consider building new social networks if your friends are all heavy drinkers. Even if you only temporarily spend time around new people before returning to your old friends when you have your drinking in check, sometimes new stimulation and fresh relationships can break the routine of continuous drinking.
If you don’t like the idea of missing out on the social element of drinking, you don’t need to. There are plenty of options like coffee shops or sober bars where you can hang out without alcohol being thrust in your face.
Now, while you might welcome the chance to speak with others about your drinking when you feel like it, you should also be prepared for others probing about your decision to moderate your use of alcohol. In this situation, give as much or as little information as you feel comfortable with. Practicing the art of refusal will strengthen your chances of seamlessly turning down a drink if offered, or requesting a soft drink instead.
3) Don’t overlook the importance of self-care
We won’t pretend that quitting drinking is easy. It’s challenging, and at times highly stressful, all the more so if you are heavily dependent on alcohol or you’ve been drinking long-term.
Struggling to execute major changes in life is tough, so be prepared and also make certain you place your welfare uppermost.
The stronger you are physical, the better placed you’ll be to cope with the assault on your body that detoxing and withdrawing from alcohol abuse can bring about.
On a basic level, stay fully hydrated by drinking at least 2 liters of water daily. Eat healthy, whole foods with plenty of complex carbs for energy and plenty of protein, too. Avoid processed foods if possible.
Aim to incorporate at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise into your daily routine. Walking, cycling, working out at the gym, and hiking are all great ways to get a natural boost by flooding your body with dopamine and endorphins.
Try to sleep for at least 7 to 9 hours a night. We understand this isn’t always practical, and it’s also made more difficult if you’re quitting drinking, but the more rest you get the better you’ll feel in the face of the challenges you’re undergoing.
By taking care of your overall health and nutrition, as well as removing alcohol from the equation, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll start to look and feel better.
Maybe you’ve let your favorite hobbies and activities slide as you’ve descended further into habitual drinking. Now is a good time to rediscover these interests. Meaningful hobbies can not only keep you occupied and help you resist cravings, but you can also relax by immersing yourself in a good book, or something else you love.
Journaling can be a highly effective method of ordering your thoughts and venting your frustrations. You don’t need to worry about the quality of the writing, what counts is pouring down how you’re feeling, whether on paper or on the computer. The more you write, the easier it will be to identify any patterns that shed light on your alcohol abuse.
By retaining a sharp focus on your wellbeing, you’ll create a firm foundation for a meaningful and sustained recovery.
4) Change up your environment and habits
Is alcohol a core component of your normal routine? If so, drinking becomes almost an automatic response rather than a considered choice. This is inflamed further if you’re feeling stressed or generally overwhelmed. Alcohol can easily become your default coping mechanism.
Now, you don’t necessarily need to totally reinvent yourself, but you could find that tweaking your surroundings and your habits can yield enormous dividends.
The first and most obvious thing to do is remove all alcohol from the house. Minimizing temptation will maximize your chances of avoiding relapse at a critical early stage of recovery.
Now is a good time to choose a new favorite drink. From sparkling, flavored water through to specialty coffee, imagination is your only limitation.
Breaking up your daily routine and injecting some variety into it can help keep you meaningfully occupied rather than tempted to slip back into your old habits. Rethink what you do in times of stress or times of need. Reach out to loved ones or immerse yourself in one of your favorite hobbies rather than instinctively reaching for the bottle.
Underscoring all that you do here should be the clear awareness that recovery is not a quick fix, and it’s not just about detox and withdrawal. Addiction is a disease with no cure, but it’s a disease that can be treated. When you view recovery as a long journey, this can better prepare you for the inevitable ups and downs. Recalibrating your life can help you rediscover old interests and to explore new and healthier avenues of entertainment than getting blind drunk.
5) Rethink your attitude towards giving up alcohol
If you think about quitting drinking, you’ll probably imagine that you’re giving something up.
Instead, reframe this thought and consider instead that you’re removing something highly problematic from your life. The only things you’ll be giving up are negatives.
Thinking of sobriety as some form of sacrifice is a surefire way to relapse and perhaps never get properly underway with recovery. After all, who wants to endlessly deprive themselves of anything? By viewing recovery through a different lens, by refusing to acknowledge that you’re giving anything up, and by harnessing all the positives that you’ll be gaining when you put the alcohol away.
The success or failure of your recovery hinges to a great extent on your mental strength. Use any tricks at your disposal to emerge victoriously.
That said, be prepared for failure as well…
6) Be persistent and be prepared for relapse
It’s difficult to get accurate data about the number of problem drinkers who begin recovery only to relapse. Most estimates suggest somewhere between 40% and 60% of those with alcohol use disorder will relapse at least once on their way to sustained recovery.
If you happen to succumb to temptation, view this as a small blip on a lengthy journey. Immediately double down on your efforts, and never let relapse hold you back.
7) Stay on guard against peer pressure
Now, as we mentioned above, you’re highly likely to encounter questions about your newfound sobriety
While this might be perfectly manageable, avoid placing yourself in situations where friends may attempt to pressure you into drinking. You should steer clear of any bad influences you know will encourage you to drink. Often, these friends are aware they also have a drinking problem. When you attempt to quit, this forces them to reexamine their own situation, and they might prefer it if you both carried on drinking just like old times.
You need to be selfish and fully focused on your own needs while remaining firm in the face of any encouragement to waver.
8) Consider SMART recovery if you don’t like 12-step groups
SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is a non-profit that offers a 4-point program ideal for those not inclined to attend 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.
This program deals with:
- Your motivation for change
- Coping with urges and cravings
- Dealing with unhelpful thoughts, emotions, and actions
- Achieving balance in life
The SMART program is grounded on the concept that addiction is one way of coping with life’s stressors. While this starts out as a coping strategy, often an effective one, the solution becomes a problem.
Attending support meetings can help you to learn how to alter your approach to life so you are no longer reliant on addictive substances to cope.
Following the SMART program allows you to develop a strong motivation to change your behaviors. You’ll also learn how self-defeating beliefs and emotions can trigger you into drinking. Crucially, you’ll also discover how to find more pleasure in other activities so you can kick away the crutch of alcohol.
9) Do you really need complete sobriety?
Now we’ve come this far, it might be worth asking yourself if you need to quit drinking alcohol completely.
Perhaps you’ve conducted a searching self-assessment, realize you probably drink too much, and you’re determined to cut back significantly on your intake. This is perfectly fine and might well be the best approach for you.
Many people with moderate drinking problems can exercise willpower and discipline so that alcohol takes a back seat in life not a central role.
You shouldn’t be afraid either if you’re still not sure whether or not you want to commit to complete sobriety.
You could always place a call to a recovery center for an informal chat. They might be able to shed some light on whether or not you really need treatment for alcohol use disorder, or whether you could manage your problem at home with the proper support in place.
10) Always reach out for support if you need it
Remember, you don’t need to face the rigors of stopping drinking alone.
Whenever things get tough, reach out to your friends and family. Be honest about the challenges you’re facing, and don’t be shy about asking for help.
Stay in close contact with your primary healthcare provider and any support groups you choose to attend.
What can you do, then, if you feel the time for action is ripe and you’re ready to stop drinking right now?
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder at District Recovery
If you are struggling with alcohol use disorder, we hope you’ve found some of today’s tips have given you food for thought.
Maybe you’re not sure whether or not you would benefit from rehab for your addiction to alcohol, or you’re not clear on what to expect from a treatment program. Change that today by calling the friendly team here at District Recovery and we’ll guide you through your various options for long-term recovery from alcohol abuse disorder. Get in touch right now at 844.287.8506!