Learn how to stop drinking too much
In public debates about drug use, it’s easy for alcoholism to
take a backseat. Alcohol is legal, readily available, and plays a
significant role in social interactions. Sociologists sometimes call
alcohol a social lubricant because it provides a common ground over
which people can bond and can make it much easier to start
conversations with others.
But for far too many people, alcohol poses serious problems. The
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 700,000
people receive treatment for alcoholism each day in the U.S. alone,
so if you’re struggling to stop drinking alcohol, you’re not alone.
Millions of people have kicked the habit, and you can too. The CDC
reports that there are 79,000 deaths attributed to drinking each
year, so if you stop drinking now, you can avoid being a statistic.
Reasons to Stop Drinking
If you’re reading this page, you probably already have personal
reasons to stop drinking. Perhaps a friend or family member has
expressed concern and this has piqued your interest in stopping
drinking. But if you’re not convinced that it’s time to quit,
consider whether your alcohol use qualifies as problematic. The CDC
defines alcohol abuse as more than one drink per day for women or
more than two drinks per day for men.
But abuse isn’t just defined by how frequently you drink, and you
may need to stop drinking if you regularly binge on alcohol.
According to the CDC, binge drinking becomes dangerous for women who
regularly drink more than four drinks at a time and men who drink
more than five drinks at a time.
There are other ways to determine whether you have a drinking
problem. The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic bible,
the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
recently got an update known as the DSM-5. This new update,
rather than emphasizing a certain number of drinks, emphasizes
negative life consequences for drinking. If drinking interferes with
your relationship, work, or education, you may have a problem.
Craving alcohol and symptoms of withdrawal when you don’t drink also
indicate that you might want to consider stopping drinking.
Lose Weight by Stopping Drinking
If relationship problems and physical dependence aren’t
sufficient reasons to quit, there’s another strong incentive. You’ll
probably lose weight when you cut down on your alcohol consumption.
A 12-ounce can of beer contains about 150 calories, while cocktails
can contain up to 500 calories. You only have to consume 3,500
calories to gain a pound, so regular drinking throughout the week
can quickly cause you to pack on the pounds.
Moreover, when you stop drinking, you may find that you have more
energy. Alcohol is a depressant that can sap your energy, making
exercise seem overwhelmingly difficult. Alcohol is a major
contributor to obesity, which can cause serious conditions ranging
from cancer to diabetes, so quitting drinking won’t just mean you no
longer get into fights with loved ones about alcohol; it could also
be the first step toward a much healthier lifestyle.
What Happens When You Stop Drinking?
There’s no denying that stopping drinking is hard, which is why
so many people opt to go into rehab. Some people have to try to quit
several times before they’re able to permanently kick the habit, but
after you get past the initial stages of withdrawal, your body
begins to repair itself. Here’s what you can expect:
- Physical withdrawal – When your body becomes physically
dependent upon alcohol, it resists your attempts to quit. During
the first week, you may notice a rapid heartbeat, nausea,
dizziness, and even vomiting. If you are extremely dependent on
alcohol, you can develop a serious disorder called delirium
tremens, which interferes with thinking, causes shaking, and can
even cause you to lose consciousness. If you’ve been an alcoholic
for years, you could need medical help to cope with physical
- Psychological withdrawal – No matter how frequently you drink,
you’ll probably notice immediate psychological effects. You might
feel anxious and jumpy, and note that you’re losing your temper
more frequently. Some people become depressed and unmotivated, and
if you have a mental health disorder, you may notice that symptoms
temporarily worsen. The psychological symptoms of withdrawal
typically last longer than physical symptoms, and can continue
anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
- Improved health – After you get past the initial stages of
withdrawal, your body will begin to repair itself. You’ll
immediately begin flushing alcohol out of your system, and over
time, your cells will begin to rebuild and repair themselves. You
may begin to lose weight, particularly around your abdomen, and
your sleep will be better regulated. You may also have more
energy, and a more consistent mood throughout the day. Your risk
of cardiovascular, liver, and other organ problems will begin to
decrease as soon as you stop drinking, but if you’ve been an
alcoholic for years, you’ll remain at an increased risk of health
problems for several years after you quit drinking.
Ways to Stop Drinking Alcohol
When you have made the decision to stop, find
out ways to get there
There are dozens of ways to stop drinking alcohol, and any of
them can be successful. Ultimately, you’re in control of your
sobriety, so your long-term success will depend on how effectively
you’re able to resist temptation. Some popular options for quitting
- Mental health counseling, which can help you address the
underlying causes for your drinking.
- Medical treatment, which can ensure that you don’t suffer from
- Residential treatment, which provides a supportive, sober
environment in which you can get counseling, medication for
withdrawal, and participate in group-based therapy sessions.
- Support groups, which provide you with strategies from people
who have successfully kicked the habit. Alcoholics Anonymous is
the best-known and most popular support group, but other programs
include My Way Out, Moderation Management, and SMART Recovery. You
might also opt to start your own support group or attend group
- Hypnosis, which works on your unconscious mind and subtly
incorporates messages designed to make quitting easier.
Medication to Stop Drinking
If you’ve been drinking for years and suffer from dangerous
withdrawal symptoms such as confusion or a racing heart, you might
need medical treatment to fully kick the habit. One medication,
Vivitrol, helps to counteract the effects of withdrawal. Your doctor
might also administer IV fluids or medications designed to reduce
the symptoms of withdrawal such as anti-nausea pills.
If you’re hoping for medical treatment that will simply make
stopping drinking easier, you’re in luck. Three popular options
- Antabuse, which causes unpleasant side effects such as nausea
when you drink. This can help drinking feel like a less appealing
option for coping with stress.
- Revia, which interferes with the positive mood changes caused
by alcohol, reducing your incentive to drink.
- Campral, which reduces – but does not entirely eliminate –
Each of these drugs can have side effects, and is only available
by prescription, so talk to your doctor and never try to get these
prescriptions without a consultation with a physician.
How to Stop Drinking Alcohol On Your Own
Stop Alcohol Consumption
Stopping drinking is challenging even under the best of
circumstances, and if you want to go it alone and forego rehab or
12-step programs, you’re in for even more of a challenge.
Nevertheless, it is possible to stop drinking without joining a
program. You might choose to slowly wind down your alcohol
consumption to avoid withdrawal symptoms. You can also go cold
turkey, which will reduce temptation. Some tips for quitting
- Enlist the support of family and friends. Even if you don’t
want to use a formal program, you’re not likely to succeed if you
don’t have at least a few people available to hold you
- Avoid settings that you know are likely to cause you to drink,
and steer clear of people who drink heavily.
- Spend time around other sober people.
- Replace drinking with a healthier habit. When you feel the
urge to drink, try exercising, cooking, or walking your dog
How to Stop Drinking Without AA
Alcoholics Anonymous remains the most popular program for
stopping drinking, but this doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Some
people dislike its religious undertones, while others simply
question its effectiveness. If you want to avoid AA, contemplate
your reasons first. If you don’t want to be accountable to other
people or to put in a lot of work, this could be a warning sign that
you’re not ready. But if you simply dislike AA, there are numerous
other options. Try a program similar to AA such as My Way Out,
Moderation Management, or Smart Recovery. You might also consider
going to a rehabilitation program, seeking therapy, or starting your
No matter what approach you choose, though, you’ll need medical
support. Talk to your doctor before you give up alcohol. Some people
get quite ill when they stop drinking, and if you already have
medical conditions, your doctor will need to advise you about how to
avoid exacerbating them as you move toward sobriety
How Do I Stop Drinking Alcohol?
You can stop drinking alcohol the same way you do anything
challenging: one day at a time. The key is to measure successes and
refuse to allow setbacks to be permanent. Many people have to quit a
dozen or more times before they quit for good, and each time you
stop, you get a little bit better at it. Here are some tips:
- Institute a rule of, “Not one drink,ever!” for the first
several months of your sobriety. Some people opt to avoid drinks
forever thereafter, while others find that they’re occasionally
able to drink in moderation. But no matter your choice, if you
drink in the first few months, you’re setting yourself up for a
- Find ways to distract yourself when the cravings hit. Replace
alcohol with a fun activity, and stay busy during the first few
- Get the help of family and friends, and encourage them to hold
you responsible. A sponsor who’s been through the withdrawal
ringer can also provide you with encouragement.
- Get the help of your doctor, who can help you devise the right
plan for your specific situation.
- Don’t forget to mend your relationships. Many alcoholics do
significant damage to their family, friends, and careers, and you
won’t be able to fully move into sobriety until you’re willing to
apologize and take responsibility.
How to Stop Drinking Wine and Beer
Wine and beer are ubiquitous, and you may find that almost
everywhere you go, someone offers you a drink. Because wine and beer
are so ingrained in cultural life, it can be easy to say yes to just
one, but just one drink is enough to send some people off of the
bandwagon. Instead, try these strategies:
- Stay away from restaurants and bars where you might be offered
alcohol during the first few months of your sobriety.
- Let friends and family know that you’re quitting, and request
that they not offer you alcohol.
- Get rid of any wine and beer you currently have in your home.
Ask the person or people you live with to avoid keeping alcohol in
the house until you’re more comfortable with your sobriety.
There’s no right way for everyone to quit. But with ample effort
and lots of support, you can stay sober forever, even if you’ve
failed before. There’s no reason to delay. If you’re contemplating
quitting, the time to quit is now.
Stopping Drinking Alcohol From The Privacy of Your Own
Learn how to control your drinking in the
privacy of your own home
If you have had enough and want to stop drinking now, then
take control of your drinking
with the How To Give Up Alcohol Course.
It has been designed to help problem drinkers find out the causes
of their drinking, make changes to these causes and to keep them on
the path of this new behavior. You can do this
without going to AA or