Sobriety is not easy, and the road to recovery from alcohol abuse is a difficult process that requires a genuine, steady commitment from the alcoholic. There is no quick fix to your life-threatening habit of drinking compulsively or the harm you are doing to yourself. The good news about how to quit drinking successfully is that no one but you can take the necessary action to stop: it is solely in your control.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder or Alcoholism?
If you use answered yes and are using alcohol chronically or daily to mask who you are and to deal with how you feel, you may suffer from alcohol use disorder. Although you may not be dependent on it, which is a sign of alcoholism, you may be an abuser of alcohol. Alcohol abuse fosters unhealthy decisions and lifestyles. You should see a doctor or counselor who can help you figure out how to quit drinking.
Are You Ready to Quit Drinking?
If you are asking yourself how to quit drinking, you’ve taken a positive first step.
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, a relapse may happen at some point in your life, and there is more than one program that will work for you. That’s the reality of living with an addiction. Understanding the realities of, and obstacles to, recovery will help you spend less time beating yourself up when you make a mistake. Once you learn how to quit drinking, you will also learn about forgiving yourself, so you can remain focused on healing.
It is important to understand alcohol use disorder is considered a brain disease that results from alcohol changing your brain to make you feel dependent on alcohol to function. The changes in your brain make it hard to quit, especially on your own. For most alcohol abusers, support from others and a structured plan of action is instrumental to success. Willpower, cold turkey, or going at it alone are not proven to be tangible solutions for many who are trying to learn how to quit drinking and start down the road of recovery.
Any recovery method with a long-term success rate requires you to change and to remove all alcohol and temptations for alcohol consumption from your life for good. Otherwise, you will most likely fail. Are you ready to remove all lures and negative peer influences, so you can stay strong, be positive, and commit?
How to Quit Drinking
If you answered yes, then you are ready to find a program that will help you learn how to quit drinking.
Different Programs Work for Different Alcoholics and Alcohol Abusers
Different programs work for different people. So, if the first method you try does not work for you, try another. Don’t give up and don’t wait—act. To be successful in your recovery requires you to act consistently and deliberately.
When you explore options for programs that may work for you, consider both traditional methods like Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) as well as unconventional paths like phone apps, alcoholism hotlines, nonprofit organization websites, or self-help books.
Some alcoholics and recovering alcoholics do very well in a structured, 12-step program based on a pseudo-religious nature and a socially supportive network, like AA. You may not need counseling or group therapy to support your efforts, but you will need to learn strategies and tactics to help you understand how to quit drinking and how to make positive changes in your life and lifestyle. Regardless of the methods, look for a program that is centered on long-term personal growth strategies, rather than short-term fixes, and this will increase your chances for a successful recovery.
Tips and Coping
Understand the Root Cause of Your Drinking and Possible Relapse Triggers
A relapse is triggered by emotions and is driven by the all-consuming urge to drink, so logical techniques are not preventive measures to combat a relapse. They won’t work because, as an alcoholic, your rational thinking shuts down when you crave a drink, and the lack of impulse control and fixation on having a drink takes over intellectual reasoning. So, alcoholics must develop emotional counter-balances to help fight off the powerful emotional drive to drink. Otherwise, you will continue to self-medicate.
Have a Plan for How to Quit Drinking
If you have relied on alcohol for a long time to mask emotional and physical pain, then it will require a massive undertaking to rebuild your life without alcohol. You can do it, though, through developing coping skills and change.
Seek an expert who will support you, encourage you to soul-search, and encourage you to figure out your motivations by helping you answer questions such as:
A plan of action will inspire you to:
Eliminate Toxic Relationships and Temptations
Do you really believe you can kick your habit of drinking if you keep the same lifestyle and same friends? Distancing yourself from alcohol abusers, alcoholics, and addicts is key to moving in the right direction for yourself. You will also need to distance yourself from those individuals, peers, and friends who zap your energy and who are negative influences in your life. Surround yourself with positive influences that will build you up and help you beat your addiction. This will help you create a new, different world to better function in and to be more productive.
Focus on Personal Growth
Regardless of what program you seek, most programs recognize success depends on personal growth. Long-term recovery causes you to work daily to improve your life and to protect yourself against complacency. If you are not ready to commit every day to working towards your goal to quit drinking, then every day will be much harder than the day before. Look for slow and steady progress.
Support from peers who have experienced issues with drinking and are interested in helping you learn how to quit drinking can prove instrumental in a time of desperation. Turn to those who have your best interest in mind—helping you to quit rather than continue down the self-destructive path you may be on.
Focus on building positive relationships and eliminate toxic friendships to help yourself set up a new framework in which to function and avoid relapse in a society that enjoys drinking. Set yourself up for success to quit drinking.
Strategies for Personal Growth
The quote, “There is always tomorrow” is your worst enemy. All that matters is today. Today—right now—is the time to change your life.
Invest in Your Physical Health and Fitness
After years of abusing your mind, body, and emotions, it is time to start investing in and improving upon your physical health and fitness. It is an oxymoron to think you can live a healthy lifestyle and be an alcoholic at the same time. Read blogs and articles about fitness, healthy eating, and low-stress fun fitness activities. Working out and eating healthy is known to fight depression and can increase your outlook on life.
Exercise is powerful; some alcoholics have quit simply by channeling their focus, energy, and meaning in life towards living a healthy lifestyle. A good hard workout can put you in a powerful, meditative state. Consider replacing your need to drink with exercise and a personal growth mindset.
Healthy living can help you learn about yourself, and it will also help you replace the bad influences and unhealthy friends in your life with new friends who will share similar goals of health and fitness. This will make it easier to avoid drinking. Furthermore, when you feel good about how you look and feel, you appear to others as a strong, confident person. This is attractive, and others respond positively to those who appear self-confident. This gives you more confidence.
Getting in shape helps you set new goals and also can be a tremendous boost to your self-esteem. It will help you stay focused on improving yourself, safely detox, and help reduce negative thoughts and anxiety.
Part of the reason it is so hard to figure out how to quit drinking is that those who depend on alcohol have spent years hosting a pity party and self-loathing. What better way to avoid your negative emotional reality than to self-medicate with alcohol? The consequences are self-abuse, self-ridicule, and low self-esteem. But building your self-esteem will provide a protective barrier you need to remain strong and positive in your personal growth. Your new protective barrier will help prevent yourself from spiraling out of control when confronted with emotions that used to make you drink.
Learn to Love Yourself
Change is hard, but if you think about investing in yourself and your personal growth, you are improving your environment. Improvements in your environment will eventually reduce, if not eliminate, the temptations and triggers you traditionally have succumbed to.
Surround yourself with friends who love you for who you are today and who encourage you to be better tomorrow. Every day, be grateful for what you have and the steady progress you have made. Forgive yourself for your mistakes or setbacks. When you are grateful and appreciative, even if it feels like it’s not much, you will train your brain to focus on your blessings rather than the fear of relapsing. Learn to be comfortable with yourself and who you are becoming. Surround yourself with people you want to be like.
Getting in shape can be a tremendous boost to your self-esteem. Better self-esteem will reduce negative thoughts and working out will help to reduce anxiety. Improving your self-esteem and finding meaning in your life can be a stabilizing force.
Find Meaning in Your Own Life
As you set your goals for personal growth and define who you want to become, work to build a life you want to live. It will take time. Everyone has something to give back to someone, whether a stranger, a friend, or a peer experiencing the same struggles you are in your sobriety. Set a goal or two that gives you personalized meaning. This can be helping others or volunteering, spirituality, religion or meditation, pursuit of knowledge or adventure, or discovering new experiences and hobbies. Live your life differently than you have in the past and make sobriety worth the journey.
Where to Get Help
The American Psychiatric Association published the diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. If you are concerned about the degree to which you are experiencing a dependence on alcohol, take their quiz.
Start with Your Doctor
Reaching out for help or answers is a strong step in the right direction. When you meet with your doctor, decide on goals focused on how to quit drinking. Your goal could be to drink less or to stop drinking altogether. Work with your doctor to draft a treatment plan and seek additional professional resources, like a counselor who specializes in alcohol abuse, or a treatment center.
Depending on your own unique situation, you will need to determine what treatment options are right for you. Your doctor will help you decide this after you discuss your situation and goals. Most likely, a combination of treatments will be suggested because this typically works best and can be obtained through a program.
In some cases, medication can aid in the process of recovery but will never cure alcoholism. Prescribed medication can make your drinking less enjoyable.
Treatment Options to Detox
Dependence is different from addiction. People who are dependent, but not addicted to alcohol, may not require rehab. Options vary from inpatient and residential programs, depending on the severity of your alcohol abuse and the treatment plan that will best serve you. An inpatient program is where you stay at a treatment center; an outpatient program is designed for you to stay at home and seek treatment at the center.
If you are a severe abuser of alcohol, you will benefit from seeking a detox center, whether a hospital or treatment center. Your goal is to stop drinking and to give your body a break. You will need time to metabolize the alcohol in your system and to get it out over a few days—sometimes a week.
Depending on the severity of your alcohol abuse, detoxing can be dangerous if done alone. See a doctor first and seek treatments options, so you are safe in a healthy environment as you resolve your alcoholism.
Severe Withdrawal Symptoms
A treatment center is ideal because doctors, experts and counselors can give you the help needed to manage your symptoms, keep a watchful eye on you, and create a plan together once you have detoxed. Withdrawal symptoms include:
Facilities can provide over-the-phone assessments, answer basic questions, and provide information on whether your insurance provider covers treatment for chemical dependency. They can help you figure out the best options on how to quit drinking. Your community health department or local hospital can help you find a resource to start your search.
See a Counselor or Therapist
Detoxing and learning to manage your impulses is only part of what a successful recovery requires. New strategies and techniques are necessary for long-term success. You will need to figure out how to deal with everyday life and the triggers that historically have triggered you to reach for a drink. A counselor, therapist, psychologist, social work, or alcohol expert will teach you tactics to cope and will help you understand the underlying causes that are prompting you to feel the need to drink.
Most important, success is most often based on personal growth and requires a change in you and in your lifestyle.
Join a Group
Group therapy or a support group will help you during your rehab efforts and can help you remain positive in your convictions to quit drinking. Most recovering alcoholics rely on a support system to help them redefine their lives and remain sober.
Group therapy led by a therapist provides both a support network of peers and the guidance of a professional capable of treating the group with relevant advice.
Support groups are not let by a therapist. Instead, the group consists of members who suffer from alcohol use disorder, alcohol abuse, or alcoholism. Both Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART Recovery are structured, peer support groups. These programs have a proven track record of offering understanding, providing advice, and helping others stay accountable. Support groups often provide lifelong—or at least long-term—relationships.
Recovering from alcohol abuse is a long, steady process that takes time. It takes a great deal of mental energy, effort, and willpower. Ongoing support from a therapist or group counseling can help you learn relapse prevention techniques and coping skills, so don’t be afraid to seek whatever systems you need to commit fully to sobriety.
If you relapse, forgive yourself and immediately start a recovery program again. Your chances for sobriety increase significantly if you are able to remain sober for at least a year. After five years, only one out of seven people continue to experience issues with drinking.
Don’t rationalize complacency; you must continue to strive for strength and improve your personal growth mindset. Pat yourself on the back for your progress, but remember always—treatment takes time and is a lifelong commitment.
Equally important, have faith. You are more likely to achieve success if you believe sobriety is possible for you. It is.