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How to stop drinking alcohol

Giving up drinking alcohol for good presents a big challenge – even if your consumption is relatively moderate. Stopping drinking alcohol can be harder than you think. If you are at all concerned about your drinking, seek support to stop drinking and give yourself the best chance of success.

We live in a society where alcohol is an accepted part of life, integral to many social circles and events. If you are a heavy drinker or very reliant on alcohol – this is likely to be something you can’t do alone. In that case, it may even be a risk to your health to try to go ‘cold turkey’ without alcohol addiction help – and it will also be more likely to fail.

If you are wondering how to stop drinking alcohol and are growing concerned for your health, help is on hand. The first step is admitting that there is a problem. So well done, you’ve started on the path to a life away from alcohol. We’d recommend that you take our “am I an alcoholic” test to better understand your relationship with drink.

If you still feel like you need help with quitting alcohol, let’s look at some of the treatment methods that may work for you.

What treatments are there to stop drinking?

Counselling for alcohol addiction is one of the most effective methods to help stop drinking, and one that we highly recommend at Port of Call.

Whether you are concerned for yourself or a loved one, it is always better to talk than to keep issues bottled up. Counselling for alcohol addiction tends to involve group sessions, where individuals are given an opportunity to share their experiences. In building a community of support, those struggling with drink soon learn that they are not alone and can help each other through their problem.

Whether you are admitted to an inpatient or outpatient programme largely depends on your level of addiction and personal circumstances.

We would recommend inpatient programmes for those with more severe addictions. You may have relapsed before and require 24-hour help until you have completed detox.

On the other hand, if your addiction isn’t as severe or you have children at home, you may benefit from an outpatient programme that allows you to return home each night.

Some reasons to stop drinking alcohol (you know these already)

  • Preserving your health
  • Saving money
  • Improving relationships
  • Better use of free time
  • Improvements at work / better focus
  • You look better
  • Feel energised
  • Improved sex life

How to I stop drinking alcohol for good?

1. Tell family and friends about your bid to stop drinking

Be open and clear with your friends and family about your desire to stop drinking and the reasons why.

Conversations about your intentions will help people understand and reduce the likelihood of them putting pressure on you to join them at the pub or to ‘just have one.’

2. Have positive plans for your time

Being active and busily involved in positive activity will reduce the likelihood of ‘slipping’ into feeling the desire to drink.

Take time to think through your day and consider pinch points where you might be tempted. Make plans to shake things up and ensure you’re engaged in something else. Avoid the pub and parties for a while.

If you drink after work in front of the TV, think about going to an exercise class or taking a bath to relax instead.

Go for a walk, do some gardening, clean your shoes, make a phone call – whatever avoids the situation where you’d usually reach for a drink.

3. Eat healthily and regularly

A drop in blood sugar can be a trigger for alcohol cravings so adopting a habit of eating regularly and healthily and remaining hydrated will help.

Eating regularly and well and drinking enough water and soft drinks will have an impact on your overall wellbeing too, helping to make it easier to cope with life’s challenges generally.

Planning, shopping for and making meals is also a positive distraction and will help you reap other rewards from not drinking alcohol such as weight loss and overall better health.

4. Exercise

Exercise is great for body and mind and will contribute and multiply the health benefits of no longer consuming alcohol. Stick with it and you’ll feel good and look good too.

It’s also a really positive way to spend your time – a great distraction or new hobby.

5. Enjoy being sober and note your achievements

Take pleasure in the good example you are setting to loved-ones and friends.

Maybe consider saving all the money you’d usually spend on alcohol and spending it on a specific treat instead.

Think of something you can give yourself as a positive reward for your hard work – a nice cafe lunch and a hot chocolate, time to sit with a book or a trip to the cinema.

6. Find your alcohol-free tribe

Seek out others who enjoy activities that don’t involve alcohol or who are perhaps teetotal themselves.

If your usual social activities revolve around drinking and pubs, you could well benefit from finding others who are keen to do something else.

That’s not to say you should abandon your old friends – they may well be happy to try something different with you.

You may also benefit from joining some new groups – a book group, a walking group, whatever your passion.

7. Consider alcohol counselling or a support group

Self-help groups, talking therapies and counselling are a way to express and share our issues with alcohol and consider our behaviour in a supportive and structured environment.

Talking things through with a professional or others in a similar situation may help you address underlying issues that lead to you wanting to drink. Addressing those issues and finding useful coping mechanisms may be the key to helping you stop drinking for good.

For alcoholics, loneliness is a big contributor to relapse and similarly, if you wish to achieve sobriety, support will help.

8. Closely evaluate the reasons you drink and take steps to find alternatives

If you drink because you are stressed or angry – maybe you need to look at what is making you feel stressed and angry and either deal with that or seek out support with stress and anger management.

If you drink through habit perhaps you need to change your routine.

If you drink because you like the taste, can you find something else you enjoy as much – sparkling water and lime? Non-alcoholic lager or cocktails?

Perhaps drinking is something you do to ‘take the edge off’ and feel more confident at events – in this case, you could go on a confidence course or buy a self-help book.

9. Change your thinking about alcohol

You may find it helpful to re-label alcohol in your mind, perhaps as a ‘poison’ or chemical that is unnecessary, unhelpful and even damaging.

Avoid discussing, dwelling or reflecting upon the perceived pleasures and positives you get from alcohol.

In addition, it is unhelpful to resent or envy others and their ‘ability’ to drink in moderation. Try to be aware of thoughts such as these and learn to let them go.

Remember that having a drink will not reduce the size of any problem, but is very likely to make a problem worse.

Consider others who have bigger challenges each day than not having a drink and think how lucky you are.

10. Alcohol Detox

Detoxification involves medical support to help you stop drinking safely and manage withdrawal symptoms. It is for those who have become dependent on alcohol.

Prescribed drugs can be used to combat withdrawal symptoms, which may include sweating and tremors, nausea or retching in the morning, vomiting, hallucinations, seizures or fits. Medication can also be used to reduce the urge to have a drink.

Some people will need a stay in a medically supported unit to successfully detox. It is sensible to plan associated rehabilitation support to partner with any period of detox to also address the emotional reasons for your drinking.

11. Alcohol Rehab

Many people who have struggled and tried for years to stop drinking for good, report that residential rehab is the true turning point for them.

When drinking has become a real problem in your life and especially if you’ve tried but failed to give up either alone or with support in the community, rehab is worth serious consideration.

Rehab is about ensuring you have an oasis away from day-to-day stresses and distractions to focus on what has led to your issues with alcohol and developing techniques to ensure you stay sober.

Further support & information around alcoholism

Get in touch with Port of Call

There is alcohol addiction help on hand and we at Port of Call are here to help you to quit drinking. We recognise that getting sober isn’t easy. After all, our team is made up of highly trained professionals and people in recovery.

If you are looking for alcohol addiction support in your area and think that we can help you, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We’re on hand 24/7 to support you and your needs.

Give us a call on 08000029010 or email help@portofcall.com.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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