Quitting alcohol isn’t always easy, especially if you think you may be physically dependent on it, and it’s become a big part of your lifestyle. Though it may seem challenging, quitting alcohol is entirely possible and doable, as long as you’re committed to becoming healthier and staying alcohol-free as safely as possible.
Fortunately, there are many different steps you can take to stop drinking and achieve the type of living situation you’ve always wanted. Here are nine effective ways to quit drinking. If you need help or want to pursue detox, contact The Haven New England when you’re ready to treat an alcohol dependence or addiction.
1. Make a list of reasons to quit.
You may already have one or more major good reasons to quit drinking: you want to be more present for your children or start feeling better physically. However, it helps to make a full list of good reasons to quit so you can refer to it when times get tough and you feel as though you’re on the verge of relapsing.
When making your list, think of all the negative ways alcohol has affected your life, and write them down. Examples may include frequent arguments with your spouse or partner, lots of absences at work, and financial hardship. Perhaps you’ve embarrassed yourself while intoxicated in front of co-workers or family members.
Whatever the case may be, take time to brainstorm and make a list of reasons to quit. You could also add specific goals to your list, such as quitting so you can go back to school and obtain a business degree, or so you can go to the gym and start exercising.
2. Identify your triggers.
Nearly everyone who struggles with alcohol use disorder has specific triggers that influence them to drink. Examples of common alcohol triggers are stress, anxiety, and spending time in places that serve alcohol, like bars and restaurants. A practical strategy for quitting drinking is knowing your triggers and taking steps to manage or avoid them.
Consider situations that trigger alcohol cravings or that make you feel compelled to have a drink. Also, consider the times of day when you feel a strong urge to drink. Do you usually crave alcohol in the evenings after a stressful day at work? Do you only feel like drinking when you hang out with a certain friend?
After you successfully identify your triggers, take steps to avoid them. Instead of heading to the bar or liquor store after a difficult day at work, go to the gym. If certain friends encourage you to drink, limit the time you spend with those people or consider making friends who have different interests.
If you need help learning how to identify and manage your triggers, behavioral therapy at alcohol rehab can teach you how to do this successfully and stay sober.
3. Reduce alcohol exposure.
When you’re trying to stop drinking, it can seem like alcohol is everywhere you go. And, it is. Reducing your alcohol exposure may be difficult in some situations, but it isn’t impossible. Make various small changes in your life to avoid finding yourself in situations that involve alcohol.
For example, visit restaurants that don’t serve alcohol and avoid going to parties where you know alcohol will be served—at least until you’ve developed the right coping skills for managing triggers. If you live with people who drink, consider being upfront about your desire to stop drinking and ask if they are willing to keep alcohol out of the house.
If your living environment doesn’t allow you to escape alcohol, consider spending at least 30 days in a residential treatment program where you can focus completely on your recovery from alcohol addiction.
4. Reduce consumption to start.
If not quite sure you can stop drinking cold turkey, try reducing your alcohol intake instead. It can be safer to reduce your intake on your own than trying to quit completely. If you are dependent on alcohol, you could have serious withdrawal symptoms, making it risky to quit without professional support and supervision through a formal detox.
You might try to limit your drinking to the weekends only, or buy only the amount you plan on drinking, so you don’t have surplus bottles. Over time, you can gradually reduce alcohol consumption until you’re ready to stop drinking completely. It could teach you just how much alcohol plays a role in your life and be the start of big change.
5. Get involved in sober activities.
Some activities are extremely dangerous or nearly impossible to do while drinking, such as rock climbing and swimming. Activities like volunteer work and going to the gym are other activities you can’t or shouldn’t do while drinking. But, with more time for sober activities, it’s these kinds of things that can start to be real fun.
An effective way to quit drinking is to get involved with a higher number of sober activities that discourage you from drinking or that leave no time for you to drink. Over time, the new activities and hobbies you get into can change your relationship with alcohol and make you less motivated to drink.
6. Join some support groups.
Peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are effective at helping some with alcohol use disorder achieve long-term sobriety. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), participation in group therapy and support groups like AA can help you maintain abstinence during and after alcohol addiction treatment.
Support groups offer a wide range of benefits for those who want to quit drinking. They allow you to talk openly about your experiences with alcohol and sobriety without fear of stigma or judgment. They expose you to peers who know a lot about what you’re going through and who can share their own useful tips and tricks for staying sober.
Most support groups are free to attend and require no obligation on your part. AA meetings are available in nearly every city in the United States and take place seven days a week at all hours of the day. This makes it convenient for you and others to get the support you need.
7. Attend a formal alcohol detox program.
Alcohol detox is a treatment that helps you go through alcohol withdrawal while facing a reduced risk of complications like seizures and heart problems. Alcohol detox is always the first stage of treatment for alcohol use disorder and helps you recover from physical dependence.
Many people addicted to alcohol are scared or reluctant to quit drinking because they don’t want to suffer withdrawal symptoms. This is understandable, especially if you’ve gone through withdrawal in the past or have watched movies and TV shows about alcoholics suffering a painful-looking withdrawal.
It’s critical to know that many alcohol detox treatments involve medications that can effectively reduce your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable. When you’re ready to quit drinking, consider going through alcohol detox, which usually only lasts between two and 10 days, according to the World Health Organization.
8. Get individual, behavioral therapy.
Behavioral therapy is another important element of alcohol addiction treatment, as it helps you change harmful views, beliefs, and behaviors related to alcohol and drug use. If you’re having difficulty identifying and managing your triggers or are suffering from past trauma, behavioral therapy can help you overcome these challenges so you can stay sober long-term.
Behavioral therapies offered at alcohol rehab are usually customized just for you based on your unique situation relating to alcohol addiction. For instance, if a mental health disorder like depression or PTSD is causing you to drink, you may receive a type of behavioral therapy known as dual diagnosis therapy. If you have a history of binge drinking, your therapist may work with you to develop safer ways to drink in moderation without overdoing it.
Behavioral therapy is available in both residential and outpatient treatment settings. If you want to learn more about how it can help you, contact our confidential counselors to ask any questions you may have.
9. Consider taking medications.
If you feel as though you need more than alcohol detox and behavioral therapy to stay sober, talk to your doctor about medications for alcohol addiction. Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are all medically reviewed medications used to reduce alcohol cravings and your desire to drink, reports the NIH.
Acamprosate acts on certain brain chemicals to reduce alcohol cravings while disulfiram triggers a wide range of unpleasant symptoms (like nausea and vomiting) if you drink alcohol while on the medication. Naltrexone binds to receptors in the brain that block the pleasurable and euphoric effects of alcohol, so you feel less motivated to drink at all.
These medications are usually only available through medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs for alcohol use disorder. Doctors need special training and licensing to prescribe them. Many alcohol rehab centers offer MAT to patients who have a history of alcohol misuse and relapse.
Recover From Alcohol Addiction at The Haven New England
The Haven New England offers alcohol detox and residential treatment for patients all over the United States who want to quit drinking. We offer a variety of behavioral therapies, including dual diagnosis therapy for those who have both a mental health disorder and substance use disorder.
To learn more about our treatment services, kickstart your recovery, and experience our proven therapies, contact us today.