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January 31, 2024

How to Safely Quit Drinking


Misuse of alcohol remains a severe problem for many Americans, resulting in increased issues such as cancer, depression, heart disease, and liver disease. More than 29 million people over the age of 12 have alcohol use disorder (AUD), according to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). It is estimated that each year, more than 140,000 deaths (approximately 97,000 male deaths and 43,000 female deaths) are attributable to excessive alcohol use. This makes alcohol one of the leading preventable causes of death in the country, behind tobacco, poor diet and physical inactivity, and illegal drugs.

Deciding to quit drinking is a commendable and life-altering choice that requires commitment, support, and a well-thought-out plan. Alcohol cessation is a personal journey, and it’s crucial to prioritize both physical and mental well-being during this process. To safely quit drinking, a person must address the physical, emotional, and social aspects of recovery.

Decide To Quit

The first step in quitting drinking is acknowledging the decision and understanding its reasons. Whether for health concerns, personal growth, or relationship improvement, clearly understanding the motivations behind the decision will strengthen your commitment to sobriety.

Abruptly stopping alcohol consumption can lead to withdrawal symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. To minimize risks, consider gradually reducing alcohol intake. This approach allows the body to adjust more comfortably and reduces the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

However, before making any significant lifestyle changes, consult with healthcare professionals. They can assess your overall health, provide personalized advice, and recommend necessary medical interventions.

Prepare For Withdrawal Symptoms and Complications

Quitting drinking can have many positive health benefits, but you should also be aware of potential dangers and challenges that may arise during the alcohol withdrawal process. Some potential dangers and challenges associated with quitting drinking include:

  1. Withdrawal symptoms: For individuals who are physically dependent on alcohol, quitting can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, anxiety, nausea, sweating, and, in severe cases, seizures. Delirium tremens (DTs) is a serious withdrawal condition that may occur and requires immediate medical attention.
  2. Medical complications: Chronic alcohol use can lead to various health issues, and quitting suddenly may unmask or exacerbate these problems. It’s essential to have a healthcare professional assess and monitor your health during the quitting process.
  3. Mental health challenges: Alcohol often serves as a coping mechanism for stress and emotional issues. As a result, quitting can lead to increased anxiety and depression.
  4. Nutritional deficiencies. Chronic alcohol use can lead to dietary deficiencies. When quitting, individuals may need to address these deficiencies through a balanced diet or supplements. Medical supervision is crucial to manage any potential complications.

Make Sure You Have A Healthy Support System

Quitting alcohol is a challenging endeavor, and having a strong support system is crucial. Share the decision with friends, family, or a support group. Their encouragement, understanding, and assistance can help you maintain sobriety.

Be Aware Of Triggers

Recognizing situations or emotions that trigger the urge to drink is essential. Whether it’s stress, social events, or specific environments, understanding these triggers can help you resist triggers and develop coping mechanisms and strategies to navigate challenging situations without relying on alcohol.

Participate in Therapy

Consider seeking therapy or counseling to address the psychological aspects of alcohol dependence. Professionals can help you explore underlying issues, cope with emotions, and develop a robust mental framework for long-term sobriety.

Don’t Neglect Support Groups

Participating in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provides a sense of community and shared experiences. Being surrounded by individuals facing similar challenges fosters a supportive environment and helps reinforce the commitment to quitting drinking.

Adopt Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Replace drinking habits with healthy alternatives. Engage in activities that promote physical and mental well-being, such as regular exercise, hobbies, or mindfulness practices. These positive habits not only fill the void left by alcohol but also contribute to an overall healthier lifestyle.

Evaluate and make necessary lifestyle changes to create a supportive environment for recovery. This may involve reevaluating relationships, avoiding places associated with drinking, and establishing a daily routine that promotes stability.

What About Relapse?

Quitting alcohol is a process, and relapses can happen. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Setbacks are part of the journey; you need to learn from them and continue working towards sobriety.

Admitting that a relapse has occurred is the first step. It’s essential to be honest about the situation. Contact a support network, such as friends, family, or a sponsor. Sharing struggles can provide emotional support and help prevent isolation.

You should also identify the factors that led to the relapse. Also, consider revisiting and adjusting any treatment plan with the help of a healthcare professional.

You should also use the relapse as an opportunity for self-reflection. Understand what went wrong and what can be done differently in the future to maintain sobriety. This can be done by working on developing healthy coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, and other triggers.

Finally, set realistic goals moving forward. Establishing achievable short-term goals can help someone regain a sense of control. Celebrate small victories and use them as motivation for ongoing recovery.

Hold On To These Truths

Quitting drinking is a transformative journey that requires dedication, support, and self-reflection. By following these steps and incorporating professional guidance, you can safely navigate the challenges of alcohol cessation and embrace a healthier, more fulfilling life. Remember, every step forward is a victory on the path to recovery.

At Meta, our clients deserve an addiction recovery experience that puts their needs first. That’s why we involve each client in the addiction recovery process through personalized addiction treatment plans, resources, and more. Reach out to learn how we equip our clients with the knowledge and support they need to make healthy decisions in their addiction recovery. Contact us today.