How to Quit Drinking Alcohol
Anyone who is trapped in a cycle of alcoholism probably wants to quit drinking alcohol, but fear holds us back. This is why denial manifests itself. The alcoholic can come up with all sorts of reasons of why the do not want to quit drinking, but deep down it is always fear that keeps us from taking action and making a change.
I don’t know how to help you get past that fear. I just know that if you are sick and tired of living the way that you’ve been living, at some point you will throw up your hands and say “This is it. I have to make a change.” This is the point of surrender and it is when you are able to move past the fear of not drinking. Something happens on an inner level and you decide that it is time to try something different. And thus you ask for help. You ask others how you should live. This is the point of surrender and you have to reach this point in order to make any lasting changes in your life. If you do not reach this psychological threshold then any attempts to quit drinking will most likely fail.
Like I said I am not sure how to actually induce this state of surrender in people, but now that you know about it you can at least identify if you are ready to quit drinking or not. If you are ready, then what follows is some basic information on the other stuff you should probably know about.
Physically quitting alcohol
Quitting drinking is dangerous. Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Not taking a drink can actually kill a person. These are true statements and you have to realize that if someone is heavily addicted to alcohol then they are in great danger if they suddenly stop drinking alcohol. If this is the case in your situation then you might need to seek immediate medical treatment. If someone stops drinking suddenly and they are starting to shake violently then you need to get them to an emergency room immediately.
Because of this danger, the best option is really to quit drinking in a treatment center or drug rehab facility. There you will be under constant medical care in a supervised detox area. This is the ideal route to go just for the sake of safety alone. Any other method of detox is going to introduce more risk to the person’s health, so ideally you should try to quit drinking at a treatment center.
Basically what happens at a treatment center is that the staff there will monitor your vital signs and give you medication that will keep you from going through several withdrawal symptoms. In some cases the medicine that they give to a person will prevent them from having seizures.
Many people who struggle to quit drinking alcohol will find their way to Alcoholics Anonymous. This is a huge solution for alcoholism that can be found in many different countries all over the world. In the United States, there are AA meetings in every major city, and pretty much any mid-sized or even smaller city as well. They are pretty much everywhere.
The AA program is probably, on the whole, a good thing that is generally helpful. Those who dedicate themselves to the program tend to do well. If you look at the total numbers when it comes to success in AA, you may get discouraged though. Out of the thousands who pass through the door of AA, only a handful stay sober permanently. Many people reject the program outright and simply never return, according to AA census data. And of course, many of these people are those who are court-ordered to attend meetings and do not really want to be there anyway.
The AA program works for some, and it has the added benefit of basically being free. It is crazy not to take advantage of this and at least give the program a chance to work in your life. If it is not for you, then simply move on.
Quit drinking pill
Is there a pill to help you quit drinking? Alcoholics joke that if there was such a pill, then they would probably overdose on it. Medical science has not yet solved the problem of addiction, but they are coming out with new medications every once in a while that supposedly reduce cravings for alcohol and other drugs.
One such pill for alcoholism is called Campral. This is a pill that is taken several times each day and is proven to help reduce cravings for alcohol. It does not work miracles though, but it might be helpful for some. Many people who have used the medication have ended up relapsing anyway. It is not a magic bullet. At the present time, there is no magic bullet.
Quit drinking soda
If you want to quit drinking soda, then the process is a little bit different from quitting alcohol, though some of the concepts might be the same. You might try substitution as your primary method of giving up fountain drinks, such as by drinking milk, tea, or water instead of your daily soda.
Another technique is to slowly transition away from soda. Most people who are addicted to soda drink several each day. Start by replacing just one of your sodas with an alternative beverage such as milk, tea, or juice. Stick to that one replacement drink for a week or two and then try to replace a second soda with your replacement beverage. Thus you can transition away from soda and hardly even notice that you are missing it.
If the caffeine is part of the addiction with soda, then you will have to deal with that as well. You can replace the soda with regular tea, which does have some caffeine (regular tea, not herbal or green, which generally are caffeine free). This is, of course, quite a bit different from learning how to quit drinking alcohol. Really it is like comparing apples to oranges.
Quit drinking lose weight
If you quit drinking alcohol will you lose weight? You bet. Alcohol is empty calories that can seriously add up if you consume large quantities throughout the day or night. Pretty much any alcoholic who stops drinking will shed at least a few pounds due to the reduction in these empty calories. Sometimes this is all gained back when developing a sweet tooth in early recovery, but the trade off is more than worth it, as the alcoholic drinking carries a number of other problems with it as well that are far worse than weight gain.
Quit binge drinking
Some alcoholics are binge drinkers and do not drink alcohol every single day. Instead, they may go days, weeks, or months without taking a single drop of alcohol, then they will binge drink for several days straight. This can become tricky because the person can easily convince themselves that they do not really have a problem, because they can go for so long without taking a drink.
In the end, they need to get honest with themselves and see that alcohol is still a problem for them, even if they have periods of abstinence. When they binge, they completely lose control and cannot stop themselves from continuing to drink. Binge drinking can be deadly and it is also very difficult to arrest due to the long periods of abstinence that can keep the alcoholic stuck in denial for year and years.
Quit drinking medication
There are some other medications that might be used to help a person to quit drinking alcohol, such as Antabuse or Naltrexone. Antabuse is a preventative medication that makes the alcoholic violently ill if they drink alcohol while taking the drug. It has been used with some success but for the most part it is just a way for the alcoholic to try and manipulate themselves. Naltrexone is another medication that tries to reduce cravings for alcohol by reducing the effectiveness of the alcohol in creating pleasure in the brain.
There will probably be more medications to help people quit drinking that will be developed in the coming years, and it is very likely that none of them will be a magic cure that solves the problem completely.
Stop drinking alcohol
Ultimately the solution for any alcoholic is to simply stop drinking alcohol and learn how to live a sober life. This is easier said than done and of course this is why there are all sorts of programs out there to try and help alcoholics to recover.
It is not enough to merely abstain from alcohol. If this were true then we could cure alcoholism at the individual level without any help at all. The solution has to go beyond the alcohol itself because the problem is more fundamental than an addiction to a substance. Something inside of the alcoholic is a bit off and causes them to self medicate and self destruct. Alcohol is just one vehicle for doing so. There are other options available and alcoholics will eventually find them if they are not working on a positive solution for more healthy living.
You can’t just stop drinking booze and expect recovery to happen. You have to work for it by creating positive change in your life on an ongoing basis. This is the growth that fuels recovery.
Can you quit drinking alone?
Of course people actually have quit drinking alcohol alone but it is not recommended for the reasons listed above. But there are other reasons to seek treatment and find others to help you with quitting drinking.
Part of the definition of alcoholism is that we cannot stop drinking by ourselves. If we could then it would not be a true addiction. The fact that we are hopelessly addicted means that we need help in order to quit. This is another strong reason to seek treatment.
At a treatment center, you will get help in several ways, all of which give you a great advantage over trying to quit on your own:
1) Peer support – in treatment, you will meet other people who are trying to quit drinking just like you are. Believe it or not you can help each other to stay sober. This is a powerful concept in recovery.
2) New knowledge – you will learn a great deal in treatment about how to live a life without alcohol. You will learn from the therapists and counselors, as well as from your peers. This is important because when we first get sober, we do not know enough information about how to live sober. We need new knowledge for recovery.
3) Safe environment - you will not be as tempted to drink or use drugs because you will be in a safe and supportive environment.
In early recovery, networking with other people is especially important. Don’t try to quit drinking alone or you’ll only make it harder on yourself. Use the benefits of working with others in recovery to your advantage and your chances of staying sober will increase greatly.
Photo by billaday
What does it take to stay sober in the long run?
After you quit drinking, you of course have the rest of your life ahead of you to deal with. How are you going to do it sober? If you can’t answer this question, then you need to take action and find out what your path in sobriety is going to consist of.
Nobody stays sober by sitting on the couch all day and wishing that their life was different. If you want to quit drinking then you have to actually do something. Recovery demands action. If you just focus on eliminating the drinking behavior then you are going to fail. You have to replace that life of drinking with a life of passion and purpose. You have to find things that excite you in recovery and get involved with them. Essentially, you must create a new life for yourself in recovery.
Creation is the key to long term sobriety. Creating this new life is how you actually quit drinking in the long run. If you don’t create a new life that is worth living, then you will eventually return to the drinking.
Let’s face it: alcoholics love to drink. It is their passion. So would you expect them to walk away from this passion and live a boring and uneventful life? It will never happen. The alcoholic knows that they can find at least some excitement and satisfaction with being drunk, even if it brings some misery along with it. Over time, the alcoholic will remember the good times of drinking and forget how miserable it ended up making them. This will lead to relapse if they do not have a compelling reason to stay sober.
Therefore, you need a compelling reason to stay sober. The way to find this reason is to create it in your life. Find your passion. Find your joy. Find a way to reach out and help other people in recovery. Create a life that is worth living sober and you will remain sober. If you get lazy and allow yourself to stagnate and become bored then your mind will return to thoughts of drinking.
Purpose. Meaning. Passion.
Quit drinking alcohol and start living. Simple as that.