A bottle surrounded by children, a person climbing a ladder, and a man sending a rope down the bottle to help a woman quit alcohol addiction.

Artwork by Rohan Francis

A bottle surrounded by children, a person climbing a ladder, and a man sending a rope down the bottle to help a woman quit alcohol addiction.

All you need to know about Quitting Alcohol

Medically reviewed by

Written by Kriti Dugar

Alcohol can be considered both a tonic and a poison. The line which separates the two sides is the quantity that one consumes. When an individual reaches a phase where he cannot confine/cut down his urge to drink, it may be best to quit. The principal cause behind trying to stop drinking alcohol is the lack of strength and willpower to control their drink. 

If you or your family/friends have an addiction to alcohol consumption, then know that you can seek help for your problem. You can connect with mental health professionals at Cadabam's Hospitals. You could call our 24/7 helpline number 9741476476 to know more about treatment options available near you.

When is it Time to Quit?

Giving up alcohol might be the best option in the light of the following scenarios:

  1. If one has symptoms of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse or has been diagnosed with alcohol use disorder.
  2. If one has chronic pain, cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis C. The recipient might also exhibit certain heart conditions, mental disorders, etc.
  3. If one is intaking medicines that react negatively with the alcohol.
  4. If one is trying to conceive or is pregnant. 

Healthcare providers also recommend quit alcohol addiction to individuals based on their age, family history, sleep schedules, sexual dysfunction, and injuries due to overdosing.

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How can you Stop Drinking?

Overcoming a substance abuse addiction can be a tough step, however it is important to know that the road to recovering is not impossible. Here are the steps you can follow to quit alcohol slowly:

  • Evaluate the cost and benefit of drinking alcohol

At this stage, you need to identify why you are drinking alcohol and its possible consequences for both physical and mental health. At the same time, there may be benefits like stress relief, meeting social requirements, or sometimes getting loose on the dance floor. One must also identify costs like impact on the liver, heart, or even relationships and professional life. 

  • Remove all distractions

Get rid of all alcohol and alcohol-related apparatus. You may choose to stop hanging out at places where you used to drink a lot like favourite bars or a friend's house. 

  • Talk about your decision.

When making such an important decision, it is best to talk about it. Family and friends can be your biggest cheerleaders. When others know about your choice, it motivates you to stick with your decision. Opening up also urges others to evaluate their drinking habits.

  • Find a community

Cultivating friendship and building a new social group with people who do not prefer drinking alcohol can be very helpful. You could also look for support groups for people who are trying to quit alcohol.

  • Learn from the past

You should not forget the role that alcohol played in your life. The pitfalls, the trauma, and other horrendous experiences will motivate you to lead a better and alcohol-free life. You could also distance yourself from the people who do not respect the boundaries set by you.

What Happens after you Quit Drinking?

After quitting, withdrawal symptoms may be experienced by people who were in the habit of regular and excessive drinking. This is categorized as Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome(AWS). It transpires when an alcoholic significantly reduces or completely stops their alcohol intake. Several mild to moderate physical and psychological symptoms are observed:

  1. Psychological symptoms: An individual may exhibit symptoms like anxiety and depression upon withdrawal from alcohol. They may get irritated or excited very quickly or even feel jumpy and nervous. Rapid mood changes are common with alcohol withdrawal.
  2. Physical Symptoms: Individuals may experience elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Sometimes they might experience loss of appetite or even nausea and vomiting. Paleness, palpitations and sweating, especially on the palms of one's hands or face is quite common. 

How to Overcome an Alcohol Addiction?

The step towards quitting alcohol can be a long and challenging ride. It often feels impossible for heavy drinkers. But it is not. Recovery is a gradual process, and no matter how helpless you feel, one can easily change their drinking patterns as and when they want. 

Consulting a doctor is always the first step in such a challenging journey. The doctor can evaluate and analyze drinking patterns, diagnose potential disorders, assess one's overall health, and suggest remedial measures. Medication may also be given to enable the patient to quit. Some of the alcohol treatment programs are:

  1. Residential treatment: It requires a person to live in a treatment facility for 30-90 days, where they will be undergoing intensive treatment during the day.
  2. Partial hospitalization: These programs are meant for people who live a stable life but require medical monitoring. These treatment programs usually take place at the hospitals, 4-6 hours per day, 3-5 days a week,
  3. Intensive outpatient programs (IOP): They are scheduled around work or school to focus on relapse prevention.
  4.  Therapy (Individual, Group, or Family): It helps one to identify the root causes of alcohol use, mend relationships, inculcate healthier coping skills, and how to deal with triggers that could cause one to relapse.
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How to Remain Sober?

Even if a person successfully quits alcohol, the journey is not over yet. Sobriety is a phase where the individual is not under the influence alcohol. In the path of total abstinence, setbacks are very common. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a prevalent symptom in this phase. It involves experiencing withdrawal symptoms post the detox period. It is often associated with anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability, and sleep issues. It usually lasts for six months to 2 years from the day of sobriety, depending on the stage. 

The symptoms of quitting alcohol as mentioned above are barriers to recovery. Thus, understanding one's external triggers: people, places, things, and situations that induce cravings for alcohol use, as well as the internal triggers: feelings, emotions, thoughts associated with alcohol, is of utmost importance. Once the risks are identified, the individual can design a plan to avoid them.

It would help if you practiced healthy living through exercises, eating regular and well balanced meals or yoga and meditation. 

Key Takeaway :

Patience is the key, when deciding to quit alcohol. The body will heal itself and learn to live a life without alcohol dependency. Although this may be a bumpy ride, it will definitely reap its benefits.

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