A man who knows how to stop drinking holds up his hand to decline a drink being offered to him.

How to Stop Drinking Alcohol

Maybe you’ve noticed the term “Dry January” popping up in the news and on social media, or perhaps you’ve seen the hashtag #SoberCurious in your feed recently. Maybe you haven’t and just decided to cut back or quit drinking alcohol on your own. Either way, it’s becoming increasingly popular to cut back, take an entire month off, or even permanently give alcohol the boot. So, if you’re wondering how to stop drinking alcohol, the good news is you are in good company and there are plenty of ways to get started.

To that end, we put together this quick guide filled with tips and tricks that we’ve picked up over more than a decade helping people on their journey to sobriety. Hopefully, you can use some or all of them to create a plan that works for you.

Tips on How to Stop Drinking Alcohol

Look at why you drink

If you want to cut back or stop drinking, it’s helpful to start by asking yourself what role alcohol plays in your life. Understanding why you drink is often more important than how much or how often you drink.

That’s because for many, drinking is their way to cope with things like emotional pain, relationship problems, anxiety, stress, and a host of other issues. Over time, it can get harder to face challenges like these without alcohol, which often prevents them from exploring better ways to manage their emotions and address these issues in healthy, productive ways.

Most, if not all, physical symptoms subside within a few days. Psychological and emotional symptoms may persist for several weeks to months for heavy users – which is why detoxing off weed can be more of a mental challenge than a physical one.

Make a list of reasons why you want to quit

If you want to cut back or stop drinking, it’s helpful to start by asking yourself what role alcohol plays in your life. Understanding why you drink is often more important than how much or how often you drink.

That’s because for many, drinking is their way to cope with things like emotional pain, relationship problems, anxiety, stress, and a host of other issues. Over time, it can get harder to face challenges like these without alcohol, which often prevents them from exploring better ways to manage their emotions and address these issues in healthy, productive ways.

Make a list of reasons why you want to quit

Even before Dry January and #SoberCurious were trending topics, plenty of people were already saying goodbye to alcohol and all its negative side effects, including:

  • Poor sleep
  • Hangovers
  • Weight gain
  • Digestive issues
  • Memory problems
  • Interpersonal conflict(s)

If you’ve made the decision to quit drinking, you probably have a good reason – in fact, you may have a dozen good reasons. That’s great! Write them down on a piece of paper or make a list in your phone, whatever works for you so that you can always have the list handy to remind yourself why you want to quit in case your motivation wavers.

Identify what triggers you to drink and try to avoid temptation

Triggers are whatever makes you want to reach for a drink, including people, places, situations, feelings, and more. Some are obvious – for example, walking into a bar is probably a trigger for most. But others are going to be unique to you.

Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can make things easier on yourself by avoiding them until you’ve established better coping strategies and checked off some other to-dos on this list. If you can’t avoid them, at least be honest with yourself about your desire to drink and go over the list of reasons why you wanted to quit drinking in the first place.

Don’t keep your goals a secret

You don’t have to tell everyone in your life, but it’s going to be easier if you let those around you know about your decision to stop drinking. Kindly ask them not to offer you drinks, and, if possible, not to drink around you for a while.

This not only helps keep you accountable, it also clues your friends and family in on why you’re not drinking, which they’re probably going to notice. And who knows, you may even influence someone else in your life to give up drinking as well.

Have a plan to deal with social situations

For many people, socializing and drinking go hand in hand. So, before you head out, it’s smart to prepare for the kinds of comments and questions you’re going to encounter. Put together a short script of how you’ll say, ‘no thank you’ and try to anticipate follow-up questions you might have to deal with.

Some people also find it helpful to replace alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic lookalikes to help with social situations. For example, most people will assume a glass of seltzer or tonic water with a few is an alcoholic drink, so having that in your hand can help you avoid drink offers and awkward conversations about why you’re not drinking.

Find healthy ways to replace old habits

Cutting back or quitting drinking is a major change, and it can be hard to do if you continue doing all the same things you used to, especially if you’re used to drinking while you do them. Try replacing some of these with good habits – take a walk, go to the gym, or find some new hobbies or skills you want to try out. Basically, find something you like doing and run with it.

Celebrate your progress and don’t sweat slip-ups

Giving up alcohol can be tough, and it’s a big deal worth celebrating. Set up short-term goals and milestones so you can reward yourself and celebrate your progress.

Equally important: Don’t get discouraged and don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up. It’s better to learn from your mistakes and move on than to dwell on them.

Keep track of the positive changes in your life

After you’ve cut out alcohol for a while, you’ll to start to notice positive changes to your health, appearance, and hopefully the way you think and feel. Many people end up shedding a few pounds, sleeping better, and discovering they have more energy than they did before. Additionally, the cost of drinks can add up fast, so you’re probably going to notice you have some extra spending money around now!

Educate yourself about the alcohol detox process

If you are a heavy drinker and you think you may be physically dependent on alcohol, consult a health professional before you try to stop drinking. Stopping abruptly could lead to serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms that could be life-threatening without medical support.

Even for those who don’t drink as much, it’s normal to feel anxious, restless, grumpy, or experience headaches and difficulty sleeping for the first 5-7 days without alcohol. However, if you experience symptoms such as trembling hands, sweating, nausea and/or vomiting when you don’t drink, talk to a health professional before discontinuing your alcohol use.

Wondering if your drinking is a problem? Take our Alcohol Addiction Assessment now.

Can you take medication to stop drinking?

While it’s a little more nuanced than just popping a pill, there are medications that can help you stop drinking when used in conjunction with psychological counseling and therapy, a technique called Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT treatment for short.

Enterhealth offers MAT treatment using medications such as Vivitrol (long-lasting Naltrexone), Campral (acamprosate), and Antabuse (disulfiram).

Learn more about MAT treatment and anti-addiction medications at Enterhealth.

 If You Want to Stop Drinking, Enterhealth Can Help

At Enterhealth, we understand that cutting back on how much you drink or quitting altogether can be hard – especially when you go about it by yourself. The good news is this: whether you just want a little help or you feel you need the full support of an inpatient stay, we have the right treatment option(s) for you.

We offer comprehensive, evidence-based rehabilitation services at our inpatient rehab facility in Van Alstyne and at our outpatient center located in the Park Cities neighborhood of Dallas. This includes:

  • Medically assisted withdrawal (medical detox)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
  • Supportive Outpatient Programs (SOP)
  • Maintenance Outpatient Programs (MOP)
  • Medication management

Call us toll-free at 800.388.4601 or fill out our contact form today to discover how we can help you or someone you love.