How to stop drinking alcohol

how to stop drinking alcoholAre you trying to decide if you should stop drinking alcohol? Maybe you’ve already tried a few times to just cut down, and drink more sensibly like other people seem to.

There will be many different factors which contribute to your alcohol consumption, so in order to stop drinking so much, you might need to address some of these.

It may be stress or anxiety, depression or boredom, perhaps social pressure or relationship problems. If you can identify that you often drink alcohol in response to some of these, then your first step is to look for different solutions to these issues.

So how do you stop drinking? The first thing to look at is:

Consider your motivation for stopping

Why do you actually want to stop? What are the consequences of your alcohol consumption? Weigh up the pros and cons of your drinking, the costs versus the benefits (write them down here if you like).

  • What are the negative effects of your drinking? Be honest here – look at your relationships, your health, job, self-esteem, depression etc.
  • Next what are the good things you expect to happen when you stop drinking, how will your life be better?
  • Finally what are the negative aspects of quitting? What is putting you off the idea? This is important because you will have to find some way to solve these concerns.

You need to be reminding yourself about this list of your motivations every time you think about having a drink. The next stage is to find out:

Are you physically dependent on alcohol?

For the sake of safety, if you are drinking all day from the moment you wake up in order to avoid your hangovers, then you will need some sort of medical supervision to help you through the detox. So if you’re drinking this much you should see your doctor before you plan to stop drinking alcohol. If you won’t do that, then you MUST try and cut down a bit before you stop completely.

So you’ve worked out why you want to stop, and if you can stop safely. Now what? You need to:

Develop a plan for how you can avoid those urges to drink.

Read our earlier article on coping with alcohol cravings first. It will give you a few techniques to help you. One thing’s for sure, will-power alone is not enough to stop you from drinking.

You need to work out what are your ‘high-risk’ situations, what are your ‘triggers’ that make you want to drink? Some of these can be avoided, so make plans as to how you can avoid them. For those that clearly can’t be avoided, you have to start thinking about how you can deal with them differently. Make your own relapse prevention strategy.

Now sit back and wait for sobriety.

Ok, so it might not be as easy as all that (of course not), you may well slip and have a drink when you weren’t planning to. You haven’t failed, it’s just a mistake, you let that old habit sneak up and catch you unawares.

This obviously isn’t going to change over night. And realistically, this is where you might need the help of a professional. You will need to replace all that drinking with other activities, which means you need to set yourself some achievable goals.

The same goes for your feelings, learning how you can cope with difficult feelings without alcohol will take some time. Alcohol has been your way of dealing with everything difficult in your life, so you are going to have to find some other ways to cope, basically.

You should regularly review what is working and what’s not, what things are still tripping you up and most importantly, what benefits you are seeing. Remind yourself of your original reasons for wanting to stop drinking alcohol. And of course, if you find that you need some help, try a counselling session.


4,817 Responses to “How to stop drinking alcohol”

  1. michael says:

    Am nine weeks sober and am recognising how much of a grip booze had on me………I feel relief:)….don’t give up people…..you weren’t born with a beer in your hand……you just need to have sum faith…..and you will start to feel better in soooo many ways…..don’t give up the fight!

  2. Ian says:

    I’ve just admitted to myself that I’m an alcoholic. That was a big step because for years I just thought I was the kind of guy who likes partying and banter. Its not just partying and banter though any more, when you take a few days holiday and end up drinking the whole time. literally, from the moment you get up to even out the hangover, then a couple before you go to bed in the hope you can sleep it off and be normal for the world the next day. I don’t have a bad life, but I feel ashamed at myself and how badly I live it. Every day is precious and I’ve just wasted a whole load of them lazing around, drinking and not living. When I get past 2-3 days without booze I feel amazing, like I’m reset and ready for the world. Then I get the Friday feeling and I’m smashed until Sunday night, feel like crap Monday, paranoid, anxious, not functioning properly. Looking at people with glazed eyes wondering if they realise how thick I feel. Not the same bubbly person they said goodbye to on Friday lol. I know I’m not crazy, at least I hope not! But I know, I really know, that I’ve got a problem. I

  3. Phindane Khumalo says:

    Hi, I work under a lot of pressure, fighting for the right decisions every time. VERY UNABLE TO TOLERATE WRONG ADVISES AND SUGGESTIONS. End up personalising things and work. BRINGING MY WORK PROBLEMS NAND CHALLENGES to my family. Becoming very tired and slleepy and daily indulging on alcohol. It gets worse if I got badly treated at work. Often requested to fill other peoples shoes at work as they can not perform. Not being given a fair opportunity toexpress my views.

    Always feeling unfarily treated then alcohol and m family always worried as am always tired and can not help optimally with myresponsibilities as a loving and carrying father though my children get all they want except for the attention they deserve.

  4. Hash says:

    Hey guys,

    I’m an alcoholic, My girl and family have no idea that I drink so much. I would buy bottles of vodka, drink it straight, pass out, wake up and start drinking again. No food in between, I would eat one meal a day but that meal would be a monster and not alot of water. Doing that, I would have monster hung overs.

    I would tell myself everyday on my way to buying more vodka, that this is the last time, I even laugh at myself and know that ill go and just buy more when I run out.

    I’d hide the empty bottles in my drawer cause I didn’t want anyone to notice how much I actually drink. Today, while still suffering a hung over I decided to remove the bottles and throw them not as an act to stop drinking but to make room for more bottles. The number of bottles were ridiculous and I knew I had a problem. I threw the bottles and promised myself to never drink again. 1 day sober its not gonna be easy but I just keep reminding myself of what it does to you, the fucking trembling, stomach pain, doing stupid shit, hurting others and not remembering what you did. Worst of all the fucking shame.

    Anyways, good luck to everyone, it really does help knowing that you’re not alone.

  5. chris says:

    I’m destroying myself with drink.

    I’m at the point now where I am drinking a bottle of vodka and s bottle of red wine.

    Topping it off, when I get blind drunk I go on Internet and gamble. I can’t go on. I need help but am so terrified of talking to my family about it. They would be so disappointed. .

    Can a gp help me before I completely destroy my whole life?

    • Lesley says:

      Hi Chris,
      It sounds pretty bad for you and if you really want to, and I mean REALLY want to, then you have to seek help. Now. Reach out to someone in your community, seek out groups, see your doctor.

      You may think you are hiding this from your family, but most often, they already know you have a problem. You can only lie and make excuses and cancel appointments so many times, and then everyone guesses there’s a problem.

      I hope you get this and that you know there are people out here who care and want you to get better and you are the only person who can make something good happen for yourself. I’ll watch out for more posts from you.
      Lesley

    • Lesley says:

      Hi again Chris,
      There is something online called Rational Recovery, and it talks about the ‘addiction voice’ and what is really YOU. Please look it up, because it is really powerful, and you will realize how much the addiction itself talks you into using over and over.

      You see, you have to realize that your addiction is not the real YOU. The addiction tells you how much of a loser and failure and disappointment you are, so you feel so crummy about yourself that you think you might as well just get drunk.

      Do yourself a favour and read up on this, because you are not your addiction. It is something that has invaded you. Make it shut up!!
      Lesley

  6. mike says:

    im in a bad place again, drugs and drinking, im so sick of this so depressed need a change

  7. michael says:

    Im four weeks sober……you little ripper!!

  8. michael says:

    hello im just reading these posts and thinking how much drinking, when its causing anguish, plays on the minds of those who abuse it.Someone said something that stuck with me, which for me rings true, in that if you abuse something….it will abuse you right back(tit for tat, ying and yang)……you perpetuate the cycle of gloom by convincing yourself your not strong enough……this i’m afraid is bollocks……you are without a shadow of a doubt ‘strong enough to kick this mutherfucker’…….and you will…..
    Have a plan of attack….write it down…..consider your approach….and give yourself ample space to be spaced out, mellon collie, angry, fucked off with the world in general or just plain feeling odd…this is your mind adjusting and your body too…..it does not last forever……if you allow for this god awful transition to occur you will start to feel better…..but again its about gritting your teeth and saying out aloud I have had it with this shit hole ive lowered myself into…..im getting myself the fuck out!
    The universe has a funny way of aligning itself…….you cannot control the universe….but you can control your mind

  9. Pauly says:

    LAME!
    5 days I lasted, 5 days sober, the longest I’ve lasted in a couple of years. My emotions went rampant from anxious and paranoid to depressed to joyful. I know that sounds psychotic but all the time I was aware it was a withdrawal thing. As soon as I felt fine I couldn’t walk past the bottle shop. While drinking I keep work and family going; but I’m living life as a blunt knife and it takes an extraordinary effort just to maintain normalcy. Good luck to you all as it’s a bugger of a thing. I have to also say that I often find it helpful to focus on the good in myself-sorry it’s really soppy but alcohol attacks that strength and when you know it at the very least damage is reduced. No booze in the house I’ll jump back on the wagon.

  10. ruth says:

    I really dont know what to do anymore alcohol has taken over my life.i tried so many times to stop but go back again to drinking.i dont drink in the morning but come afternoon im on it.i want to leave a normal life not depending on alcohol to be happy.ive done disgusting dins whilst drunk pls help how to stop dis plss

  11. Lee says:

    I go on serious benders, I would say roughly every month, I don’t even know what triggers me, I wake up, go to the shop for some vodka and get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible, this makes me feel like an idiot which leads me to drink the following day, I don’t even enjoy it, I just pass out. It feels like self harm.

  12. Mary Anne says:

    Hi I had lots of help on here a few years ago and managed to get myself sorted. I wanted to continue supporting others on the site but didn’t feel I should as I didn’t give up alcohol – just the drunkenness. I realised that it was my life making me drink rather than the alcohol causing problems and I wanted to get my life in order. I did successfully for a long time but more recently I have been let down badly and feeling really sad and low – so the drinking has got worse again. As of today I want to change things around again and want to go 30 days (for starters) without a drink (only been managing 4). I was quite ill a couple of years ago and know that booze is only going to send me back there so, no more booze! I am the only one who can help me and I intend to sort my life out so that it is worth getting up in the morning, sober. Good luck to everyone fighting this battle.

    • sal says:

      Hi my name is sal.. I have a big problem with alcohol addiction… I tried to stop, I go for months without drinking but once I have a small taste u go back to my old way for the day of course just drink till I can’t remember how I got home.. now I find myself in the mercy of marijuana to the point I need it every 5 hours :( .. I’m freaking out can u please give me some advise..

      • Mary Anne says:

        Hi Sal, I’m really sorry to hear your problems and, if the weed problem is new, it sounds as though it’s getting worse. Have you spoken to someone? Your GP, a friend? It seems as though you need support locally – and as soon as you can.

        Believe in yourself! You can do it but I think you need to get some help and don’t have that ‘small taste’!
        With love and healing MA x

    • Don says:

      Hi Mary Anne!
      I remember you. I suggest you go back and read your own post from 21 June 2011.
      It will hopefully inspire you………good luck.
      Keep posting.
      Don

      • Mary Anne says:

        Hi Don! Thank you and how did you remember my post?! I have come a long way from there and a lot of water under the bridge. Feeling really good again now and well back on track.

        How are you doing? You must have been clear a long while now?

        You are amazingly supportive – thank you again
        MA xx

  13. Noelle says:

    Hi
    I just recently started drinking heavily about a year ago. It started as social drinking then it went to a glass or two of wine at home to drinking straight vodka everyday. I realized that I was getting out of control and called myself calling back by switching to wine(everyday). It didn’t help because I just drank more quantities of wine. Somehow I landed right back to vodka. I had no desire to stop because I wasn’t hurting anyone. But Over the last few months my drinking has been the worst. I drink so much at a time that I black out. Can’t remover anything from the previous day. Last night was probably the scariest it’s gotta which is why I’m on this site. I got drunk in a bar that I never go to with men I didn’t know. Although nothing sexually happened I woke up this morning feeling ashamed. I drove home with no shoes, threw up and cried uncontrollably all while my 12 year old daughter looked on. She had to help me in bed and cleaned up my mess. I’ve never felt so low and ashamed. I’m lost right now.

    • Lesley says:

      Dear Noelle,
      Oh my goodness, what an awful visual your story brought up to me – of my own daughter cleaning up my barf and cleaning up me – the shame, shame, shame, of being a drunk and having one’s child, one’s precious child that used to be at our breast, that we made all kinds of promises to, now relegated to cleaning up our puke. How totally effing sad, isn’t it?

      Yes, there we are at our child’s birth, happy and wishing everything wonderful for them in the entire world: next thing you know, they are making excuses for us and cleaning up our puke.

      Let me tell you something – I got pregnant with a man I was living with, and he was happy, and things were great. Then, about halfway through, he suddenly changed his mind – moved back in with mummy and daddy – said he wasn’t sure if that’s what he wanted after all. I never stopped wanting my little girl – I just didn’t realize how hard it was going to be on my own.

      But some things were good, and I tried to not to let the demon of alcohol into my life, but I wasn’t strong enough against it. When you hear about ‘spirits’, (hard liquor), it sounds as if they only exist there, but that isn’t true; all alcohol has spirits, alcohol content is actually the amount of ‘spirits’ it contains. Alcohol is evil. This very email has been hijacked three times now while I’ve been trying to write it!!! They don’t want you to hear anything good!! But someone very good recently said to me “Jesus has ALL authority!!” Period.

      You have to be stronger than strong, for your child, and for yourself, and CLAIM your right to a GOOD life, and REBUKE all evil forces from your life. Find a good group to get involved with. This is MORTALLY important for you. Loving you now, Lesley.

    • Pauly says:

      I love to be drunk…but it leads to unbelievable lows in my life.
      I remained drink free for 5 years once and it was possible because I sunk so low. I know you can use the pitiful times as inspiration, a place you never want to go back to, it can be a springboard. I know this is true, and even though I know it’s true I still drink too much. I struggle daily not to wipe myself out. Madness!
      Good luck

  14. Lsoko says:

    Hi,

    This is my first time acknowledging I have a problem.

    My problem is not habitual drinking, I am able to refuse a drink, however when I do start drinking I never stop until the bar closes, or I run out of money.

    My levels of consumption are quite frankly ridiculous. This affects me in a few ways. For example, this past saturday I drank somewhere in the region of 20-24 double whiskeys (a total of about 2 bottles). And continued to drink all day sunday too, I have no idea what my total consumption was.

    Sometimes I have huge problems by starting to drink as soon as I wake up in the morning, and will continue until I have drunk everything in sight again.
    I am spending incredible amounts of money and often black out.

    My hangovers (if they are indeed hangovers, or maybe withdrawal symptoms) are unbearable, sweats, nausea, and perhaps worst of all a general feeling of dread and remorse for what I have done. It is now Tuesday night and I am still feeling depressed and anxious.

    The damage I am doing affects me greatly. I am not violent, sleazy, aggressive or badly behaved when I drink, but my inability to stop is starting to affect me. The more I drink, the more my tolerance increases, which in turn costs my body and bank account an incredible amount.

    Is anyone else in the same, or similar position to me? I would appreciate the advice.

    L.

    • Noelle says:

      I can soooo relate and I too am acknowledging my problem for the first time.

    • boy103 says:

      I can completely relate to this I am in the exact same predicament. I too can refuse a drink but when I do decide to drink I can’t stop and I think it’s a slippery slop as alcohol is a progressive thing and it may get to the stage where you might never want to stop which is a daunting thought. I’ve tried moderation drinking for the last 7 years and it’s always been the same outcome drinking myself into oblivion so I think this best thing is sobriety at least then my life will change..for the better and not for the worst.

  15. libra26 says:

    Hi, new to the site but see myself in all the posts. May we all tap into our inner strength and get over this awful disease

  16. michael says:

    Hello im just reading these posts and am recognising a similar story to my own…..and have gone one week today without drinking and just thought I would state it for the record….

    • Lesley says:

      hello Micheal,
      A week to me is as good as a month!!! You are doing great!!!! Let nothing deter you from your path, because you know what you have to do, right? Every single day you wake up without a hangover, or a drug hangover, is a day to rejoice, in the name of Jesus Christ!!!!!!!!!! Loving you now, Lesley xxx

  17. justine says:

    im in such a mess!!!! if i know im not drinking one night,im in such a bad mood!!!! drunk now,but so need to stop.xx

  18. fiona says:

    Hi everyone,
    im a functioning alcoholic for 20 years beer is my drink, ive been in hospital twice because of it .first time I had a blackout and fell down the stairs from the subway busted my whole face, no work for 1 week. Second time I tripped going down to the subway and busted my foot out of work for 2 weeks all because of the drink. I drink 12 cans every nite of the week. it effects my job, my friendships, my health, my husband is fed up seeing me with a can in my hand all the time, as I always argue with him all the time. I feel very alone in this and would do anything to stop this disease. I may stop for 4 days sometimes but then something will happen at work or in life to get me stressed and ill go straight to the store and by beer and im back at the beginning again. I don’t know what to do to stop im so tired of it and how it effect me and my families lives. I feel if I don’t stop it is going to kill me

  19. Marina says:

    Hello Everyone,
    I’ve been drinking since I was 16 and now I’m 31. My drinking problem started I feel once I turned 21 because I could purchase it on my own. I drink mostly beer, no hard stuff but I can drink up to 10 beers in a night and I am disgusted with myself and ashamed almost everyday because no one at work knows my secret, and my family has no idea how bad it’s gotten. My husband is the only one who sees it firsthand and he rarely says anything because he loves me so much and I get defensive when he does. Usually I only drink Friday thru Sunday but there are weeks where I start Thursday and drink thru Monday. I’ll drink anywhere between 4-10 beers but usually 7 or 8. If I have any liquor in the house I’ll sneak shots of it once I’m buzzed and hide the bottle back in the cupboard so my husband doesn’t see it, even though I know he does. At this point I’ve been saturating my body with beer for so long (I’m 5’2″ 127lbs) that it’s majorly affected my sleep. I’ve had insomnia off and on for 7 years but it’s at its worst now. I’ve had to take a whole week off of work because I was not sleeping AT ALL after I tried to quit drinking. Anxiety and insomnia are my main withdrawal symptons and I’ve been on xanax and some other pills for sleep and anxiety. They help but then I face becoming dependent on those too! It’s so hard and I want to be able to not have to drink just because it’s the weekend but it’s been my routine for so long that I reason with myself every Friday and end up drinking all weekend. I don’t really get hungover but I just feel tired the next day and can’t wait until 5′oclock so I can start drinking again. On mornings when I do feel real shitty I drink a few beers or whatever I have in the house just to even myself out. I feel so disgusting and guilty and I find myself wondering if the checker at the grocery store does the same thing? Or maybe one of my co-workers shares my problem? Then I wonder why I can’t be like the normal people who just go thru life without the obsession of drinking, having a few beers at a barbecue or at a restaurant then going home and not having to drink thru the night? I can control myself but it’s really hard and I usually give in because it’s easier and more “fun”. Yeah right, fun. Thanks for listening, this is the first time I’ve put this in writing and I’m glad I did. The idea of going sober forever is terrifying so I’m telling myself I won’t drink until Fathers Day… let’s see how I do.

    • John says:

      You basically told my story for the last 3 or 4 years… verbatim. It started with 4 or 5 and now i am up to 10 or 12 (usually 12) and then i want more. I tell myself in the morning “ok no more i am done” then by the end of the day i go and pick up more. So how did you do with your goal of fathers day? I told myself i wasnt going to drink on father day but then i thought hmmm its fathers day i should enjoy it right? I didn’t drink yesterday and am trying to not do it for 30 days to maybe “reset” myself in hopes i can be one of those folks who can stop at one or two social drinks. I really want a beer though and i am getting off work so i figured i would google “I want a beer stop me” and that led me here. Sober forever is very terrifying, i enjoy drinking, but i am beginning to think can i enjoy drinking? Good luck to you.

      • Marina says:

        Hi John wow yes you sound just like me… I’ve actually gone sober for 30 days before and it does help but I think I was only able to do it for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, meaning I knew I’d be able to drink again. I reason with myself about drinking ALL THE TIME and I’ll cut back for a while then I gradually get back up to 8-10 beers. The week before last I did really good I had 3 beers Friday, 4 on Saturday, then on Fathers Day I pretty much drank throughout the day because we were celebrating, right? I actually drank every day last week about 5-6 beers each day then I totally binged Friday-Sunday. I’m feeling so exhausted and down on myself right now. Have you read the article here on sleep John? How do you sleep? I read going to bed drunk or with alcohol in you can actually deprived you of your REM sleep! How are you doing on your 30 days sober? I’m telling myself I’m not going to drink all week as of now…

    • scott says:

      im a drunk dont do anything i know i am missing out.married 35 yrs . great daughter some one helpme

      • Lesley says:

        Hi Scott,
        You sound like the female version of me, only I’ve already lost my daughter, and I don’t believe we can ever have a relationship again. It’s just gone on for waaay too long now – no recovery expected at this point.

        Alcohol is a true demon, that takes and takes and takes. Your self-respect, your personal pride (caring what you look like!), your dreams, and for me, it has taken my little girl. She is now a totally different person. I have no idea.

        But Scott, it sounds like you really any truly need to get in touch with someone in your own community – push pride to the side and please contact AA or your reverend or SOMEONE, just Please, DO IT!!

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