Quitting alcohol can be tough, especially if you have an alcohol addiction. However, it is the best decision you can make if you have an alcohol problem.
Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of a range of health issues, including high blood pressure, liver disease, learning problems, and increased risk of certain types of cancer (e.g liver, colon, mouth or breast cancer).
This is one of many reasons why it’s so important to assess your drinking patterns and minimise the risk of dependence and health issues.
If you wish to stop drinking altogether, our friendly team of experts at Help4Addiction are here to help. Read on to learn more about stopping drinking – including some helpful tips on how you can give up drinking.
Before you seek treatment for alcohol addiction, it’s important to recognise potential signs that you may have an alcohol problem. However, it’s important to note that not all of these signs are surefire ways of diagnosing alcohol addiction.
If you think you have an alcohol problem, we recommend that you seek professional support, whether it be speaking to a doctor or an addiction specialist. Likewise, our team at Help4Addiction can help you overcome your addiction. Read on for some indications that you may have a problem with alcohol.
If you find yourself drinking more alcohol than usual, or abusing alcohol/ binge drinking more frequently, you could have a problem with alcohol. Alcohol abuse is a milder form of alcohol use disorder – which can advance to dependence, the more severe form of AUD.
Alcohol abuse is characterised by excessive drinking. If you abuse alcohol, you are not alone – 18.1% of adults were reported to have been drinking at an increased risk near the end of October 2021 – meaning roughly a million people were drinking above the ‘safe’ limits of alcohol.
Drinking an unhealthy amount of alcohol in a short space of time can have lasting effects – causing a range of physical symptoms and psychological symptoms.
Check out this helpful page on alcohol unit guidelines to learn more about alcohol units and drinking recommendations.
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If you are dependent on alcohol, you will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. This is due to the effects alcohol has on the neurotransmitters in your central nervous system.
Alcohol causes your GABA levels to rise, which can leave you feeling calm and relaxed. Drinking alcohol can also lower the glutamate levels in your body, which ultimately decreases levels of excitability.
However, long-term alcohol abuse can lead to your body getting used to these changes. This means that your body may struggle to increase GABA levels or decrease glutamate levels, causing an imbalance.
When you stop drinking alcohol, the GABA receptors will still be less responsive, worsened by the increase in glutamate.
Now you understand why you experience withdrawal symptoms, let’s explore what withdrawal symptoms may feel like. You may experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms when withdrawing from alcohol, for example:
Alcohol withdrawal can be difficult – especially if you have severe alcohol dependence. This is why we recommend that you undergo a medical detox with medical supervision.
There is also a risk that you may experience severe withdrawal – for example, delirium tremens, which involves hallucinations.
A key sign of alcohol use disorder is the lack of control over drinking alcohol. This can include the lack of control over when you start drinking, when you stop drinking, or how much alcohol you drink.
You may start craving alcohol once you stop drinking, which can lead to you drinking more alcohol to satisfy the craving.
If you are dependent on alcohol, you may have tried to stop drinking in the past – or had the desire to quit drinking, but struggled to do so.
When speaking to a healthcare professional about your drinking, you may be asked whether you continue drinking despite it causing issues with friends and family, or whether it is interfering with your ability to conduct day-to-day tasks such as caring for children.
Many people will abuse alcohol as a way of numbing unpleasant emotions. If you drink alcohol to block out feelings or as a coping mechanism, this is an indication of a drinking problem.
For example, you may drink to:
However, it’s important to know that drinking alcohol does not solve these problems – instead, it may mask them for a while. Drinking alcohol as a coping mechanism can also lead to alcohol dependency in the long term.
Giving up alcohol is essentially a lifestyle change. Changing your lifestyle can be difficult whether you are dependent on alcohol or not – however, we are going to give you some practical tips that can help you stop drinking.
One of the most important things you can do when quitting drinking is to keep busy. If you are bored, you may be more tempted to drink alcohol.
This is why it’s important to make plans, especially in the early stages. This could include attending events with friends and family or starting a new hobby that doesn’t involve alcohol.
Keeping active can be helpful when stopping drinking, and can help to avoid temptation. Although there is limited research data out there, there is promising evidence to suggest that exercise can be effective when treating alcohol use disorder.
If you wish to quit drinking alcohol, you should begin to develop an understanding of your drinking routines – for example, how much you drink, when you’re more likely to drink, your alcohol triggers, and whether you are a ‘heavy drinker’ or not.
Harmful drinking can include a multitude of habits – for example, drinking too much, drinking on an empty stomach, drinking too much in a short space of time, or simply reacting badly to alcohol.
Once you identify your harmful drinking habits, you can begin to change them. For example, you may begin to drink slower, drink less, and eventually, stop drinking altogether.
The NHS guidelines on alcohol consumption state that you should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week. This alcohol intake should be spread across three or more days. Drinking too much alcohol in a short space of time can have many negative consequences.
If you find yourself unable to avoid alcohol for at least two consecutive days, then you should assess your drinking patterns. Try to quit drinking alcohol for a couple of days a week, and have several alcohol-free days per week.
Instead of drinking alcoholic drinks, why not drink soda or another non-alcoholic beverage you enjoy instead?
This can be helpful if you don’t have a physical dependence. However, if you are dependent on alcohol, you may struggle to go just one day without drinking. In this instance, we recommend a medical detox – read on to learn more.
It can be difficult to stop drinking, especially if you attempt to quit alcohol ‘cold turkey’. At Help4Addiction, we never recommend quitting drinking ‘cold turkey’ – when you stop drinking suddenly without medical assistance.
Whether you detox from home or detox in a rehab clinic, our team at Help4Addiction can help you. Check out this helpful page about our at-home detox options or explore your alcohol detox optionswith Help4Addiction. You can also learn more about the benefits of alcohol detoxification here.
A medical detox involves detoxing with the help of a medical professional. A doctor or other medical professional may prescribe medication that can ease the withdrawal symptoms, and monitor your symptoms for your safety.
Detoxification aims to break alcohol dependence, allowing you to progress onto further stages of alcohol rehab.
We always recommend that you complete an alcohol detox as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment programme if you want to stop drinking for good. This involves therapy and secondary treatment.
Therapy has many benefits during rehab – for example, it can improve your confidence and treat existing mental health issues.
Likewise, therapy can provide you with a further understanding of your addiction. Talking therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can teach you effective coping techniques that can ultimately manage and prevent relapse.
When you leave rehab, the support doesn’t have to end. You may continue to receive ongoing support in the form of secondary treatment. Secondary treatment can streamline the transition from rehab to your day-to-day life – after all, you may struggle to adjust to life after rehab.
At Help4Addiction, we understand how difficult it can be to quit alcohol for good. This is why we dedicate ourselves to helping people receive the treatment they need to stop drinking.
Chat with us today to discuss your treatment options and receive confidential advice. We can listen to your preferences and needs to find the right rehab programme at the right rehab clinic for you.
Remember that you never have to deal with addiction alone; there is support out there for you.
Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.
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