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Alcohol Problems: How to Stop Drinking


Table of Contents


Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.   Alcohol Problems: How to Stop Drinking

You can take steps today to stop drinking. Your first step might be to see your doctor, contact a support group, or set a date in the near future to stop. While some people can stop drinking on their own, others need medical help to manage the physical process of withdrawal.

If you think you have an addiction to alcohol, talk to your doctor about whether you need to withdraw from alcohol under medical supervision. Your doctor can give you medicine that will help you safely withdraw from alcohol. Other medicines might be prescribed later to help you stay sober. With a doctor's help, withdrawal from alcohol is safer.

Stopping alcohol use can:

Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  What resources are available to help you cut down on or stop alcohol use on your own?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  Why should I stop drinking?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  How to stop alcohol use
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  Where to get more information

What? - What is the medical information or key concepts related to the action?  What resources are available to help you cut down on or stop alcohol use on your own?

You need education and emotional support when you stop drinking, especially if you abuse alcohol or are alcohol-dependent. Some resources that can help you stop drinking include:

You can contact these organizations and health professionals by phone or by accessing their websites online.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. If you want to stop drinking, you can seek help with any of the following: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), your family doctor or counselor, a local hospital or alcohol treatment facility, or a local or national alcohol treatment hotline, which you can find in your local phone directory.

    1. True

      This answer is correct.

      Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) organizes meetings all over the world to help those who have a desire to stop drinking. You can also receive education, information, and support to help you stop drinking by asking your doctor, calling an alcohol treatment hotline, or asking your local hospital or alcohol treatment facility.

    2. False

      This answer is incorrect.

      Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) organizes meetings all over the world to help those who have a desire to stop drinking. You can also receive education, information, and support to help you stop drinking by asking your doctor, calling an alcohol treatment hotline, or asking your local hospital or alcohol treatment facility.


Why? - Why the action is important?  Why should I stop drinking?

Stopping your use of alcohol can improve your general health and quality of life. It can also increase the quality of life of the people you live with and those who care about you. You decrease your chances of developing serious health problems associated with alcohol abuse or dependence. You reduce your chances of injuring yourself or others in alcohol-related accidents. You might also improve relationships with your parents, children, and spouse or other close loved ones. Not drinking also is a good way for you to model responsible behavior for younger people, particularly children and teens.

You can take steps today to stop drinking. Your first step might be to contact a support group, see your doctor, or set a date in the near future to stop. While some people can stop drinking on their own, others need medical help to manage the physical process of withdrawal.

If you think you have an addiction to alcohol, talk to your doctor about whether you need to withdraw from alcohol under medical supervision. Your doctor can give you medicine that will help you safely withdraw from alcohol. Other medicines might be prescribed later to help you stay sober. With a doctor's help, withdrawal from alcohol is safer.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. If you think you have a problem with alcohol abuse or dependence, you should stop drinking.

    1. True

      This answer is correct.

      Continuing to drink alcohol, even if you do not frequently do so, can lead to problems with your relationships, job performance, and health and to possible legal consequences (such as being arrested for drinking and driving). If alcohol has interfered with your ability to do daily tasks or with daily function, even if you only drink occasionally, you might need to stop drinking.

    2. False

      This answer is incorrect.

      Continuing to drink when alcohol use has caused even minor problems in your relationships or job performance or has caused legal problems (such as being arrested for drinking and driving) usually leads to additional and possibly more severe problems in your life. By stopping drinking altogether, you should significantly improve the quality of your life and the lives of those who care about you.


How? - Learn the steps involved in taking action.  How to stop alcohol use

Follow these steps to stop drinking alcohol.

  1. Identify your reasons. Make a list of the reasons you want to cut down on or stop drinking alcohol . You might want to ask a trusted friend or family member to help you make the list complete. Keep this list so that you can renew your commitment from time to time.
  2. Make a plan. Set a date to stop drinking. Make a plan to stop drinking alcohol . Post it in a place where you can see it often, such as on your refrigerator door or bathroom mirror. You might want to put it in more than one place. You also might want to put it on a card and keep it in your purse or wallet.
  3. Share your plan with others. Talk with your family members and trusted friends about your plan. Let them know how they can help you to be successful.
  4. Evaluate your progress. In your plan, identify when you will evaluate your progress. Try a plan for 30 days so that the new behavior becomes a habit. Review your reasons for stopping alcohol use. Write down the benefits that you are seeing. If you drank after successfully stopping (relapse), it does not mean that you have failed. Relapse is common. Begin again, using your experience to help you learn how to stick with your plan this time.
  5. Continue your new behaviors. After trying this plan for 30 days, try it for another 30 days. Like anything else in life, it is not easy to change behavior, even when it might be in your best interest. But the more you practice new behaviors, the more likely it is that they will become habits. If you try this plan but are not successful, talk with your doctor about other ways to stop drinking alcohol.

Other things you can do

The following are other ideas that can help in your plan to stop using alcohol:

Test Your Knowledge

  1. To stop drinking alcohol, you need to:

    1. Identify your reasons.

      All of these answers are correct.

      Identifying your reasons for stopping is the first step. You might want to improve your health, relationships, or job performance. You might want to stop because you have risk factors for alcohol abuse or dependency.

    2. Make a plan.

      All of these answers are correct.

      Making a plan is the second step in stopping. Decide when you are going to stop drinking. Set a time to evaluate your plan to see whether it is working and whether you are able to stop drinking on your own. Help from organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or individual therapy is often needed to help you reach your goal.

    3. Evaluate your progress.

      All of these answers are correct.

      It is very important to schedule a time period to evaluate your plan. At frequent intervals, evaluate how well your plan is working and whether your goals need adjusting. Participating in structured group counseling or individual therapy often helps you reach your goal of stopping drinking.


Where? - Other resources and organizations that can help you take action.  Where to get more information

If you have questions, take this information with you when you visit your doctor.

If you try this plan to stop using alcohol and are not successful, talk with your doctor about other ways to get help.

To learn more, see:

Credits for Alcohol Problems: How to Stop Drinking

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Last Revised January 17, 2012

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