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 alcohol use disorder, 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:
- Prevent or reduce health problems that are made worse by alcohol use, such as liver damage.
- Prevent harm to your unborn baby if you are pregnant.
- Reduce related family concerns or relationship problems.
- Increase your ability to be productive at work, school, and home.
- Reduce legal problems that you might have as a result of alcohol use.
How to stop alcohol use
Follow these steps to stop drinking alcohol.
- Identify your reasons. Make a list of the reasons you want to cut down on or stop drinking alcohol ( What is a PDF document? ). 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.
- Make a plan. Set a date to stop drinking. Make a plan to stop drinking alcohol ( What is a PDF document? ). 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Avoid stumbling blocks. Many things can interfere with meeting your goal to cut down on or stop drinking. If your current life revolves around alcohol use, you might need to choose new friends or a new lifestyle. To stay focused on your goal and succeed, think through ideas to help you stop using alcohol on your own. For example, make a list of people and places in your life that have nothing to do with alcohol use.
- Attend a self-help group. Some people attend self-help groups to help them stick to their plan to cut down on or stop drinking. If you are not sure whether a self-help group is for you but would like to try, go to a group at least 3 times before you make your decision. There are different types of groups (such as men or women only, discussion, and speaker). Go to another group if the first one does not fit your needs.
- Reward yourself. Use the money that you are no longer spending on drinking to do something fun with your family or friends. Go out to eat, see a movie, or play sports or a game.
Current as ofFebruary 5, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Peter Monti PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health
Current as of: February 5, 2019