If you decided it’s high time you quit drinking, that is a huge first step on your journey and you should be proud of yourself. Though it may seem challenging, you can get better and you can return to living a healthy, fulfilling, and alcohol-free life. These useful tips on how to quit drinking will help you become the healthiest and best version of yourself.
1. Start With a Plan
For starters, you need to come up with a plan on how to quit drinking. Before you start planning, you need to do a thorough research and see what your options are. The important thing is that you choose a structure that suits you and your needs.
Before you set out on this journey, make sure you know the strategies in advance and be ready to follow through with them.
It is also very useful for you to get familiar with your drinking patterns and triggers. Think about what you do when you feel the urge to drink. That way, you will know how to act in certain situations.
In addition, you will need to avoid situations that encourage you to drink. In case you still end up in such a situation, learn some effective methods you can use to distract yourself. It all comes down to you getting to understand yourself better, as well as being prepared for anything.
2. Consult Your Doctor Before Attempting to Go Cold Turkey
Alcohol withdrawals can be dangerous or even fatal. For this reason, you need to contact a doctor regarding how to quit drinking before you even try anything on your own.
A doctor’s advice can truly be a lifesaver in this case. Even if you don’t experience severe withdrawal symptoms, medical counseling can be helpful and can give you an insight into your particular situation.
3. Consider Medication
When it comes to alcohol addiction, medication is not as widely used as AA or rehab, but it can be an effective way to stop drinking.
For instance, the Sinclair Method has had a 78% long-term success rate by using naltrexone in order to limit alcohol cravings.
Three medications for this type of treatment that are currently approved by the FDA are disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone. Some other meds, such as baclofen, topiramate, and gabapentin, can be prescribed off-label.
The best part about these medications is that they all work in different ways. They can help you not only overcome your physical addiction to alcohol but also make the psychological battle more bearable.
4. Moderate or Cut Back First
You can start reducing your drinking before you decide to quit. Though moderation can be tricky, it’s not unachievable, and it might even make quitting a lot easier. There are many different strategies that can help and helpful tips for cutting back that you can try.
One of the biggest benefits of cutting back beforehand is that your withdrawal symptoms will be less severe. Moderation is a great long-term strategy as well. You can try both of these and see what works best for you.
5. Practice Self-Care Strategies
Changing persistent habits is challenging. Be prepared to experience both good and bad days. That is why you need to plan ahead and know how to deal with bad days when they come.
Thinking ahead often involves simple things, such as talking to a friend or even a coach. In any case, it’s important that you give yourself time.
No matter what you choose to do, don’t forget to be gentle with yourself. For example, starting your days with long walks in nature, or a quick guided meditation for beginners when you wake up is a nice way to pamper yourself. Doing yoga can also be a great way to start a day.
During the day, you can turn to reading books that you may find interesting, or you can start journaling. Writing a daily journal can be a great way to take note of how you feel as well as to keep track of your progress. That can be quite motivational.
And, at the end of the day, consider repeating positive affirmations before going to bed.
Try several different strategies and little rituals that you can repeat daily. Do what makes you appreciate and love each and every step of your progress. Be gentle to yourself and practice these self-care strategies daily.
6. Find New Activities to Replace Alcohol
Finding new activities and hobbies that you enjoy can be helpful too.
For instance, try hitting the gym after work. Look for social groups that you have common interests with — e.g., music, sports, arts and crafts, hiking, and so on. Try to find a way to fill your schedule with fun activities. They will take your mind off drinking, you’ll spend some quality time doing what you love, and you’ll maybe even find new friends.
You can also connect with other people who are going through the same process as you. Many apps and online communities offer this type of connection. You can find other sober people who share the same interests as you.
These new activities and meeting new people will expand your horizon to a world full of new opportunities. They will naturally lead you to your recovery.
Positive Effects on the Brain
Once you start thinking about how to quit drinking, you should be prepared for the changes you are about to experience. There are several ways in which quitting drinking is going to affect your brain.
First of all, when you drink excessively, the frontal lobe of the brain suffers huge damage. The good news is that the said damage is not irreparable. As you make progress with quitting drinking, new cell growth will start repairing it.
In addition, your dopamine levels will begin to normalize and motivation for everyday activities and responsibilities will soon return.
When you quit drinking, your serotonin production will also start increasing and you will be experiencing less depressive symptoms over time.
Lastly, the process of quitting will help you get back to healthy activities. You will not only learn healthy coping mechanisms but also gain new social skills.
All things considered, though this process may seem challenging, the end results are very much achievable. With a good plan on how to quit drinking, adequate self-care strategies, and healthy medications, you can eventually return to a healthy, alcohol-free lifestyle.