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Ideas to Help You Cut Back On or Stop Using Alcohol

Topic Overview

If you think you might be dependent on alcohol, talk with your doctor before trying to stop drinking.

If you are dependent on alcohol, you should stop drinking, not just cut back. If you are dependent, you might develop severe withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking on your own.

Whether you are dependent on alcohol or not, or whether you are trying to cut back or quit, the first thing to do is get support. Ask your doctor, family, and friends to help you reach your goal.

Here are some ideas that may help you succeed.

Avoiding alcohol

  • Stay away from people who give you a hard time about drinking less or not drinking. Spend time with people who support your desire to cut down on or stop using alcohol.
  • Stay away from places or events that make you want to drink. Stay away from people who drink a lot or bars where you used to drink. Plan ways to avoid drinking when you are tempted.
  • Stay active. It is easier to avoid drinking alcohol when you are busy doing things that you like to do. Take time to really think about how you would like to spend your time. Have you wanted to learn a craft or hobby or play a musical instrument? Now is a good time to start.
  • Avoid temptation by getting rid of all alcohol in your home.

When drinking

  • Learn to say no. You do not have to accept an alcoholic drink each time someone offers you one. Practice the following ways to say no politely:
    • "Thanks, I've had enough."
    • "Thanks, but I have work to do later and I don't want to get distracted."
    • "Thanks, but you know, I've noticed that I feel better when I drink less."
  • If you drink, drink slowly. Take a break of 1 hour between drinks. Drink soda, water, or juice after a drink with alcohol. Do not drink on an empty stomach. Eat food when you are drinking.
  • If you drink, take a break from alcohol. Pick a day or two each week when you will not drink at all. Gradually take more break days every week. Think about how you feel on these days. Do you feel better physically and emotionally?

Most importantly, do not give up. Most people do not cut down on or give up drinking all at once. This is okay. If you do not reach your goal the first time, try again.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Last Revised January 18, 2012

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