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How do I stop drinking?

If you are looking to stop drinking, take a minute to think about why you want to do so.

There are many reasons for giving up alcohol. For example, you may be looking to lead a healthier lifestyle or save money. But, if your reason is because you think you may have a drinking problem, it is recommended that you seek medical advice before you do anything.

Admitting that you have a problem to someone may seem embarrassing or shameful, but it’s really important to get the right support. If you suddenly stop drinking alcohol when you were heavily consuming it, this can cause you to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These can include irritability, poor concentration, shakiness, tiredness, difficulty sleeping and nightmares. People can also experience sweating, headaches, nausea, vomiting, palpitations and a lack of appetite.

Alcohol withdrawal can also lead to what is known as delirium tremens (DTs), the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal. This is very serious and can even be life-threatening, where your condition can worsen very quickly and need immediate medical care.

Long term alcohol use can also result in serious problems with the liver, pancreas, heart, blood pressure, and also cause vitamin deficiencies.

For these reasons, seeking medical advice and support to understand how to stop drinking is important. By visiting your doctor, they will be able to refer you to a specialist alcohol team such as Priory for support.

Addiction treatment to help you stop drinking

At Priory, there are several types of addiction treatment that you can benefit from, depending on your needs and the severity of your addiction. These include:

  • A free addictions assessment
  • Detoxification
  • Residential addiction treatment
  • Day care addiction treatment
  • Outpatient addiction treatment
  • Medical treatment, which will help in remaining abstinent from alcohol

We use different therapy formats throughout your journey to make sure you receive the most effective support. Some of these are as follows: 

  • 1:1
  • Group
  • Family
  • Couples

People who attend our Addiction Treatment Programme then receive 12 months of free aftercare, while those who attend Priory Hospital Roehampton and The Manor Clinic get free aftercare for life. We also provide a post-treatment care plan to help you lead your life without alcohol.

How to help yourself when you stop drinking

There are strategies that you can use to help you on your journey towards an alcohol-free life. These include:

Embrace alcohol-free activities

You may usually head to the pub after work or have a few glasses of wine when you go to a restaurant. When you stop drinking, it is important for you identify the times and places when you would likely drink, and proactively plan in other drink-free activities instead.

You may also want to let others know that you have stopped drinking. That way, you can enjoy new alcohol-free experiences together, and not worry that they may suggest opening a bottle of wine.

Addressing trauma and psychological issues

Harmful use of alcohol is closely associated with psychological trauma, as the effects of trauma can be masked temporarily by alcohol. Some people drink alcohol due to social anxiety, as it helps them be more confident. Alcohol can also temporarily elevate mood in depression, although mood worsens once the effects wear off. Getting psychological and medical treatment for such conditions is extremely important to help you stay away from alcohol.

Realising the benefits

It is likely that drinking took up a lot of your time, money and energy in the past. When you stop drinking alcohol, you have the opportunity to reclaim parts of your life that were once overshadowed by alcohol.  

Make the most of your newfound lease of life, be proactive and do the things you once enjoyed or that you want to try. You could spend time with family and friends, start a new hobby, pickup an old past time you once enjoyed and even get involved in a new weekly activity.

Being kind to yourself

If alcohol has been a priority, this may have led to you forgetting to look after yourself. Recognise that self-care is necessary, and explore ways that you can develop, protect, maintain and improve your health and wellbeing. At Priory, we have sessions on mindfulness, meditation and relaxation to help the people that we care for understand the importance of being kind to themselves.

Through taking steps to get medical support and put new strategies in place for a life without alcohol, you can work towards achieving the happier and healthier lifestyle you want.

This page was reviewed by Dr Tanushree Sarma (MBBS, MRCPsych, MSc), Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford, in January 2019, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in January 2021.

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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding addiction treatment and rehabilitation, please call 0800 144 8969 or click here to book a FREE ADDICTION ASSESSMENT. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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