Medically Reviewed by Dr. Mohammed Saeed, MD.
Having the ability to recognize that you have a drinking problem should be a pretty clear indicator that it’s time to quit, or at least cut back on, consuming alcohol. This can be scary to think about, as you are probably well aware of how difficult and uncomfortable it can be to overcome addiction. The most important thing to consider at this point in time is how dangerous it can be to quit drinking on your own.
The first 72 hours of detox are likely to be the most uncomfortable and painful part of your recovery journey, as the body begins to cleanse itself of alcohol and you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. Typically, alcoholics in detox begin to experience acute withdrawal symptoms after the first six hours of abstinence. During this time, body temperature may increase, along with blood pressure, rate of breathing, and pulse. You may also experience sweating, anxiety, and insomnia. While these may seem easy enough to manage on your own, some more extreme symptoms of withdrawal can include tremors or seizures, which can be fatal.
Because it’s nearly impossible to predict how mild or severe your withdrawal symptoms may be, it is always highly recommended to seek professional medical assistance while planning your detox and recovery. Many medical professionals will recommend a medically supervised detox facility where you can begin your recovery.
7 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Recovery From Alcohol Addiction
Once you’re sure that you can safely manage the road ahead, there’s quite a bit that you can do on your own to increase your chances of success in your recovery journey.
Own Your Problem
By this point, you’ve likely identified that—whether you consider yourself an alcoholic or not—you have some form of a substance use disorder. This general awareness of a problem is a great first step towards living a healthier life. Sure, there are all sorts of online assessments and comparisons that claim to help you determine if you’re an alcoholic or not. But the reality is that, if you’re researching this dilemma, it’s time to make a change. Regardless of the label you want to put on it, realize that drinking is preventing you from living the life you really want. Once you own that, you’re ready to take the next step.
List The Reasons Why You Should Quit
Of course, there are many long-term health benefits that you will experience while going without alcohol. But, realistically, you want to see results now, not later. Truthfully, it’s only human to think that way, so consider all the ways that quitting will make your life more meaningful in the current time. For example, think about how much time you spend drinking on a weekly or daily basis. What are some better ways you could be spending that time? Or, consider the money you can save by not purchasing so much alcohol. If you spend $100 each week on alcohol, reducing (or eliminating) that expense could save you thousands of dollars that can be spent more productively.
Make New Friends
Alcohol may be a big part of your social life, or maybe it’s something that you binge on with a certain group of friends or family members. Regardless, sobriety needs to become your top priority, and that means choosing a different crowd to spend your time with. Be completely honest with them and explain that you can’t be around alcohol or alcohol-related environments anymore. You may be fortunate enough to have a good group of friends who are willing and happy to support you, but anyone else will need to be cut out of your social life, at least until you can manage your triggers and cravings more appropriately.
This may very well be the most difficult challenge for you in the early stages of recovery, but having a strong support system of good influencers is going to critical to your success. Choose only to associate with people who are aligned with your purpose and are committed to helping you through.
Make Your Choice Official
Don’t keep your choice a secret. Instead, allow your friends and family members to know and understand what you’re trying to achieve and why. When you make this information public, you’re much more likely to have accountability from yourself and those around you. If the only person who knows that you’re quitting is you, it’s much easier to slip up and make excuses and rationalizations to yourself than it is to try and explain it to others.
Change Your Attitude
As you begin to pursue sobriety, try not to dwell on the poor choices and guilt of your past decisions. Instead, work on waking up each day with a positive outlook, knowing that the past does not define you and you are taking the right steps toward a life of sobriety. Remember all the reasons you’ve listed for quitting, and celebrate each hour and day that you make it without a sip of alcohol.
Manage Your Cravings
Even after detoxing and removing all traces of alcohol from your system, you will inevitably be faced with cravings for a period of time, if not forever. While it does become easier to manage those cravings as time goes on, you should consider planning out some ways to distract yourself or cope with those cravings in healthier ways.
Recognizing what your triggers are can be a great way to avoid or reduce alcohol cravings. For example, if you’ve made it a routine to have a glass of wine with dinner every night, recognize in advance that this may be a difficult meal to get through. Try having another non-alcoholic drink ready ahead of time so you aren’t hit with a craving at the last minute when you realize you can’t drink alcohol with dinner.
Another great way to distract yourself from cravings is to find a few new hobbies to take on. As you pursue sobriety, boredom will often be one of your biggest adversaries, so keep your schedule full with new and exciting activities to keep your body and mind occupied.
Check In To Rehab
Understand that, sometimes, quitting on your own simply isn’t possible. This isn’t an indicator of failure or defeat, rather an awareness that you need additional support in your journey to recovery. There are many inpatient and outpatient options, most of which will include individualized treatment plans designed specifically around your unique recovery needs.
No matter how you choose to pursue sobriety, remember that it isn’t a destination, but a lifelong journey that you will need to commit to for the rest of your life. You will experience hardships and temptations along the way, but with the right attitude, you can begin to live a life that you can be proud of.