Deciding to seek help for alcohol dependence or addiction can be a difficult process. If you are struggling with excessive alcohol use, you are likely already aware of how it can negatively affect your life, relationships, and health. However, acknowledging the problem and deciding to make a change is often the hardest part of getting into detox and recovery.

Below are steps you can take to stop drinking and start your path to freedom from alcohol addiction today. But before diving into these strategies for how to stop drinking alcohol, it is essential to understand the nature of alcohol dependence, addiction, and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in general. 

Understanding Alcohol Dependence and Addiction

Alcohol Use Disorder is a chronic disease characterized by the inability to control drinking despite adverse consequences. It often involves physical dependence, where the body becomes reliant on alcohol to function normally, as well as psychological dependence, where drinking becomes a central part of one’s life.

Recognizing the signs of an AUD is critical in deciding to take the steps necessary for detox and recovery. Common indications of alcohol dependence or addiction can include:

  • Increased tolerance (needing more alcohol to achieve the same effects)
  • Withdrawal symptoms when decreasing or stopping alcohol use (anxiety, tremors, sweating, nausea, and more)
  • Loss of control over your drinking
  • Neglecting daily/life responsibilities
  • Continued use despite spiraling problems

How to Stop Drinking: Step 1 - Acknowledging the Problem

Acknowledging that you have a drinking problem, whether excessive drinking or AUD, is the first and most critical step on the path to recovery. This process involves a deep level of self-awareness and honesty about how alcohol has impacted your life. It requires you to look beyond the immediate pleasure or relief that drinking might bring and confront the broader consequences that have unfolded as a result of alcohol use.

This step can be particularly challenging because denial often serves as a common defense mechanism. Denial helps to shield you from the painful reality of alcohol dependence and addiction and the changes that recovery demands. However, it is essential to break through this denial and face the truth of your situation, as recognizing the need for change is necessary for recovery.

Here are a few ways you can start to acknowledge that you have a problem with alcohol:

  • Reflect on your drinking habits. Start by taking a detailed and honest look at your drinking patterns. Consider how often you drink, the quantity of alcohol you consume, and the situations or emotions that trigger your drinking. Keeping a drinking diary for a few weeks can provide a clearer picture of your habits and their impact on your daily life.
  • Listen to feedback. Pay close attention to the concerns expressed by friends, family, or colleagues about your drinking. These individuals often notice changes in your behavior and the negative effects of your drinking before you do. While it can be difficult to hear criticism, accepting their feedback with an open mind and heart can be a pivotal step toward acknowledging your addiction.
  • Assess the consequences. Take time to consider the physical, emotional, and social consequences of your alcohol use. Think about any health issues you may have developed, such as liver problems, fatigue, or frequent illnesses. Emotionally, reflect on feelings of guilt, shame, or depression that arise from your drinking. Socially, examine the impact on your relationships, work performance, and social activities. Understanding the full scope of alcohol’s impact on your life can help break through denial and highlight the need for change.
  • Recognize patterns of denial. Denial often manifests in various forms, such as rationalizing your drinking, blaming others for your behavior, or minimizing the severity of your problem. Becoming aware of these patterns is crucial. Ask yourself if you often make excuses for your drinking, downplay its effects, or shift responsibility onto others. Recognizing these behaviors is a significant step toward accepting the reality of your addiction.
  • Consider the future. Think about how your life might change if you continue drinking excessively versus if you choose to seek help. Envisioning a future where alcohol no longer controls your life can be a powerful motivator. Consider the goals you have, the relationships you want to improve, and the health you wish to regain.

By going through this process, you can break through the barriers of denial and take this crucial first step toward recovery. Remember, acknowledging the problem is not a sign of weakness but a courageous act of self-awareness and the beginning of your journey toward a healthier, more fulfilling life.

How to Stop Drinking: Step 2 - Get Professional Detox Help

Quitting alcohol can be an extremely challenging endeavor, especially when attempted alone. The physical and psychological grip of alcohol often makes it difficult to break free without support. Seeking professional help significantly increases your chances of success by providing you with the tools, resources, and encouragement needed to navigate the journey to sobriety. Addiction experts, such as our dedicated team at the Coleman Institute, offer specialized care and support tailored to your unique needs, ensuring you receive the most effective treatment possible.

Selecting the right type of alcohol detox for you can be hard if you aren’t familiar with the types of options and programs that are available. Here are some common forms of alcohol detox methods:

  • Self-Detox: This option is not recommended and can be extremely dangerous, as abruptly stopping alcohol consumption can lead to severe discomfort and significant health risks. Even those who do not believe their drinking is excessive can experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures, upon sudden cessation. Individuals who try to detox on their own without medical support may face symptoms like confusion, agitation, hallucinations, and tremors. Seeking professional medical assistance is vital to safely manage these risks.
  • Inpatient Detox: Inpatient detoxification occurs in a hospital or specialized rehabilitation center and typically lasts between 4 to 10 days, depending on the individual's needs. During this process, medications like benzodiazepines are administered to reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent seizures. However, inpatient detox can be expensive and disruptive to daily life, and health insurance may not always cover the entire duration required for a full recovery.
  • Outpatient Detox with the Coleman Method: Our innovative alcohol detox method provides a comfortable and effective outpatient detoxification option. Patients can detox in the comfort of their home or a hotel, avoiding the clinical environment of a hospital. We use Phenobarbital and other medications to safely and comfortably detox patients, often in as little as 3 days. Phenobarbital is particularly effective because of its targeted action on the brain and its long-lasting effects, which facilitates a smoother transition to recovery. Our patients receive daily monitoring, and medication dosages are adjusted to ensure comfort without excessive sedation.

Choosing the right detoxification program is crucial to your efforts to stop drinking. By understanding the different options and seeking professional guidance, you can safely navigate the alcohol withdrawal process and get into long-term recovery.


How to Stop Drinking: Step 3 - Implementing Lifestyle Changes

Once you have completed your alcohol detox and are in early recovery, making significant lifestyle changes is key to maintaining your sobriety. These changes not only help reduce the chances of relapse but also create a healthy and supportive environment that fosters overall well-being. By adopting these new habits and routines, you can build a strong foundation for a lasting recovery.

  • Nutrition and Hydration: Focus on a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals to repair damage caused by alcohol and support overall health. Stay hydrated to flush toxins and improve energy levels.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity boosts mood, reduces stress, and improves physical health. Find enjoyable exercises to stay motivated and active.
  • Sleep: Ensure 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to support physical and mental well-being. Create a relaxing bedtime routine and a conducive sleep environment.
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation: Practice meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation to manage stress and cravings. Mindfulness helps increase awareness of thoughts and feelings.
  • Building a Support System: Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, and peers. Attend support group meetings regularly for encouragement and accountability.
  • Establishing Routine and Structure: Plan daily activities that promote health, relaxation, and personal growth. A regular schedule helps regulate your body’s natural rhythms.
  • Avoiding Triggers and High-Risk Situations: Identify and avoid triggers and high-risk situations that may lead to relapse. Develop strategies to cope with or avoid these triggers.
  • Personal Development and Setting Goals: Set short-term and long-term goals related to career, education, relationships, or personal interests. Working towards these goals provides motivation and reinforces positive changes.
  • Seeking Professional Help When Needed: Regular therapy sessions with a licensed counselor or therapist can provide ongoing support. Specialized treatment programs offer structured support and additional resources for maintaining sobriety.

By incorporating these lifestyle changes, you can create a supportive environment that promotes sobriety and overall health. Recovery is an ongoing process that requires dedication and effort, but with the right strategies and support, you can build a new life free from alcohol.

How to Stop Drinking: Step 4 - Long-Term Support

Long-term support is crucial for sustained recovery. Building a strategy with ongoing treatment, recovery resources, and supportive individuals who can provide encouragement and guidance is essential to maintaining sobriety and avoiding relapse. Here are a few options for long-term support that can significantly enhance your recovery journey.

  • Naltrexone Therapy: Naltrexone Therapy is an effective long-term support option for maintaining sobriety after your initial detox. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that reduces cravings and blocks the euphoric effects of alcohol, helping to reduce the chances of relapse. At the Coleman Institute, we offer Naltrexone Therapy in various forms, including a small implant as well as recurrent Vivitrol injections. Vivitrol is a long-acting form of Naltrexone administered once a month, providing continuous support without the need for daily medication.
  • Healthy Relationships and Structured Daily Routine: Fostering supportive relationships and establishing a structured daily routine provides stability and encouragement. Surround yourself with individuals who support your sobriety and plan your days with a mix of activities that promote health, relaxation, and personal growth, reducing the likelihood of encountering high-risk situations.
  • Continued Education, Skill Development, and Professional Therapy: Pursuing personal development and setting goals provide motivation and a sense of accomplishment. Combined with regular therapy sessions, these efforts help address underlying issues, improve coping mechanisms, and build resilience against stressors, contributing to a fulfilling and sober life.

By integrating these long-term support options into your recovery plan, you can build a robust foundation for your new sobriety. Each component plays a crucial role in helping you navigate the challenges of recovery, providing the tools and support you will need for continued success.

Get Into Alcohol Detox Now at the Coleman Institute

Stopping drinking is a challenging but achievable goal. By acknowledging the problem, getting professional help, implementing lifestyle changes, and seeking long-term support, you can overcome your alcohol dependence or addiction and lead a healthy, happy life. 

At the Coleman Institute, our outpatient detox programs have a 98% completion rate and no wait time to get into treatment. Call our Richmond, VA, office today or one of our nationwide clinics near you to take the next step on your road to recovery and learn more about the Coleman Method

Remember—you are not alone, and we are here to help you stop drinking alcohol when you are ready.