“Is there really an easy way to stop drinking?“. Sadly, this is a question we frequently receive here at Asana Lodge.
This article looks at how easy or hard it is to stop a habit, whilst also clearing up common misunderstandings. You’ll also find details about the challenges you might face and useful tips for anyone who wants to quit. It’s a complete guide for anyone trying to achieve sobriety.
Understanding Alcoholism and Its Impact
Alcohol dependence, also known as alcoholism, is a serious condition where a person has an uncontrollable desire to drink alcohol, despite its negative effects on their health and life.
Physically, it can lead to severe liver damage, heart problems, digestive issues, and a weakened immune system. Mentally, it often goes hand-in-hand with depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairments like memory loss.
In addition to the above, from a social perspective, alcoholism and poor drinking habits can strain relationships, cause problems at work, and also lead to financial troubles. This complex disorder affects not just the individual but also those around them.
Is There an Easy Way to Stop Drinking?
There isn’t a straightforward answer to this question.
Some people will be able to stop drinking alcohol with little to no discomfort or second thoughts whatsoever. For others, when they attempt to quit drinking alcohol, especially if it’s become a habitual or problematic behaviour, it can be an incredibly challenging experience, which can sometimes take individuals by surprise, too. Some people may not even know they have become dependent on alcohol until they quit drinking alcohol.
So, whether going sober is seen as an easy thing to achieve is personal and will ultimately depend on the individual. If someone has become dependent on alcohol, comprehensive treatment and professional support are often the best course of action.
The Common Challenges That Come With Quitting Alcohol
There are many potential challenges that an individual might face when they quit drinking once and for all. The most common, however, is alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This is especially true if the individual has grown accustomed to drinking alcohol excessively or frequently for an extended period of time.
When it comes to alcohol withdrawal symptoms, when you stop drinking, your body, which has become used to the presence of alcohol, might react negatively. These reactions can range from mild discomforts, such as headaches and nausea, to more severe and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This can include (but is not limited to) shaking, anxiety, and, in extreme cases, delirium tremens (DTs).
Another challenge is coping with the social pressure that comes with quitting alcohol. In the UK and across many countries, alcohol is often a central part of social gatherings. So, opting out can lead to questions or pressure from peers.
In addition to the above, emotional and psychological dependence is also a big factor. Many people use alcohol as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression. When they do stop drinking altogether, these underlying issues can surface, requiring new coping mechanisms.
There’s also the challenge of the old habits and creating a new routine and lifestyle. Alcohol consumption might have been a significant part of one’s daily life or social activities, and finding new, healthy habits to replace drinking requires effort and dedication.
Common Misconceptions About Quitting Drinking
There are many myths out there about quitting drinking, and these can really confuse or even put off someone who’s trying to make this big change.
- “Quitting cold turkey is easy and safe”. One of the most prevalent myths is that stopping drinking suddenly (known as ‘cold turkey’) is easy and without risks. This belief overlooks the potential physical and psychological alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can be severe, especially if you are a heavy drinker. If this is the case, it’s often safer to quit under medical supervision or through a gradual reduction plan.
- “One solution fits all”. Each individual’s relationship with alcohol is unique, influenced by factors such as personal history, social norms, routine, drinking patterns, and even underlying health issues. Therefore, a successful quitting strategy must be tailored to the individual.
- “You must hit rock bottom to quit”. The idea that someone must reach their lowest point to quit drinking successfully is misleading. Many people decide to stop drinking before experiencing significant life-altering consequences. Early intervention can be beneficial and might also prevent more severe problems down the line.
- “Relapse equals failure”. Viewing a relapse as a complete failure is a harmful misconception. Recovery from alcohol dependence is often a non-linear process. Relapses can be part of the journey and provide valuable lessons.
- “Life becomes dull without alcohol”. A common fear is that life will become less enjoyable or that social activities will be less fulfilling without alcohol. Actually, many find that sobriety brings clarity, improves health, and enhances the quality of relationships.
- “You can do it alone”. For some, this may be true. However, the belief that quitting drinking is a solitary endeavour is a misconception. Support from friends, family, support groups, or addiction professionals can be immensely helpful.
Advice on How to Quit Alcohol
Making a series of small, consistent changes and choices can be incredibly effective when trying to achieve a big goal, such as quitting alcohol.
- Make a firm decision – The first step to stop drinking is to decide firmly that you want to quit.
- Decide what your goal is -whether it’s to stop drinking entirely or just form healthier drinking habits. Be specific about what you want to achieve.
- Understand your drinking habits – think about why you drink. Is it because of stress, social reasons, or to handle emotions? Knowing why can help you address the root of the problem.
- Build a support network – Share your goal with friends and family who can support you. Consider joining local support groups (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous) or seeking professional guidance.
- Prepare for some challenges – Have a plan for how to handle situations where you might be tempted to drink. This could include having a response ready when offered a drink or having a supportive friend to call.
- Find new activities – Replace drinking with healthier habits. This could be exercise, a new hobby, or anything that you enjoy and improves your mental or physical health.
- Avoid triggers – Stay away from situations or people that make you want to drink. This might mean changing your routine or who you spend time with.
- Don’t forget about self-care – It’s important to understand that quitting drinking is a process. It’s okay to face challenges. Celebrate your small wins, and don’t be too hard on yourself if there are setbacks.
- Stay committed – Keep reminding yourself why you decided to quit. Staying focused on the positive changes in your life since you stopped drinking can keep you motivated.
Find Help for Alcohol Dependency Today
We hope you’ve found our article useful. And remember, if you’re struggling to regain control or stop drinking alcohol, there’s help out there.Back to all posts