How to stop drinking alcohol – Wine

Practical tips for giving up alcohol

Firstly, if you think you have a serious drinking problem and are experiencing any of the associated symptoms of alcohol dependence, you should consult your doctor or another medical professional about it as soon as possible. There are also a number of national alcohol support services that you can go to for advice.

Giving up completely may not be easy – especially if you’ve been a heavy drinker in the past. The following tips and techniques can make it that little bit easier.

Make your intentions known

Tell your family and friends that you’re trying to stop drinking alcohol and explain why. This way, you can share your successes with them, and they’ll understand why you’ve started turning down drinks or trips to the pub.

Frequently reminding yourself and the people close to you why you want to stop drinking can help keep you on track, and may even encourage someone else to give up or cut down with you.

Avoid temptation

In the early stages, it’s a good idea to avoid situations where you may be tempted to drink. This could mean opting out of the weekly pub quiz for a while, or if you tend to drink when eating out, try going to restaurants that don’t sell alcohol or simply volunteering to drive. Similarly, try to identify the times when you would usually drink and fill the gap with something else. So if you would usually head to the pub after work on a Friday evening, you could organise to meet friends at the cinema, or if you’re giving up alcohol in pursuit of a new, healthier you, why not fill the gap with a weekly exercise class or a trip to the swimming pool to help you wind down?

Identifying your ‘triggers’ (times when you’re tempted to drink) is important, particularly if you’ve tried and struggled to stop drinking in the past. Try to identify why you were unsuccessful – did you still go to the pub most evenings? Did you explain your reasons for not drinking to your partner? Was alcohol still readily available at home?

Give up or gradually reduce your drinking?

If you want to stop drinking alcohol as part of a move towards a healthier lifestyle, cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink as opposed to giving up alcohol completely can help bring lots of health benefits, and can be easier to stick to. Reducing the amount you drink can also be an effective stepping stone to giving up alcohol completely in the future.

Cutting down doesn’t have to be complicated. If you drink every night, start by designating a couple of days a week as alcohol-free days. This can soon become habit, the personal challenge helping remove the temptation and perhaps encouraging you to add more alcohol-free days. Official alcohol unit guidance is that it is safest for both and women to not regularly drink more than 14 units a week and not to ‘save up’ your units but spread them our evenly over the week.

You can read more tips for cutting down at home, or tips for cutting down when out on our site.

Find out the units and calories in your drinks

Reward progress

It’s important that you acknowledge the fact that making changes to your lifestyle can be difficult and that you reward yourself with something if you are making progress. It’s equally important not to be too hard on yourself if you slip up every once in a while.

An easy way to keep track of how you’re doing and keep your motivation up is to give yourself short-term goals. Perhaps you could aim firstly for an alcohol-free week, then an alcohol-free month, for example.

If you tend to drink in front of the TV after work, try replacing that glass of wine with something else you enjoy, or treat yourself to some new clothes or a day out with the money you’re saving on alcohol. The cost of alcohol mounts up with surprising speed – you could try putting aside the money you would normally spend on alcohol at home or while out, and spend it on another treat at the end of the week or the month.

Enjoy the benefits

Whether you’re cutting alcohol out of your life completely or cutting down gradually, you may notice a number of improvements to the way you look and feel. Among other things, you might find you have more energy, that you’re sleeping better, or that you’ve lost a bit of weight. In the long term you will also be helping to reduce your risk of developing alcohol-related cancer, alcohol-related liver disease or alcohol-related heart disease and could lower your blood pressure.

Potential alcohol withdrawal symptoms

Going ‘cold turkey’ or suddenly drinking no alcohol at all can cause serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you were drinking heavily before.

Physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms including trembling hands, sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting, palpitations and lack of appetite are less common, but are often a sign that the sufferer was drinking at worrying levels. Severe physical side effects include convulsions, confusion, fever and even hallucinations. If you experience physical withdrawal symptoms of any kind, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Your doctor may be able to prescribe medication that can help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and will be able to refer you to a specialist alcohol team for support. They can also offer counselling and psychological support, and can put you in touch with local support groups to help you stay on track.

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