How to Quit Drinking for Life – For millions of Americans, alcohol abuse is one of the most difficult habits to quit. Alcohol consumption is both legal and generally accepted as part of our culture. And yet, there remains a stigma associated with alcoholism—one that often discourages those who need professional treatment from seeking it.
Accepting that alcohol abuse is a problem, and creating a plan to do something about it is the first essential step toward breaking free from the cycle of addiction and fostering a new life for yourself.
How to Quit Drinking: Rules for Recovery
Recovery from alcoholism is best achieved using a clear, principled approach. Recovery entails much more than just a one-time decision to break the habit—its a long-term commitment that may require constant course correction to prevent relapse. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine has established five rules to follow for a successful, enduring recovery.
1. Change Your Lifestyle
Overcoming a drinking habit involves more than just not drinking. One of the most significant barriers to an alcoholic who is trying to recover is a deep-rooted, uneasy feeling that there is no real reason to quit. The fact that you have become an alcoholic indicates that your beliefs, values, and intentions must have gradually become conducive to substance abuse.
Recognizing this fact can be a tough pill to swallow. Nevertheless, you must acknowledge that alcoholism has become a way of life, not just a bad habit you have on the side. To decisively quit drinking once and for all, you must change your life entirely and replaced every activity associated with drinking with new activities that give you purpose and meaning.
2. Be Completely Honest With Yourself and Others
Being an alcoholic often means having to compartmentalize your conflicting lifestyles. In the short-term, alcoholics tend to be deceptive and tell half-truths to conceal the severity of their problem from those who are closest to them. Tragically, this pattern of behavior almost always causes the drinker to embrace a toxic, self-directed shame, which further motivates them to escape their negative feelings through the use of alcohol.
During recovery, complete honesty is always the best policy, whether you are sharing at a support group, having a conversation with close friends or family, or, most critically, with yourself.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Having a drinking problem can be cause for embarrassment. After all, if we reach out to others, this entails openly admitting to both the other person and ourselves that we might not be able to quit on our own. Our egos recoil at the thought of this.
Yet, research has consistently shown that the chances for lasting recovery are substantially increased if we reach out for help. Peer support groups, medical detox, and substance abuse programs are proven avenues for the maintenance of long-term sobriety.
4. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is not mere selfishness. Selfishness is about sacrificing the needs of other people to satisfy your own. Self-care is about giving yourself whatever you need, only not at the expense of others.
Practicing self-care also means that loved ones are no longer forced to sacrifice their needs to ensure yours are met. Relapse is easier to prevent when you give yourself the wellness and sobriety you genuinely deserve.
“Recovery is not about pleasing your loved ones or about society’s best interests—it’s about you.”
5. Don’t Bend Rules
The final rule is here to protect yourself from possible corruption. You may get to a point in your recovery where the first four rules begin to seem excessive or no longer necessary. It is in these moments, however, that you must knuckle down and bolster your resolve.
Remember, these aren’t just rules for addiction recovery, but principles you must always observe to have a healthy life in general.
How to Quit Drinking: The Recovery Process
Professional addiction treatment is a process that can last anywhere from several weeks to several months. There is no immediate cure for addiction—it requires the patient to unlearn certain behaviors and replace them with new coping skills.
Recovery often begins with a medication-assisted detox program, progresses into a residential or partial-hospitalization program, and, eventually, outpatient treatment. Following formal treatment, close adherence to an aftercare plan will ensure the patient continues to receive the necessary medical and mental health support they need for the sustainment of long-term sobriety.
Following detox, many patients opt for a residential treatment or partial-hospitalization program. During residential treatment, the patient resides at the center for several weeks while receiving therapeutic services. They will also participate in 12-step meetings as well as physically and emotionally healthy activities.
A partial-hospitalization program offers intense and comprehensive treatment comparable to a residential program. It takes place in a comfortable clinical office setting during the day, with an optional safe and supervised home-like residence in the evenings.
Outpatients live in a private resident or sober living environment and visit the center several times per week for therapy and support. Many people who complete residential or partial-hospitalization treatment opt for outpatient treatment after discharge to continue the recovery process while they readjust to life in the outside world.
Other Long-term Recovery Techniques
Recovery doesn’t end after professional treatment—it’s a lifelong process that continues in stages. The following tips can help you to sustain long-term sobriety and well-being.
1. Eliminate triggers and temptations in your home environment. These include any type of alcohol or drinking paraphernalia, such as beer bottles or any references to addictive substances.
2. Express yourself and lean on family and friends for support. You can expect that those who genuinely care about you and your sobriety will join in your fight and support your efforts.
3. Avoid environments that are conducive to relapse. You might not be able to avoid parties and places where people are drinking forever, but during the early stages of recovery, many people find it challenging to be around alcohol and other people who are drinking. Never underestimate your capacity for relapse and remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. Write in a journal. It may be beneficial to write down your thoughts and feelings during your recovery journey and reflect on them later to obtain additional insight into the motivations that were driving your addictive behaviors.
5. Exercise and eat healthy. Living a well-balanced life is one of the keys to maintaining long-lasting recovery. Start a new exercise regime if you haven’t done so already. It’s okay to challenge yourself and also okay to merely just get started on a new routine, such as taking long walks. It’s best to avoid simple sugars/carbohydrates and processed foods. In their place, opt for more whole grains and foods high in protein.
Getting Professional Treatment
The best way to kickstart the recovery process is to enroll in a comprehensive addiction treatment program—if you really want to know how to quit drinking for good, research has shown that this is the best way. Recovery By The Sea is a specialized treatment facility that offers evidence-based services vital to the process of recovery, including psychotherapy, counseling, group support, medication-assisted treatment, and more.
If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, you have likely tried quitting on your own and failed. If you are ready to try again, contact us as soon as possible. Discover how we can help you break free from the chains of alcoholism and begin to experience the healthy and satisfying life you deserve!