Alcohol is without a doubt, the deadliest and most destructive drug in the world.
Between 2006 and 2010, alcohol contributed to 88,000 deaths. This does not account for the car accidents, hit and runs, harmful brawls, spousal abuse and ruined families that excessive alcohol use contributes to.
Overcoming addiction of any kind is never easy. Everyone has entirely different experiences and struggles throughout the recovery process. It’s safe to argue that alcohol is one of the most difficult substances to quit.
The withdrawal symptoms are severe, but many people find that the worst part about quitting alcohol is how tough it is to avoid it. Alcohol is readily available in stores, restaurants, sporting arenas, and it’s likely that most of your friends and family will drink alcohol at least on occasion. Like it or not, alcohol is everywhere.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
Every individual will have different experiences when they try to quit drinking alcohol. The symptoms can range from very mild to dangerously severe.
When heavy drinkers suddenly stop or significantly reduce their alcohol consumption, the neurotransmitters previously suppressed by alcohol are no longer suppressed. They rebound, resulting in a phenomenon known as brain hyper-excitability. So, the effects associated with alcohol withdrawal are the opposite of those associated with alcohol consumption.
Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol include...
- stomach cramps
- increased heart rate
- increased blood pressure
- difficulty sleeping
- difficulty concentrating
Withdrawal symptoms can last for approximately five days.
Alcohol withdrawal can actually be fatal if it’s not handled properly. If you drink heavily and consistently, you are at risk for the most severe withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can cause fatal heart dysrhythmias, and kidney or liver failure. It can also cause seizures, some of which cause a person to stop breathing, and a medical condition called delirium tremens (DTs).
If you are serious about quitting drinking, call the Sober Nation hotline and we will find a way to help you. 866-317-7050.
Why it is so Hard to Quit Drinking Alcohol?
I can't find any official statistics on this, but many would agree that most relapses happen from drinking.
There is a social acceptance to alcohol that plays a big role in ones willingness to stay sober. Aside from dealing with the physical withdrawal effects of alcohol, our society contributes to the difficulty of staying sober and avoiding relapse. The media, movies, commercials and our collective ideal of what we think is "fun" play a huge role in the relapse rate of recovering addicts.
Too many times have we heard "I just want to have a drink like everyone else." Some people may be able to drink socially, however, most relapses end up leading to full on alcoholism.
It is for this reason that we always recommend long term sobriety, and in order to achieve that one will need to learn coping skills to deal with the everyday temptation of drinking. Inpatient treatment may be your best option.
How to Quit Drinking Alcohol - 4 Simple Steps
Deciding that you want to quit is the biggest step.
Addiction counselors and psychologists alike will agree that coming to terms with your problem, and making a decision to change, is the foundation of any recovery process. Once the decision has been made there are many resources to help you work towards sobriety.
Here is a 4 step process that we recommend!
1 - Ask for Help
Talk to the people that love you. Be honest about your drinking problem, and ask for help.
Having trusted family members or friends on your side from the beginning will be hugely beneficial. If you don’t have someone from your personal life, ask a doctor, counselor, or simply call a recovery center for help.
2 - Go to Detox Center
Going through detox is perhaps the most painful aspect of one's journey to quit drinking. Detox is absolutely essential, but doing it cold turkey can be fatal.
If you want to quit drinking safely, you must go to detox. Medical professionals can monitor your condition and can give you medications to help ease the intensity of the symptoms.
3 - Attend and Alcohol Treatment Center
You might spend several days in detox where acute withdrawal symptoms can last up to 10 days. After that period of time, treatment for alcoholism is your next step.
Treatment in rehab can last a few days or a few months. You’ll be in a controlled environment, so if you have any cravings for alcohol, you won’t have access to it. At treatment, you’ll be engrossed in recovery. Your schedule will be full of individual and group counseling, as well as other types of therapy depending on the center - such as art therapy, acupuncture, or equine therapy.
4 - Continue Treatment
At this point, you should have learned some tools and coping mechanisms to keep you away from a drink.
Regardless, you should continue to see a therapist or attend some type of group meeting, such as AA. It's always helpful to have a support system of counselors and people who understand what you’re going through. This will contribute to a happy and healthy recovery. Recovery is a life long process, and the post treatment maintenance is just as important as the initial treatment process.
Other Ways to Quit
Some people decide to quit alcohol on their own, and this method is not recommended. It's possible to gradually reduce the amount of alcohol you consume until you cut out all use, but this method is risky and often does not lead to long-term recovery. To be frank, detoxing yourself from alcohol is a bad idea. Call a professional.
No matter your method of choice, maintaining a support system is essential to sobriety. It’s also important to set boundaries for yourself after you've quit alcohol, such as avoiding old drinking spots, avoiding drinking buddies, and asking your friends and family to support you in your decision not to drink.
Sober Nation here to help!
If alcohol is a problem for you, know that you are not alone. There are millions of people who struggle with alcoholism, and only a few of them get the help they need.
Knowing that you have a problem with alcohol is a difficult realization to come to. When you realize your drinking has gotten out of control and you want to stop, it will be the most difficult and best decision of your life.
The road ahead is going to be rocky, but having your life back, is well worth the fight. Get started now!