If you are worried about your drinking, we can help you. We provide immediate advice, information and support for anyone experiencing problems with alcohol or alcohol related issues.
For many people, reducing or stopping drinking can be a straight forward decision based on wanting to become healthier. For others, particularly if there is dependence, more planning and/or support may be required. Whatever you feel is the right option we are here for you online, on the phone or face-face.
I drink alcohol, what's the problem?
Click the link on the side bar to take our quiz to find out more about your drinking levels.
It depends on how much and how frequently you are drinking what will be the best course of action for you. Depending on your result or if you feel you have a problem we can help you.
I want to stop drinking. Where do I start?
It is important to think about reducing or stopping drinking in three stages:
Planning is important as the better you can plan now the more successful you may be when it comes to reducing or stopping your drinking in the short and long term.
At this stage it is important to consider whether or not it is safe to just stop drinking. Depending on how much and how often you have been drinking it may be possible to gradually reduce over a period of time as part of a plan to control your drinking or to stop completely.
However, if you have been drinking above the recommended levels on a regular basis it can be dangerous to suddenly stop and a medical intervention may be required to reduce and stop drinking safely. If you are unsure about this or have any questions then it is important that you seek specialist advice at this stage.
Another factor to consider is whether or not you have had any previous experience of reducing or stopping your drinking. If so, think about what has worked well and what hasn't in the past and include this in your new plan.
It may be helpful to set a date to start reducing - or to stop - and try as much as possible to stick to it.
Other factors to consider for your plan are:
How should I reduce my drinking?
Trying to reduce how much you are drinking in several small steps can often be more achievable than trying to reduce by too much too quickly. Perhaps you could consider alternating between an alcoholic drink and a non-alcoholic drink, switching to drinks with a lower alcohol content or diluting any spirits as much as you can.
When are you drinking?
You could try replacing drinking in the daytime with a more positive activity to begin with - this may be easier than trying to reduce your drinking first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
Are you using any other drugs, as well as drinking, in the same day?
If so, think about what would be best or what you might find easiest to reduce or stop using first.
Are you drinking alone or with others?
If you are drinking with other people, perhaps at home or in the pub, then you may need to consider how you can move forward with this. Regularly being around others who are still drinking may make it harder for you to reduce or stop.
Do you have any other issues?
Try to deal with any other issues such as housing, debt, personal and relationship problems if you can. You can then fully focus on your plan to reduce or stop using.
Everyone is different so make sure your plan is based on what you think might work best for you and what you can realistically manage.
Remember, you don't have to do it alone.
Reducing and stopping
At this stage it is important to look after your physical and mental health. Doing this can help you better manage any withdrawal symptoms you may have as well as helping you to see through your plan to reduce or stop drinking.
Eat what you can when you can. Large meals are often more difficult to contemplate, or even digest, so try to have regular snacks including fruit and vegetables. Soup can be a practical and healthy option. Keep well hydrated and drink plenty of fluids.
Common issues people can face include sleeping problems, an increase in anxiety and a return of emotions that can be difficult to cope with. Try writing down some of the thoughts and feeling you have at this stage or talk them through with a trusted friend or family member. You can also approach ADA for further support.
Managing Withdrawal Symptoms
Get some advice on the ‘expected’ withdrawal symptoms of reducing your drinking. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms or to the same degree but it can be reassuring to know that any symptoms you experience are not unusual and will eventually pass.
Sometimes withdrawal symptoms can become too difficult to manage and the thought of stopping drinking completely may feel too difficult to achieve. Consider speaking to a GP or Pharmacist who may be able to provide you with medication to help with withdrawal symptoms or even to plan further medical intervention where needed. You can also approach ADA for further support.
Controlled Drinking or Abstinence
When it comes to controlling or stopping your drinking working out strategies for how to deal with certain situations can often be the key to success.
Important things to remember at this stage are:
- craving alcohol can be a normal part of your recovery, particularly immediately after you have completed the reducing and stopping stage. Although the craving to drink again can be strong, it will pass if you deal with it effectively.
- identifying triggers that have led to you drinking in the past can make it easier either to avoid them in the future or, if you can't avoid them, to deal with them differently.
- getting involved with support groups, activity groups or one-to-one support can be useful to help you achieve long term recovery.