First Steps to stop drinking alcohol
So you’re ready to stop drinking alcohol? For most people, quitting alcohol can be very difficult as the substance can be physically and psychologically addictive. In Australia, a recent study sponsored by St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne assessed 22 drugs to measure and evaluate the risk each drug poses to individuals and the harm it causes to families and society in general. Alcohol was ranked the most damaging substance to the Australian community, followed by crystal meth or ‘Ice’. The fact that alcoholic drinks can be easily obtained and is socially acceptable makes alcohol consumption difficult to control. The process of quitting alcohol abuse is even more challenging. One of the first steps is to discern how much of a role alcohol plays in your life and whether you are either a social drinker or someone who suffers from alcoholism. If you’re a casual drinker, one of your main obstacles to overcome is saying NO to peer pressure, which may not be easy. If you can remove yourself from risky social situations where alcohol is involved then you have a decent chance of quitting alcohol or knowing your limits and prevent alcohol from taking over your life.
Do you have Alcohol Use Disorder?
Many borderline alcoholics can achieve sobriety with the help of support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and self-help tools such as books and mobile applications. Everyone is different, so if one these strategies don’t work for you then try another. However, if you’re trying to overcome alcoholism, you’ll need to take further steps such as seeking out a counsellor or admitting yourself into an Alcohol Rehab program. But how exactly do you know if you are experiencing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)? Well, AUD or alcoholism is defined as a chronic, relapsing disease that is diagnosed based on whether an individual meets specific criteria. Individuals must identify with any two of the criteria below within a 12-month period to be considered to be someone who has Alcohol Use Disorder.
- There have been several times when you drank more than you intended or for longer than you intended.
- You spend a lot of time drinking, and/or feeling sick the next day because of drinking.
- You tried to stop drinking more than once, but you were unable to do so.
- You experienced cravings for alcohol.
- Drinking or being sick from drinking interfered with work, family responsibilities, school, or social engagements.
- You continued to drink despite consequences at work, at school, with family, etc.
- You cut back on hobbies or activities that were important to you, so you could drink instead.
- You continued to drink despite changes to mood, such as depression or anxiety, or drinking too much began to affect other aspects of your mental or physical health. Alternately, you suffered more than one memory blackout.
- You drank even though doing so increased your chances of getting hurt, such as drinking before driving.
- You continue to drink even though you feel like you need to drink more to achieve the original effects.
- You experienced withdrawal, including physical symptoms, when you did not drink
Detoxing from Alcohol
It’s important to know that stopping alcohol use abruptly is the riskiest way to quit drinking. Detoxing from alcohol can be unpleasant and the associated acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be life threatening when left unmanaged. If you feel physical cravings or withdrawal symptoms when you quit drinking, you shouldn’t try to stop cold turkey otherwise this could lead to serious complications. It is vital that the alcohol detoxification process is supervised in a medical environment by qualified medical staff. Only casual or social drinkers may be able to quit cold turkey. People who are suffering from AUD should gradually reduce, or taper, their alcohol intake.
Like any other addiction, alcoholism is a brain disorder and therefore should be treated professionally by drug and alcohol experts. Quitting alcohol is challenging but if you can always think about the benefits of life without alcohol dependence and how this will improve not only your health but also the lives of your family, then this is a good start. An alcoholic knows the negatives and damage that alcoholism causes and perhaps on a sober moment, listing all these might just jolt one to seeking help. With a realistic strategy, support and faith, you can quit drinking and achieve long-term sobriety.
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