ARTICLE SUMMARY: Strategies for quitting drinking on your own include setting a drinking goal, keeping a drinking diary, and taking alcohol breaks throughout the year. More tips on cutting down drinking here, plus information on when you should ask for professional help. Your questions are welcomed at the end.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Do I Have A Problem?
- Tips For Cutting Down
- 3 Stopping Tips
- Alcohol Withdrawal
- Professional Help
- Where to Go for Help
- Do You Want More From Life?
1 in 10 children in the U.S. have a parent with drinking problem.
Alcohol is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances of all time. When metabolized in your system, alcohol is a depressant that provides relaxation and feelings of calm. But how many people struggle with a drinking problem in the U.S.? Are you one of them?
According to 2016 National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, there are 136.7 million current alcohol users aged 12 or older in 2016, roughly 50% of the population.
This number breaks down by age as follows:
- 2.3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 are current drinkers.
- 19.8 million young adults aged 18 to 25 are current drinkers.
- 114.7 million adults aged 26 or older are current drinkers.
Moreover, the same report shows that 65.3 million people aged 12 or older were binge alcohol users, while 16.3 million people aged 12 or older in 2016 who were heavy alcohol users. Underage drinking is also a problem, as drinking in this population is on the rise: 7.3 million teens in 2016.
But, not all of these people have a drinking problem.
SAMHSA reported that an estimated 15.1 million people aged 12 or older had an alcohol use disorder in 2016, which makes about 1 in 18 people. And, 1 in 10 children have a parent with drinking problem.
The numbers are alarming!
15.1 million Americans could be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder in 2016. That’s 1 in 18 people.
Do I Have A Problem?
Most people who deal with alcohol problems often don’t recognize that there’s an issue. So, if you’re asking yourself the question…you’re already ahead of the curve.
If you’re ready to be honest there are a few online assessments that you can take. But before you get there, you need to know what defines an alcohol problem in the first place. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a drinking problem if you have any of these patterns:
For women, a drinking problem exists if you drink:
- More than 1 drink per day.
- More than 7 drinks per week
- More than 3 drinks on any single day.
For men, a drinking problem exists if you drink:
- More than 2 drinks per day.
- More than 14 drinks per week.
- More than 4 drinks on any single day.
Moreover, alcohol use disorder can be diagnosed with the help of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-IV). It is a manual mostly used by clinicians and addiction professionals, and it is based on 11 criteria on signs of addiction. These 11 criteria include:
- Inability to control your alcohol intake
- Inability to stop drinking even though you tried and failed many times
- Inability to do your daily responsibilities at work, school, or home
- Cravings for alcohol
- Having troubles with your friends and family because of your drinking
- Continued drinking despite all negative consequences
- More time spent on seeking/using/recovering
- Needing more alcohol to get the same effect than before (tolerance)
- Undergo withdrawal once you stop using or lower your drinking
- No interest for your hobbies or activities because your alcohol use
- Involvement in dangerous activities while under influence.
Alcohol problems are also classified by level of severity:
If you meet 2-3 criteria – you have a mild alcohol use disorder.
If you meet 4-5 criteria – you have a moderate alcohol disorder.
If you meet 6 or more criteria – you have a severe disorder or alcoholism.
Cutting Down Tips
When you try to stop drinking alcohol, there are a few actions that you can take to cut it down first. Here are some useful starting points before you begin to consider 100% abstinence.
Set a drinking goal. First, set a drinking goal which will be no more than one drink per day if you are a woman, or two drinks a day if you are a man. Also, schedule some alcohol-free days during the week. Keep in mind to write down your goal, and put it on a place where you can see it very often. (On the fridge, on your desk, or bathroom mirror).
Keep a drinking diary. Keep a record of your drinking, if you want to reach your drinking goal more faster. This plan will show you how much you drink, and also you may calculate how much you send on drinking (another reason to cut alcohol down).
Set up an alcohol-free home. It is easier to avoid drinking if it’s not around. So, remove or limit alcohol amounts in your home.
Drink slowly. Try to sip your drink slowly. You could take a break of one hour between drinks. If you can’t wait that long, drink water, soda, or other non-alcoholic beverage between alcoholic drinks.
Take breaks. Finally, pick a day or two of every week when you will not consume alcohol at all. Then, pick more alcohol-free days. Finally, try stopping for a week, or two.
3 Tips To Stop On Your Own
If you happened to come across this article and are wondering about how to quit for yourself, we’d like to share some tips with you.
TIP 1. You are not alone.
Even if you have a drinking problem, you are amongst 10%+ of the population that does, too. Addiction is a mental problem that leads to physical manifestations and if treated, including treatment by self, it can be brought into remission. You are not alone and if YOU want to stop, help yourself by getting some education and help from someone knowledgeable. Truly good news. What happens to body after stop drinking alcohol?
TIP 2. You’ve got to want to stop drinking alcohol FOR YOURSELF.
There is no one way to stop drinking alcohol, understand that. But people rarely stop drinking unless they do it 100% for self. Others may put pressure on you and give you a good reason to stop, but no one succeeds who does not want an alcohol-free lifestyle for themselves above all.
TIP 3. You can stop drinking.
But keep your expectations realistic. You CAN put a plug in the jug (cork in the bottle, a flush down the toilet) and stop for today. When your head is clear enough and you’ve gone through the necessary alcohol withdrawal duration (up to 7 days), do a little research about addiction. There is tons of information available. This, my friend, is self-help. It may well lead to getting help and solving your problem.
For more ideas and tips on quitting drinking, see the NIH Booklet Rethinking Drinking for more.
When a person who is alcohol dependent tries to cut down or stop drinking, s/he will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may last few days, to weeks, to months… It all depends from person’s individual health, and level of dependency. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Delirium tremens
- Mood swings
- Sleep disorders
Alcohol withdrawal can be difficult to overcome. It is uncomfortable and in extreme cases of heavy or long-term drinking can cause life-threatening symptoms. So don’t suffer alone. Seek medical help anytime you are alcohol-dependent and want to quit drinking.
If you like to learn more about the occurrence of these symptoms, check out our infographic here.
So, who needs professional help for a drinking problem?
- If you’ve tried and failed to quit or cut down on your alcohol intake, you may need help from addiction professionals.
- If you’ve become alcohol dependent, you can benefit from professional help.
- If you’re drinking and using other drugs, professional help for quitting may be in order.
Some of your treatment options include:
Behavioral and talk therapy: The purpose of this type of treatment is to change drinking behavior with counseling help. Also, drinking can be seen as self-medication. So, during therapy, you can identify and resolve main causes behind your drinking.
Medications: Currently, there are three FDA- approved medications to treat alcohol use disorder.
- Acamprosate, which reduces alcohol intake, and can make it easier to maintain abstinence.
- Disulfiram, a medicine that blocks the metabolism of alcohol in the body, and causes unpleasant symptoms if people consume alcohol while on this medication.
- Naltrexone, which has been used to help reduce alcohol consumption.
Support Groups: SMART Recovery, S.O.S. Recovery, and 12 Step programs including Alcohol Anonymous (AA) offer peer support for people who quit drinking.
Rehabilitation: If your drinking problems are severe, you may think about enrolling into rehab program. There are two options available: outpatient and inpatient. The difference between these two is that inpatient programs provide constant medical care because patients live at the facility, while during outpatient rehab, patents come and go for a few hours several days a week.
Where to Go for Help
To find addiction specialists and rehab programs you can:
- Consult with your doctor.
- Seek referral from a local clinic /hospital.
- Seek referral from a community health centers.
- Search the American Psychological Association provider database.
- Search the national SAMHSA treatment locator.
- Search the Directory of Single State Agencies (SSA) for Substance Abuse Services.
Do You Want More From Life?
Once you stop clear your head from the booze for a while, you will face a deeper question: Do you want to just stop drinking or do you want a better life?
If getting a life means you want to fill your waking hours with serenity then look into self-help options that also include counseling. Make a decision to stop drinking just for you, then stop and learn more about alcohol problems. You can then get the help you need to help you help yourself.
P.S. There are many who wonder about what can be done to stop others from drinking. In these cases, we suggest that you check out support groups like Al-Anon, AlaTeen or talk with a counselor about issues of codependency.
Still have questions? We’d love to hear from you!
If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section at the end. We will do our best to answer all legitimate questions personally and promptly.
Reference Sources: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcohol Use Disorder
MedlinePlus: Alcohol Withdrawal
NIH: Rethinking Drinking: To cut down or to quit …
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.