Alcohol self help

What can you do to stop drinking? 3 tips on self help for alcohol problems here.

minute read
Reviewed by: Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

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.


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:

  1. Inability to control your alcohol intake
  2. Inability to stop drinking even though you tried and failed many times
  3. Inability to do your daily responsibilities at work, school, or home
  4. Cravings for alcohol
  5. Having troubles with your friends and family because of your drinking
  6. Continued drinking despite all negative consequences
  7. More time spent on seeking/using/recovering
  8. Needing more alcohol to get the same effect than before (tolerance)
  9. Undergo withdrawal once you stop using or lower your drinking
  10. No interest for your hobbies or activities because your alcohol use
  11. 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.

Alcohol Withdrawal

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:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Delirium tremens
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Sleep disorders
  • Tremors

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.

Professional Help

So, who needs professional help for a drinking problem?

  1. If you’ve tried and failed to quit or cut down on your alcohol intake, you may need help from addiction professionals.
  2. If you’ve become alcohol dependent, you can benefit from professional help.
  3. 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
MedlinePlus: Alcohol Withdrawal 
NIH: Rethinking Drinking: To cut down or to quit … 
About the author
I am a Master Life Coach who is ICF certified and a certified addictions coach. I consider myself recovered from the effects of addiction (16 years) but still in recovery mode as it relates to personal growth. Professionally, I am university educated, a former corporate CEO and have been in the consulting business for over two decades. I'm a husband, father, grandfather, friend, uncle son, a trusted confidant and many other things but bottom line, I'm Keith. I hope that I can help SOME out there with ideas that will make you think deeply.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Texas Healt...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.


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  1. There is a new drug that helps with the withdrawal symptoms and long term quitting. It is called NADS it is given via a drip. It is worth checking out.

  2. I have cut down to ease the withdrawal symptoms. I was drinking at least 18 16oz nattydaddy beers a day with 8% alcohol down to 8 5.9% 16oz beers a day of naturalice beers and I plan on reducing to regular beer in a day or two. Will this help me with my dependency to alcohol. I hope to get down to four regular beers in a few days. I really don’t like the withdrawals I have been going thru. And I would like to completely stop drinking.

  3. The only thing that helped me was a honest and humble prayer asking Jesus Christ to deliver me from alcohol telling Him there is no way I can do it without Him and I am totally sober. I tell everyone that it wasn’t me. Prayer to Jesus honest and willing to not drink alcohol worked for me and will work for you.

  4. Hi All, have been reading a lot of your blog’s and find it very interesting how different yet, how similar they are. I myself have been drinking for about 30 years, just normal teenage blowouts at the weekend, started work , which up until 5 years ago have always done.
    The last 15 years always had 6 to 8 cans of Stella (5.2% abv) a night plus rum at weekends, never got hangovers so just carried on drinking thinking that it was pretty normal, used to go out to parties with family and end up blind drunk and being an embarrassment to everyone.
    Became I’ll and ended up in a wheelchair 5 years ago, first three months spent in hospital, first time I didn’t have any alcohol , (of course not by choice)
    When I got out and back home I would find ways to get drunk as wife and family were against me having a drop, due to my illness had to move from family home, the drinking and fighting with ex wife were a big part of it too.
    Moved into own flat, own money and started drinking strong cider 7.5% and 3 litres a day, plus the odd bottle vodka.
    Went to a family wedding last month, half bottle vodka on the way there, you guessed it, off my face before dinner even finished, luckily my brother got me out before I made a complete arse of myself, the problem was my daughter who seems to have my genes, she was out of it.
    I thought the next day as my Dad told me that my Mum had cried herself to sleep that something has to be done. (Sorry for going on) I decided that there is no way I can stop drinking, so so back on to 4 cans of 4.8% lager, delivered every day by my parents, they have my credit card and bank card so have no access to money, been doing this since 1st of Jan and have managed to slip up once with a litre bottle cider, was not happy with myself.
    Sometimes I have £20 here the night before I go out to pool and have even gone to bed at 6pm knowing that the shop will be shut when I wake up (temptation averted)
    My plan is to cut down from where I’m at, but slowly, as I know in myself I am not ready to give up the alcohol yet, hope in time,I will.
    Thanks to you all, good luck.

  5. I had my last drink two days ago doing this cold turkey I have my husband daughter and her boyfriend with me at all times if your thinking of quiting talk to your dr about being put on Valium to help it does work, robin.

  6. Thanks Tilly I definitely will take everything you said into consideration. I do want to say what works for one person will not work for everyone, despite age and all that. I’ve overcame a great deal in my life. While I was 17 I had the most traumatizing anxiety, OCD and depression. While most high school kids were living normal lives I literally went in and out of hospitals. I even had some of the nations best doctors tell me I would never live without medication and some form of outpatient care. I couldn’t even leave my bedroom. Now I would have to submit a novel of information to tell you how I got out of it but I did, without medication, doctors and I left my home on my eighteenth birthday to New York City and never looked back. Since then I’ve lived in Paris, overcome many fears and I’m still moving forward today. The problem is contemporary medicine, self imposed fears and most importantly an unwillingness to not take risks. Now back to the drinking….this week was miserable but I got through it. In fact I’ve felt good since the night I posted on this blog! Sure it was not easy and I don’t wish it on anyone but it is possible. Unless you are completely powerless over your ability to control yourself I would even recommend doing what I did without doctors. In fact ethanol is usually administered in a lot of cases and it leads to better sleep during detox and less relapses overall. Although I wouldn’t suggest this to most I will drink again and I’ll do so by training myself to moderate. This is what is done in most places in the world and I think its affective overall. Sometimes in America doctors tend to give us wheelchairs when what we really need is be taught how to walk. In either case I hope you people out there have found the way that makes you happy, which is more important than anything overall…

  7. Hi Tami, I have been doing fine, its approx 30 days without Alcohol, I am not sure to the day, which is good because normally you would be counting every minute let alone every day, so the fact I am not thinking about it massively is I am sure a very good sign. I have cut down all my fat intake and counting calories (in a fashion) and have lost a stone in weight which is most welcome, plus I have lost inches off my body areas which I am not measuring yet until next week. I have been doing 3miles a day on my treadmill with a 6 step incline. I have loads more energy I am no where near as restless as I usually am. and thats just after one month more or less. I had blood tests for kidneys,liver,thyroid etc all came back clear, I know you can have liver damage even though blood tests for liver funchion show to be ok? but as long as i am feeling good I will just take things in their stride, I can;t do much my and bad tempered with those close to you, but that is also related to a low carb intake, due to losing weight, but thats getting better now, I still have problems sleeping but hey! can’t have miracles for everything I am over the moon with myself and feeling very positive. I must say how kind it is of you to ask, it has made my day that someone was interested in me, yes got to sort out the confidence thing, but I am sure it won’t be far off. Thank you godless Tilly xxx

  8. Dear illhavethecheck, I am saddened to read of your situation, and I really wish you all the luck in the world. If you can taper off easily and find that way is best for you, that is your prerogative. I just wanted to say that youth is strength, and you have youth on your side. While you are young you can beat this drink problem, but if you find you drop back to drinking you will need some kind of help, even if its just talking things through with someone. The more you drink and stop each new stop start session will become more difficult, its just a fact (very complicated to expalin) I never realised this but read up on it some time a go. Reading between the lines you seem to have very high profile jobs which sound very interesting, lots of travel, you must meet lots of interesting people? The world is your oyster! The longer you drink the harder it is to stop. This might sound like a no brainer but please believe me it is something that the drinker does not really think about until its way out of hand. When drinkers get older, long term drinking makes aging extremely difficult, without all the health concerns which are a vast multitude, there is the social side of living which becomes unbearable to socialise, make friends, confidence problems, to name but a few. Please do not take this into your next decade, take your time find whats comfortable and right for you, but don’t let drink ruin your life, health, and all relationships, because it will, use the strength in your youth to beat it, and have a healthy happy long life you have the choice make the right one, not now this minute or tomorrow but in your comfortable time, I wish I could turn back the years, god bless take care with love Tilly x

  9. I am a twenty six year old male who has been drinking very heavily for years. Every. Single. Day. When I was 19 had an ex girlfriend make me stop for two years but I had started again when I was 21. For the past year and a half I’ve been living in Paris which is where I reached my peak of drunking. During the summer I would sit by the Seine and consume 2 bottles of wine, 2 pints of beer and a small bottle of whiskey on a daily bases. Because I had a very physical job most of the alcohol seemed to sweat itself out every morning and hangovers were virtually non existent. Now I’m back to NYC and I usually just drink one bottle of wine a night but on the weekends I usually go a bit overboard. The problem with this is I feel HORRIBLE the following mornings now, especially now I don’t have a active job. Anyway I just got a good job that requires travel back and forth between Paris & NYC and the last thing I need to be dealing with is a habit like this. Now in my case I am going with the taper method. I have a distrust of doctors, and the last thing I need is this kind of thing on my record. I did AA a few years back it wasn’t for me either. All that talking of drinking only extended my hang overs and after a while I started feeling very indoctrinated by a philosophy that I respect but not feel is right for me. Saturday I had my last hoorah with 1 liter of vodka, Sunday I feel like sh&# but allowed myself about a bottle of wine. Yesterday was Monday and I brought myself down to one glass of wine and three beers. I felt miserable all night and all day at work today and this evening I’ve only allowed myself one glass of wine. It knocked me out instantly due to the fact my body had been pretty overactive today most likely due to withdrawals. I will take sips as needed for the next couple of days but I feel I should be in the clear soon, in fact I already feel on the other side of the hump! I have zero desire to be drunk again which is the needed ingredient to do this without medical support. I recognize how easy it is to rationalize an extra drink and I’m so scared of one day being truly powerless which is why I’m finding success in this now. I think any method is good as long as you make your health the number one priority. I drink only enough to avoid a serious medical emergency because on the other hand I do think it is stupid to go Cold Turkey. If you want to go that route that I would say go seek medical attention first. I saw some pretty graphic videos on youtube two nights ago of people going through DTs and no party or high is worth that. Good luck to all of you, and myself of course, I hope this helped in some way. God bless.

  10. Hi Tilly,

    It sounds like you know the problem intimately. I’d suggest that you consult with a nutritionist to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes that work for you….and to seek advice from a primary physician for overall testing for possible long term damage to internal organs caused by drinking. You’ll have peace of mind, and you can also request more information about local resources for ex-problem drinkers (ie. counseling, support groups, social services, etc.)

  11. I have had a problem with alcohol for 20+ years I am female now 55yrs old. I would drink most nights say 4 out of 7. Over a period of time I would drink a couple of beers, then at least 2/3rds of a bottle of red wine. I would never drink more than this it was my limit. Then over the past 10yrs or so I went to one beer and 1/2 bottle wine about 5 nights a week. The strange thing with my drinking was I would wait till i was preparing the evening meal and consume the drink have dinner then stop for the evening, 5.30pm to 7.30pm was my drinking time ??????
    I would always drink copious amount of orange squash and drinking, i would be up peeing most of the night, and i have not had a full nights sleep for many many years, irratability etc. I have stopped for a couple of weeks on quite a few occasions, but always gone back, and yes i really do enjoy having a drink. I had my last drink 16 days ago, and apart from a sickly head on a couple of mornings i have been fine. The hot and cold sweats that i am having as far as i am aware are menopause flashes which i have been having for the past 12months or so, (not related as i was already having them. I must say I thought the hot flushes would of eased a little as I am not drinking alcohol but they have not reduced. I want to be able to drive again as i stopped 10 years ago as i felt it was the most responsible thing to do if i was drinking most days. I now wonder if i am going to be safe to drive? if my brain has been affected by alcohol? and if i can still expect any nasty withdrawral symptoms? i feel good at the moment eating a good diet and excercising daily, but is it to little to late? any advice would be greatly appreciated xx

  12. well TrIsha I wIsh u the very best of luck! Im an alcoholIc myself & I havent had a drInk In a full day whIch I havent done In a long tIme, I usually black out from drInkIng, wake up & start drInkIng all over agaIn. Im thInkIng of doIng one of those a.a. meetIngs….so yea defInItely good luck to u! u can do It!

  13. Hi Trisha. I think that you may want to check out SMART Recovery. They have online meetings and you can download reading from their website about how to stop drinking on your own. SMART is based on cognitive behavioral therapy and is a self help program in the real sense “self-help”.

    In my limited opinion, it does sound like you have a problem with drinking, given your high tolerance, compulsion to drink, and daily pattern of drinking. Please let me know how else I can help.


  14. I’ve been very depressed lately, over family problems.,etc.
    So I started drinking alot lately (smirnoff vodka) 1/2 half pint to a whole one. It seems I have to have it every day – so that my nerves would stop shaking. It’s a complsive think. I just want to know from
    any one who has been in this type of perdiciment Does any one know without going to Rehab. what I should do. And I do thank you!!

    Also, I have no energy whats so ever – that’s because of the drinking I
    suppose – when can i get back into movidation mode after i quit for about 7 days – to get out of my lack of movidation and no energy at
    all. I need everybody’s advice for me. Thanks again.

  15. I think motivation is the most important step for healing from addiction. The addicts leave the control of their life to their addiction and it is difficult but not impossible to get the control back. These items may help them to remember that they can do it.

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