Stop Drinking: Step-by-Step Action Plan | Rehab Guide Clinics
Five steps to success concept which include goal, plan, action. Steps to success action plan

How To Stop Drinking Action Plan

If you’ve reached the point where you find yourself consistently reaching for the bottle despite wanting to stop, you may well be trying to think of ways in which you can stop drinking.

Help to stop drinking.

How long it takes to stop drinking alcohol and the best way to stop drinking for you will be based on the length of time you have been using and how much.

You may be asking yourself how you let it get to this point. How it became so bad without you noticing? And why is it you just can’t seem to leave alcohol alone?

Before you can decide on a stop drinking action plan, you will need to decide whether you are binge drinking and drinking heavily or if you are physically addicted to alcohol.

On the other hand, you may be someone who wants to stop drinking for health reasons or because it is affecting your career or relationship.

Whatever your reasons are for wanting to put the cork in the bottle permanently, Rehab Guide has some suggestions that may help you to stop drinking – If that is what you want.

Get free advice from our alcohol addiction experts today on 02072052845

When setting out ways to stop drinking, it needs to be tailored to you as an individual.

  • When are the times you most struggle with resisting alcohol?
  • What do you experience when trying to stop alcohol?
  • What are your individual circumstances at home?
  • Do you have support or family or friends who could help you?
  • How is alcohol currently affecting your life?
  • What would be the benefits of you quitting alcohol?

These are all questions that only you can answer! We can only make suggestions that can help and that you will need to adapt to you as an individual.

We recommend that you write your action plan down on paper so that you can refer to it daily and whenever you feel the urge to drink. You can share your action plan to stop drinking with a trusted friend or family member so that they understand what you are trying to achieve and can support you.

How do I stop drinking alcohol?

Rehab Guide suggests the following tips to stop drinking alcohol:

  1. Set yourself a quit date and rid your environment of all alcohol and empties. This may sound obvious, but there also needs to be room for flexibility here. If on your quit date, you find yourself with no desire to stop drinking, wait until the urge comes. Keep referring to your action plan daily for motivation.
  2. Identify the times of the day or the scenarios which make you more vulnerable to reaching for the booze. Write these down. This can help you to understand your triggers and when you will most likely need help and support.
  3. Write down the reasons why you want to stop drinking. These reasons can help to motivate you and remind you at times of vulnerability why you are doing this.
  4. Plan each day. The structure is fundamental when giving up alcohol. You will need to find a healthier replacement. Writing a list of things to keep you occupied each day will help to maintain your focus. Your daily plan should include an alternative means of relaxation such as yoga, tai chi, mindfulness or meditation. All of these things can be learned through classes or from the internet if you do not have the means to join a class.
  5. Make a list of people you can call if you feel tempted to drink. These people need to understand your reasons for wanting to quit alcohol. They need to be people who understand you and whom you can trust.
  6. Commit to asking for help from the very start. This may be in the form of attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, SMART recovery meetings, or enlisting the help of an alcohol counsellor or your local drug and alcohol team. Any focused help will help to keep your mind on track and help prevent alcohol relapse.

Strategies to quit drinking alcohol

Commit to keeping a daily journal to record your thoughts and feelings. Those who suffer from an alcohol use disorder use alcohol as a solution to uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. By writing them down, you may identify a pattern that needs to be addressed. Writing them down also helps you to see them more objectively. Follow this up with a list of things you feel grateful for. By feeling gratitude for the smallest of things, such as being sober that day, having a roof over your head, a conversation with a friend, the company of a pet or partner, nature and fresh air in your lungs, you are training your brain to look for the positives of giving up alcohol and feeling gratitude for the things you took for granted while drinking.

If your action plan works, another added positive of giving up drinking is that you will have the tools and understanding to help someone else. This can help you to maintain sobriety, build self-esteem and encourage you to be of support to others.

What if my action plan to stop drinking fails?

If you relapse after trying to follow your action plan, revisit it and identify what was missing. Perhaps you didn’t resolve issues? Maybe you didn’t ask for help when you needed it the most. Maybe you became complacent?

There can be a vast number of reasons for alcohol relapse. Behaviours and lifestyle need to change completely, and any underlying mental health issues or past trauma need to be professionally treated in order to support an alcohol-free life.

If you have tried to stop alcohol without the assistance of professionals and have relapsed, it is time to enlist professional alcohol help. This can make all the difference to an individual who repeatedly relapses on alcohol.

However, even if you have stopped taking alcohol, this may not mean the battle is over. Your recovery will be an ongoing process, and there is always the possibility of relapse. It may be a constant struggle to resist the temptation to start drinking again. So, you should carry on with your rehabilitation and watch for any triggers which could cause you to stray.

Most who give up drinking take it a day at a time and may find it hard to imagine living without alcohol. But, entering rehab and talking about your problems with a counsellor or accepting the help of friends and family, can help you stop drinking. You could also find something to take the place of alcohol in your life, from trying a new activity to taking up a hobby, as you continue with your recovery.

What happens when you stop drinking?

Quitting alcohol means looking forward to countless positive adjustments in your body. Alcohol abuse has adverse consequences for several of your body’s internal organs. The liver especially, is one organ that suffers the greatest as it is this organ that processes alcohol through your system. If you stop drinking, your liver will begin to repair.

Alcohol is a drug in liquid form and a very addictive one at that. Over time and with frequent drinking, your tolerance to alcohol grows.

You may find, looking back, that your alcohol consumption has increased. This being the case, your brain has already undergone chemical alterations that have enabled you to adapt to drinking larger quantities.

Once alcohol tolerance has developed, you will find that drinking any less than you are used to no longer has the desired effect. Whether you are seeking relaxation, enjoyment or complete oblivion, over time, you will have had to drink more and more.

When you are alcohol tolerant, drinking any less or trying not to drink at all produces intense and overwhelming physical cravings for alcohol. It is these alcohol cravings that will keep taking you back to the bottle despite wanting to stop.

One step up from alcohol tolerance is alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence means that you have to drink in order to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which, at the very least, are incredibly unpleasant and, at their worst, can be life-threatening. If you are alcohol-dependent and suffer moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, then medical intervention is a must. You will need a full medical alcohol detox to enable you to stop drinking safely.

Are you psychologically or physically addicted to alcohol?

how to stop drinking

In this modern-day world of theory and technological advances, many specialists seem to have forgotten the central importance of a vital distinction in addiction – that of psychological addiction versus physical addiction. For people with alcoholism, this distinction has huge practical implications – if you are physically addicted to alcohol, to cease its use suddenly may be fatal. If you are not physically addicted but are psychologically addicted, it would be safe for you to stop drinking gradually.

The presence of physical addiction to alcohol is ascertained by the occurrence of ‘withdrawal symptoms‘ when you have not had a drink for a period of time. If you suffer from ANY of the following when you have not had a drink for a period of time, then you are likely to be physically addicted to alcohol.

  • I get sweaty if I go without a drink for too long.
  • I get a tremor or shake if I go without a drink for too long.
  • I feel sick or vomit if I go without a drink for too long.
  • I feel panicky, anxious and agitated if I go without a drink for too long.
  • My hands shake first thing in the morning.
  • My whole body shakes violently first thing in the morning if I don’t have a drink.
  • I wake up absolutely drenched in sweat.

The importance of professional help

Quitting alcohol can be a difficult process, and there is a real risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. Some of these symptoms can also end up being life-threatening if left untreated If you have a severe alcohol dependence, it is essential you seek medical help when attempting to quit alcohol.

With expert help, your symptoms can be expertly managed – often with suitable medication – to stop the most severe symptoms from developing.

It may be the case that you can quit alcohol with the help of medication to stop drinking, such as Acamprosate, Naltrexone, Librium or Disulfiram. These medications have been recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for use in the treatment of alcoholism and to help stop alcohol cravings. They work in different ways and are most effective when used in conjunction with counselling.

You should also be conscious that quitting alone can leave you exposed to relapse at a later time. Research reveals that those who quit alcohol with professional guidance have a greater likelihood of staying sober long-term. Quitting on your own means that you will not acknowledge the issues that created the illness, and while these are left untreated, there is a real risk that the symptoms of addiction could return and cause a relapse.

Many may be worried about the prospect of going through withdrawal. There is another daunting aspect which may be hard to comprehend: to conquer alcoholism, you must choose abstinence. But if you have a dependency, this can be a frightening proposition. The question is, how do you stop drinking alcohol if you have been using it for a long time? Are you ready to give up the bottle and never drink again to defeat your addiction?

For decades, some have believed to combat a drinking problem, you should abstain from drinking all at once, while others advise reducing your alcohol intake gradually. The fact is, if you have become dependent on alcohol, it can be tough to give it up. Many subscribe to so-called `going cold turkey`, where you cease consuming immediately, while others feel they have the willpower to stop drinking and can quit whenever they want.

In many cases, it may take more than willpower alone; some choose to detox at home on their own, but it is not advised. It is generally recommended you receive professional medical care when undergoing detox, where the staff closely monitor you throughout your recovery. Pointing out to you how giving up alcohol can change your life for the better.

Professional alcohol help

How to quit drinking on your own is not simple – if it were, you would presumably have given it up by now. If you have an alcohol dependence, you will discover it challenging to break free from the cycle of addiction; if your addiction is severe, it is unwise to quit without supervision.

If you are alcohol dependent or unable to stop drinking despite your best attempts, then a medical alcohol detox and alcohol rehabilitation programme is strongly recommended.

For most patients, an alcohol detox will last for one or two weeks. The initial withdrawal symptoms develop a few hours after your last drink and will progress over the subsequent days. Symptoms can be moderate or severe, but it is difficult to predict how you will react and how you will experience these symptoms.

After a few weeks, most symptoms will have passed, although some – such as mood swings or sleep problems – can remain for some weeks or even months.

As well as going through a medical detox and experiencing withdrawal, you can also undergo counselling by attending regular therapy sessions, allowing you to talk about any pressing or underlying issues which could be at the centre of your alcohol use. You may also turn to support groups like AA or Alcoholics Anonymous, known for its 12-step rehabilitation programme, where you can meet with fellow addicts and share your experiences to help each another with recovery.

Rehab clinics will also use contemporary therapy techniques like cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapeutic and holistic therapies like yoga, mindfulness and music therapy, as well as evidence-based treatments to aid with your rehabilitation. These are several measures people in recovery can use to try and stop drinking.

Call 02072052845 and ask about our professional medical alcohol detoxes.

Free alcohol detoxification in the UK

This may be accessible through the NHS. If you wish to proceed along this route, the starting place is usually your local ‘Community Alcohol Team‘ (sometimes Community Drug and Alcohol Team’).

Usually, these days, you can book in directly with your community alcohol team by telephone. However, in some cases, they may require you to go to your GP first in order to be referred to them by your GP. When you have either referred yourself or been referred by your GP, you will be given an appointment for an assessment with the alcohol team. They will formulate a plan with you, which should include detoxification if you are assessed as needing one.

That’s the theory, and in some cases, it will work exactly like this. In some cases, you will get an excellent service from the NHS. In other cases, you will not – it all depends on where you live. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where the treatment of alcoholism has been well funded over the last few years, then you are likely to experience few problems. However, the funding for alcohol treatment has been very poor in most areas for many years and in some cases, has got even worse over the last several years as money has been diverted to treating illicit drug problems rather than alcohol problems.

If you are NOT physically addicted to alcohol but plan to cease drinking on your own

Many may not be aware of what happens to your body when you stop drinking. After all, it is basically a toxin which can adversely affect human organs, particularly the brain and liver. The liver is a regenerative organ which will start repairing if you lay off alcohol but may not regenerate if you keep drinking.

You do not have to be a heavy drinker to suffer alcohol-related health problems, and even if you are only a moderate drinker, you will notice a significant change if you stop.  According to recent research, if you cease imbibing for a month, you will lose weight, reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure, lower your chances of suffering type 2 diabetes and even clear your skin complexion, amongst other health benefits.

There can be both physical and emotional ramifications to giving up. If you cut out alcohol, or even if you stop drinking so much, you can have more energy and greater productivity. It can negate sleeping problems and improve relationships with those closest to you, be it friends, family or work colleagues. If you stop drinking, it can improve both your physical and mental health altogether.

There are many ways to give up and in time, you can learn to live without alcohol. It does not have to be an impossible dream.

Rehab Guide specialises in the treatment of alcohol addiction. We can help you achieve complete abstinence from alcohol and rebuild your life with the help of our expert medical professionals and alcohol counsellors.

Aim towards a future where you can be the person you have always wanted to be. In our alcohol treatment clinics, you will learn to adapt to a life of sobriety by defeating denial and gaining real self-confidence to face life without alcohol.

Connect With Us – 02072052845 or 0141 427 3491



Author 'John


Trained in addictionology in the Johnson Model, and specializing in substance abuse for individual and couple counselling. John's personal experience has given him a wealth of insights, which he integrates into practice. His extensive training has allowed him to gain expertise in individual and group counselling, concurrent disorders, case management, executing treatment plans and relapse prevention. He started this free helpline as a result of a life change and to help others get sober and live a life free from drugs and alcohol. John covers a variety of topics relating to addiction and recovery in his articles.


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