stop drinking alcohol

Are you trying to figure out how to stop drinking alcohol completely? It’s tough to quit drinking all on your own without guidance and support.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does alcohol work?

Alcohol depresses parts of the central nervous system and slows down some of our brain functions. Various parts of the central nervous system are depressed by alcohol, with many consequences.

For example, when the brain’s speech centers are inhibited, this cause’s slurred speech; when the vision centers are affected this produces distorted vision; when the coordination centers are depressed this results in loss of balance and limb control.

The strong depressant effect of alcohol lasts for a few hours after drinking, but alcohol also produces a weaker agitation (or irritation) of the nervous system that lasts much longer. This is the cause of the “morning after” hangover and shakiness.

This effect often leads heavy evening drinkers to drink again the next morning, as the (very uncomfortable) agitation can be temporarily overcome by drinking more alcohol.

Thus, a vicious circle is set in motion, which can play a large part in alcoholic drinking patterns and take a person that much closer to alcoholism.

What effect does drinking alcohol have?

The impact of drinking alcohol depends on the state of the brain at the time, and this in turn depends on the drinking environment.

In a quiet environment (low brain activity), perhaps at home in an armchair, an alcohol user will experience relaxation or drowsiness at low to moderate doses. These sensations are often welcome, which makes it difficult to figure out on your own how to stop drinking.

In a social setting, with lots of sights, sounds and social interaction (high brain activity) low doses of alcohol may feel stimulating. This is caused by depression of the higher brain centers, which produces apparent stimulation by reducing anxiety and self-consciousness.

A drinker may become more talkative than normal and demonstrate increased self-confidence and loss of self restraint. So alcohol can feel like a stimulant – but it’s not – these effects are a result of the inhibition of normal brain activity.

As the alcohol dose is increased, significant depression of brain activity can result in slurred speech, loss of limb coordination and loss of emotional control. High doses of alcohol can inhibit vital brain functions – this can produce deep sedation and slow down the breathing rate, which can result in coma or death.

How can you tell if someone has a problem and needs to stop drinking alcohol?

Answering the following four questions can help you find out if you or a loved one needs to quit drinking:

  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

One “yes” answer suggests a possible alcohol problem. More than one “yes” answer means it is highly likely that a problem exists.

If you think that you or someone you know might have an alcohol problem, it is important to see a doctor or other health care provider right away. They can help you determine if a drinking problem exists and plan the best course of action.

If an alcoholic is unwilling to get help, what can you do about it?

This can be a challenge. Most people with a problem don’t want to hear someone else tell them when or how to stop drinking. An alcoholic can’t be forced to get help except under certain circumstances, such as a violent incident that results in court-ordered treatment or medical emergency.

But you don’t have to wait for someone to “hit rock bottom” to act. Many alcoholism treatment specialistssuggest the following steps to help an alcoholic get treatment:

  • Stop all “cover ups.” Family members often make excuses to others or try to protect the alcoholic from the results of his or her drinking. It is important to stop covering for the alcoholic so that he or she experiences the full consequences of drinking.
  • Time your intervention. The best time to talk to the drinker is shortly after an alcohol-related problem has occurred – like a serious family argument or an accident. Choose a time when he or she is sober, both of you are fairly calm, and you have a chance to talk in private.
  • Be specific. Tell the family member that you are worried about his or her drinking. Use examples of the ways in which the drinking has caused problems, including the most recent incident.
  • State the results. Explain to the drinker what you will do if he or she doesn’t go for help – not to punish the drinker, but to protect yourself from his or her problems. What you say may range from refusing to go with the person to any social activity where alcohol will be served, to moving out of the house. Do not make any threats you are not prepared to carry out.
  • Get help. Gather information in advance about treatment options in your community. If the person is willing to get help, call immediately for an appointment with a treatment counselor. Offer to go with the family member on the first visit to a treatment program and/or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
  • Call on a friend. If the family member still refuses to get help, ask a friend to talk with him or her using the steps just described. A friend who is a recovering alcoholic may be particularly persuasive, but any person who is caring and nonjudgmental may help. The intervention of more than one person, more than one time, is often necessary to coax an alcoholic to seek help.
  • Find strength in numbers. With the help of a health care professional, some families join with other relatives and friends to confront an alcoholic as a group. This approach should only be tried under the guidance of a health care professional who is experienced in this kind of group intervention.
  • Get support. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Support groups offered in most communities include Al-Anon, which holds regular meetings for spouses and other significant adults in an alcoholic’s life, and Alateen, which is geared to children of alcoholics. These groups help family members understand that they are not responsible for an alcoholic’s drinking and that they need to take steps to take care of themselves, regardless of whether the alcoholic family member chooses to get help.

Is alcoholism inherited?

Research shows that the risk for developing alcoholism does indeed run in families. The genes a person inherits partially explain this pattern, but lifestyle is also a factor. Currently, researchers are working to discover the actual genes that put people at risk for alcoholism. Your friends, the amount of stress in your life, and how readily available alcohol is also are factors that may increase your risk for alcoholism.

But remember: Risk is not destiny. Just because alcoholism tends to run in families doesn’t mean that a child of an alcoholic parent will automatically become an alcoholic too. Some people develop alcoholism even though no one in their family has a drinking problem. By the same token, not all children of alcoholic families get into trouble with alcohol. Knowing you are at risk is important, though, because then you can take steps to protect yourself from developing problems with alcohol.

Can someone can’t quit drinking alcohol, can they be treated?

Yes, alcoholism can be treated. Alcoholism treatment programs use both counseling and medications to help a person stop drinking. Most alcoholics need help to recover from their disease. With support and treatment, many people are able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives.

Does alcoholism treatment work?

Alcoholism treatment works for many people. But just like any chronic disease, there are varying levels of success when it comes to treatment. Some people learn how to stop drinking alcohol and remain sober. Others have long periods of sobriety with bouts of relapse. And still others cannot stop drinking for any length of time. With treatment, one thing is clear, however: The longer a person abstains from alcohol, the more likely he or she will be able to stay sober.

Consequences of abuse:

Most people will have some experience with alcohol. Many will experiment and stop, or continue to drink casually without significant adverse effects. Some people will use alcohol regularly, with varying degrees of physical, emotional and social problems. Some will develop a dependency and be destructive to themselves and others for many years. Some will die – and some will cause others to die.

As there is no certain way to predict which alcohol drinkers will develop serious problems, all alcohol use must be considered as potentially dangerous.


Alcohol drinkers may develop a physical or psychological dependence on alcohol. This can cause great harm to the drinker, in terms of physical and mental health, financial problems, employment difficulties etc. In addition, alcohol dependence is likely to cause great distress to partners, children or other family members, who may be directly or indirectly exposed to the consequences arising from compulsive alcohol consumption.

The impact on family is often a motivation for people to seek help on how to stop drinking.

Physical dependence is often related to consistently heavy drinking. People who drink on a regular basis become tolerant to many of the unpleasant effects of alcohol and are able to drink more before suffering these effects. Many heavy drinkers may not appear to be drunk. Because they continue to work and socialize reasonably well, harm to their physical health can go unrecognized until severe damage develops or until they are unable to drink for some reason and suddenly experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms range from jumpiness, sleeplessness, sweating, and poor appetite, to tremors (the “shakes”), convulsions, hallucinations and sometimes death. Deaths from suicide, accident and cirrhosis of the liver are very common among heavy drinkers.

Psychological dependence upon alcohol may occur with regular use of even small daily amounts, such as a glass or two a day. It can also occur in people who drink alcohol only under certain conditions, such as before and during social occasions. This form of dependence results from a craving for alcohol’s psychological effects, such as relief from anxiety, although the drinker may not consume amounts that produce serious intoxication. For psychologically dependent drinkers, lack of alcohol tends to make them anxious and prone to panic attacks.

Family abuse:

Excessive consumption of alcohol is commonly sited as a reason for difficulties within a family or marriage. These problems may range from drunken violence directed toward a spouse or children, to financial problems caused by compulsive purchase of alcohol or other related behaviors. It is difficult to overemphasize how much stress a person who abuses alcohol may cause within his or her immediate family. If a person continues to abuse alcohol over a period of time, his or her behavior is likely to cause bitterness and resentment among relatives. While family members may love the alcohol abuser, they are likely to hate his or her behavior.

Are specific groups of people more likely to have problems?

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism cut across gender, race, and nationality. Nearly 14 million people in the United States – 1 in every 13 adults – abuse alcohol or are alcoholic. In general, though, more men than women are alcohol dependent or have alcohol problems. And alcohol problems are highest among young adults ages 18-29 and lowest among adults ages 65 and older. We also know that people who start drinking at an early age –for example, at age 14 or younger – greatly increase the chance that they will develop alcohol problems at some point in their lives.


Alcohol is the common name for ethyl alcohol. It’s a Central Nervous System depressant and is one of the most widely used (and abused) drugs in our society! It’s produced by the fermentation of fruits, vegetables or grains by yeasts which convert the carbohydrates (sugars) of these plants to ethyl alcohol. Alcoholic drinks consist mainly of various strength mixtures of water and ethyl alcohol.

Medicinal uses:

Alcohol is sometimes used as an external local anesthetic and sterilizing agent.


All calls are confidential.Source(s): National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the FDA