Giving up Alcohol at Home
For an alcoholic, making the decision to give up alcohol might be the hardest part, but actually stopping is pretty rough too. Anyone who has been drinking for a long time on a daily, habitual basis will have developed a physical addiction and stopping is definitely going to have both a physical and mental and emotional effect.
Giving up at home is how most people quit. With the right attitude, support from friends and family and determination it can be fine, but it's as well to be prepared.
Cold TurkeyIf you have been the kind of drinker who cannot function each day until you've had a couple of hairs of the dog, then quitting is going to be rough for a couple of days, no doubt about it. The morning shakes, the feelings of anxiety, the sensitive stomach, the aches and pains - all those things which have normally been chased away with the first drink of the day are going to come at you in a bit of a rush now.
Going 'cold turkey' is the quickest way to sorting things out though, and once you're through the first tough few days things start to settle down quite quickly.
The SymptomsEveryone will experience different symptoms of course but as a general rule, milder effects are anxiety, headaches and sweating, nausea or vomiting and loss of appetite. As well as the physical side, other symptoms include feeling irritable or overemotional and depressed, and sleeping patterns will be affected, leading to bad dreams, insomnia and tiredness.
If the addiction is longer term or more severe, symptoms can be quite harsh, and if this is the case, perhaps giving up at home might not be the answer. The withdrawal from serious alcoholism can include hallucinations, fever, ranting and confusion and even convulsions so if you think this might be the case then seek medical support rather than trying this at home.
Cutting BackMany people try cutting back before they stop. This can help with alleviating some of the symptoms as the physical reliance on alcohol is reduced. Cutting down though takes some commitment and clear deadlines, as the temptation is to think that actually, the drinking is in control and now I don't need to give up at all. Problem solved! Then of course it starts to creep up again and this form of 'yo-yo' solution can go on for years.
Cutting back can be really effective but it's important to keep in mind that the end result is to stop completely, and to set a time limit on the cutting down period. Start by reducing the daily quantity slowly, spread out the gaps between drinks, drink lower alcohol drinks or add more mixers. It's often a good idea to see your doctor about this when cutting back as he or she can often prescribe medication that will make this easier - things to take the edge off such as beta blockers for anxiety, or sleeping tablets to help you rest.
Giving Up at Home
Giving up at home is usually fine, but the biggest danger comes from the temptation to fall off the wagon. Nobody but the alcoholic can understand that absolutely burning desire to drink and as soon as the withdrawal symptoms kick in, it will be hard to resist. However with determination and by taking a few safety measures it can work easily.
First port of call is the doctor. Explain your plan and ask for help and advice. Depending on your circumstances, your GP can assist with medication, treatment or therapy and counselling.
Take time off work to focus on what you're doing. Empty the house of any kind of alcohol at all. Even mouthwash. And stock up on sugary soft drinks such as fruit juice. Alcohol contains a lot of sugar and when giving up, the shakes are partly due to the sugar crash, so sweet drinks can really help.
The first three of four days will be the worst, so be assured, it doesn't last long. Anxiety, irritability, restlessness and insomnia are going to be the biggest issues once past the initial shock to the system, so try and rest as much as possible, and cat nap if necessary. Basically, grab some sleep whenever you can.
Tuck up on the sofa, rent some great DVDs and rest. Once you're feeling a bit better, start to make some plans. Maybe list the things you would like to do - visiting friends, taking a holiday, spending time with the children - whatever you have shelved during the time when alcohol has taken over your life is yours again for the taking. So enjoy thinking about your future.