Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that works by slowing down vital functions in one’s body. The feelings elicited when an individual ingests alcohol occurs because of the way the substance interacts with one’s neurotransmitters. As is explained by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), “Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works.” After an individual consumes alcohol, it is absorbed from the small intestine and stomach into his or her bloodstream and is then metabolized in the liver. The liver, however, is only able to metabolize a small amount of alcohol at a time, which leaves excess alcohol to circulate throughout one’s body via the bloodstream. The amount of alcohol consumed directly relates to its effects on one’s body.
Alcohol Use Disorder
Habitual abuse of alcohol may lead to alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol use disorder, which is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder. The Mayo Clinic defines alcohol use disorder as “a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.” It is important to note that not all people who drink alcohol develop alcohol use disorder. Individuals without alcohol use disorder may decide for any number of reasons that he or they would like to cut back or stop drinking alcohol.
How To Stop Drinking
Harvard Medical School suggests the following tips to help control your alcohol intake, drink more responsibly, or cut out alcohol altogether:
- Write it down: make a list of the reasons to reduce your drinking (e.g., feeling healthier, sleeping better, or improving your relationships).
- Establish your drinking goal: set a limit on how much you will drink.
- Journal: for three to four weeks track and document every time you have a drink to make sure it aligns with your drinking goal.
- Don’t tempt yourself: removing the alcohol from your house can help limit your drinking.
- Select alcohol-free days: pick one or two days each week to abstain from drinking and be mindful of how you feel physically and emotionally without alcohol in your system on those days, gradually increase these days as you see fit.
- Say no: avoid succumbing to peer pressure.
- Self-care: stay busy and integrate self-care practices into your daily routine (e.g., exercise, eat nutritiously, meditate, read a book, watch TV, paint, etc.).
- Lean on loved ones: cutting down on your drinking can be difficult, and the support of family and friends can make a world of difference.
- Do not hesitate to reach out to a professional: if you continue to struggle with your alcohol intake, it may be advantageous to pursue professional guidance. There is a vast network of highly qualified mental health providers that have expert knowledge and extensive experience in treating individuals that wish to stop drinking alcohol.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long-lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment-related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.