If you are an alcoholic looking for an effective means to cease your addiction, the big question is – should you cut back or should you quit completely? To help you decide, it’s important to learn about both approaches. In this post, we will also provide you with treatments that are proven to help you in your journey to a life free from alcohol use and abuse.
How does habitual alcohol intake lead to addiction?
When alcohol enters our brain, it causes a rise in dopamine and GABA levels. These neurotransmitters influence brain function in that they affect regions that are responsible for inducing pleasure, motivation, sleep, memory, as well as crucial bodily functions such as respiration, cardiovascular functioning, blood pressure, and thermoregulation.
Habitual drinking leads to the disruption of dopamine and GABA production. As the brain becomes more familiar with this artificial disruption, our bodies slowly become more reliant on alcohol to stabilize dopamine and GABA levels. Majority of alcoholics recognize the problem a little too late, as their neurotransmitter functions have completely been altered by alcohol abuse. In this case, people are faced with a dilemma – is it better to taper alcohol drinking or go turkey? Let’s find out.
Cutting Down Alcohol Intake
It’s always the first drink that causes the problem and opens the door for a second, third, and until you finally realize you went back to your alcoholic ways. But did you know that abruptly stopping alcohol use can result in alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Cutting down on alcohol intake is beneficial under the care and supervision of experts. If a doctor recommends curbing your drinking rather than going cold turkey, here are a few pointers worth remembering:
- Make a list of reasons why you should cut back on your drinking. Whether you want to feel healthier, sleep better, or repair your relationships with loved ones, jot down things that will motivate you to cut back on its use, and ultimately quit at some point in the future.
- Set a limit on how much alcohol you can drink per day. If you need help, seek the advice of a doctor to determine the right frequency and amount of alcohol until you are ready to quit altogether.
- Never keep a stock of alcohol at home.
- This may sound counterintuitive but savor your drink. Sip your drink or have non-alcoholic drinks to pair with the alcohol of your choice.
- Schedule alcohol free days. Ideally you should have one or two days in a week wherein you abstain from alcohol intake. Taking breaks is extremely helpful, so you can drink fewer glasses as time goes by.
- Don’t be pressured to drink alcohol and learn to say no. It’s also recommended to stay away from people who encourage you to drink alcohol despite knowing you’re trying hard to stay away from it.
- Keep yourself busy. Invest your time in more wholesome and healthier activities such as walking, working out, playing sports, catching a movie, or eating out with friends and family.
- Never be afraid to seek support and professional help. Your doctor will refer you to programs, counselors, and therapists who can help you battle alcohol addiction in an efficient and safe manner.
- Protect yourself from temptations such as events where drinking is commonplace, including parties and other social events.
With professional and timely intervention, care, and supervision, you’re a step closer to quitting alcohol for good. The consistency in your practice of curtailing alcohol use was proven to help up to 72% of alcoholics to drink less in just six months.
Alcoholics are motivated to quit their dangerous habit for various reasons. Some need to stop drinking due to health complications they have unfortunately developed as a result of heavy drinking. Liver disease, cancer, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal problems, brain damage, malnutrition, and vitamin deficiencies are triggers for some to completely drop the habit.
Going cold turkey can cause severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, especially among chronic alcoholics. This is considered a major hindrance for a lot of alcoholics who are motivated to stop but are unwilling to go through the nasty effects of alcohol withdrawal.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include psychological symptoms, including tiredness, easy irritability, poor concentration, loss of focus, and sleeplessness. Physical withdrawal symptoms may include muscle twitches, sweating, headaches, palpitations, lack of appetite, vomiting, hallucinations, convulsions, and many more.
What is the Best Treatment to Recover from Alcohol Addiction?
If you fail in curbing alcohol intake and wish to quit altogether, it’s recommended to seek professional supervision. A doctor, alcohol addiction expert, or therapist will prescribe a medication that will alleviate the effects of alcohol withdrawal.
Ideally, medication prescription should also be coupled with counselling and psychological support. Local support groups such as AA will also help you cope with the stress and the unwanted symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, we highly encourage you to seek professional help to ensure an effective, safe and successful recovery.