How to Stop Drinking Alcohol

For many people, it’s difficult to quit drinking alcohol. The substance can be physically and psychologically addictive. If you aren’t physically addicted to alcohol, you can usually quit drinking with the help of friends or self-help tools. If you’re trying to overcome alcoholism, you’ll need counseling or rehab to help you quit.
Topics On this page
| | 6 sources

Before you try to achieve sobriety, you need to think about your drinking habits. The way that a social drinker stops drinking is different from the way that a high-functioning alcoholic quits drinking. People with the disease of alcoholism require formal treatment. Those who aren’t addicted to alcohol may be able to quit on their own or with the help of friends.

You can find out if you’re addicted to alcohol by taking an alcoholism assessment quiz. These quizzes help you determine whether you meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder — the medical term for alcoholism, alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. The diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder were published in the American Psychiatric Association’s fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

You can decide how much help you need to quit drinking based on the results of the quiz.

How to Stop Drinking

Once you know how much of a role alcohol plays in your life, you can figure out how to quit drinking. Unfortunately, abstaining from alcohol isn’t a simple process. Things that work for some people don’t necessarily work for others.

If you’re a casual drinker, saying no to peer pressure may not be easy. You may see a friend who is a casual drinker say no when offered a drink and wonder why it’s easy for them. He or she may not need self-help tools, but those resources might work for you.

Similarly, some alcoholics may be able to stop drinking with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. Others need residential rehab and long-term aftercare support. If one strategy doesn’t work for you, try another.

Quitting Cold Turkey

Stopping alcohol use abruptly is the riskiest way to quit drinking. If you feel physical cravings or withdrawal symptoms when you quit drinking, you shouldn’t try to stop cold turkey. Casual or social drinkers may be able to quit cold turkey.

Dr. Kevin Wandler of Advanced Recovery Systems describes the potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms that can occur when a person quits drinking alcohol cold turkey.

Learn more about the differences between causal drinking and alcoholism


People who are physically dependent on alcohol should gradually reduce, or taper, their alcohol intake. Dependence is different from addiction. People who are dependent but not addicted to alcohol may not require rehab.

Learn more about safe ways to detox from alcohol on your own

Asking for Support

Almost everyone who struggles to quit drinking requires some form of peer support. As with any goal, quitting alcohol is easier if you have friends and family members supporting you. They can encourage you to stay sober and help you find other healthy ways to have fun.

Find out how friends and family members can support an alcoholic

Self-Help Books

Self-help books can boost your confidence and motivate you to stay sober. They provide strategies and tools to help you maintain sobriety. Numerous self-help books are available in print or online.

Read the Sobriety E-book, our free guide featuring tips on maintaining sobriety

Smartphone Apps

The app store on your cellphone has several sobriety apps that can inspire you to quit drinking and stay sober. Some apps help you keep track of alcohol intake or sobriety dates. Others provide daily motivational quotes. They may help you quit drinking, but most of these apps haven’t been medically reviewed.

Read about an FDA-approved app used to treat addiction

Support Groups

Alcoholic support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, provide free help for people struggling to quit drinking. People with minor alcohol problems or people who have already received treatment for moderate or severe alcohol problems usually benefit from AA.

Learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcohol Counseling

Anyone experiencing problems with alcohol can benefit from counseling and therapy. A counselor can help you develop personalized strategies to get sober. Counseling can be simple or intensive depending on the severity of your drinking problems.

Find out about different types of counseling and therapy for alcoholism

Alcohol Rehab

If you’ve struggled to quit drinking or overcome alcoholism, you may require rehab. Formal treatment for alcohol addiction allows you to detox in a safe environment and provides comprehensive therapy to teach you how to stay sober.

Learn more about rehab for alcoholism

In general, it’s better to put time and effort into sobriety than to try to do the bare minimum. If you’ve struggled to quit drinking, you should consider support groups, counseling or rehab. Self-help books or apps are less likely to help you successfully quit if you are addicted to alcohol.

Seeking help for alcohol addiction?We are here for you.

Help for Alcoholics: Where to Find Sobriety Resources

People with alcohol use disorders don’t have to look far to find help. Almost every community in the United States has community initiatives, support group meetings and some form of help for alcoholics.

Those seeking assistance while working to overcome alcoholism can talk to a therapist or expert in person or on the phone.

Other resources available online include:
  • Alcoholism hotlines: Several toll-free hotlines provide free information for people with alcohol use disorders or loved ones of people affected by alcoholism.
  • Other alcohol-related resources: Several websites, support groups and nonprofit organizations can help you learn about overcoming alcoholism and staying sober.
  • Rehab facilities: Addiction treatment centers can provide over-the-phone assessments and help you determine how your insurance policy covers treatment for alcohol addiction.

If you’re still unsure of how to find help in your community, contact your local hospital or health department. Most health care organizations can direct you to helpful resources near you.

Tips for Those Trying to Stop Drinking

For many people, abstaining from alcohol is a major lifestyle change. It requires a lot of time, effort and mental energy. Some people can decide to quit drinking and do it without help. If you’re reading this page, you probably aren’t one of those people. Don’t compare yourself to them.

Use these tips to increase your chances of overcoming alcohol problems:

  • Stay positive. Quitting is more difficult if you have a bad attitude.
  • Commit fully. Sobriety isn’t something you can achieve with minimal effort.
  • Ask for help. Getting sober is hard to do on your own.
  • Have faith. When you believe sobriety is possible, you’re more likely to achieve it.
  • Take it one day at a time. Thinking about quitting for a year can seem daunting. Taking things one day at a time is more achievable.

Always think about the benefits of quitting alcohol and how they will improve your life. It may also help to think about the negatives that alcohol causes. With a realistic strategy, support and faith, you can quit drinking and begin alcohol recovery.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Chris Elkins, MA
Senior Content Writer,
Chris Elkins worked as a journalist for three years and was published by multiple newspapers and online publications. Since 2015, he’s written about health-related topics, interviewed addiction experts and authored stories of recovery. Chris has a master’s degree in strategic communication and a graduate certificate in health communication.
Medical Reviewer
Ashraf Ali
Psychiatrist, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Was this article helpful?

How helpful would you rate this article?

    loading logo

    Thanks for helping us make our website better for visitors like you!

    View Sources

    Ready to make a change?

    Get cost-effective, quality addiction care that truly works.

    Start Your Recovery
    We're here to help you or your loved one.
    Question mark symbol icon

    Who am I calling?

    Calls will be answered by a qualified admissions representative with Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS), the owners of We look forward to helping you!

    Question mark symbol icon

    Who am I calling?

    Phone calls to treatment center listings not associated with ARS will go directly to those centers. and ARS are not responsible for those calls.