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How can I stop drinking or taking drugs?

139 Answers
Last Updated: 03/03/2022 at 2:23pm
How can I stop drinking or taking drugs?
1 Tip to Feel Better
Moderated by

Maria Wasielewski, Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance, University of Arizona

Licensed Professional Counselor

I am inspired when working with clients, who are facing challenging life experiences, to be able to help them to develop the needed skills to live their best possible life!

Top Rated Answers
November 28th, 2020 11:47pm
Set yourself a goal in life. Make it something that you want to reach really badly. If you really want to achieve it from the bottom of your heart, all your distractions, bad habits, and anything that might hinder you from achieving that goal will disappear. Also, do something to substitute drinking and drugs - perhaps joining a support group. Interact with people and talk to people who can help you and more important, people who have been through similar things and/or people that are going through things similar to you right now. Take the initiative to make your life better. Dream a better future and make it happen.
November 29th, 2020 6:49pm
I have been sober for a little over 7 years. What it took for me was reaching the place where the pain of changing were less than the pain of staying the same. It was no secret to me that my addictions were taking an enormous toll, but I had to reach that "jumping off point" where I was willing to go all-in on a different way of life. From that point, I was able to participate in 12-step meetings, get a sponsor, and follow suggestions. None of this was I willing to do previously, but once I through myself into it 100% I was finally able to stay sober and have a much happier life.
December 6th, 2020 6:10pm
You need to find satisfaction in life and in the things you're doing. The trick is to infuse the knowledge of all of the essential relationships into or lives in a way that dissolves the barriers of ignorance. What goes around, comes around. This simple sentence keeps you from making false assumptions about what to do. Another help is to stay out of your own recovery. Do not try to manage your own recovery under any circumstance. Get help from others who have achieved a time away from addiction and do as they tell you. Seek out help and recognize that addiction is a disease!
December 30th, 2020 1:26pm
I found a beautiful, gentle yet compelling take on starting the process of managing potential addictions. It is by Jessica Dore. I have pasted the body of the article below for anyone who is interested. I got my start in psychology working for a publisher of books about behavioral therapies, counseling techniques that target behavior change specifically, rather than healing relational dynamics or making the unconscious conscious, as some other therapies do. I learned a lot about the mechanics of behavior and particularly the interplay between thoughts, feelings and action, and I use these ideas a lot in my work. I've grown more critical of these therapies over the years, because of the way they’re so often used in mental health settings to prop up capitalist ideas of functioning. The goal is observable behavior change, so treatment targets are usually things that will give an appearance of wellness, but might ultimately be more about smoothing over post-traumatic stress symptoms that disrupt a person’s ability to go to work, for example. There’s also a hyper individualistic tone to these therapies; they tend to put the onus of change on the individual rather than attend to environmental reasons why a person might be experiencing symptoms of mental illness. I relate a lot to The Hermit, though, who walks the Middle Path but is never neutral, and who sees the half-truth nature in all things and still knows when to say yes and when to say no. The Hermit is good at finding where the medicine is and offering it in the right place and time. Since behavioral therapies are based on the science of behavior change, they can be powerful aids when change is needed. Used in the right context with the right intention, we can extract the active ingredients from them and use them to do magic. If you’ve followed my work for a while you may be familiar with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which is a behavioral therapy. The idea of ACT is basically that you determine what’s important to you and then commit to taking actions that hold you in line with what you’ve deemed precious. Your values live in any domain of life that you care about, so you probably have values related to family, creative life, health, community and so forth. So in therapeutic work, you might identify the top domains of life that are important to you, and then you define your values in each. Once you've determined what matters to you, then begins the real work. You start to figure out what internal experiences—fear, grief, guilt, anxiety, self-doubt—you'll need to accept in order to stay committed to those values. Since many times it’s the things we’re not willing to feel that keep us stuck in patterns that don't work, ACT helps us learn to work with those. It's about learning to accept feelings we're scared of so we can live better. Now remember, this is a behavioral therapy. It's about doing, not about saying. So I’ll give an example. You’re a white person who says you value Justice. There are tons of us out here saying that. In therapy, we aren't allowed to be that vague because it’s not going to help us make real change, so you’ll have to get a bit more granular: In 2016, the net worth of a typical white family in America was ten times that of the typical Black family—about $171K and $17K respectively. And even though you know capitalism is inherently violent and anti-social, you accept that it’s the system we’re all having to exist in. You determine that you value wealth equality, which means that you want to live in a world where Black people have as much access to money and resources as whites do. But it’s not enough for you to say you want a world like this. Values are not abstract things, but guides for action. There’s even a tool in ACT where a person asks themselves “will this behavior bring me closer to or further away from what matters to me?” like a compass. A lot of things in life are not that cut and dry, but you get the point. And just like it generally would not be considered progress for you to go into a therapy room week after week and say “I’d love to stop doing xyz” while you continue to go home and do xyz every night, it is not enough to say “I want wealth to be distributed fairly” and then do nothing to actually challenge the way it’s distributed now. I’m using one example of a value, one that speaks to people with class privilege and surplus resources to share, but there are so many. Whatever the area is where we can take direct action to align with the values we claim, we can apply the idea of values as behavioral and not simply ideological. Let’s talk a bit more about what ambivalence is. As you read, think about it in the context of social change. Ambivalence is a psychological process that hinders momentum, direction and persistence. People who are ambivalent tend to feel stuck and sometimes hopeless and are often inconsistent in their decisions and behavioral patterns, in what they say they want and what they do, and in their perspectives and emotions. Ambivalent people are often very inconsistent, they may get excited about a change but lack persistence and stamina to follow through over the long haul. According to Wagner, Ingersoll & Rollnick (2012) ambivalence has cognitive, emotional and behavioral components. Ambivalent people often toggle back and forth between continuing to live as they were and wanting to try something new. One minute they might say “I have to do better” and then a week later forget all about the thing they swore they’d work on. They tend to get super excited about new ideas and prospects and feel high levels of confidence around their ability to execute, while also holding intense dread, anxiety or consuming grief around letting go the comfort of what they’ll be forced to leave behind. Sometimes they experience such debilitating guilt and shame about the choices they’ve made; unable to process those feelings they ultimately choose to do nothing at all. And when it comes to taking action, ambivalent people sometimes take intense but inconsistent steps forward, unsure about whether they’re in this thing really, and then falling back at the first sign of hardship. Some are impatient and unrealistic about the changes to be made, expecting it to come swiftly as if by magic. Upon realizing that it just doesn’t work that way, relapse is common in the ambivalent. Miller & Arkowitz (2015) write that “ambivalence is a normal and common human condition whereby people simultaneously want and do not want something.” It’s a common sticking point in psychotherapeutic work because change involves uncertainty and people are naturally resistant to the unknown. In order to have honest conversations about racial justice, I think we have to address the fact that many white people are ambivalent about giving up our existing way of life in favor of one that looks more equitable and just. We’ve lived this way our whole lives and a lot of us don’t have good skills for engaging mystery. As a recovering highly self-critical person, I want to say that this identification of ambivalence is not to judge, scorn or berate, though I do think shame serves an important function in social change. It is to apply what we know about the process of change in individuals to the larger ecosystem to which we all belong, so that we can identify what’s keeping us stuck and what we can do about it. If you got into therapy to address a drinking problem, stated that you’d like to stop drinking and acknowledge the ways in which it would benefit your life but continued to show up week after week with a hangover, your therapist would say you are ambivalent about recovery. That’s because declaring what’s important to you is a mere first step in the change process, an entryway to the work itself. Why, then, do so many of us as white people believe that it is sufficient to proclaim our values on social media—whether it’s about anti-Black police violence, human rights violations in immigrant detention centers, or income and health disparities—without taking any real action, and think that’s enough? We have good data over years of studying behavior change about how to address this exact problem. There are gobs of scientific studies on ambivalence and how to overcome it. Interventions designed to address it are built into a lot of addiction recovery programs because of how common it is, even when it comes to changing behaviors that are clearly destructive, life-zapping and even anti-social. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel or grasp in the dark here. But we do need to acknowledge that it’s there. That even as we say we believe in racial justice, as long as there is a part of us is that fears relinquishing our privileges, that part can and will undermine our capacity for real change. So again, values identification is the entryway to the work, not the work itself (Eight of Pentacles). It’s not enough to post a few things on social media every time a Black person gets killed by a cop and then ignore police violence every other day. It would be like going into therapy, saying what your goals are and then thinking you’re done. That would be asinine. And yet… So now that you know your values you have to start identifying what it looks like to live those things. You value wealth equality, and you also have more than you need. When you go to the grocery store you buy what you want and don’t worry about not having enough at the checkout. And while it’s probably impossible to say exactly how much of your income you owe to your privileges, you feel confident in saying it’s at least 10%. So you make a commitment to redistribute 10% of your income to Black people each month, either Black-led organizations or individuals. You've identified your values and you’ve made a commitment and now you're cooking. And where things really start to heat up is when the barriers crop up. Identifying the barriers and finding new ways to work with them is a huge part of the work in ACT. Generally what happens is, you ID your values, make a commitment to act on them, and then the procession of fear comes through. So for the white person who valued wealth equality, their fears are in the shape of scarcity, of not having enough, of being left behind, of struggle (Five of Pentacles). Maybe it’s not money you’re going to give but time, time reading and learning and listening. Or social capital, where your problematic friends are going to stop inviting you out because you speak up when you hadn’t before. If you’re interested in magic, this stuff is the prima materia that the alchemists spoke of. The base metal that you’re hoping to transmute into gold. The behavioral task is to make the values-aligned move, and to do that requires you to work differently with the fears you have about it. To notice where those fears show up in the body and what the mind does when they come up. To listen for what it tells you to do or not do. To witness thoughts and visceral reactions to the fears. To be gentle with them so they draw closer. To run the tips of your fingers across their thorns and spiky ridges. To ask where they came from. To become faintly aware of something seeping out from the small spaces of air inside your bones, like a poisonous gas. Of a very old fear that's been passed on down the line. A fear that's been waiting for the day when it would reach someone with the know-how to transmute it. You have honed your magical abilities. You have learned to work with fear. You have a chance now, to do something other than yield to it. To make the fear into a golden salve that you can use to do healing. To develop a new relationship with it, so that you can stop harming others. So that you can stop harming yourself. The spiritual task is to be with these questions: Do I believe that I am a part of an eco-system (The World)? If so, why am I hoarding what I have as if I live here alone? Why am I okay with having more than I need when people around me don’t have the basics? Why, if I personally do not want to feel scarcity and fear, am I okay with other people feeling it? Would I be willing to feel it? What are the values of my spiritual systems (The Hierophant)? To whom do I make offerings to with the living altar of my body and behavior? What are the values of the entities I worship? How do I show my devotion to them through my actions? Lots of questions. If we want change in any area of life, we have to learn to engage mystery in ways other than avoiding it. And one big certainty: It is not enough to say we want something to change if we are not willing to do the work. That is true at every level of Being. Part of both behavioral work and spiritual work is defining what the sacrifice is. The Gods don’t say, “here, do this ritual, make this sacrifice” it is the responsibility of the People to make those determinations. Privilege might have us thinking we are exempt from that dynamic. We are not. And if you’re not willing to determine what the work is, then you either don’t really want that change or you’re not understanding the mechanics of how change works. The Gods of change require earnest and consistent offerings. --
January 1st, 2021 12:09pm
I do not drink or use drugs. If I did and needed to stop, I would start by attending a 12 step program, working it, and I would also find support with a rehabilitation or dual diagnosis program to ensure that I had the neccessary coping skills to learn new healthy habits rather than the habits I've learned to self medicate. Having a good support team (including family and friends) creates an atmosphere for success. I would also give myself space and time in order to grow emotionally, mentally, and physically to ensure a good foundation to remain sober and experience the present moment with a clear head.
January 2nd, 2021 10:20pm
Well first off tell the people you normally do these kinds of activities with that you no longer want to do these things. IMPORTANT NOTE do not make yourself sound superior to these people or above them because they do drugs and you no not. common mistake. Telling people your goals holds you more accountable to them. Step two is do not make drugs or drinks redily available to you. the harder it is to access it the less likely you will be to get it. delete your dealers contact number off your phone. Cant buy anything from him of you contact him.
January 6th, 2021 3:36pm
Recognizing that this is a problem is the first step. The next step is to talk to someone who can keep you accountable when faced with temptation to do it again. Remove the alcohol and drugs that is in your home so you won't have to look at it. Whenever you do have the urge to drink or take drugs, find another activity that you can replace it with, whether that be journaling or exercising. Replace that urge with something good. It is totally ok to have slip ups here and there, the process to recovery and healing is not a straight line but rather has ups and downs.
February 6th, 2021 1:20am
Visit your doctor or healthcare professional. Start your big leap by visiting your doctor to help you manage your withdrawals. Quitting cold turkey can be dangerous or even fatal for longtime drinkers, and a doctor can help you detox safely. Visit a support group. A support group can provide encouragement and help monitor your progress so you’re never alone on your journey. Tell your family and friends. Let your loved ones know what’s going on so they can offer support and help hold you accountable. It can also be a relief to not keep your drinking problem a secret. Set a date. Determine the exact date for you to start so it is set in stone. Keep a journal. Record all events when you were tempted, felt the urge to drink or actually drank. Note why you think you felt this way and how you handled the craving. Review your entries often and check how to manage the urges or recall how you got through it. Avoid things and situations that remind you of your drinking habit. Get rid of any alcohol in your house and take a new route home if you usually stop at a favorite bar on the way. Planning daily activities to fill your usual drinking time might also help. Spend more time with friends who don’t drink. Instead of going out with friends who love to drink, fill your time with activities that you enjoy or that can help you better yourself. You can still see those friends, but make it at a time and place that you wouldn’t normally drink.
April 14th, 2021 10:44am
What helped me from stoping was firstly having a support network that I could fall back on in times where I was struggling to keep my promise to myself. Then 2ndly joining rehab group for overcoming addiction, addiction isnt something you can easily decide to stop one day, it's a difficult chapter that needs to be handled properly and carefully by following steps that will help you over come it and exchange with something healthy and never fall back into. With any addiction it's a lifelong battle that you must be willing to fight everyday for the betterment of one's self. You must love yourself enough to want to do it for yourself the support network and support groups are only tools to help you overcome your addiction.
May 6th, 2021 8:30pm
Deciding to overcome an addiction to alcohol or drugs could be the most important decision of your life. Once you understand that you have a problem and need help, knowing what next steps to take can be confusing. Most people don’t quit using alcohol or drugs overnight. Getting sober is a gradual process that can take weeks, months, or even years. Many people struggle with lapses and relapses throughout the course of their recovery journey, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you encounter temporary setbacks. No matter how long you have been abusing drugs or alcohol or how bad your addiction is, there are certain steps that anyone struggling with an addiction must take if they want to learn how to quit abusing drugs or alcohol, including: Committing to quitting. Determining and setting goals. Choosing a treatment plan. Getting support during treatment. Planning to live an addiction-free life. If you are committed to taking the steps necessary to quit abusing drugs or alcohol, treatment professionals and members of your support group can help you throughout the recovery process. recovery is possible, i am living proof i really hope this information helps and lastly please remeber you are worth is and never ever suffer in silence, i am here for you and everyone here on this site is so supportive reachout , save your life because you are worth it.
May 27th, 2021 7:16am
It's definitely not easy to stop any type of addiction cold turkey. It is doable but the withdrawal symptoms may be really exhausting because your body and mind are going from one extreme to another. Ways you could ease off the substance addictions are: 1) Slowly lessen the amount or quantity of the substance you take while exploring not other alternatives like e-cigarettes, nicotine patches, or even finding healthy food options whenever you feel the urge to drink or smoke. 2) If you get more motivated by company, find a "stop it!" buddy to give you some tough-love reminder every time you turn to the addiction. Or even join groups or find a buddy who is also trying to quit an addiction and journey forward together. 3) If you are the sort of person who loves to be organized and keep habits, use a habit tracker like Habitica or Tusk where you can point and badges for sticking to a good habit every day. 4) Lastly, seek professional help if the above does not work or even use it with the other pointers to complement your therapy. You can do it!
June 11th, 2021 6:07pm
This is a very broad question- but from my own experience, I found that a good way to stop drinking/taking drugs is to be around friends who are also trying to reach the same aim or friends who actively try to help you overcome this issue. Friendship and family are both good supports that will allow you to move forward from an addiction better. Yes, it may be embarrassing for some (it was for me) to admit to having an addiction to these things, but I felt a lot of burden was lifted when I was open with my friends. They also helped me a lot through constant reminders- even praise when i withstood a craving. All the best and I'm proud of you for taking this step to find out how to overcome your addiction.
July 24th, 2021 9:30pm
Make yourself stop for a day. Just decided that for this one day, you will take control. It's only a day, so you can do it. Then journal what your experience was. Then schedule the next time you will take control for a day (or more) and say 'no' to any urge to drink or take anything. And if you don't make it for some reason. (like an external influence). Then be kind to yourself and just do this again at another time. (No judgment) The more you do it the easier it gets. Spoiler alert. Little by little may start to appreciate the magic you do possess naturally, without any external influences. And you may start to notice what the drink or other substance is also doing to you in addition to helping you to relax. Good luck! :) Leri
August 1st, 2021 6:39pm
Unless you feel you might be in danger, it is best to stop when you feel ready (or to practice stopping, if you feel ready for that). The all-or-nothing thinking tendency works just as poorly for other things as it does for breaking habits. If you’re in danger of an overdose or poisoning, it is best to seek proper care, and speak to somebody in a trusted clinical position. Reaching out to trusted family members and/or friends is also advisable, if you feel able and prepared to do so. For nasty habits that you recognize as detrimental to your well-being, I suggest the following: build a mental perspective that benefits your desire to stop. For example, start to cultivate a mindset that will help you recognize potentialities, such as that of you no longer needing substances (either through physical or psychological dependency). Surround yourself with thoughts, ideas, people, activities, and mindsets that lift you out of the fears, worries, and anxieties that are standing in the way of your quitting. But, lastly, don’t forget that these are BIG and incredible changes that will require significant time and patience, as well as mental durability and resilience. One step at a time. Keep loving yourself and advocating for yourself, both with others and within your own being as well. Keep fighting and good luck.
September 16th, 2021 6:00am
Getting over an addiction can prove to be very difficult and there is no one way that works for everyone. The most important step in the recovery process is admitting that you have a problem and being willing to do something about that problem. While some manage to recover on their own from home, not everyone can expect this tactic to work for them. Everyone is different and if you do not believe you can go on this journey alone, find yourself a sponsor or counselor. Try speaking with a close family member or friend. And if you feel comfortable doing so, consider looking into local rehab centers. There is absolutely no shame in seeking out the help you need.
September 18th, 2021 4:37pm
There are many different ways and techniques that people will go about to quit drinking and stop the usages of drugs. Each person is different. Not all techniques that work for one individual will work for you. Sometimes, it can be a learning process to figure out what doesn't work to ultimately figure out what does work. A question I have asked myself in the past is: What about drinking makes me want stop? What behavior and thoughts would I like to have surrounding drinking? It can be helpful to reflect and learn about oneself around the 'why' when wanting to stop drinking and stop taking drugs. It can be an easy process for some and a long, tiring, frustrating, and downright exhausting process for others. Each person's motivations to stop drinking or stop taking drugs may be very different AND the end goal may be the same. It can be a challenge to change one's habits around alcohol and drugs. It's important to remember and try one's best to be patient with oneself. For whoever reads this, the fact that you are on 7 Cups of Tea is inspiring in the first place. It is not easy to ask for help or admit to wanting help and guidance.
February 12th, 2022 6:31pm
The most common method is to reduce the intake gradually, to wean off by eliminating 20-30% of the current dosage weekly depending on the intensity of addiction. Of course, the biggest side factors which contribute to a successful cessation of drug or alcohol abuse are being mindful of one's social circles and general environment, or in other words working on avoiding the triggers which might prevent a person from reaching their goal at first, and being able to come to terms with them later on. The latter part, and much of the process of conquering addiction is dependent on proper social and emotional support, so besides working on personal development through psychotherapy, establishing deep and meaningful relationships with positive persons which will assist the person in this goal is nigh essential. To summarize: decrease your dose a little every week, avoid triggering circumstances and people, work on your self confidence and talk to a psychotherapist, take up a health oriented hobby and seek meaningful and supportive relationships.
February 24th, 2022 6:34pm
Firstly, you have to really want to stop. If you examine your motives and decide that stopping is what you are ready to do, finding someone who has walked that path before is very helpful. It could be a Twelve Step sponsor, a mentor or even a close friend who has achieved sobriety. Having someone who understands the challenges and how it feels to struggle with using thoughts, can better help you navigate those feelings. There are medical treatments available to cut down on cravings for alcohol and opiates. Investigate what will work best for you then jump in. There could be setbacks along the way, so don’t beat yourself up. Every time you slip and come back, you are stronger. Relapse does not have to be a part of your story but if it happens, be gentle on yourself. Remember, you are doing a hard thing and with anything, it does get better and easier. You are worth it and deserve to be happy!
March 3rd, 2022 2:23pm
One advice that clicked for me as an alcoholic was the following: You have to stop negotiating! The whatever substance has nothing to lose, but you have. And as long as you keep staying on the negotiating table there will - also depending on your day to day strength - always tiny doors come up for the opposite side to sneak in. Staying sober is not about somehow managing to be the 100% dominant negotiator, and putting all your energy into the negotiation to make sure you win 100%. Staying sober is actually to completely move away from that negotiating table. Take your life (which is actually subject of negotiation), stand up from that table (where you lost all the energy debating about how much is okay, which occasions are okay, what time spans of sobriety prove enough that you have it under control) and move somewhere else. That idea was a perspective shift for me.