In the long-term, cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink is usually a very healthy thing to do. But it can be hard to cut back—let alone stop drinking entirely.
Any time you cut back on a habit-forming substance such as alcohol, your body goes through withdrawals. Your body has adapted to the amount you’ve been drinking, so cutting back throws your body out of balance. This effect is temporary. Once it’s over, you’ll be able to enjoy the health effects of lower alcohol consumption.
There are many symptoms of alcohol withdrawals. Not everyone will experience every symptom. The heavier your drinking, and the more quickly you stop, the more serious your symptoms will be. Some examples include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to sleep
- Shaking or seizures
You may have heard that alcohol withdrawals can kill you. That’s true, but it’s extremely rare. You can reduce your risk of experiencing serious withdrawal effects by cutting back on your alcohol use gradually, rather than quitting cold turkey.
It’s a good idea to talk to a doctor before you stop drinking. Your doctor can give you personalized advice on how to stop drinking safely. There are also medications that can make it easier and safer to stop. If you have a really hard time quitting, you may benefit from an addiction treatment center, or a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous. At the very least, it’s a good idea to tell your loved ones that you are planning to stop drinking and ask for their support. It’s hard to quit drinking on your own—but with the right support system, you won’t have to.
- A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. (2019). Alcohol withdrawal. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Alcohol and Public Health: Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm