Learn the challenges after your alcohol and drug rehab.
Since you’re reading this article, you most likely want to quit drinking alcohol forever—and that’s good news. There is plenty of content on the web about how to stop drinking permanently. Many inspiring stories and pieces of advice are helpful if you want to quit but don’t know how. There are a few things, however, that you might not know about. If you want to know how to stop drinking permanently after your alcohol and drug rehab, here are five things nobody is going to tell you.
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- There are no shortcuts. Dozen of blogs and magazine articles promise that following a few sneaky tips and tricks will enable you to quit alcohol forever. The Fix recently published a humorous but distressing account of one woman’s eight attempts to shortcut her recovery. She tried drinking with a partially-recovered buddy, tried to keep commitments to fitness, and tried making exceptions to her abstinence policy while on vacation. All of these shortcuts left her relapsed, discouraged, and stuck. Tempting as shortcuts are, there is simply no way around the hard truth: to stop drinking permanently, you will perpetually need to take action.
- Sobriety is a lifestyle you embrace every day According to NIAAA, 90% of alcoholic patients relapse within the first four years of sobriety. Why such a high number of relapses? Many factors contribute to relapse. One factor is that patients emerge from detoxification believing that they’ve achieved sobriety. Many patients experience a glorious emotional high after completing detoxification, and they feel invincible. The euphoria can be misleading. What patients don’t realize is that detox is not a permanent fix—it is one important step on the road to recovery. Detox will not teach you how to stop drinking alcohol every night. Sobriety is a difficult lifestyle, and there are many support services that can help you embrace sobriety each day.
- Your brain needs to heal It’s no secret that alcohol releases dopamine in the brain, providing you with that amazing feeling of reward. Over time, as you abuse alcohol, you become neurologically conditioned to recognize it as a reward. In fact, one study showed that patients with an alcohol use disorder demonstrated “significantly greater and more rapid insulin and glucose responses” than nonalcoholic subjects following the consumption of placebo beer. The anticipation of reward is so high for patients with an alcohol use disorder that their brain will trigger reward responses as a result of mere anticipation. Alcohol abuse impairs other cognitive abilities as well, especially problem-solving, short-term memory, and visuospatial abilities. Studies have shown that abstaining from alcohol for several months to a year allows the brain to recover these functions. Until that healing is complete, you should know that your brain is going to fight against you as you learn how to stop drinking permanently.
- Emotional sobriety is tough Emotional sobriety is the ability to acknowledge what you are feeling and stay sober in spite of it. The emotional toll of quitting is as high—if not higher—than the physical toll. This might be one of the most overlooked challenges of how to stop drinking permanently. As a consequence of alcohol numbness, you haven’t felt your own feelings for awhile. There is an emotional learning curve ahead of you. Remember that there is no shame in experiencing your feelings, and it requires mental stability and stamina to quit. You may find that therapy or counseling can help you embrace emotional sobriety.
- Don’t quit alone Perhaps because of guilt, shame, or remorse, you feel like you need to stop drinking all on your own. You feel like you’ve let down family and hurt friends, so you’ll leave them out of this mess and continue on by yourself. But you’re not alone, and there are people who would like to help you through this. If you feel isolated, there are alcohol and drug rehab support groups in your area which can help you make sober friends who will support your recovery. Surround yourself with positive influences and people who make you feel good about yourself. The more you’re invested in other people and your community, the more you have to lose; this will help you stay intrinsically motivated to stop drinking. Community can also provide accountability. When you’re fighting the urge to drink, try talking to someone you trust. This could be a sponsor or coach, a supportive family member or friend, or someone from your faith community.
If you have been dependent on alcohol for a long time and are consuming large amounts of alcohol, you may need medically supervised detoxification and a personalized recovery program. If you would like to speak to a clinician about how to stop drinking permanently, feel free to contact Lighthouse. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions.
How To Stop Drinking Permanently | How To Permanently Stop Drinking