Alcohol

Quitting Alcohol? Here Is What to Expect

November 27th, 2018
Man considering a drink

It is no secret that alcoholism can ruin your life, and in many cases, end it. If you are struggling with alcohol, you probably have a long list of reasons to quit ⎼ your health, your loved ones, your happiness, your job. But for many, the fear of the unknown makes the idea of quitting seem impossible. Not knowing what treatment is right for you, how your loved ones will react, what to expect after rehab, and what life will be like sober can be overwhelming. And while your recovery journey will be unique to everyone else’s, there are some things that you can expect and prepare for.

Withdrawal Symptoms

What to Expect:

Excessive drinking has wreaked havoc on your body, and you need to allow it to start healing. The first step is detox. You have likely experienced the discomfort and pain that comes when you haven’t had a drink in a day, or maybe even in a few hours. During detoxification, your body starts to rid itself of toxins and you begin experiencing that pain and discomfort. Detoxing from alcohol is not easy. You may feel nauseous or fatigued. You may sweat and experience hallucinations. Depending on the severity of your addiction, the symptoms may be more intense. Know that it is common to fear withdrawal, but once you have moved past it, you will be glad you made the decision to stop drinking.

How to Prepare:

Detoxing from alcohol is both physically and mentally taxing but you can make the process easier by detoxing at a treatment facility. Detoxing at home is extremely dangerous, and in some cases deadly. By detoxing under medical supervision, you not only ensure your safety, but you have access to doctors who can provide you with medications that can significantly reduce your withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making the detoxification process more manageable. To manage long-term withdrawal symptoms that you may experience once you have completed detox, consider implementing holistic activities such as yoga and meditation into your routine.

A lot of Emotions

What to Expect:

Throughout your addiction, you have used alcohol to numb yourself from feeling anything. But that fog clears when you achieve sobriety, and you begin to truly feel things again. As you get a better understanding of your addiction, discover the root of it, address past traumas, and examine the damage your drinking has caused, intense emotions may arise. At times, this can be overwhelming and make you feel like you are on a roller coaster and unable to control your emotions. This is normal and will subside as you learn to recognize triggers and how to constructively express your emotions.

How to Prepare:

It is difficult to predict exactly how you will feel once you stop using, but you can prepare yourself for whatever lies ahead by surrounding yourself with love and support. Speak with your loved ones about your addiction, be open about your fears, and ask them for help during your journey. Explain to them that you know it won’t be easy and that you will need their help to stay on track. Knowing that you have a support system you can confide in will make it easier to face challenges. And speaking to a clinician, joining a support group, and participating in therapies such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) will also help you address your emotions and help you establish a strong foundation for recovery.

Setbacks

What to Expect:

The road to recovery is a long and often bumpy one. You will face many challenges both during and after treatment that can put your recovery at risk. You may find yourself stressed and thinking about having a drink, you may feel lonely and be tempted to join your coworkers for after-work cocktails, you may lose a loved one and question whether recovery is even worth it. Life is full of challenges, and sometimes, setbacks will happen. What is important is how you react to them. Know that thinking about having a drink or even actually having that drink does not erase all the work you have put in to get sober. Recognize your mistake, learn from it, and get back on track to the life you deserve.

How to Prepare:

You can’t avoid all the curveballs that life throws at you, but you can be better prepared to handle them. Many in recovery become overconfident and complacent in their recovery. It is important that no matter how many years of sobriety you have under your belt, you always actively work on your recovery ⎼ practice self-care, maintain a strong support network, learn to recognize your triggers, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Change

What to Expect:

It should come as no surprise that giving up alcohol is going to completely change your life. After all, that is the point of recovery: to free you from the chains of addiction and allow you to grow healthier and happier. And while your life will significantly improve, adjusting to all the changes that sobriety brings isn’t always easy. Giving up alcohol will likely cause you to cut off certain people from your life, and it may even cause you to lose some friends who don’t understand your new sober lifestyle. You may find yourself having to give up going to certain places, that your job puts your recovery at risk and you need to change careers, that you have extra time on your hands and don’t know how to fill it, or that people treat you differently. It isn’t always easy to see the silver lining in these changes, and you may get stuck in your old ways, but if you don’t learn to embrace change, you could put your recovery at risk.

How to Prepare:

It is normal to be resistant to change. The unknown can be scary, but you can’t grow without getting out of your comfort zone. Attending individual and group therapy can help you understand the need for change and how to deal with life on its own terms. Keeping a journal also helps, as it allows you to see the positive results of making small changes in your life. You know what they say, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” So, leave your old ways of thinking and behaviors in the past and embrace all the changes life has in store for you.


If your loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, we are here to help. Reach out to Mountainside by calling 888 833 4676.