1. You will stop drinking alcohol. That is an important decision.
  2. Write down why and how you will stop.
  3. Consider in which situations it will be difficult and what you can do.
  4. In the beginning you may experience trembling, sweating, heart palpitations and poor sleep.
  5. With a clear plan and support from your environment, you will succeed in stopping alcohol.
  6. Your doctor or practice assistant can help you with this.
  7. You can also follow a self-help program on the internet to stop drinking alcohol.
  8. Sometimes your doctor may refer you to a doctor for addiction care.

  9. Make a plan to stop and write down appointments
  10. Make a number of agreements with yourself and your environment. Write down these agreements.
  11. Choose a start date. Don't wait for a good time, there is always a reason to postpone it again.
  12. Think of a nice reward for yourself in advance, if you have weathered it for a day or a week (for example a magazine or to the cinema).
  13. Tell the people around you that you have decided to stop drinking alcohol.
  14. Agree with them that they no longer offer you an alcoholic beverage.
  15. Agree on how they can support and encourage you in difficult moments: should they leave you alone or distract you?
  16. Agree on how people around you can best respond if you do not stick to your plan. Should they address you to this, discuss this with you? Or should they leave you alone?
  17. Prepare your plan to quit alcohol
  18. Keep an alcohol diary: Write down for two weeks every day what you drink, how many glasses of alcohol, when and in which situations. This gives you more insight into your drinking habits. You will then see at what moments you are used to drinking alcohol. These are the moments that can be difficult for you. For the difficult moments you can already come up with solutions or distractions. This way you can prepare for these moments.
  19. Write down the benefits and disadvantages of drinking alcohol for you. Record the reasons why you no longer want to drink. Do it as completely and honestly as possible. Let people in your area complete the list. Save the list so that you can read it again at difficult times.
  20. Did you have fixed times when you were used to drinking alcohol? Then plan to do something else for those moments. For example, did you always go to the café after work? From then on, go to the gym or go to the cinema. Did you always drink alcohol before going to sleep? Then go for a walk or take a warm bath. The thought of drinking alcohol does not come to mind easily.
  21. If you used to drink a lot, you often have times when you long for alcohol. That desire usually lasts only half an hour. Think about what you can do at such moments to get through that half an hour. It's about finding distractions. For example you can:
  22. Breathe in and out gently 10 times
  23. Do 10 knee bends or walk up and down the stairs 5 times
  24. just walk outside, walk or cycle
  25. make a pot of tea or pour something fresh
  26. read the newspaper or magazine
  27. watch television or listen to music
  28. call someone, write an email or visit someone

Tips for stopping drinking:

  • Make sure you have no alcohol in the house. Make sure you have a supply of non-alcoholic beverages in the house that you like, for example fruit juice or a nice tea.
  • Make sure you know what you want to say if someone wants to give you a glass of alcohol. For example: "No thank you, I stopped drinking alcohol." Or say you still have to drive.
  • If you did not stick to your plan once, it does not mean that stopping failed. Then consider the situation in which it happened. Consider what you can do differently next time in that situation, and write it down.
  • What are withdrawal symptoms?
  • Your body is used to a daily amount of alcohol. If you suddenly drink less or stop drinking, you may therefore receive temporary symptoms. We call this withdrawal symptoms. For instance:

  • You become moody, restless or anxious.
  • You get a headache.
  • You sleep poorly.
  • You will experience hyperventilation, shaking, sweating, heart palpitations, tingling and dizziness.
  • Your appetite and bowel movements can change.
  • If you suffer from withdrawal symptoms for more than 5 days, this means that your body has become dependent on alcohol. It is then wise to stop alcohol completely. This gives you more guidance.

  • Withdrawal symptoms are annoying, but they don't hurt your health. They usually go away on their own within a few weeks.

  • Distraction and relaxation , exercise and sports help during this period.
  • Tell the people in your area that you are suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Then they understand what's going on and they can support you.
  • Medications for withdrawal symptoms
  • If you suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety or poor sleep, contact your doctor.

  • You can then receive medication ( lorazepam or chlorodiazepoxide ) for a few days to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Because you can become addicted to these drugs, you can only use them for a week. You start taking less of these medicines after 2 days.

  • When will you contact your doctor if you stop drinking?
  • If you decide to stop drinking alcohol, make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will help you make a plan. The chance that you succeed is greater. Sometimes the doctor will ask the GGZ practice assistant to guide you.

  • Also take your notes with you on your next visit: your alcohol diary if you have one, the list of reasons to stop, your plan and the agreements that you have written down. Then you can discuss together how things are going and what the difficult moments have been. 
  • It can help to be in contact a number of times for extra support and guidance.

Do you suffer from withdrawal symptoms, such as intense fear or shaking? Then make an appointment with your doctor every day for the first week. The doctor will check whether you are not becoming too sick from the withdrawal.

Do you need more support? Then the doctor can refer you to addiction care.

More help needed with reducing or stopping alcohol
Do you need more support? Then the doctor can refer you to addiction care. Together with your care provider you make a plan to reduce or stop and to regain control of your life.

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