Can You Recover From Being An Alcoholic?

Compare Rehab UK | Can You Recover From Being An Alcoholic?

What is Considered an Alcoholic?

You’re not alone if you’re unsure whether or not you have a drinking problem.

Anyone who worries about their alcohol consumption probably has unhealthy drinking habits. On the other hand, problem drinking does not automatically make you an alcoholic.

Anyone can be affected by alcohol use disorders (AUD). Alcoholism can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, body size, or background. However, some people are more susceptible to it than others.

There are also differences between what is categorised as a drink and how much alcohol you can consume within ‘safe’ and moderate drinking levels.

Most people, unfortunately, never learn how to recognise unsafe amounts of alcohol consumption. Read further to figure out if you’re an alcoholic or merely have a drinking problem.

What Are the Signs of being an alcoholic?

What is the definition of heavy drinking? It’s having more than three drinks per day or seven per week for women. It’s having four or more drinks every day or 14 per week for men. You’re at risk if you drink more than the daily or weekly limit.

That isn’t the only way to determine whether you or someone you care about requires help. There are a few more red signs to be aware of. You might:

  • Say you have a drinking problem or joke about alcoholism
  • Not keep up with significant responsibilities at home, work, or school
  • Lose friendships or have relationship problems due to drinking, but you don’t quit alcohol
  • Have legal problems related to drinking, such as a Drink Driving penalty or arrest
  • Need alcohol to relax or feel confident
  • Drink in the morning or when you’re alone
  • Get drunk when you don’t intend to
  • Forget what you did while drinking
  • Deny drinking, hide alcohol, or get angry when confronted about drinking
  • Cause loved ones to worry about or make excuses for your drinking
  • Become violent and aggressive towards others

Alcohol Abuse VS Dependence

Some people abuse alcohol regularly without forming a physical or psychological dependence. Binge drinkers, for example, may be comfortable going weeks or even months without consuming any alcohol, but when they do, they struggle to stop themselves from drinking excessively. Abuse of this nature can have a variety of negative repercussions, including health, social, and legal problems. Nevertheless, they can benefit from alcoholism treatment as well.

Alcohol dependence is somewhat different. Alcoholics have strong desires for the substance, which can cloud their judgement in everyday situations. They might be unable to concentrate at work or in school. When people stop drinking, they may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms can include shakiness, anxiousness, and cold sweats. Chronic alcoholics frequently drink at inappropriate times and locations, including first thing in the morning or before work, due to a combination of urges and withdrawal symptoms.

People addicted to alcohol need a lot of it to get intoxicated, and their tolerance continues to grow as they consume it more frequently. They, too, have a hard time limiting their intake. “Just one more” frequently leads to several more. Alcoholics with limited income may prefer to spend their money on beer or liquor rather than electricity, food, or rent.

Those with high incomes may still face financial difficulties as a result of forgetting to make payments, racking up huge penalties for drinking and driving, skipping work, and overspending on alcohol or social gatherings.

If you or someone you know might need help with recovery from alcohol dependence, please call us on 0800 999 1083 to explore treatment options and discuss alcohol addiction recovery.

Overcoming Alcohol Addiction

Are you ready to give up or reduce your drinking to a more manageable level? These recommendations can help in getting back on track.

How do I stop drinking?

Overcoming an alcohol addiction can be a long and challenging journey. It may even seem impossible at times. However, this is not the case. No matter how heavy your drinking or how powerless you feel, you can recover from alcoholism and alcohol abuse if you’re ready to stop and are willing to get the help you need. You don’t have to wait until you’ve hit rock bottom to make a change. These guidelines will help you get started on the path to recovery today, whether you want to stop drinking altogether or cut back to healthier levels.

Most people who have alcohol problems do not decide to make a drastic shift or modify their drinking habits overnight. The process of recovery is usually more gradual. Denial is a significant roadblock in the early phases of change. You may make excuses and drag your feet even after acknowledging you have a drinking problem. It’s critical to admit your fears about quitting drinking. If you’re unsure if you’re ready to change or having trouble deciding, consider that the long-term consequences of drinking far outweigh the benefits.

Set goals and prepare for change

After you’ve decided to make a change, the following step is to set clear drinking goals. The more specific, realistic, and clear your goals, the better.

Example #1: My drinking goal

  • I will stop drinking alcohol.
  • My quitting date is __________.

Example #2: My drinking goal

  • I will stop drinking on weekdays, starting as of __________.
  • I will limit my weekend drinking to no more than three drinks per day or five drinks per weekend.
  • After three months, I will cut back my weekend drinking even more to a maximum of two drinks per day and three drinks per weekend.

Do you want to cut back on your drinking or completely stop? If you want to cut down on your drinking, pick which days you’ll drink and how many drinks you’ll have each day. Make a commitment to not drink at all on at least two days every week.

When do you want to stop or reduce your drinking? Tomorrow? In a week’s time? What about next month? Within the next six months? Set a precise quitting date if you’re aiming to stop drinking.

How to accomplish your alcohol abstinence goals

Write down some tips on how you can help yourself achieve your goals after you’ve set your goals to either stop or cut back on your drinking. Consider the following scenario:

Remove all temptations. Remove any alcoholic beverages, barware, and other similar items from your home and business.

Announce your goal. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers that you’re attempting to quit or reduce your drinking. If they drink, urge them to refrain from doing so in front of you to help you recover.

Be upfront about your new limits. Make it clear that drinking is not permitted in your house and that you may be unable to attend activities that serve alcohol.

Stay away from negative influences. Keep your distance from people who don’t support your efforts to quit drinking or who don’t respect your established boundaries. You may have to say goodbye to certain acquaintances and social contacts because of this.

Learn from the past. Consider your prior attempts to quit or cut down on your drinking. What worked for you? What went wrong? What can you do differently this time to prevent falling into the same traps as before?

Alcohol addiction treatment options

The best alternative for you is determined by how much you’ve been drinking, how long you’ve had a problem, the stability of your living circumstances, and any other health problems you may have. Some people can quit drinking on their own or with the assistance of a 12-step programme or support group. Others require medical care to safely and comfortably abstain from alcohol.

Often, the initial step is to see your primary care physician (GP). Your doctor can assess your drinking habits, diagnose any co-occurring disorders, evaluate your overall health, and recommend you go to treatment. They may also be able to prescribe medicine to help you in quitting.

Detox and Withdrawing from alcohol safely

When you drink extensively and frequently, your body becomes physically dependent on alcohol, and if you suddenly quit drinking, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. The following are some of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, which range from moderate to severe:

  • Headache
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Stomach cramps and diarrhoea
  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually begin within hours of stopping drinking, peak in a day or two and subside within five days. Withdrawal is not only uncomfortable for some alcoholics, but it can also be life-threatening.

You may need medically supervised detoxification if you’re a long-term heavy drinker. Detox can be done on an outpatient basis or in a hospital or alcohol treatment facility, where you may be given medicine to help with medical difficulties and withdrawal symptoms. To learn more about safe detox, speak with your doctor or one of our addiction specialists.

Seek emergency medical help if you experience any of the following withdrawal symptoms:

The symptoms listed above could indicate delirium tremens (DTs), a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. This rare, life-threatening condition causes dangerous changes in how your brain controls your circulation and breathing, so you should get to the hospital as soon as possible.

Rehab and Therapy for Alcohol Addiction

Residential treatment is staying in a treatment facility during the day while receiving intensive treatment. The duration of residential treatment is usually between 30 and 90 days.

Partial hospitalisation is for people who require ongoing medical monitoring but have a stable living situation. Typically, patients in these treatment programmes go to the hospital 3-5 days a week, for 4-6 hours each day.

Intensive outpatient programmes (IOPs) are designed to help people avoid relapse and can often be planned around work or school.

Therapy (Individual, Group, or Family) can help you identify the root causes of your alcohol abuse, repair your relationships, and teach you healthier coping skills and how to deal with triggers that could cause you to relapse.

What to consider during Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Get treatment for other medical or mental health issues. Alcohol is frequently used to alleviate the symptoms of undiagnosed mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. It’s critical to seek treatment for any other psychological problems you’re experiencing while seeking help for alcoholism. Receiving combined mental health and addiction treatment from the same treatment provider or team will give you the best chance of recovery.

Commitment and follow-through are essential. Recovering from alcoholism or binge drinking is a long and difficult process. The longer and more severe your alcohol abuse, the longer and more intense your treatment will be. Long-term follow-up care is critical to your recovery, regardless of how long the treatment programme lasts.

Get support to manage your sobriety

Support is crucial whether you want to treat your alcoholism via rehab or counselling. Don’t try to do it on your own. When you have someone to draw on for support, comfort, and guidance, recovering from alcohol addiction or abuse is much easier.

Family members, friends, counsellors, other recovering alcoholics, your healthcare providers, and members of your spiritual community can all offer support.

Lean on close friends and family – Having the support of friends and family members is a priceless asset in the rehabilitation process. Consider couples counselling or family therapy if you’re hesitant to turn to your loved ones because you’ve let them down in the past.

Build a sober social network – You may need to develop new relationships if your old social life is centred around alcohol. It’s critical to have sober buddies who will help you get sober. Consider taking a class, joining a church or civic organisation, volunteering, or visiting community events.

Make meetings a priority – Regularly attend meetings of a recovery support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Spending time with people who understand exactly what you’re going through can be tremendously therapeutic. You can also benefit from the group members’ shared experiences and learn what they did to stay sober.

Find new meaning in life

While getting clean is a crucial first step, it is simply the beginning of your journey to recovery from alcoholism or heavy drinking. Rehab or professional therapy can help you get on the path to recovery, but to stay alcohol-free in the long run, you’ll need to create a new, fulfilling life in which drinking has no role.

Five steps to a sober lifestyle

  1. Take care of yourself. Concentrate on eating well and getting enough sleep to avoid mood swings and cravings. Exercise is also important because it releases endorphins, reduces stress, and improves emotional health.
  2. Build your support network. Surround yourself with individuals who are significant influences and help you feel good about yourself. The more invested you are in other people and your community, the more you have to lose, which will keep you motivated and on track to recovery.
  3. Develop new activities and interests. Find new hobbies, volunteer activities, or a job that fulfils you. You’ll feel better about yourself, and drinking will be less appealing when you’re doing things you enjoy.
  4. Continue treatment. If you participate in a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous, have a sponsor, or are in therapy or an outpatient treatment programme, your chances of staying sober improve.
  5. Deal with stress in a healthy way. Alcohol abuse is frequently a misguided attempt to cope with stress. Exercising, meditating, or practising other relaxation techniques are good strategies to keep your stress levels in check.

Plan for triggers and cravings

Alcohol cravings can be overwhelming, especially in the first six months after you stop drinking. Good alcohol treatment can help you prepare for these challenges by teaching you new coping strategies for dealing with stressful situations, alcohol cravings, and peer pressure to drink.

Avoiding drinking triggers

Avoid the things that trigger your urge to drink. If specific individuals, locations, or activities make you crave alcohol, try to stay away from them. This could involve making significant changes to your social life, such as finding new activities to do with your old drinking buddies—or perhaps leaving them in favour of new friends.

Practice saying “no” to alcohol in social situations. No matter how hard you try to avoid alcohol, you’ll almost certainly be offered a drink at some point. Prepare your response in advance, with a firm yet polite “no thanks.”

Managing alcohol cravings

If you’re having trouble controlling your alcohol cravings, try the following strategies:

Talk to someone you trust: your sponsor, a supportive family member or friend, or someone from your faith community.

Distract yourself until the urge passes. Go for a walk, listen to music, do some housecleaning, run an errand, or tackle a quick task.

Remind yourself of your reasons for not drinking. When you’re craving alcohol, it’s easy to focus on the positive aspects of drinking and overlook the drawbacks. Remind yourself of the negative long-term implications of binge drinking and the fact that it won’t help you feel any better in the short term.

Accept the urge and ride it out instead of trying to fight it. “Urge Surfing” is the term for this type of behaviour. Consider your urge as a cresting, breaking, and dissipating ocean wave. You’ll notice that if you ride out the need without fighting, judging, or ignoring it, it disappears more quickly than you think.

Alcohol Rehab

Handling setbacks in your recovery

Alcohol recovery is a long process with many possible setbacks. If you relapse or slip, don’t give up. A relapse in drinking does not imply that you are a failure or that you will never be able to achieve your goals. Each drinking relapse is an opportunity to learn and recommit to sobriety, making future relapses less likely.

What to do if you slip up:

  • Get rid of the alcohol and get away from the setting where you relapsed.
  • Remind yourself that one drink or a brief lapse doesn’t have to turn into a full-blown relapse.
  • Don’t let feelings of guilt or shame keep you from getting back on track.
  • Call your sponsor, counsellor, or a supportive friend immediately for help.

You can also call us on 0800 999 1083 for confidential help.

Last Edited: September 14th, 2022
Clinically Reviewed: July 1, 2022
Compare Rehab UK | Can You Recover From Being An Alcoholic?
Clinical Reviewer


BACP accredited psychotherapist with 16 years experience working in mental health specialising in psychodynamic person-centred therapies treating those with a range of mental health disorders including anxiety, depression, OCD and Addiction.