About Alcohol

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Thinking of taking a break from regular use?

See the 'Making changes' page for more information on how to Manage withdrawal from drugs and alcohol.

It can be hard to take a break from drinking, even if you only use alcohol socially, as it can be difficult to avoid in everyday life. If you have been drinking regularly or for a long time, it can be even more challenging to stop using, especially if it happens suddenly. In some cases where alcohol use is heavy, it can be dangerous to stop drinking completely without the support of medical professionals. If you have been drinking heavily, your doctor will help you to come up with a plan to cut down or stop slowly and may use other prescription medicines, such as benzodiazepines, to help with the unpleasant effects. There are also lots of other services that support people who would like to stop or cut back on their drinking.

If you …

Then …

Are sensitive to sound and light

Feel sweaty or feel very hot or very cold

Feel anxious

Are dry retching

Have headaches

Feel agitated or irritable

Feel confused

Experience low mood

Feel anxious

Feel jittery

Have difficulty sleeping

Feel nauseous

Experience numbness in your body

Vomit

Try these things at home:

  • Follow a tapering plan from a health professional to reduce your dose slowly.
  • Consider counselling or support groups if feelings of anxiety and depression are getting worse.
  • Lean on a support network of friends, family and professionals.
  • Stick to a routine – waking up, eating well, keeping active and rewarding yourself with things that bring you joy.
  • Practise mindfulness by writing down your feelings, doing breathing exercises or meditating.

Have heart palpitations

Experience a fever

Have tremors

Are severely agitated or aggressive

Experience increased or ongoing low mood

Experience severe or persistent insomnia

Feel like your skin is crawling

Feel intense disorientation and confusion

Are severely or constantly nauseous

Feel panicked or have a panic attack

Have increased vomiting

Experience heavy sweating

Experience hallucinations

Have severe anxiety

Have suicidal thoughts

Call a doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116)

You can talk to your doctor about:

  • other prescription medications to help you get through withdrawal
  • rehab or withdrawal clinics in your area – visit Health Point to see what services are available.

Have chest pains

Have a high fever

Have severe vomiting

Have severe disorientation (including not knowing where you are)

Are dissociating

Have ongoing or disturbing hallucinations

Have severe tremors

Have trouble breathing

Experience psychosis

Have serious disturbances in mental abilities (delirium)

Have a seizure

Lose consciousness

Attempt suicide

Call 111

These are signs you could be experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal. You or the people around you should act quickly.

 

 For more information on getting support for drug and alcohol use, see Finding support.

An Erowid user reflects on their regular use:

“I know that if I don’t stop drinking or cut down it will shorten my lifespan. How can I keep doing something even though I know it is and will kill me?”

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