Hi everyone - we've had a couple of members ask about strategies for getting sober, so I thought I put up some posts that might help. One member asked about whether it was best to go 'cold turkey' and just stop, or whether cutting down was the better option. That is a very important first question to consider. Below is my response on that person's thread, reposted here to help anyone wondering the same:
How you stop largely depends on how much you are drinking - and if you can it's worth discussing this with a doctor, or an alcohol service counsellor.
As a rule of thumb, if you are drinking constantly, for example during the day, keeping yourself 'topped up' so to speak, or if you are drinking very large amounts at night every night, and have been for a long time, going cold turkey can be dangerous because withdrawal can make us very ill with shakes, rapid heartbeat, high anxiety, dissociation, even hallucinations. It can even be fatal.
If you feel your level of drinking is very high, a medically supervised detox is the best option, This involves cutting down gradually, drinking specified amounts at specified times, and switching from say spirits to beer, under the supervision of a doctor.
Another option, again with the support of your doctor, is to use a drug that reduces the desire to drink (and makes you feel very ill if you drink while taking it). My partner used that and it was effective for him.
If your drinking is constant but not very large amounts, you can certainly stop by yourself. I did that. But be warned, there can still be some nasty withdrawals, though not life threatening. If you are wanting to do this, I strongly suggest you take a few days off work to get through the tough early withdrawals. You might feel like you've got the flu, your body will work overtime expelling the toxins etc (if you get my meaning). Be very very kind to yourself during that time, keep well hydrated, eat when you can, don't fuss about the type of food - make it every wicked thing you can think of if it helps to ease the feelings of deprivation (and to keep your sugar levels stable - we get a lot of sugar from alcohol and cutting it out can cause terrible headaches etc).
This all sounds pretty grim I know and I won't kid you, it is. But once you get through the worst it gets easier and easier and you start to notice how much better you are, how much better you're sleeping and, most importantly, how much better you feel about yourself.