How to Quit Drinking Cold Turkey: A 10 Step Guide

How to Quit Drinking Cold Turkey: A 10 Step Guide

Embarking on the journey to quit drinking alcohol cold turkey can be challenging, and requires preparation and support. Whether you're looking to understand how to quit drinking alcohol cold turkey or seeking tips to quit drinking cold turkey effectively, this guide is designed to help you navigate the process with practical steps and insights.

Quitting alcohol cold turkey can lead to various withdrawal symptoms, ranging from mild discomfort to severe health risks. It's essential to approach this journey with a comprehensive plan that includes consulting healthcare professionals, building a solid support network, and employing strategies to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal

Before delving into the strategies to quit drinking alcohol cold turkey, it's vital to understand alcohol withdrawal and its potential risks. When you consume alcohol regularly and heavily, your body becomes accustomed to its presence. The sudden cessation of alcohol intake can lead to withdrawal symptoms as your body adjusts to functioning without it. These symptoms can vary from person to person and may include insomnia, anxiety, nausea or vomiting, headaches, irregular heartbeat, hallucinations, panic attacks, tremors, and confusion.

It's crucial to note that alcohol withdrawal can be unpredictable, and severe symptoms may require medical attention. If you have a history of heavy alcohol consumption or have experienced withdrawal symptoms in the past, it is advisable to seek professional medical guidance before attempting to quit drinking alcohol cold turkey.

How to Get Started Quitting Drinking Alcohol Cold Turkey

The journey of quitting alcohol is a long and challenging path that many attempt to undertake every year. Here are ten of the best steps to follow to get started with a plan and finish with success:

1. Acknowledge the Need for Change

The first step in how to quit drinking cold turkey is to recognize and acknowledge the harmful impact alcohol has on your life. This realization is crucial in motivating you to make a significant change.

2. Inform Your Support Network

Surround yourself with individuals who support your decision to quit drinking alcohol. Inform your close friends and family members about your journey, and ask for their understanding and encouragement. Consider joining support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, where you can connect with others who have similar experiences and receive ongoing support.

3. Consult a Healthcare Professional

If you have a history of heavy alcohol consumption or have experienced severe withdrawal symptoms in the past, it is crucial to seek professional help. Medical detoxification, conducted under the supervision of healthcare professionals, can provide the necessary support and monitoring to ensure your safety during the withdrawal process.

4. Prepare for Withdrawal Symptoms

Be prepared for the range of withdrawal symptoms that can occur when you quit drinking alcohol cold turkey. Symptoms can include

5. Remove Alcohol from Your Environment

To minimize temptation and eliminate triggers, remove all alcohol from your home. If you're wondering how to quit drinking cold turkey, creating an alcohol-free environment is a critical step.

This includes wine, beer, liquor, and any other alcoholic beverages. Ask a trusted friend or family member to assist you in this process if necessary. Additionally, consider avoiding social events or gatherings where alcohol is the primary focus, at least during the initial stages of your journey.

6. Find Healthy Alternatives

Alcohol often serves as a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety, or other negative emotions. Identify alternative ways to manage these feelings, such as practicing mindfulness, exercising regularly, journaling, or seeking therapy. Developing healthy coping mechanisms can significantly reduce the urge to turn to alcohol.

7. Stay Hydrated and Eat Well

Proper hydration and nutrition play a crucial role in supporting your body's recovery during alcohol withdrawal. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and consume a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Proper nourishment can help alleviate some withdrawal symptoms and promote overall well-being.

8. Seek Support Groups

Joining a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can provide guidance and camaraderie from others who are also learning how to quit drinking alcohol cold turkey.

9. Manage Cravings

When cravings or withdrawal symptoms arise, distraction techniques can be effective in redirecting your focus. Engage in activities that capture your attention and keep your mind occupied, such as

  • Reading a book
  • Watching a movie or TV show
  • Solving puzzles
  • Pursuing a hobby

By diverting your attention away from alcohol cravings, you can successfully navigate through challenging moments.

10. Celebrate Your Progress

Acknowledge and celebrate your milestones and achievements along the way, no matter how small they are, on your way to quitting drinking cold turkey. Whether completing one week, month, or year without alcohol, take the time to recognize your progress. Reward yourself with non-alcoholic treats, plan enjoyable activities, or share your achievements with your support system. Celebrating milestones can reinforce your commitment to sobriety and boost your motivation to continue on your journey.


Quitting drinking cold turkey is a significant challenge, particularly for heavy drinkers. It's crucial to approach this process with a well-thought-out plan and the support of healthcare professionals and loved ones. Remember, quitting drinking alcohol cold turkey can lead to serious health risks, so it's essential to be informed and prepared. With the right support and strategies, you can navigate the path to sobriety and embrace a healthier lifestyle.


Ria Health - How To Taper Off Alcohol: Key Strategies and Tips

Orlando Recovery Center - How To Taper off Alcohol - Orlando Recovery

WebMD - Alcohol Withdrawal: How to Get Through It

The smarter way to stay accountable
Real-time group support and personalized feedback to help you overcome addiction — no matter how many times you’ve tried.
Learn Morean iphone with the text identify where boundaries may have slipped

Find Effective, Evidence-Based Treatment in the Relay Program for Alcohol Addiction

There is help available to you if you or a loved one has a physical dependence or psychological dependence on alcohol. These urges and compulsive behaviors can control your life, but you can take back control. Relay's addiction recovery program provides a comprehensive, outpatient approach to behavioral change - at home, at your own pace. To each new program member, we provide a personalized recovery plan, a peer support group, progress tracking, journaling, and intelligent insights about your behavior patterns, all within a simple and secure mobile app Our proven approach helps program members achieve the best chance at long-term recovery without the time or expense of rehab or therapy. Try the Relay program for free here; if you need help as you get set up, contact us now at

relay logo

Get connected and stay accountable
with peers

Join a team

A better way to recovery, right in your pocket.

a cell phone with a text message on the screen