Tips for Quitting Drinking Cold Turkey

Tips for Quitting Drinking Cold Turkey

Quitting drinking cold turkey sounds appealing and easy. But that isn’t always the case. Our brains are very malleable, and, while this means that they fall into a pattern of drinking too much easily, it also means that, with a little work, we can reset them. But is cold turkey the way to do it? Read on to find some tips for quitting drinking cold turkey.

This article is for those who feel trapped in a habit of drinking too much. We will go through the steps of understanding alcohol addiction, what habits you could implement right now, and long-term adjustments that will make a real impact. This guide is filled with tips on quitting drinking cold turkey to help you take back control and live a life free from alcohol.

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Before delving into the tips for quitting drinking cold turkey, it's essential to understand alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to control or stop alcohol use despite experiencing negative consequences. The term "AUD" encompasses conditions such as alcohol dependence, abuse, and addiction. Excessive and long-term alcohol consumption can lead to severe physical, mental, and neurological problems, including but not limited to dementia, stroke, cardiovascular issues, various cancers, liver diseases, depression, anxiety, and unintentional injuries.

Assessing Your Readiness to Quit Drinking Cold Turkey

While quitting drinking cold turkey may be appropriate for some individuals, seeking professional help is crucial for those with severe AUD. However, for those with manageable levels of alcohol consumption, it may be a viable option. Before deciding to quit cold turkey, it's crucial to assess your readiness and consider the following factors:

  1. Determine Your Why: Reflect on why you want to quit drinking. Are you experiencing problems related to relationships, risky behavior, mental clarity, or work/school performance? Understanding your motivations will help you stay committed to your decision.
  2. Seek Professional Advice: If you have been drinking heavily or for an extended period, consider consulting with a healthcare professional before quitting cold turkey. They can assess your situation and guide you to the safest approach.
  3. Evaluate Dual Diagnosis: If you have a co-occurring mental health disorder alongside AUD, seeking medical assistance for detox is crucial. Withdrawal from alcohol can exacerbate existing mental health conditions, making professional support necessary.
  4. Assess Your Support System: Evaluate the support available to you. Inform your close friends and family about your decision to quit drinking, as their support can significantly impact your success. Additionally, consider joining support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or seeking counseling to enhance your support system.

Tip 1: Planning and Preparation

Planning and preparation are key steps in successfully quitting drinking cold turkey. By taking the time to strategize and set yourself up for success, you can increase your chances of overcoming alcohol addiction. The first step in quitting drinking cold turkey involves engaging in new activities to replace your regular drinking habits. Regular exercise and participation in social activities can provide healthy alternatives and help fill the void left by alcohol.

It's also beneficial to list the pros and cons of not drinking versus continuing alcohol consumption. Regularly reminding yourself of these points can reinforce your motivation and commitment to quitting. James Clear's book "Atomic Habits" highlights the importance of the environment in shaping our behaviors. To support your efforts, minimize exposure to drinking cues and situations that may trigger cravings. This might involve avoiding keeping alcohol at home and limiting your time in bars or other environments where alcohol is prevalent.

Furthermore, practicing stress reduction techniques is crucial. Learning methods such as mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises can help manage cravings and cope with stressors without resorting to alcohol. These steps, when taken together, form a comprehensive approach to quitting drinking cold turkey, emphasizing the importance of the environment, alternative activities, and stress management in overcoming alcohol addiction.

Tip 2: Navigating Cravings

Cravings are expected during the process of quitting drinking, even for individuals without severe AUD. Understanding how to navigate cravings can significantly contribute to your success. Consider the following strategies:

  1. Distract Yourself: When cravings arise, divert your attention to other activities or hobbies. Engaging in activities that you enjoy or finding new interests can help redirect your focus away from alcohol.
  2. Engage in Physical Activity: Physical exercise can be a powerful tool in combating cravings. Whether it's a brisk walk, a workout session, or yoga, exercise releases endorphins and boosts your mood, making it easier to resist the urge to drink.
  3. Practice Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment and accepting your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This practice can help you observe cravings without acting on them and increase your self-awareness.
  4. Reach Out for Support: In moments of craving, reach out to your support system. Share your feelings with trusted friends, family members, or fellow support group members. Their encouragement and understanding can provide the strength you need to overcome the craving.

Tip 3: Staying Motivated and Committed

Maintaining motivation and commitment is essential in the challenging journey of quitting drinking cold turkey. This journey requires a strong initial resolve and the ability to sustain that determination over time. The following strategies are designed to keep you motivated and committed by setting achievable goals, surrounding yourself with support, celebrating your successes, and treating yourself with kindness and understanding through the ups and downs of recovery.

Set Goals and Build Your Support Network

Start by setting realistic, achievable goals for your journey away from alcohol. Breaking your main goal into smaller, manageable steps makes the process feel more attainable and less overwhelming. Celebrate every milestone along the way, as each achievement is a step forward in your journey. Concurrently, surround yourself with a supportive network of individuals and groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery. This combination of personal milestones and community support creates a robust foundation for sustained motivation and commitment.

Celebrate Achievements and Practice Self-Compassion

Recognizing and rewarding yourself for sobriety milestones and other non-alcoholic achievements is essential. These celebrations can serve as positive reinforcement, encouraging continued progress. Equally important is practicing self-compassion, especially in the face of setbacks or relapses. Viewing these challenges as opportunities for learning and growth rather than as failures allows you to maintain a compassionate perspective toward yourself. This balanced approach of celebrating successes and learning from setbacks fosters a resilient and motivated mindset throughout your recovery journey.


Tip 4: Seeking Professional Help

While quitting drinking cold turkey may be appropriate for some individuals, seeking professional help is crucial for those with severe AUD or anyone experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. If you or someone you know falls into this category, consider the following steps:

  1. Consult with a Healthcare Professional: Reach out to a healthcare professional or addiction treatment specialist to assess your situation. They can recommend the most appropriate treatment plan and guide your recovery journey.
  2. Consider Medically Supervised Detox: For individuals with severe alcohol addiction, medically supervised detoxification may be necessary. This process involves receiving medical support to manage withdrawal symptoms and ensure your safety during the detoxification period.
  3. Explore Therapy and Counseling: Engage in therapy or counseling to address underlying issues contributing to your alcohol addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other evidence-based therapies can help you develop coping mechanisms and build a strong foundation for long-term sobriety.
  4. Join Supportive Communities: Connect with others with similar experiences by joining support groups such as AA, SMART Recovery, or online recovery communities. These communities offer a sense of belonging, shared experiences, and valuable support as you navigate your journey to sobriety.

The Benefits of Following These Tips for Quitting Drinking Cold Turkey

Quitting drinking cold turkey demands courage and determination and brings many benefits that can significantly enhance your quality of life. These advantages can be broadly categorized under a few key areas, reflecting the holistic improvement in both physical and mental well-being.

Physical Health and Well-being

By abstaining from alcohol, your body undergoes remarkable healing and rejuvenation. The liver, one of the most affected organs by alcohol consumption, begins to repair itself, improving its ability to process toxins and fats, which can lead to better overall liver function and health. Additionally, the gastrointestinal system benefits greatly from the absence of alcohol, as common issues like acid reflux and gastritis diminish, leading to enhanced digestive health and comfort.

Mental Clarity, Energy, and Disease Prevention

The cessation of alcohol intake has a profound impact on mental health and cognitive functions. Improved sleep patterns and mood stability are significant benefits, leading to increased energy levels and cognitive clarity. A decrease in the risk of long-term health issues complements this boost in mental well-being. Chronic diseases associated with alcohol abuse, such as cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and liver diseases, become much less of a threat, contributing to a healthier and potentially longer life.


These tips for quitting drinking cold turkey can lead to life-changing decisions, providing various physical, mental, and emotional benefits. However, evaluating your readiness, seeking professional advice, and building a robust support system before embarking on this journey is essential. By implementing the tips for quitting drinking and the strategies outlined in this guide, you can increase your chances of successfully quitting drinking and achieving long-term sobriety. Remember, quitting alcohol is a process, and setbacks may occur. Stay motivated, seek help when needed, and celebrate each step forward on your path to a healthier and happier life.


Insight Recovery Centers - Stop Drinking Cold Turkey: What Happens and How To Do It

Drink Aware - How to stop drinking alcohol completely

Confidant Health - 5 Tips to Effectively Stop Drinking Alcohol

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 Addiction

There is help available to you if you or a loved one has a physical dependence or psychological dependence on a behavior or substance. 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