4 Ways to Fail at Quitting Drinking

By , Expert Toshia Humphries is a Texan freelance writer, artist, life coach and talk radio co-host of Girl Power Hour on Blog Talk Radio.

Sober Recovery Expert Author

Quitting alcohol is a tall order for anyone who finds themselves in the throes of addiction. However, even more daunting a task is the prospect of entering recovery. It’s typically the least appealing option for anyone who is attempting to get sober, which is why many try just about anything to avoid stepping foot into rehab.

Here are 4 things people do to bypass recovery and ultimately dig themselves further down alcoholism.

Quitting alcohol is a tall order for anyone who finds themselves in the throes of addiction. However, even more daunting a task is the prospect of entering recovery.

1. Moderation

Many believe that the issue of alcoholism is in the quantity of alcohol consumed. As such, they typically think simply cutting down on their drinking will take care of the problem

However, when chemical dependency has been established, tolerance is already high. The amount of alcohol needed to achieve the desired effect is already so much more than that which falls in line with moderate drinking. Therefore, when an alcoholic attempts moderation, the end result is worsening behaviors and consequences.

More importantly, it’s not how much or how often a person drinks that determines whether or not they are alcoholic. It’s the ways in which alcohol affects them and their lives. In fact, even moderate amounts of alcohol can have a negative impact on an alcoholic’s life. And, unfortunately, this involves tricking the mind to forget any attempts to stop and perpetuates a “go big or go home” response.

2. Reserving for Special Occasions

Unless an individual wishes to reserve the toxic behaviors that come with active alcoholism, the thought to save the drinking for “special occasions only” is another bad idea. Though it falls in line with attempting to drink in moderation, it typically fails even more miserably.

Due to a longer duration of time between opportunities to consume alcohol, attempting to reserve drinking for special occasions leaves an active alcoholic fixated on the next opportunity. This is why special occasions become more frequent with the criteria for such being less and less each time. In other words, eventually, what constitutes a special occasion may be no more than getting off work early; anything to create an excuse to drink.

3. Taking a Break

Of course, most active alcoholics don’t want to admit they have a problem even when the issues have become great enough to warrant a desire or the realization of a need to change their choices regarding drinking. Due to the denial of the presence of addiction, the thought to simply take a break from alcohol for a while is a popular one.

But, rather quickly, it too becomes a failed attempt.

It isn’t whether or not you can stop for brief periods that determine whether or not you are an addict. The question is not “can you stop?” It’s “what happens when you do?” In other words, it’s whether or not you obsess about drinking, crave alcohol, have difficulty functioning without drinking, find that you need alcohol to cope with daily stressors, have fun, be yourself, relax, etc.

And, if the above realizations and experiences ring true, taking a break will only reveal exactly what the wording implies; you’re in a toxic relationship with alcohol. And, like any other toxic relationship, it needs to be ended permanently, not temporarily.

4. White Knuckling It


Once the latter becomes an undeniable truth, many still choose to steer clear of accessing help. And, because the ego is not a fan of admitting help is needed, they will attempt to get sober on their own. This process is referred to as white knuckling it.

White knuckling it simply means an individual has to hold on for dear life (envision someone gripping a steering wheel so hard their knuckles turn white) to keep themselves from taking a drink. The urge is simply so strong, it’s all they can do to get through the day. And, therefore, they tend to be obsessed and in a state of constant craving.

This (of course) doesn’t fair well for any relationships they may have with others. Though they are sober, they are irritable, anxious, possibly depressed and certainly still emotionally unavailable. In fact, this is why anyone who chooses the white knuckle method is typically referred to as a dry drunk; they’re not different, other than the absence of alcohol.

And, due to the lack of support and real recovery, there are also potential fatal consequences to this non-treatment option. Depending on the duration and severity of drinking, a sudden stop in the consumption of alcohol without medical supervision can lead to convulsions and death. Additionally, the inevitable return to drinking stands to be a fatal one, as tolerance decreases and any attempt to drink at a familiar rate can result in alcohol poisoning.

The Truth About Quitting

Truly, if you are contemplating getting help to stop drinking but considering any of the above alternatives (or any others that don’t involve professional help from addiction specialists), know that each of these methods has been tested by many before you. Each individual had the same experience you’re having – debating whether or not help was actually needed and telling themselves they didn’t have a real problem. They thought they could make it work by moderating, reserving, taking a break or simply white knuckling it. (Again, the ego is a powerful force working against you). The only way to stop drinking is to realize the issue is much deeper than alcohol. And, for that, you need professional help, not merely abstinence.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

Toshia Humphries , Expert , Toshia Humphries is a Texan freelance writer, artist, life coach and talk radio co-host of Girl Power Hour on Blog Talk Radio.

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