Addiction Coping and Recovery Overcoming Addiction When You Should Completely Quit Drinking By Buddy T Buddy T Facebook Twitter Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Learn about our editorial process Updated on August 29, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE Medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Dreet Production / Getty Images If you have been drinking at a level that is considered high-risk or heavy drinking, you may want to consider making a change in your drinking patterns or quit altogether. But which is the best choice for you? Should you try moderating your alcohol consumption, or should you try to quit? Many people do learn to moderate their drinking and are successful in returning to a pattern of low-risk drinking. Just as there are support groups for those trying to quit drinking, there are support groups for those who are trying to cut down or moderate their drinking. Cutting Back If you try to cut down but find that you cannot stay within the limits that you set for yourself, it may be best to quit instead. One of the main reasons that people decide to quit drinking and seek help to do so is because they find they have lost the ability to control the amount they drink. You are the person who is in the best position to make the decision of whether to cut down or quit. If you can consistently drink one or two drinks and no more, then you may be able to cut down to a low-risk drinking pattern. But if you find that those first two drinks usually trigger an urge for more and you rarely drink only two, chances are moderation is not an option. Online Tests to Determine If You Have a Drinking Problem Quitting Drinking There are other reasons that quitting drinking may be a better option for you than moderation or cutting down, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). When quitting might be your best option: If you have been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, or you currently have symptoms of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. If you have certain medical conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis C, chronic pain, certain heart conditions, or mental disorders such as bipolar disorder. If you are taking certain medications that can negatively interact with alcohol. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Other Reasons to Quit If you are planning to make a change in your drinking, it is best if you discuss the decision with your healthcare provider. Your physician may recommend that you quit drinking based on other factors, including: A family history of alcoholismYour ageIf you have had alcohol-related injuriesAlcohol-related sleep disturbances or sexual dysfunction How Genetics Plays a Role in Alcoholism Tips to Moderate Your Drinking Make some small adjustments to the way you drink. It may work for you. If it does not, then adjust and try something else. You may be able to get drinking back under your control. Tips to try for moderating your alcohol drinking: Eat food along with your drink. Don't drink on an empty stomach. Food will help your body absorb the alcohol more slowly.Keep track of how much you drink. Make a note in an app or write it down on a piece of paper.Measure out your drinks at home. Drink standard sizes. Ask bartenders to not top off your drink. Do not supersize your drinks.Set goals and decide how many days a week you want to drink and how many drinks you will have on those days. Stick to your goals. If you stumble backward, start over the next day.Space out your drinks. Set a pace to your drinking to not more than one per hour. Sip slowly. Make every other drink a glass of water or soda. Help May Be Needed Whatever your decision— to cut down or to quit drinking— there is support available to help you met your goals. If you decide to quit, you may want to seek help. You do not have to do it on your own. Withdrawal Symptoms From Quitting Drinking 2 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Smith DC, Cleeland L, Dennis ML. Reasons for quitting among emerging adults and adolescents in substance-use-disorder treatment. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2010;71(3):400–409. doi:10.15288/jsad.2010.71.400 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. To cut down or to quit. Additional Reading National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and Your Health." February 2009. By Buddy T Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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