How to Become Sober
If you think that you have been drinking too much alcohol, you may wonder how to become sober.
This is a crucial question to ask since many heavy drinkers are either addicted or in danger of becoming addicted.
Even without being addicted to alcohol, your drinking may cause you serious harm.
In fact, over 14 million Americans have diagnosable alcohol abuse problems.
If you fit into this category, you are far from alone.
If your drinking is out of control, you may feel down about the chances of ever getting sober.
But, with expert advice and help, you can achieve this crucial goal.
Just keep reading to learn more about how to become sober if you have drinking problems.
Alcohol Use and Alcohol Problems
In the typical month, slightly more than half of all Americans over the age of 12 drink alcohol. You have the highest chances of being a drinker if you are between the ages of 18 and 25. However, alcohol use is widespread across age groups.
Most people do not drink in ways that endanger their health. Still, millions of Americans either:
- Binge on alcohol and end up drunk in a maximum of two hours’ time
- Engage in a dangerous pattern of heavy drinking
Young adults are the most likely to binge drink. Adults over the age of 25 are the most likely to drink heavily. Both binging and heavy drinking boost your chances of developing alcohol use disorder, or AUD. This is the official name for an illness that includes both alcoholism and damaging, non-addicted alcohol abuse. Other things that can increase your risks for this disorder include:
- Starting to drink when you are 14 or younger
- The presence of mental illness
- Having a history of any kind of serious trauma
- Belonging to a family with a history of alcoholism or alcohol abuse
You can avoid developing AUD by reducing your alcohol use or quitting altogether. You can also recover from this illness if you are already affected.
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Determining If You Need Help
Can you tell on your own if the question of how to become sober applies to you? In many cases, yes. For example, it is relatively easy to tell if you are a binge drinker. If you have a pattern of getting drunk in no more than two hours, you fit this definition. It usually takes men five alcohol servings, or drinks, to reach this threshold. For the average woman, it takes just four drinks.
You can also tell if you have a pattern of drinking heavily. Men do this whenever they consume at least four alcohol servings, or drinks, in a single day. Women do this whenever they consume at least three alcohol servings in a single day.
If you are already affected by alcoholism, you may have symptoms that include:
- An inability to control when and how much you drink
- The need to drink in increasing amounts before you feel alcohol’s effects
- Creating a routine that puts a priority on drinking or drinking-related activities
- Having a history of unsuccessful attempts to quit using alcohol
- Going through alcohol withdrawal if you stop drinking
If you are already affected by non-addicted abuse, you may be affected by things such as:
- Work, home, or school problems related to your drinking
- A level of drinking that damages your ability to maintain relationships
- A habit of driving while drinking or doing similarly risky things
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How to Become Sober: First Steps
When thinking about how to become sober, one important question is where to begin. Experts recommend starting by speaking with your primary care physician. While not addiction specialists, these doctors are excellent initial resources. Specific things your primary doctor can do include:
- Assessing your general health
- Seeing if your current drinking behaviors place you at risk for alcohol problems
- Giving you a brief intervention that helps you change your risky drinking
- Checking to see if you already have diagnosable AUD symptoms
- Helping you understand your options if you do have AUD
- Directing you toward suitable treatment resources if you need help
How to Become Sober: Alcohol Detox
If you are addicted to alcohol, you will need to go through detox when your recovery begins. During this time, you stop drinking and withdraw from the alcohol still in your system. Alcohol withdrawal is potentially risky and has side effects ranging from minor to severe or life-threatening. For this reason, you should always go through detox under the guidance of medical professionals.
Many people in alcohol detox receive some kind of medication to make the process easier. All people in detox receive supportive care. That’s the name for comfort- and safety-enhancing actions such as:
- Making sure your vital signs are stable
- Helping you stay hydrated
- Feeding you a nutritionally sound diet
- Using supplements to offset any major nutritional deficiencies
- Helping to ensure that you rest and sleep
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How to Become Sober: Active Treatment
The quest for stable sobriety goes far beyond detox. Once alcohol is out of your system, you must enter an active treatment program. People in high-quality alcohol rehab receive two main forms of help while in treatment. First, they receive medication designed to:
- Make it easier to avoid a relapse back into drinking
- Diminish the appeal of taking a drink
- Undo some the damage that alcohol has done to your system
Modern alcohol rehab also includes some form of behavioral counseling or therapy. Several different therapy approaches are known to help during alcohol recovery, including:
- CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Family counseling
- Marriage counseling
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy
Mutual Self-Help Groups
During and after treatment, enrollment in a mutual self-help group will also help you stay sober. The most famous drinking-related group is Alcoholics Anonymous. However, other options also exist. All self-help groups use a peer system to provide support and reinforce your commitment to sobriety.
How to Become Sober: Aftercare
When you complete treatment, you may no longer be asking how to get sober from alcohol. Instead, the pressing question becomes: How you can remain sober? For most people, a major factor in avoiding drinking is aftercare or continuing care. Aftercare programs keep you in touch with knowledgeable addiction specialists. In fact, help is often provided in a lower level of formal alcohol treatment. You can also support your efforts remotely with the help of smartphones, or computer sobriety apps.
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Learn More About How To Get Sober From Alcohol
If you suspect you have a drinking problem, you very well may be right. Or maybe someone else notices that you may have a problem. In either case, the best thing you can possibly do is seek help as soon as you can. Unless you take this critical step, you may be setting yourself up for major, damaging changes in your everyday life. No one should go through this kind of turmoil when professional help available.
A visit to your primary doctor will help determine if you are using alcohol in dangerous ways. It will also help determine if you currently have a diagnosable case of alcohol use disorder. If you do not have AUD, your doctor will help you avoid future problems. If you do have AUD, your doctor will help you get your recovery underway. Your path to sobriety will likely include detox, active treatment, and aftercare.
Have questions about how to become sober? The experts at Pathfinders will help you find the answers. Every day, we direct concerned drinkers toward resources that promote healthy change.
Pathfinders is also a top provider of treatment services for people with alcohol use disorder. Regardless of the seriousness of your AUD symptoms, our in-house programs will support your recovery. From detox to aftercare, we feature evidence-backed options for any situation.