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How To Stop Drinking Alcohol: Home Remedies and Alternative Treatments

July 10, 2023
10 min read
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A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 10, 2023
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 10, 2023
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
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Reframe Content Team
July 10, 2023
10 min read

If you're considering ways to stop drinking, you might want to try some home remedies that have helped others. Just remember, home remedies are not one-size-fits-all; what works for someone else might not work for you. But don’t be discouraged! Finding the right strategy just takes some patience.

Knowledge Is Power

To start, it's important to know what you're up against. Alcohol dependency — a condition that develops when the brain becomes used to the effects of alcohol and starts demanding more — might seem manageable for a while, but left unchecked, it can get messy.

The reason behind this has to do with the chemical havoc that alcohol wreaks in the brain. It boosts the effects of gamma - aminobutyric acid GABA — a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Over time, our brain compensates by producing less GABA naturally, leading to dependency.

A similar thing happens with dopamine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter responsible for motivation and feelings of reward.

Setting the Stage

It’s important to set yourself up for success by making sure you stick to a healthy lifestyle. There are three main factors in this: a healthy diet, hydration, and exercise.

  • Diet. Eating a balanced diet is crucial in your journey towards sobriety. Proper nutrition helps repair damage done to the body by heavy drinking, and it can help manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids help boost recovery. Bananas, for example, are rich in potassium, which replenishes electrolytes. Eggs contain cysteine, an amino acid that helps break down the headache-inducing toxin acetaldehyde.
  • B-complex vitamins and other nutrients are depleted with heavy alcohol use, so replenishing these through a healthy diet is beneficial.
  • Hydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, so it causes you to urinate more and lose fluids. Dehydration leads to headaches and a loss of strength and stamina. Rehydrating with water or sports drinks can help restore lost fluids and electrolytes.
  • Rest. Your body needs energy to heal. Getting a good night's sleep can help.
  • Exercise. Working out can work wonders, too. Exercise also helps boost your mood by producing endorphins — the feel-good hormones. Keeping your body and mind busy can distract you from cravings. Find a new hobby, exercise regularly, or start a new project.
  • Mindful meditation. This is all about focusing your mind on the present. Meditation has been shown to decrease cravings and increase self-control.

Herbal Supplements

Alcohol withdrawal can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, it may require medical attention. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new regimen.

Several herbal treatments may provide some assistance during alcohol withdrawal. It's crucial to remember that these should be used in conjunction with (not as a substitute for!) professional medical advice and treatment. Here we go:

  • Kudzu (Pueraria lobata). Native to Asia, this vine has become common in the southern United States due to its rapid growth and hardy nature. Kudzu's root, flower, and leaf are all used to make medicine.
  • In the realm of alcohol dependency, kudzu has sparked interest due to its potential to reduce both the desire for alcohol and its pleasurable effects. This comes from its isoflavone content. Isoflavones are plant-derived compounds with antioxidant properties and can influence various biological processes.
  • Here's how it works: Kudzu contains the compounds puerarin, daidzin, and daidzein, which might diminish alcohol's effect on the brain, reduce alcohol consumption, and curb the severity of hangovers.
  • A study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that heavy drinkers consumed fewer beers when given a single dose of kudzu extract than they did when given a placebo. Others suggested that kudzu extract could reduce alcohol cravings in alcohol-dependent people.
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum). Milk thistle is often used to support liver health. Since heavy drinking can damage the liver, milk thistle may assist in recovery during alcohol withdrawal by protecting this vital organ.
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). Passionflower has been used for centuries to treat insomnia and anxiety, which can be symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. There's some evidence suggesting it might help reduce these symptoms when used in conjunction with other treatments.
  • St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum). Known for its antidepressant properties, St. John's Wort might help balance mood swings experienced during withdrawal. However, it's important to note that this herb can interact with a wide range of medications, so it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using it.
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Valerian is often used as a natural treatment for anxiety and insomnia, both common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale). Alcohol withdrawal can often result in nausea and vomiting. Ginger has been used to help with these symptoms, making the withdrawal process more comfortable.

Remember, everyone's body reacts differently to herbal treatments. It's essential to start with small doses, monitor your body's reactions, and adjust as needed, always under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Consider these herbal remedies as supporting actors in your sobriety journey.

Alternative Treatments

If home remedies aren’t quite cutting it, or if you want to step up your game, consider some alternative treatments.

  • Acupuncture. An age-old practice that aims to restore balance in the body, acupuncture has been shown to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It's based on the concept that our health is determined by the balanced flow of life energy, "qi" (pronounced "chee"), throughout our bodies.
  • In acupuncture, practitioners insert thin, sterile needles into specific points on the body known as acupuncture points. The idea is that stimulating these points can correct imbalances in the flow of qi and promote health and well-being.
  • When it comes to alcohol misuse and withdrawal, acupuncture is often utilized as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. One popular method is auricular acupuncture, which involves inserting needles into specific points on the ear. This form of acupuncture has been commonly used for substance use disorders since the mid-1970s.
  • Keep in mind that while acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a trained practitioner, it's essential to discuss it with your healthcare provider. They can guide you on the potential benefits, risks, and how it fits into your overall treatment plan.
  • Biofeedback and neurofeedback. Think of these treatments as the ticker tape at the bottom of a news program screen giving you running commentary about the goings-on in your body. They allow you to see and control physiological functions, like heart rate and brain waves, helping you manage stress and cravings.

Stay on Track!

  • Identify triggers. Understanding what triggers your desire to drink can be a powerful tool in managing your cravings. Once you do, work on strategies to avoid or manage them.
  • Build a support system. Your sobriety journey will be easier with a supportive network. Reach out to friends and family, or join a local or online support group. Share your experiences and listen to others. Most superheroes have a team — yours can include doctors, therapists, and fellow travelers on the path to sobriety.
  • Positive reinforcement. Reward yourself for small victories. If you go a day or a week without drinking, treat yourself to a movie night, a new book, or whatever makes you happy!
  • Create a sobriety playlist. Music can be an incredible source of comfort and motivation. Curate a playlist of songs that make you feel strong, positive, and resilient. When the going gets tough, hit play, and let the music lift you up.
  • The “feel-good” jar. Every time you resist a craving or achieve a sobriety milestone, write it down on a piece of paper along with how it made you feel. Pop it in a jar. Whenever you're having a tough day, pick a note from your “Feel-Good” jar and remind yourself of your progress.
  • Paint the picture. Visualizing your future without alcohol can be a powerful motivator. Take some time to draw or paint what that future looks like for you. You're not aiming for a Picasso here — it's all about expressing your aspirations.
  • Treasure hunt. Once a week, treat yourself to a non-alcoholic adventure. Visit a new restaurant, try a new activity, or explore a new hobby. Find joy in discovering new passions outside of alcohol.
  • Letters to your future self. When you're feeling strong and optimistic, write a letter to your future self, offering words of encouragement and reminders of why you chose this path. Read these letters in moments of doubt.
  • Wellness hour. Dedicate an hour each day for your well-being — practicing yoga, reading a book, going for a walk, or even taking a nap. This is your time to focus solely on your wellness.
  • The gratitude project. Start a gratitude journal. Each day, write down something you're grateful for. This positive reinforcement can help shift the focus from what you're giving up to what you're gaining.

Remember, everyone's journey to sobriety is unique. What works for one person might not work for another. The most important thing is not to get discouraged. Keep trying different strategies until you find what works best for you.

Start Your Journey With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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