How to stop drinking alcohol

There are new solutions, and the answer may surprise you.

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Before your program I was a daily drinker. Mostly wine but mostly the entire bottle in one sitting. Since taking your counseling and the miracle drug naltrexone, I am finally rid of the temptation to drink.*

- Maria in Florida

Ria Health is a life-changer. I have done AA, and four or five stays at rehab and IOPs that really didn't help at all.  With Ria Health, after less than one year, I don't even think about drinking anymore. This was the best money I have ever spent on dealing with alcohol addiction!*

- Mark in California

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Ria Health is a next-generation solution for people who want to stop drinking too much.

Alcohol Use Disorder affects at least 15 million adults in the United States, but on average less than 7 percent will receive treatment each year.


That’s a lot of people, and it means you aren’t alone if you want know how to stop drinking. But how can so few people be getting help? Is quitting drinking that difficult? Are we that far behind in figuring out how to treat alcohol addiction?

The answer is partly yes, and partly no. Yes, in the sense that many people don’t have access to the help they need. No, in the sense that we know a lot more than we used to about how to treat Alcohol Use Disorder, and we can probably do something about it.

First, Some Common Misconceptions About Quitting Alcohol

Abstinence is the only option: This is not actually true. Science and medicine are showing us that it's possible to learn to drink at safer levels, and regain control over alcohol. This can be a big shocker for a lot of people the first time they hear it, and for good reason. We get told over and over that once you stop, you must stop completely. But there is little real evidence for this. On the contrary, the success of programs like the Sinclair Method has proven that, given the right tools, moderation is possible for many people. It will take time to get the word out, and to shift popular opinion, but the truth is that you have choices. What matters most is picking a method, and sticking with it until you reach your goal.

Entering a rehab program or going through detox is necessary: If you’ve heard this before, you may have assumed it was based on scientific evidence. It isn’t. There are many treatments more effective than those offered in rehabilitation facilities, at a fraction of the cost. You also don't need to go through the difficulty of quitting alcohol cold turkey. There are many medications that can help you ease off of it, without extreme physical discomfort. Be kind to yourself: don't turn your life upside down or empty your wallet. There are better options—you don't need to put your life on hold to drink less alcohol. 

You need to believe in a higher power: Many of the affordable alternatives to rehab encourage this. There is nothing wrong with believing in a higher power, but it shouldn’t be a requirement to get help. Alcohol Use Disorder is an imbalance in the body’s chemical relationship to alcohol. It is not a moral failing. And while finding a good spiritual or mindfulness practice can be of great assistance, it's good to be able to deal with an imminent threat to your health, career, and relationships without attaching it to your character, or changing your belief system.

Shame and stigma: Nobody should have to feel ashamed for struggling with alcohol addiction. With at least 6% of the country facing similar problems, you are in good company, and should have access to empathy and support. Alcohol Use Disorder is a chemical imbalance, not a personal failing. The less shame and stigma are attached to alcohol dependence, the easier it will be for people to find help and recover from it.

If That's All True, What Is the Best Way to Stop Drinking Alcohol?

Great question. The answer is that it can be different for everybody. Here are several components in an effective treatment plan, which can be mixed and matched to suit your individual needs:

1. Medication

There are several medications that can be used to help reduce alcohol cravings, including naltrexone, acamprosate, and gabapentin. Naltrexone works by blocking the pleasure effects of alcohol, which can help a person drink less over time, or even quit for good. Ironically, for most people, the more they take this medication in combination with alcohol, the more they train themselves not to associate alcohol with pleasure. Acamprosate can be better for people seeking abstinence, and works by correcting the chemical imbalance that makes a person want to drink. Gabapentin is an anti-anxiety medicine that's shown to help with alcohol cravings. These medications are proven to be effective at reducing heavy drinking. The fact that they aren't used more is mostly because people don't know about them. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) actually has a much higher success rate than AA, and many rehab programs. 

2. One On One Coaching 

Strong personal support is key to the process of overcoming alcohol dependency, and it is now easier to access. Because of new technology, you can now meet with addiction coaches on a regular basis through video or phone chat. In some cases it may even be covered by insurance. These coaches can help you set goals, change behaviors, and start new habits. They can also support you when you experience setbacks and keep you moving forward. Few people's paths follow a straight line, and having expert advice to keep you on track can be extremely helpful.

3. A Mobile Breathalyzer 

This one may raise a few eyebrows, but no, this is not the same thing as having the police pull you over. This is a digital bluetooth device that allows you to record your Blood Alcohol Content on a regular basis and send it to your phone. This does several things: First, it keeps you honest with yourself, by giving you a graph of how much you have been drinking, and when. The second thing it does is give you a ritual that reminds you of your goals. Finally, it gives your coaches or doctors something to look at, to see if they need to adjust treatment. It can seem like a strange concept to some at first, but it can make a big difference in tracking your progress day to day.

4. Online Private Group Meetings

One of the strongest parts of Alcoholics Anonymous is the opportunity to meet with people going through the same thing, and empathize. This can be a great source of support, but not everyone will find it convenient to go to meetings, or agree with everything about the 12 step program. Online meetings can be a good alternative: You can join them from anywhere you can get internet access, and you still get the opportunity to connect and offer mutual support. Whichever way you choose to meet with others, it can provide you with important perspective and remind you that you're not alone.

5. Telemedicine

This is the innovation that connects a lot of the above together. Because of new technology, it is now much easier to access medication, coaching, progress-tracking tools, and communities of other people. It also much easier to see a doctor. Medical professionals can now diagnose a number of things without you having to leave your house. This saves you money and time, and also keeps things private. In terms of overcoming alcohol dependency, this can go a long way to making the process feel normal. You don't need to disrupt your life to get treatment, so the barriers to getting help become much smaller. By using telemedicine, you can incorporate your recovery process into your daily life, making it easier to follow through.

6. Moderation

Once again, this may be surprising for some people, but there are proven ways of drinking less without abstaining completely. While you might find that abstinence is best for you personally, this is a decision between you and your doctor. If simply cutting back would be a better goal for you, moderation is a real possibility. The worst thing you can do is avoid treatment because you don’t feel like you can stick abstinence or don't know how to stop drinking. Despite what many people think, evidence shows that a combination of medication, coaching, support groups, and new technology can help you reduce your drinking to a safer level, and keep it there.

Any of these approaches can help you stop drinking alcohol, or reduce your alcohol consumption. Which ones you choose are your decision. The larger purpose is to remove the stigma from alcohol addiction—to make it into a treatable disease or disorder that people don’t feel ashamed about, so that it's easier to get help. Ria Health’s program is a forerunner in this new approach, which we hope will become commonplace. As it spreads across the states we are seeing very encouraging outcomes. You can see the positive results for our first 230 members here. We've been growing ever since.

If you'd like to stop drinking alcohol, or reduce your alcohol consumption, get in contact with us. You can learn more about how our program works, or schedule a call with no obligation to join. We can work with you to develop a plan that is unique to your needs, and wont require you to put your life on hold. Get started with Ria, and let us help you find a healthier balance, and a better life.

In fact, with the expansion of telemedicine and new medications for alcohol addiction, things may be about to change for the better. If you've been wondering how you can drink less, you may now find a lot more answers to that question than before, including one that works for you.

A New Solution For Alcohol Addiction