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Was alcoholic, trying to quit. How to do it?

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Addiction Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 1486 Questions
Hello doctor, i am a recovering alcoholic. I use to drink 180ml of whiskey everyday since 2 years. How ever i have the will power to stop for a month or two without drinking anytime. I have recently decided to quit alcohol for 3 months as i was told that after 3 months the temptation to drink goes away . However i wanted to ask you that is it ok if i drink once a week on weekends ? I know i can control during the week but i feel like enjoying a drink or two on weekends. What do you suggest ? Should i quit completly for 3 months then start drinking slowly or try to control modertly every week once ? Please help doctor ? As per your experience what do u suggest i do ?
Posted Mon, 7 Oct 2013 in Smoking and Alcohol Addiction
Answered by Dr. Preeti Parakh 37 minutes later
Brief Answer:
You need to be very careful for at least a year.

Detailed Answer:

Welcome to Healthcare Magic!

First of all, let me congratulate you on deciding to quit alcohol. Well done!

I am sorry that whoever gave you the "three months" information was incorrect. Research has shown that the maximum risk of relapse is for the first one year of abstinence, with around 90% people going back to drink. After the first year, the risk gradually starts falling. This is the reason why when I give medicines to patients with alcohol dependence to reduce their craving, I advise them to continue with treatment for at least a year and maybe more. So, I would suggest that you be very careful for at least a year.

Controlled drinking is the goal of many people with alcohol related problems and some people are able to achieve it. But for you, I would not suggest going for it now because in the present condition, there is strong possibility that you will return to your previous pattern of use very soon. Once your body has been alcohol free for a very long period of time and your brain cells have returned to their pre-alcohol state, this may be considered. But even then, there will always be a risk of relapse and I would again advise you to be very careful.

So, for now, my advice is that you try to quit for at least a year and then reassess your goals. Your body will also need this time to recuperate from the damage that has already occurred. I know this is not the advice that you would have liked to hear, but this is in your best interests and is on the basis of scientific evidence.

Hope this answers your query. Please feel free to ask if you need any clarifications.

Best wishes!

Dr Preeti Parakh
MD Psychiatry
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