I’m an alcoholic, but how can I quit drinking?

The numbers of death due to alcoholism is constantly increasing. This is an addiction hard to get rid of, but completely possible. Keep reading to find out how to quit drinking.

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Princípios de saúde

The use of alcoholic beverages has killed over 3.3 million people in the world in only 12 months. Alcoholism kills more than HIV, tuberculosis, obesity and acts of violence.

Even so, around 38% of the world population continues drinking alcohol almost every day.

Alcoholism is the addiction to alcohol. In other words, people who suffer from alcoholism usually have a compulsion for alcoholic beverages and face an extreme challenge to quit this addiction.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers alcoholism a psychiatric disease, but that presents serious physiological consequences in the body and mind.

That is, an alcoholic person suffers because of the addiction as much as for the problems that come up in their health on a long term. The great issue is how can you quit drinking? How to leave behind once and for all this addiction? Calm down! It seems pretty hard, but we will help you through it.

According to the WHO, Brazil is the third country with more deaths due to alcohol. In 2012, 300 thousand people that live in the Americas died because of alcoholic beverages. Cirrhosis was the main cause of their deaths.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released a report in 2015 with the following numbers about the use of alcohol: 73.9 among 100 men die due to drinking alcohol; 11.7 in every 100 thousand women also die due to drinking.

In the last five years, the use of alcohol raised from 4.6% to 13% among women and from 17.9% to 29.4% among men. Still according to the report, the greatest rick factor among teens of 15 to 19 years old is the use of alcoholic drinks, even more than the use of drugs, for example. In 2010, 14 thousand children and youth under the age of 19 had their deaths caused by the use of alcohol. It’s even clearer now the great need in learning how to quit drinking.

Damages in the nervous system

The exaggerated use of alcohol causes damages to the central and peripheral nervous system. That’s why drinking abuse can take a person to dementia and reduces the sensibility and muscle strength of their legs.

Liver damages

The liver is the organ that suffers the most with the side effects of alcohol. It starts with a simple build up of fat in the liver, which soon evolves into hepatitis and fibrosis, due to an attempt of liver defense. Little by little, the disease can evolve into cirrhosis, which is the formation of scars in the liver while it fails to work..

Gastritis and ulcers

Alcohol causes erosions on the walls of the stomach, triggering an inflammation of the stomach mucous, provoking gastritis, as well as gastric ulcers, wounds that could show up in the stomach, esophagus or intestines.

Pancreatitis and diabetes

Because of the alcohol aggression in the digestive organs, the pancreas could develop an inflammation. This could destroy the organ’s tissue, as well as the cells that produce insulin. That’s why many alcoholics are also diagnosed with diabetes.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

The use of alcohol interferes with the absorption of a few nutrients by the organism. Because of that it’s commonly seen in those who drink alcohol the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This disease is characterized by the lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine) and provokes paralysis of muscles, ophthalmic problems and mental disorders.

Changes in blood circulation

Alcohol alters the blood circulation. This causes the person to develop high blood pressure and increases the risk of having a stroke.


Since alcohol affect the liver functions, this harms the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood stream. The body stores more bad cholesterol (LDL) in the walls of the arteries, which is called atherosclerosis.


Drinking also influences cancer development, especially in the digestive tract.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy may cause harm to the fetus. This causes congenital malformations, which is irreversible in many cases.


Acute intoxication and complications resulting from alcohol abuse can lead to death. While the accumulation of more than 5g of alcohol per liter of blood can cause respiratory arrest, several alcohol-related illnesses also result in death.


Cirrhosis is not a disease exclusively caused by the abuse of alcoholic beverages. However, according to the WHO, more than half of the people who did develop this disease were due to the abuse of alcohol drinks. The disease attacks the liver, causing a serious inflammation. The organ is full of scars caused by alcohol injuries. At this state, the disease can be treated and is stopped from evolving into a general liver failure.

In addition to cirrhosis, the patient should be aware of another disease, steatosis, which is the retention of fat in the liver. There are also other cirrhosis-related diseases such as obesity, hepatitis A, B and C, but alcoholic cirrhosis is still the most serious and common one.

Expert Interview

Marli Portugal

Psychologist and family therapist

Can alcohol abuse influence a person's behavior?

MP: There are a number of recent studies and data released in the media that point to alcohol as the main cause of traffic accidents, family aggression and aggression in general. A recent study by Cebrid (Brazilian Center of Drug Information) found that 83% of domestic aggressors were intoxicated during the aggressions. That is, alcohol impairs the communication of neurons, due to its chemicals. The intoxicated individual is not fully aware of their actions. As a consequence, their behavior cannot be measured or predicted. They will act on impulses. This is what leads the subject to make wrong decisions, cause accidents and aggressions.


After a lot of drinking, people tell stories of which you don’t remember any of it, right? That is the blackout syndrome, which causes amnesia due to alcohol intoxication. The substance impairs neuron communication and storage of new information. In other words, your brain stops registering the following moments. Sounds dangerous, don’t you think?

Alcoholism, just like any other disease, has a few stages. The first one is the adaptation stage, when the individual starts drinking socially. That’s how they start gradually enjoying the taste of those drinks.

In the second stage, which is tolerance, the central nervous system completely adapts to alcohol and the individual doesn’t feel the effects of substance. It’s that typical alcoholic who doesn’t get drunk so easily.

The third stage is complete addiction, followed by withdrawal syndrome. The person suffers a lot when they do not drink alcohol for a long time. At this point, physical, moral and social deterioration begins. Generally, by this time people close to the alcoholic person tend to realize the severity of the problem.

Now, if you’re reading and relation to the alcoholic behavior, you must seek help!

What are alcoholics like anyway? Watch for signs and evaluate if you show any similar behavior:

  • they drink alone and for no apparent reason;
  • they continue to drink, even if they are losing important things: family, job, and so on;
  • they lose their job or school year;
  • they become aggressive when drinking;
  • they cannot go a day without drinking an alcoholic beverage;
  • after they start drinking, it’s hard to stop;
  • they drink more and more to maintain the concentration of alcohol in the body;
  • they may present paranoia and hallucinations;
  • they always have an excuse to drink;
  • they get away from friends, family and social events to drink;
  • they avoid going where they cannot drink;
  • they try to hide excessive alcohol consumption;
  • they eat poorly or stop eating;
  • they have tremors and withdrawal symptoms when they spend a long time without drinking alcohol;
  • they lose their memory.


About 40% of Brazilian teenagers have tried alcohol at age 12, although drinking is prohibited for children under 18.


Everybody knows that alcohol and driving is not a match. However, the numbers of deaths in road traffic show that the problem is still frequent. According to the Global Report about Alcohol and Health of the WHO, 15% of road traffic deaths were caused by alcohol in 2012. In Brazil, 18% of the victims were men and 5.2 were women.

The Brazilian law 13.546 increases the penalty for the driver who commits homicide or causes any type of injury while drunk driving. The penalty requires imprisonment five to eight years, plus some sanctions.

Now, if an individual is pulled over by a cop e is drunk, there could be more complications. If the breathalyzer (a device for estimating blood alcohol level) shows a level between 0.05mg/l and 0.33mg/l you’ve committed a very serious traffic law violation. In this case, you can ask to retake the test and if the results are the same, then you’ll be processed in the police district. The process that follows that is this:

  • Your vehicle will be held until you present a qualified driver who passes the test. If not present, the vehicle will be removed to a deposit accredited by a DMV office and may only be withdrawn by the duly authorized owner or attorney;
  • You’ll be fined in the amount of R$ 2.934,70;
  • Your driver’s license will be held by the agent;
  • You’ll need to take your driver’s license 24h later, in the office where it was originally held;
  • The DMV office will start the process of suspending your right to drive for twelve months;
  • Once the suspension is confirmed, your DL should be handed over in the Driving Education Center, to start the period of 12 months;
  • You’ll need to take 30h of recycling classes in the Driving Education Center;
  • You’ll also have to take a written test;
  • You won’t be allowed to drive for 12 months;
  • You’re DL will be replaced after the period of suspension, once you’ve taken all the classes and you’ve passed the written test.

It might be better to not risk it, don’t you think?


Do you consider yourself an alcoholic?

Have you ever been drunk?

Have you ever caused a car accident (minor or major) due to drunk driving?

How do you feel when you don't drink for a long time?

When you drink alcohol, do you usually drink a lot?

Do your family and friends ask you to consume less alcoholic drinks?

Do you feel that drinking is changing who you are?

You need to get help from an expert to win over alcoholism. It may seem easy to stop drinking, but it is not. Seek help from your family and start avoiding drinking. In addition to emotional damage, you can also have a lot of health damage such as incurable diseases. It’s time to turn the page, isn’t it? By the way, did you know that the Bible also talks about alcoholism? The book gives some health advice that can help you. Learn more.

Although you might not consider yourself an alcoholic, you still consume plenty of alcohol. Be careful how often and how much you drink this type of drink. Try to think about your health and your family and friends. Alcohol, as in most cases, usually takes over people’s lives. When the victims realize, they have gone too far. By the way, did you know that the Bible also talks about alcohol consumption? The book gives some health advice that can help you. Learn more.

Congratulations! You don’t drink alcohol or at least not often. Share this content with your friends who drink. By the way, did you know that the Bible also talks about alcoholism? The book gives some health advice that may also help. Learn more.

Is there a cure for alcoholism?

MP: Alcoholism has no cure. This is a hard fact to accept. However, treatment consists of regression of symptoms and emotional control, as in a healing process. But one must know that it is not an easy journey. Alcoholics need to control themselves all their lives and still they could throw away a year’s worth of effort at any time. Therefore, group therapy (also known as AA meetings) or individual therapy is always indicated. In some cases, the person needs to take medications or seek recovery clinics. In addition, it is very important that the alcoholic in question receives all possible support from family and friends.

Alcohol is the leading risk of death among youth and teens. In recent years, consumption has gradually increased. In this video you can find precious tips on how to get rid of this addiction.


A relapse may not be the end of the fight against alcoholism, but it may reverse all patient’s evolution. Stop drinking is really serious. During the withdrawal period, the individual may suffer from tremors, tachycardia, hypertension, nausea and vomiting, excessive sweating, anxiety, irritability, insomnia and increased body temperature. However, this phase lasts a short time, varying from person to person. The important thing is to resist!

Most Christians do not drink alcohol because of biblical guidance. But of course this does not mean that all Christians do not consume it. The Bible speaks a bit about the subject. Learn more.

But there’s no use stopping drinking alcohol and replacing the addiction with soft drinks or sugary juices, is there?

Alcoholism is a serious disease. Experts say that only medical treatment can help to overcome this problem. Seek out help and also offer help when needed. Deal?