If you are looking to give up drinking completely, and have been drinking heavily or for a prolonged period of time, this is something that you may want answered. Whether it is safe to just stop without medical intervention will be determined on whether you are bodily dependant on alcohol or not. If you are bodily dependant, to stop drinking suddenly could have dangerous consequences to your health.
I would recommend that anyone who has concerns over the amount they are drinking and is thinking of giving up, seeks expert advice in the first instance. This could be by contacting your local GP, or the NHS Direct helpline, or by calling ourselves.
Alcohol dependency usually develops when someone has been drinking frequently for a prolonged period and a tolerance has been built. This is also related to alcohol addiction. The amount that you used to drink no longer has the desired effect and you find yourself increasing the amount you drink to achieve the same It is difficult to say the exact amount required or the length of time it takes to develop a physically dependency to alcohol as everyone’s metabolism and body chemistry is different. Other factors are age, gender and general health. But generally speaking if you feel the need to drink in order to stop unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as delirium tremens (uncontrollable shaking), acute anxiety and feelings of panic, rapid heart rate, hallucinations, seizures, confusion, agitation, uncontrollable vomiting or retching, and have been drinking more than the government recommended alcohol intake for your gender on a daily basis, the chances are you have a physical dependency and you should consider alcohol detox. If this is the case, it could be extremely dangerous for you to stop drinking suddenly; some of these symptoms can even lead to respiratory arrest and death.
An individual that is physically dependant on alcohol will require a medically assisted alcohol detox. This can be carried out either at home with medical supervision, in a hospital or in a treatment centre that specializes in drug and alcohol addiction. The alternative is to gradually reduce the amount you drink yourself, but if you are alcoholic and cannot control your drinking, it is unlikely that this will be achievable.
If you have concerns that you may be bodily dependant on alcohol, do not drop drinking suddenly. Instead seek medical/professional advice before attempting any withdrawal program or self-detoxification. It could be life threatening to ignore this advice.