St Vincent's Hospital, FairviewMental Health Addiction Service

Abstinence

Abstinence means stopping usage completely, whether it is alcohol, drugs, prescribed drugs, over the counter drugs or gambling.

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Stopping drinking suddenly or a severe reduction in intake can cause withdrawal symptoms, particularly for the dependent drinker. These symptoms vary from mild e.g. insomnia and mild anxiety to symptoms as severe as withdrawal seizures and delirium tremens (D.T.’s).

Stopping some medications /drugs can also cause withdrawal symptoms.

It’s best to talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you have been using regularly and now plan to stop. They can offer you some hints, tips and advice.

It is important to note that not everyone gets physical withdrawal symptoms but for those who do, sometimes, a short course of medication is prescribed to help reduce the symptoms and your doctor can advise you about this.

If you are dependent on a substance, staying off it altogether can end up being easier for you than trying to limit it.