Signs That It's Time For You To Take A Break From Alcohol

Are you considering taking a break from booze? Taking a step back from alcohol is often considered one of the best things you can do for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Whether you've been drinking a little more than you'd like, frequently blacking out, or getting into fights while you're drinking, there are often signs that pop up that show you that it's time to take a break.


According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking for women is described as having "one drink or less in a day," and binge drinking as consuming at least four drinks in one sitting. It's pretty easy to go above these numbers, but how exactly can you tell when it's time to go alcohol-free for a bit?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell whether or not you should slow down on drinking, especially since there is a common misconception that you don't have to do so unless it's causing serious consequences in your life — like going to jail or losing your job, home, or spouse. That's why we put together a list of some of the top signs that it may be time for you to take an alcohol break.


You're regularly skipping positive activities

If your drinking constantly gets in the way of things that bring you joy, this is a sign that you might need to take a break from alcohol. And we aren't just talking about the big-picture things in your life that make you feel good, like your fulfilling career or your relationship with your family — we mean even the simple things, too.


Alcohol might be taking priority over all the smaller activities that you love in your day-to-day life, like a phone call with your sister, taking your dog on a walk, or a quiet evening at home with your loved ones.

When your drinking causes you to skip these positive hobbies and interests, you may start to notice a shift in your happiness. You might think in the moment that alcohol will bring you the same peace and joy as these hobbies and acts of self-care do, but that may not be the case.

You have an urge to break out of your comfort zone

If you are beginning to accept that your comfort zone is not the best place for you, you may be ready for a big life change and a break from alcohol. When you drink often — and find yourself stuck in a daily routine — it's easy to get comfortable and complacent.


Eventually, you may begin to believe that you will never achieve your dreams and goals if you stay in your comfort zone; especially since staying comfortable often prevents you from advancing in life. That's where changes must be made — one of which may involve taking an alcohol break.

Life is all about trying new things, taking risks, and learning new lessons. For you, that might mean trying things that seem scary to you, like bungee jumping. Taking a break from drinking can also help you in your journey toward trying new things and facing your fears since you will have more time, energy, and money to dedicate to achieving your dreams.

Alcohol takes up a lot of space in your brain

If you spend a considerable amount of time each day thinking about alcohol, that's a sign you might need to cut back on drinking. You may not even realize all the nitty-gritty details you are gathering in your mind regarding the next time you'll have a drink — but if you spend a lot of time thinking about your next booze sesh, a break may be in order.


You might also spend time thinking about alcohol the morning after you go out or indulge in a few drinks, even if you are suffering from a nasty hangover or don't feel well because of said drinking. Perhaps you only had a moderate amount of alcohol and are still thinking about wanting more the following day.

Whatever the case may be, it's not common for people to spend hours on end thinking about drinking, so consider taking a break if you spend more time than you'd like to admit daydreaming and planning your next drink.

You make drinking rules

Perhaps you've created a list of rules around your drinking, like only drinking after 5 p.m., sticking to beer and wine only, or allowing yourself to have more than one in social situations. This may be a sign that deep down, you believe that there may be consequences if you don't give yourself rules.


Drinking rules can include anything from maintaining a sticker chart or calendar of the days you drink and the days you don't, only drinking a specific type of drink for reasons beyond preference, banning drinking in your home, only purchasing low-alcohol or natural wines, and more.

These drinking rules might work at first — and may even be a sign that you are simply a responsible drinker! But attempting to control what, when, where, or how you drink may only work for so long, particularly if you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol that may require more than a simple short break.

You drink every day

Consuming alcohol every day — or more than three times per week — is another sign you may need to take a break. Drinking a glass of wine or a cold beer after a long day of work isn't a bad thing. But if you're worried that daily drinking may become a larger problem down the line, you could try to stop drinking for at least a week and see how you feel while you're not consuming alcohol.


Many people who need a detox from alcohol don't realize just how much they need a break until they take one. Take note of how you feel during your alcohol break. For example, do you feel sick or weird in any way? You might be going through symptoms of withdrawal, which may be a sign that you have an unhealthy habit that needs breaking.

Your life is becoming unmanageable

If you notice that your life seems to be getting less and less manageable, take a look at your drinking and see if alcohol is at the center of your issues. You might not realize in your day-to-day life that your drinking is causing problems with your health, finances, social interactions, relationships, and more.


If you take a step back and take a bird's-eye view of your life, though, you might recognize that your drinking is having a negative impact on these personal areas. For example, are you drowning in debt because you're going out to the local bar every day or multiple times per week? Is your physical health suffering because you're constantly hungover?

If you answered yes to either of those questions — or any of the questions you felt compelled to ask yourself — it may be a sign that taking a break from drinking is the best bet.

You're noticing physical changes

There are some signs that your body is telling you it's time to take a break from drinking, like changes in your skin, weight changes, tingling and numbness, and heartburn. Other potential health issues or physical changes you might go through when drinking too much include stomach issues, nausea, vomiting, headaches, fatigue, lack of energy, poor sleep, getting sick easily, night sweats, yellowing of the eyes and skin, and hair loss.


Alcohol can cause weight gain since it can trigger food cravings and keeps your body from burning carbs and fat (not to mention the drinks themselves can be riddled with calories and sugar). On the flip side, long-term drinking can also lead to weight and appetite loss due to inflammation of the liver. If you notice any feelings of numbness or tingling, particularly in your extremities, you might be experiencing alcohol neuropathy (via Healthline).

You might also experience stomach issues, like bloating, stomachaches, or pain right below your ribs. Fatigue is another common symptom of drinking too much since the quality of your sleep is diminished. Long story short, if you're not feeling your best (and you're noticing these changes), alcohol may be the culprit. 


People in your life are getting concerned

Another sign that it's time to take a step back from drinking is if people in your life are starting to get concerned about your drinking and making comments to you about it. 

They might comment that you are embarrassing them at events or remind you of your behavior while drinking that you can't recall because you blacked out. Some friends and family members might dance around the subject to avoid offending you, while others will outright ask that you scale back on the drinking or quit altogether.


Whatever the case may be, once those close to you begin to talk to you about your drinking habits, it may be time to take it to heart. Try not to get defensive and listen from a place of understanding (as difficult as that may be!).

You feel ashamed of your behavior when you drink

Have you ever felt ashamed of the behavior you've exhibited during alcohol consumption? Maybe you've even told yourself that you're going to start drinking less or stop drinking altogether, but instead, you choose to perpetuate the drinking cycle and cover up your shame with more alcohol.


Whether you tend to lash out while you drink, text your toxic ex, get in fights with your loved ones, or downright just don't act like yourself, exhibiting behavior that's not true to who you are when you drink is an indication that it's time to cut back on the drinking.

It can certainly be challenging to learn how to feel your emotions without numbing them with alcohol or other substances. But sometimes, feeling those negative emotions is crucial to life and the healing process. Take some time away from alcohol, at least while you work through these complex emotions.

You experience frequent blackouts

If you regularly black out from drinking and have difficulty remembering what happened, it's probably time to kiss alcohol goodbye for a bit. Frequent blackouts are one of the biggest signs that your alcohol consumption has become excessive. Memory loss after drinking can lead to intense emotions and anxiety about what you said or did while you were imbibing.


Blacking out regularly can also impact your relationships with friends, family members, and other loved ones, particularly since your decision-making skills and character can be impacted by excessive drinking. Since you can't remember what happened, it can be hard to apologize or take accountability for what you said or did during your blackout.

Not to mention, blacking out is just not good for your health — physically, mentally, or emotionally. It can also be dangerous, considering a person can still be entirely conscious during a blackout; they just won't remember what happened the next day.

You're drinking by yourself or hiding your drinking

If you spend time drinking by yourself or in secret, then it may be time to take a break from alcohol. Hiding your drinking habits may indicate that you feel ashamed of your drinking and want to conceal that from those who care about you or have mentioned your drinking to you in the past.


But hiding your drinking may result in more of those shameful feelings, as well as anxiety that your friends and loved ones will find out that you're drinking alone. These feelings may even lead to a cycle of more drinking to suppress those feelings.

If you come home from work and enjoy a glass of wine by yourself as you unwind after a long day, there may be a different story here. The key word is secret — if the need is present to hide the drinking, that may indicate that you believe deep down a change needs to happen.

You're not getting enough sleep

Do you notice you are waking up in the middle of the night when you drink? There is a common misconception that alcohol helps you sleep better since alcohol can make you feel tired. On the contrary, alcohol often causes sleep disruptions and suppresses REM sleep (which is considered the deepest sleep stage). Thus, you feel much less well-rested come the morning.


"Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it encourages the body to lose extra fluid," Dr. Brian Fisher tells Daily Express. "So, it's no surprise that after an evening of heavy drinking, you're up in the night going to the toilet, sweating, and waking to drink water due to dehydration."

Consider skipping the before-bed drinks and see if that makes a difference in how you feel when you wake up. You may even find that you feel so well-rested that you skip the nightcaps altogether.

You're failing to perform your duties

Another sign that it may be time to take a break from alcohol is if it gets in the way of fulfilling your responsibilities and duties — inside and outside your home. This is especially true if you are typically someone who is very productive and tends to cross items off of your daily agenda with ease.


If you find that you are failing to perform your duties and responsibilities as usual due to drinking excessively and feeling hungover, a reevaluation may be in order. Take particular notice if work obligations, daily chores, errands, appointments, and day-to-day happenings are being pushed aside.

Taking a break from alcohol will give you the time and energy to get things done and assess the role that drinking plays in your life. You might love how energetic and productive you feel during your alcohol break that you choose not to go back to drinking at all!

You're not able to put down your drink

Do you find it difficult to put your drink down once you begin drinking? This may be difficult, especially if you are a social drinker! But if you can't stop at just one or two glasses and tend to binge once you begin, then it's probably time to take a break.


Not being able to put down your drink or stop drinking after you start may indicate that you have a hard time controlling your impulse to drink while in the moment. Slowing down and taking a step back may be helpful in making a readjustment.

Sometimes, you may find yourself drinking heavier than usual and need to cut it off before it goes too far. This isn't always a sign that something serious is at play — you could be going through a challenging time or even on vacation! But by taking a break, you may be able to get yourself back to a place of moderate drinking to not overdo it once you begin.

You experience signs of withdrawal anytime you don't drink

If you notice signs of withdrawal, like anxiety, nausea, depression, fatigue, irritability, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, or trembling and shakiness anytime you don't drink, that's a sign that you should take a break from alcohol and let your body detox. Long-term drinking can also have worse effects on the body, like liver issues and high blood pressure.


Dizziness is a common withdrawal symptom that happens because your body may not be able to properly regulate its heart rate and blood pressure, along with dehydration that often comes with drinking as well. Vomiting or nausea can also occur in the initial stage after you stop drinking.

According to Mount Sinai, withdrawal symptoms can occur eight to 72 hours after consuming your last alcoholic beverage. If you notice any withdrawal signs when you don't drink, taking a break may be necessary to return to your healthy state.

Your friends and loved ones have to babysit you while drinking

Are your friends and loved ones constantly babysitting you while you're drinking? Perhaps they have to continually keep an eye on you if you are drinking in public because you tend to act a certain way and say things you normally wouldn't. Maybe they tend to apologize on your behalf to others because you don't realize in the moment you are out of line.


Are they making sure you get home safely at night because they're worried you wouldn't otherwise due to your drinking? Do multiple friends and loved ones text you the day after drinking to make sure you're recovering okay?

It's one thing to get taken care of once or twice by friends when you're in college, and you're relatively new to drinking, but it's quite another thing when your friends are constantly taking care of you because your drinking is becoming excessive. Whether or not your friends like to play babysitter, it's not fair to be constantly taken care of while drinking.

You always surround yourself with other drinkers

Many people who tend to drink excessively usually surround themselves with other drinkers. That's not entirely a bad thing, especially if your friend group loves to go out and have a good time. However, if you are surrounding yourself with these friends because they make drinking easier — when you feel like you need a break — that may be difficult to navigate.


If you are trying to take a break from drinking but always fall back into the habit of drinking more than you'd like because of your friends, then taking a break from certain people may also be a good idea while you detox for a bit.

You may like to drink with other people because you're a social drinker — but if your friends don't feel the need to take a break, it could be difficult for you to do the same. Taking a break from alcohol so you can assess your relationship with drinking (and maybe those you drink with) is a great idea if you fall into this pattern.

You tend to break the law or get into fights when you drink

If you're getting into fights (either with strangers or loved ones) or breaking the law because of your drinking, you may need to step back from drinking. No alcoholic beverage is worth getting into fights, particularly with your loved ones.


It can be easy to go from one drink to four, especially when you're out with friends. But before you know it, you're fighting with your bestie over something so silly because the excessive alcohol clouded your judgment and thought process.

Or perhaps the alcohol lowered your inhibitions, and you end up doing something illegal — even public intoxication is a criminal offense in many states! If you have broken the law or endangered yourself or others due to drinking, it's best to take a break, just so you have some time to let your body, mind, and spirit detox for a bit.

You're failing to trust your gut

Do you hold back on the choices you know you have to make and overthink every single decision that comes your way? If you have difficulty following your instincts and trusting your gut, that's a sign that you need to take a break from alcohol so that you can make more clear-headed decisions.


Perhaps you have a difficult decision that you know must be made, and the stress of such a complex situation makes you want to indulge in alcohol. While enjoying a glass of alcohol is great in taking the edge off, putting it off for a bit while you mull over your decisions may be helpful in having a clear mind.

Ultimately, taking a break from alcohol will allow you to do some deeper soul-searching, making it much easier for you to make decisions that are based on what you know is right in both your head and your heart.