Refraining from drug use or (particularly) from drinking alcoholic beverages, whether as a matter of principle or for other reasons.
Those who practise abstinence from alcohol are termed "abstainers" or "total abstainers".
The term "current abstainer", often used in population surveys, is usually defined as a person who has not drunk an alcoholic beverage in the preceding 12 months; this definition does not necessarily coincide with a respondent's self-description as an abstainer.
The term "abstinence" should not be confused with "abstinence syndrome", an older term for withdrawal syndrome.
Abstinence is the discontinuation of a drug, often an addictive one.
This might, in addition to craving after the drug, be expressed as withdrawal syndromes.
Narcotics Anonymous is outlined to be "a program of complete abstinence from all mood or mind-altering substances." This description includes alcohol, because alcohol is a drug, and is widely known to include any kind of prescription narcotics, like pain-killers (opiates), anti-anxiety medicine (benzodiazepines) or diet pills (amphetamines).
Abstinence is touted as the most effective treatment for the disease of addiction, where any use of any controlled substances can result in the obsession to use drugs clouding the mind, and, in the case of most drug addicts, the total loss of control to stop using once started again. The practice of abstinence is a learned behavior, and comes slowly over time with behavioral health psychology group or individualized therapies, and hanging out with people in the recovery support community.