How to Taper Off Alcohol

It’s important to note that stopping drinking can be dangerous and even life-threatening. It’s vital to speak with a medical professional before you begin weaning off alcohol to ensure you have a plan to do so safely. For people with moderate to severe alcohol addiction, utilizing an alcohol detox center is always the safest option. Alcohol detox centers have professionals trained to recognize and treat complications caused by alcohol withdrawal. Because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can sometimes be unpredictable and may escalate quickly, having an on-site medical team that can quickly intervene is the safest way to quit heavy drinking.

Alcohol detox centers aren’t going to provide you with alcoholic beverages to slowly wean you off of the substance. Instead, they will use FDA-approved medications that affect the same areas of the brain, leading to the alleviation of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. For many drugs, tapering is a standard medical procedure during detox. If you have taken antidepressant medications in the past, your doctor probably instructed you to slowly decrease the amount of medication you are taking rather than quitting them cold turkey.

Can Tapering or Weaning off Alcohol Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms?

Alcohol also changes your brain chemistry, which can result in higher levels of anxiety and depression for the first several months. Finally, just because you’ve gotten past the withdrawal phase doesn’t mean you won’t continue to face psychological aspects of addiction—including alcohol cravings and drinking triggers. However, it should not cause someone to become stuck on a step, which would defeat the purpose of a taper. A person is free to increase the taper speed (e.g., lower by three drinks instead of two) as they see fit. Withdrawal symptoms are a sign that the taper is going too fast. The second situation involves counting the drinks you consume daily and switching them for a beverage with lower alcohol content, such as beer.

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how to taper off alcohol

With herself and her staff their main goal is to provide a safe, nurturing environment for our clients. Through her relentless pursuit of excellence, Sydney empowers individuals on their journey towards recovery, offering hope and healing to those in need. My name is Ashlyn Jacob and I’m a licensed master’s social worker.

Determining If You Need to Taper Off

If you notice any severe withdrawal, you may need to slow your taper, drink alcohol immediately, or seek medical attention. The main downside of cold turkey is how unpleasant and risky it can be. If you drink heavily, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be harsh, dangerous, and even fatal. For this reason, it’s generally best to avoid quitting abruptly, or at bare minimum speak with a doctor first and have someone looking out for you. If you suddenly quit drinking, your body can struggle to catch up. Because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, quitting drinking can cause your body to have too much of an excitatory substance called glutamate as it tries to rebalance.

how to taper off alcohol

Typically, alcohol withdrawal symptoms happen for heavier drinkers. Alcohol withdrawal can begin within hours of ending a drinking session. how to taper off alcohol Stopping alcohol use is the first step of the recovery journey, but staying sober for longer and longer periods is the goal.

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Tapering off alcohol is relatively common among people with physical alcohol dependence. In this case, the body slowly adjusts to life without the substance. Tapering off helps reduce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and prevent life-threatening complications. Some people might need medications or tapering drugs to help ease any withdrawal symptoms that arise throughout the tapering-off process.

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Quitting drinking too fast can be dangerous in some circumstances because the body and brain have become so accustomed to alcohol that removing it cold-turkey can actually be detrimental. Your doctor will be able to develop a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to slowly stop drinking per your unique needs. When talking about tapering or gradually reducing alcohol use, it is important to have awareness of possible withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawing from alcohol happens when we reduce or stop alcohol use that has been occurring often for a long period of time.

How to Wean Off Alcohol & Safely Taper Drinking

But if heavy drinkers cut back on their average number of drinks too quickly, they may be at risk of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. For those who try to follow their own alcohol tapering schedule at home, they are more likely to increase the level of their drinking to their original levels. This can become dangerous, as your tolerance to alcohol will reduce over time as you taper off the alcoholic beverages. The absence of alcohol will mean that if you were to return to your former levels of alcohol consumption, you could potentially put yourself in fatal circumstances.

By setting a social limit for yourself, you are creating a safe zone. This is where you can still have a drink, but not to the point of compromising your sobriety. The act of writing your goals down on paper has been proven to help you stay focused and on task. By creating a written plan of action, you will be less likely to stray from the path, which will only jeopardize your progress. Many factors can play a role in the development of alcohol dependency. The more risk factors that are present at a young age, the more likely the individual will become an alcoholic.

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Can You Use Alcohol to Taper Off?

People who have alcohol use disorder that goes undiagnosed may have an especially difficult time cutting back on their alcohol consumption. If you’re struggling to stick to a taper or do not trust yourself to moderate your alcohol use, having strict supervision and support can help you meet your recovery goals. It can be very hard to quit drinking, and isn’t something that should be done alone.

  • I watch clients walk through the door, broken, and still remember when it was I who felt hopeless.
  • If your drinking is minimal, you may experience mild withdrawal.
  • Also, learn to cope with and avoid situations that might cause you to want to drink more.

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