Tapering Off Alcohol: Weaning Off Alcohol to Avoid Withdrawal Symptoms

This lessens the severity of withdrawal symptoms, as there is not an abrupt or dramatic change. Tapering will normally create less severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms but will spread them out over a prolonged period. Essentially, tapering provides less intense withdrawal https://en.forexpamm.info/sober-sayings-and-sober-quotes/ symptoms but over a longer amount of time. You don’t have to let the fear of alcohol withdrawal stop you from cutting back or quitting. You may decide to seek medical treatment for your withdrawal symptoms or decide to enter a professional detox or rehab center.

tapering down alcohol

GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for your brain’s rest and digest response, which helps to facilitate sleep, relaxation, and anxiety release. However, your body is adaptable, and after a period of regular, heavy drinking, your nervous system will adapt to the presence of alcohol. Central nervous system depressants are a class of drugs that includes several prescription medications like benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and sedative-hypnotics.

Cold Turkey Method

Find a supportive friend or family member to be with you while you withdraw and support your new non-drinking lifestyle. People who drink daily or almost every day should not be left alone for the first few days after stopping alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can quickly go from a bad hangover to a serious medical situation. There is no exact timeline for alcohol withdrawal, and individual factors, such as the level of dependence on alcohol, will influence it. The chance of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms increases if you’ve had them before, or if you’re older.

  • The final step of tapering off alcohol is to define your alcohol-free days.
  • Tapering off alcohol is the act of slowly reducing alcohol intake until a person becomes completely abstinent.
  • Let them know your plan, your progress, and how withdrawals are going for you.
  • You may behave irrationally or aggressively when you’re drunk.

This is the period in which delirium tremens is most likely to occur, which requires immediate medical attention. You don’t have to mention anything about your drinking if you don’t want to, but make sure Does A Purple Nose Indicate Alcoholism? you’re in good shape. Remember, doctors are (usually) intelligent people who spent over a decade studying medicine to help people. Everything you say is confidential and you’re paying them to HELP you.

Alcohol Tapering Strategies

Prolonged and excessive alcohol consumption can impact your brain, causing changes to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. Heavy drinking can lead to a reduction in the sensitivity of your brain to the amount of GABA produced. If you abruptly stop consuming alcohol, your brain may not have enough sensitivity to GABA, which can result in hyper-excitability and withdrawal symptoms. Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery. Further, the severity of withdrawal symptoms can cause a person to resort back to drinking alcohol to relieve any symptoms.

I’ve also heard of people successfully stopping by reducing their moderate drinking (8-10 a day) to 5-6 a day for a couple days, and then quitting entirely. Although I didn’t experience any seizures, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t recommend tapering yourself at all, and I especially don’t recommend doing it rapidly, but it has been done.

Tapering vs Cold Turkey

Making changes is a process, especially when we try to change a behavior that offers immediate satisfaction and relief, such as drinking alcohol. Don’t be discouraged if you encounter setbacks in your cutting-down journey or fail to stick to your limit. Remember that professional support is available; you don’t have to do this alone. If you notice severe hallucinations, extreme brain fog, the world slows down around you; you feel drunk when you’re not, you may have warning signs of delirium tremens (DTs). Always have one of your drinks late at night before you go to bed, to prevent this from happening while you’re sleeping.

  • For people at low risk of complications, an office visit to your primary care provider, along with at-home monitoring and virtual office visits, may suffice.
  • I don’t think I could go through more than a couple weeks of tapering, but you do you.
  • For instance, if you drink while on disulfiram, you will experience unwanted effects like facial flushing, nausea, headache, weakness and low blood pressure.
  • Here are some things to plan for on your “cutting down” road trip.
  • Submit your number and receive a free call today from a treatment provider.
  • Find a reason to stay sober and keep that in mind as you go through this process.

If alcohol withdrawal is so dangerous, is tapering off alcohol necessary for everyone who drinks? If you’ve been drinking consistently for a long time, it’s a good idea to consider the safest way to stop when it’s time to cut back. However, weaning off alcohol isn’t always necessary for people who want to cut back or stop drinking. The most significant factor is whether or not you’ve become chemically dependent.

How to Cut Down on Alcohol

(Visit my website and sign up for the Sober Curiosity Newsletter, so you never miss any Sober Curiosity tips). By Sarah Bence

Sarah Bence, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist and freelance writer. She specializes in a variety of health topics including mental health, dementia, celiac disease, and endometriosis. It can be helpful to write down your reasons for quitting and the difficulty of withdrawal while it is fresh in your mind. Delirium tremens is a medical emergency that can result in death.

But alcohol causes some of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms you can experience, and it can be fatal in some circumstances. But since alcohol addiction can also be dangerous, you may need to get through withdrawal to achieve sobriety and better health. Learn more here about tapering off alcohol and how to wean off it safely. When an individual has developed a substance use disorder or dependence on alcohol, stopping its use outright can seem virtually impossible. On top of this, quitting immediately — or “cold turkey” as many users and professionals call it — can be dangerous.

Only people who are tapering down from very large quantities of alcohol such as a liter of vodka per day will need to start drinking in the morning in order to taper. If you are tapering from smaller quantities and feel no withdrawal symptoms until afternoon or evening then you can wait until then to consume your taper beers. Remember that you are not drinking for pleasure–you are drinking medicine–so only drink what is needed.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from mild but annoying to severe and life-threatening. Over time, however, the body builds a tolerance to alcohol, and a person may have to drink more and more to get the same feeling. Meanwhile, the brain is producing more and more neurotransmitters, making a person further imbalanced. If you are a woman or at risk of complications due to high blood pressure, you may want to consider tapering slower than this. You can use an app like AlcoTrack (Android) or DrinkControl (Apple) to keep a log of your daily drinking and see your progression.

Who is likely to have significant alcohol withdrawal symptoms?

If you start to have any withdrawal symptoms, it means you’re cutting down too fast. Keep drinking at your most recent safe level for another week, then start cutting down again. Addiction experts have not conducted many studies on alcohol tapering, as tapering is not considered the ideal way to quit alcohol. As a result, little information is available regarding the best way to taper.

  • There are two ways to taper off alcohol⁠—a direct or substitution taper.
  • Tapering off alcohol is one of the safest ways to overcome alcoholism.
  • We can leverage our resources and team to help you reduce and eventually end your alcohol use.
  • Getting curious about a life without alcohol is already an incredible step, and a healthier lifestyle is within reach.
  • Based on your medical history, your doctor can advise you about the safety of the taper.

I have a complete guide on Alternatives to Rehab, which has over a dozen different options to select from. If you repeatedly cannot cut back on your drinking or otherwise cannot get lower than a certain point in the taper, this might not be the right method for you. You can look into medication assisted treatment, such as getting the anti-craving medication Naltrexone, see if your doctor will give you benzodiazepines to taper with, or go to rehab/detox. If you think you’re tapering too quickly, it’s okay to slow down.