How to safely taper off alcohol

Over time, this can help you slow down and make more intentional choices about how much you’re drinking. You can read all about mindful drinking in this article by a licensed therapist at Monument. Establishing new habits and routines, and dealing with the underlying causes of your drinking habits, are essential to lasting recovery. 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. The main downside of tapering off is that it requires discipline.

However, relief drinking might mean you deviate from your plan, temporarily consuming more alcohol than your plan allows. You will notice that your plan does not have a target end date. Tapering off alcohol is unpredictable, and you may need to pause if you experience withdrawal symptoms. Letting go of the idea of a stop date takes the pressure off you so that you can prioritise your health and wellbeing.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

If you are a woman or at risk of complications due to high blood pressure, you may want to consider tapering slower than this. Pick a drink that goes down easy and has a high concentration of water so you don’t get too dehydrated. I would go with hard seltzers because they have a decent amount of water in them and I don’t really enjoy drinking them, so I drink them more slowly. Pick a drink with between 4.5% and 5% alcohol by volume (ABV). Find a reason to stay sober and keep that in mind as you go through this process. Ultimately, you need to decide to get sober for yourself, but if getting sober for someone else or something else motivates you in the beginning, it’s still a step in the right direction.

  • Meanwhile, the brain is producing more and more neurotransmitters, making a person further imbalanced.
  • By slowly reducing your drinking over time instead of stopping suddenly, you allow your brain to change its GABA production.
  • Individuals should be prepared to be uncomfortable during this period and have someone on call in case medical help is needed.
  • To aid in this process, a person should seek out professional guidance and treatment from a reputable addiction treatment program.

Everyone is different, so it’s ultimately up to you to decide if you want to taper or not. For those with alcohol use disorder, withdrawal is just the first (but very important) step on a long journey to recovery. These first few weeks are critical, because they are when the risk of relapse is highest. Prior to withdrawal, it’s important to have a plan of how you will abstain from alcohol during this time. By talking with your doctor or an addiction treatment specialist, together you can determine a safe tapering schedule that suits your needs. The length of the tapering process can vary based on the needs of the person.

Can Tapering Down Alcohol Use Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms?

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’re considering changing your drinking, you’ll need to decide whether to cut down or quit. It’s a good idea to discuss different options with a healthcare professional, a friend, or someone else you trust.

is it better to taper off alcohol

Delirium tremens (DTs) can begin 48 hours after your last drink and last up to five days. Here are some tips and strategies for how to taper off alcohol safely. We have taken the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of exposure and transmission of the Coronavirus to those in our treatment programs, allowing them to focus on their recovery. If you mess up once or twice and drink more than you intended to, don’t be too discouraged. You can continue your taper the next day from whatever point you think is appropriate. I’d try to shoot for your original goal the following day if the physical withdrawals were subsiding.

Why Taper Off Alcohol?

Even with the most ambitious reduction plan, it could be a couple of weeks before you bring your drinking entirely to a halt. But you must avoid reducing your daily consumption by more than 10%. Cutting back by 10% a day is aggressive, and you may need several days at each level to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Remember that your wellbeing is a priority, not stopping quickly.

is it better to taper off alcohol

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms consistent with DT, call 911. DT can be fatal, and a person going through them should have medical support in a hospital or rehab facility. Tapering off alcohol is a reasonable strategy for anyone who desires to stop drinking. A taper can be especially helpful for those who find they cannot stop drinking without experiencing negative symptoms.

Although it may seem like the best way to stop alcohol use is to stop drinking right away, this is not the case. Quitting cold turkey can shock your system since it has become used to functioning with alcohol. When you taper off alcohol, you are not drinking for pleasure, and your favourite drinks can trigger unwanted drinking. Conversations you have with a medical practitioner are confidential unless you put yourself or others at risk.

  • Alcohol detox isn’t easy and not everyone can do it on their own.
  • You might feel milder physical symptoms, such as sweating, shakes, headaches and nausea.
  • The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
  • Minor symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can start as soon as six hours after the last drink of alcohol.

One of the safest ways to quit drinking is through tapering, which involves slowly reducing your alcohol intake over time. Depending on how much alcohol you drink to start with, the amount of time an alcohol weaning schedule takes may vary. For example, those who drink more heavily may need more time to taper than those who drink less alcohol. Further, if you start to develop alcohol withdrawal symptoms during the taper, your doctor may instruct you to pause or slow the taper as a result. These factors can make one person’s taper last longer than another person’s taper.

Creating a plan to safely taper off alcohol

Quitting binge drinking may require different strategies than either tapering or cold turkey. Moreover, substituting one kind of beverage for another does not help you taper off alcohol if you consume the same number of standard drinks as you usually have. For example, one 12-ounce can of beer contains the same amount of alcohol as a 5-ounce glass of wine or a mixed drink containing 1.5 ounces of alcohol. Generally speaking, alcohol home detox is neither the most effective nor the safest method of quitting alcohol. However, it is inexpensive and may be suitable for someone whose job, relationships, and well-being are not in jeopardy. In some cases, some people may develop a polysubstance abuse problem where they abuse or are addicted to multiple substances like acid and alcohol.

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