While this is a valiant effort and it can work for some people, an abrupt cessation of alcohol can be dangerous for those who have a long history of alcohol abuse and addiction. However, achieving sobriety is a process that can take quite some time. To speed up the processes, many choose to try going “cold turkey,” aka, stop drinking and never pick up a glass again.
They also depend on other factors like your weight, age, and gender. There how to taper off alcohol are safe methods of quitting alcohol without going cold turkey.
A Life Free From Addiction Is Possible
If the drink of choice is liquor, it is difficult to measure amounts and easy to binge drink. If the drink is a mixed drink, it can contain sugar or other additives that should not be included in the taper and may worsen the effects of withdrawal symptoms. Stopping alcohol use is the first step of the recovery journey, but staying sober for longer and longer periods is the goal. Getting professional treatment and long-term support are two of the most valuable strategies for avoiding relapse. It can take different people varying amounts of time to taper off alcohol. How long it takes depends on factors like how much you typically drink. A person who drinks more alcohol will probably have a longer taper than a person who drinks less alcohol.
As with many self-detox methods, the risks and rewards go hand in hand when attempting to overcome an alcohol substance use disorder. But, with a little prior knowledge on how to taper off alcohol, adequate planning and professional consultation from a healthcare provider, it can certainly be done. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range in severity depending on how extensive the misuse behavior was. The alcohol withdrawal symptom delirium tremens is estimated to kill up to 5% of those attempting to quit suddenly after chronic usage. This is a staggering number considering that many other drugs do not even have the possibility of lethal withdrawals. For this reason, experts advise that alcohol cessation be monitored safely with steady effort between oneself and a physician.
How to Taper Off Alcohol at Home
A medical professional can help you determine if a fast or slow taper, or quitting altogether, is appropriate based on a thorough medical assessment and evaluation of your withdrawal risk. However, when you quit drinking abruptly, your body’s chemical balance will be thrown off suddenly, leading to uncomfortable side effects. You will have an imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory chemicals in your nervous system. This is why many of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms seem to be related to overstimulation, like shaky hands, racing thoughts, and insomnia. The main neurotransmitter system involved in alcohol withdrawal is the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) system. Simply put, GABA receptors cause a person to feel calm, relaxed or sleepy. This is why when people drink alcohol they will feel calm, relaxed, or sleepy.
- Smaller drinks with a higher percentage of alcohol are stronger than the same size drink containing a lower proof liquor.
- For many other drugs, tapering is actually a standard treatment during medical detox.
- As a licensed clinician, Cheryl stands ready to diagnose and treat a wide spectrum of mental, behavioral, and personality disorders that sometimes present alongside a substance use disorder.
- Even if you think either option sounds like something that could work for your situation, we still recommend talking to a doctor before proceeding.
- It also can reduce the risk of relapse by not trying to attempt too much too soon, failing, and then going back to regularly using alcohol to cope with the feelings of failure.
- We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
Note that Disulfiram it is not a cure to alcoholism, and a full therapy must be used. There are two types of triggers that can set off a person’s urge to drink. External triggers are people, places, things, or times that offer opportunities to drink and remind a person of alcohol. Internal triggers are thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations that cause a person to drink.
The Pros and Cons of Tapering Off Alcohol
Another big factor in how long a taper lasts is alcohol withdrawal symptoms. After all, the point of a taper is to avoid alcohol withdrawal. If you begin to have withdrawal symptoms during your taper, this is a sign that your taper may be going too fast and that you need to slow it down. If you drink only once in a while, it’s unlikely that you’ll have withdrawal symptoms when you stop. But if you’ve gone through alcohol withdrawal once, you’re more likely to go through it again the next time you call it quits. Alcohol abuse affects how you feel and how you make decisions.
Some people may be at greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, which is why some can drink in moderation, while others struggle with drinking. There is also the matter of the specific type of alcohol in question. Alcohol works by increasing the potency of a neutral chemical in the brain called GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid. 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. It is important to only attempt a taper while under a doctor’s care. However, understanding how an alcohol taper works and what the process is like can help you prepare yourself and find the support you need.