Generally, alcohol-free days are better towards the end of a gradual reduction, not towards the beginning. When someone stops drinking, they must decide whether to quit “cold turkey” or taper their alcohol use. Quitting cold turkey involves suddenly stopping all alcohol use, while tapering involves slowly decreasing the amount of alcohol a person drinks daily. Weaning off alcohol reduces the chance of experiencing withdrawal or the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
- The longer and harder a person has drunk alcohol–the more severe the withdrawal will be.
- 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.
- 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).
- Alcohol detox centers have professionals trained to recognize and treat complications caused by alcohol withdrawal.
- If you feel like your relationship with alcohol needs an overhaul, you’ve got plenty of company.
- The hardest thing will probably be to stop yourself from starting again.
Working with a medical professional to taper your alcohol consumption can help the likelihood and severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Instead of quitting alcohol cold turkey, you can steadily reduce your consumption so that your body has time to gradually readjust to absence of 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. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals.
What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?
The annual cost of excessive alcohol use to Oregon’s economy each year is $3.5 billion due to lost productivity, health care expenses, criminal justice costs, and motor vehicle crashes. That expense comes out to $2.08 per drink consumed by Oregonians. You should only attempt an alcohol taper while under a doctor’s care. However, learning more about how an alcohol taper works can help you prepare to quit. When you are detoxing from alcohol at a rehab center, nurses and doctors monitor vital signs, provide adequate nourishment and treat complications if they occur. I’m not saying smoking weed all day is a healthy coping skill.
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. Tapering off is a standard medical practice for many other drugs. For example, healthcare providers usually don’t take patients off antidepressants suddenly; rather, they gradually reduce the dosages.
How To Taper off Alcohol Safely and Effectively
If you don’t have a regular doctor, see a primary care provider or visit a free health clinic near you. The NIAAA also offers pointers about resources for low- and no-cost treatment and support options, like getting in touch with your state’s agency for substance abuse help. If you feel like your relationship with alcohol needs an overhaul, you’ve got plenty of company. If you drink heavily on a regular basis, it can be dangerous to stop alcohol cold turkey. For this reason, you should not suddenly quit drinking without talking to your doctor. The consequences of quitting alcohol cold turkey can be serious and lead to alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which can be fatal in severe cases.
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, how to taper off alcohol and anxiety release. Alcohol influences this process by making GABA more powerful. However, your body is adaptable, and after a period of regular, heavy drinking, your nervous system will adapt to the presence of alcohol.
How To Wean Yourself off Alcohol Safely
Tapering off alcohol helps some people start their recovery journeys. It can also be a good idea for people who don’t want to, or can’t, attend any type of full detoxification program. Some people may also find it easier to just taper off their alcohol use rather than jumping immediately into an abstinence day even if they do not have significant withdrawal symptoms. There’s no set time frame for tapering off alcohol that works for everyone. Even if your situation seems like someone else’s, your body may respond differently to the tapering process. You may receive medication to ease withdrawal symptoms—such as anti-diarrheal medicines or over-the-counter pain relievers.
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. You need to make your own schedule and determine what’s best for you. If you try a slower taper, you risk dragging it out too long and decreasing your chances of quitting. If you do it too fast, you increase your chance of severe withdrawal. These schedules are largely based on my experience of self tapering, what I’ve read on r/dryalcoholics and HAMS Harm Reduction Guide to Tapering.
Daily drinking can have serious consequences for a person’s health, both in the short- and long-term. Many of the effects of drinking every day can be reversed through early intervention. However, some groups have stepped in to try to bridge this gap and have published sample tapering schedules to help those trying to stop drinking. But Dr. Streem knows that it can be hard to recognize signs of alcohol abuse in ourselves. Often, people with alcohol use disorder find that other people in their lives spot their addiction long before they do.
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. Obviously quitting cold turkey from a 12-beer-a-day habit is going to be more stressful than tapering off slowly. But that does not mean home detox is effective, appropriate, or safe. When you quit through tapering, you drink a little less each day until you’re able to have no alcohol at all. It can lower the severity of symptoms, and it can make you more likely to meet your goals. When you quit alcohol cold turkey, you quit drinking completely and suddenly.
Why Is Alcohol Withdrawal Dangerous?
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.
No matter your situation, Dr. Das emphasizes the power of enlisting help as you embark on a life sans booze. Deciding to quit drinking and following through isn’t just about willpower. Many other factors go into play with these difficult and trying scenarios.