What to Expect When Tapering Off Alcohol

how to taper off alcohol

With the support and medical interventions the detox team provides, you will be guided safely into recovery. A popular way to taper off alcohol is to gradually reduce the number of drinks you consume over a period of time. For example, if you normally drink 6 glasses of wine each night, you can try reducing that to 5 glasses of wine a night. After several days of 5 glasses of wine, you can reduce that down to 4. Eventually, after a period of time, you will have tapered down to zero drinks.

how to taper off alcohol

Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol and our in-app Toolkit gives you the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge. Just as one glass doesn’t immediately lead to dependence, one setback doesn’t spell failure. It’s important to treat these moments with kindness and understanding. They’re not roadblocks, but stepping stones on our path to an alcohol-free life. Next, we need to tackle triggers, the environmental cues that stimulate our craving for a drink.

Does Everyone That Drinks Need an Alcohol Withdrawal Taper?

Some people are facing problems with their health or personal lives which require them to quit immediately. However, for many people with alcohol use disorder, tapering off alcohol is a far better experience than quitting abruptly. Whichever method you choose, what is most important is to commit to your alcohol tapering schedule, so you can be sure that you have avoided the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal as much as possible. If that is, in fact, the case, and they are going to experience the symptoms of withdrawal anyway, then it might be more helpful for them to undergo a more streamlined and straightforward detox process. This should, of course, still be done under the care and supervision of a medical professional at a treatment center specializing in medical detoxification.

John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Alcohol metabolizes more quickly in individuals with a high tolerance to alcohol.

Is Weaning Off Alcohol Right For Me?

Direct tapers are better if you prefer drinks that contain a low percentage of alcohol. You can taper off alcohol if you worry that you are developing alcohol addiction. Ongoing heavy drinking basically trains the brain, through its reward system, to want and need alcohol. The initial dopamine rush you experience sends a message to the brain that this is pleasurable. Maybe the negative consequences of your drinking problem are piling up. Maybe you are in legal trouble and are mandated by the court to get treatment for the disease of alcoholism.

Like alcohol, these agents enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA on the brain. Because of their similar effects, benzodiazepines and alcohol are cross-tolerant—in other words, a person who is tolerant to alcohol also is tolerant to benzodiazepines. Along with withdrawal symptoms, it may be even more difficult to cut back or taper your alcohol use if you suffer from an alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD makes it difficult to control alcohol use — it may seem like the alcohol is controlling you.

Challenges of Quitting Alcohol

But if you still have control over your drinking and want to drink less, you may be able to self-taper. To avoid severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it is advised to taper off alcohol via medical assistance or by using an alcohol treatment program such as those found at AspenRidge. When you quit drinking cold turkey, your body suffers from a cascade of changes caused by the sudden shift. Since alcohol depresses central nervous system activity, quitting drinking can cause an imbalance of an excitatory neurotransmitter called glutamate. This excess glutamate triggers alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can be dangerous in some cases.

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Through these programs, our caring and dedicated staff can help you on your road to recovery. Licensed medical professionals and highly qualified addiction specialists at The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper can help guide you toward a life without alcohol. As many as 71%8 of people who go through alcohol detox experience symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening, so anyone considering stopping alcohol should speak with a medical professional to determine which method is best for them. The amount of time it takes to taper off of alcohol can vary greatly from person to person.

Research shows that sudden abstinence may not be effective for everyone. Instead, a slow and steady reduction can be a more successful approach, minimizing the risk of withdrawal symptoms and making the journey more manageable. If you are a frequent drinker determined to reduce or stop your alcohol intake, the safest way to do this at home is through a gradual tapering process. Attempting to quit all at once can lead to severe symptoms that can be difficult to manage safely outside of a detox setting.

Rehab Programs

Not only do you have access to prescription medication, but they are able to monitor your health to ensure a safe recovery is achieved. Although it is possible for some to quit drinking without any side effects, fit leads to painful alcohol withdrawal symptoms for most. If you have tried to quit in the past, but the side effects of withdrawal caused you to drink again just to find relief, tapering off alcohol may be more effective. For those who are determined to stop drinking, it may be tempting to go “cold turkey”. However, quitting alcohol cold turkey isn’t recommended for moderate drinkers and heavy drinkers. You will be at serious risk of withdrawal symptoms, which can even prove deadly for some who suffer from alcohol addiction.

  • Those signs include severe agitation, rapid heartbeat (i.e., tachycardia), high blood pressure, and fever.
  • It is sometimes possible to taper your alcohol use at home if your AUD isn’t severe.
  • If you’ve decided to taper off alcohol, you’ll need to be prepared with some strategies to make the process easier.
  • Further, mental health disorders like anxiety and depression are extremely common in those who struggle with drinking, and these disorders can make it even harder to stay sober.
  • Thus, prompt appropriate treatment of withdrawal, even in patients with mild symptoms, may conceivably prevent the development of complicated, more severe withdrawal during subsequent episodes.

To learn more about our private alcohol detox center in Arizona, get in touch with us today. When someone has developed an alcohol substance use disorder, this will require effective treatment in order to quit drinking. When you taper your alcohol, you slowly reduce your alcohol intake over time. By gradually drinking less instead of stopping cold turkey, your body has a chance to adapt to smaller and less frequent drinks. The tapering down process can take place for the first several weeks or even months of the alcohol recovery timeline. There are many factors that can affect how long weaning off alcohol will take.

What To Do After You Complete Your Taper

Cold turkey is a common slang term for quitting alcohol (or any substance) all at once. Tapering or weaning means ramping down your alcohol use until you get to zero—or to a more moderate level of drinking that you prefer. That said, tapering eco sober house ma off alcohol doesn’t completely eliminate withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal is dangerous and it’s important to be careful throughout the process. The amount of alcohol it takes to cause withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person.

how to taper off alcohol

For example, benzodiazepines have been shown to prevent both initial and recurrent seizures. Similarly, carbamazepine and the barbiturate phenobarbital probably can prevent AW seizures, although insufficient data exist in humans to confirm this hypothesis. In contrast, phenyotin, an anticonvulsant medication used for treating seizures caused by epilepsy and other disorders, is ineffective for treating AW seizures. Because a diagnosis of AW-related seizures may require further evaluation, however, the agent is sometimes administered until other causes of seizures have been ruled out. Many agents other than benzodiazepines have been used for managing AW.

For example, someone who has been drinking three beers a day will generally have an easier and shorter overall time tapering off of alcohol than someone who has been drinking double that amount per day. Still, even if someone’s alcohol withdrawal experience does not include seizures of Delirium tremens, the more common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal still make for an overwhelmingly unpleasant experience. For some drinkers, cutting down on the amount of alcohol they drink simply does not work.

how to taper off alcohol

Depending on the severity of alcohol dependence, symptoms may range from mild to moderate or severe. It is also important to note that the degree of symptoms will depend on how much alcohol you have been using, the frequency of use, and how long you have been drinking. If you are an average to moderate drinker – a couple drinks a night, several nights a week – then you may experience moderate withdrawal. On the other hand, if you engage in excessive alcohol use, you could experience severe alcohol withdrawal.

You can also taper off by spacing out the length of time between each drink. In the face of mounting evidence on alcohol’s deleterious health impacts, many people are choosing to moderate their consumption or quit drinking altogether. And while the journey to alcohol-free living may seem daunting, with the right support and strategies, we can successfully navigate this path. In most cases, the longer you take to wean off the effects of alcohol, the less severe your withdrawal symptoms should be.

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