What to Expect When Tapering Off Alcohol

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 frequently drink large amounts of alcohol, your brain responds to the excess GABA by producing less GABA. Similarly, it responds to the decreased glutamate by producing more glutamate. If you are seeking drug and alcohol related addiction rehab for yourself or a loved one, the sponsored hotline is a confidential and convenient solution. Give your loved ones as much information as you can about your self-tapering strategy.

Quitting cold turkey means you stop using alcohol all at once without any period of adjustment or replacement therapy. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include nausea, vomiting, shaking, headaches, and insomnia. Getting curious about a life without alcohol is already an incredible step, and a healthier lifestyle is within reach. As a Certified Professional Recovery Coach, I often speak with people who want to wean off alcohol.

How Long Should Tapering Off Alcohol Take?

In addition, she has enjoyed decorating and preparing a safe, comfortable environment for clients and staff. With her passion and drive to bring success to our residential program, Erin is excited for the opportunity to lead our team in Buckeystown as the Program Director. Erin is grateful to be a part of the dedicated, caring and compassionate Freedom Center Team. Being a person in long term recovery, Erin wanted to give back and help those struggling with the disease of addiction. Erin decided to switch careers and went back to school to obtain her Addiction Counseling certification. In addition, to being a certified Addictions Counselor, Erin is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS), and a Registered Peer Supervisor (RPS).

While these symptoms are uncomfortable, they are generally not life-threatening. However, some people develop a severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome called delirium tremens (DTS). If you regularly drink a lot of alcohol and then stop, you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Medically assisted detoxification (detox) is an inpatient program that keeps you stabilized during alcohol withdrawals.

Pros and Cons of Tapering Down Alcohol Intake

The goal of an alcohol taper is to minimize the withdrawal symptoms while still undergoing detox. In essence, tapering is a detoxification process that is not being administered or observed by a doctor or medical staff. It is commonly a self-managed detox method which is usually less successful than a program at an alcohol detox center. If you’re struggling with severe alcohol addiction, a medical detox program is your likely best option for tapering off alcohol safely. 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.

Is it good to cut back on drinking?

Many alcohol-related health risks don't appear until later in life. This means that how much and how often we drink now can have affect our health later in life. Making small, positive changes now will help reduce risks for a long list of health harms including cancer, liver and heart disease.

This condition most often occurs when someone who has long-term alcohol dependence stops drinking cold turkey. But if heavy drinkers cut back on their average number of drinks too quickly, they may be at risk of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. If you experience severe withdrawal symptoms while Top 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing Sober House, adjust your plan.

Follow a Tapering Schedule

However, it should not cause someone to become stuck on a step, which would defeat the purpose of a taper. A person is free to increase the taper speed (e.g., lower by three drinks instead of two) as they see fit. While the safest way to taper is with professional help in a detox facility, this may not be an option for everyone.

Once you have completely tapered off alcohol, you will have to decide if you want to follow a path of total abstinence or moderate alcohol use. If you choose moderate alcohol use, the best way to avoid alcohol withdrawal is to refrain from alcohol use two days in a row. If alcohol use is more frequent, try to abstain at least three days each week. Alcohol Use Disorder, or AUD, is when someone has started to drink lots of alcohol.

Cons of Tapering Alcohol Use

The effects of alcohol can vary depending on weight, gender, age and other factors. Each person’s alcohol metabolism is different, and even though a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .085 is considered legal intoxication, a BAC lower than .08 may adversely affect some people. In addition, social pressures can make it hard to quit drinking, especially if your friends or family also drink heavily. Quitting drinking can feel very isolating, making it even more difficult to do on your own at home without medical support. A substitution taper can involve substituting a prescription drug for alcohol.

During medical detox, medications like Ativan can be used to help manage withdrawal symptoms like seizures, tremors and anxiety. Heavy drinking causes notable changes in the brain, specifically affecting the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Over an extended period of excessive alcohol consumption, the brain reduces its production of GABA since it’s used to alcohol doing most of the work. Consequently, quitting alcohol suddenly deprives the brain of sufficient GABA levels, leading to a state of hyper-excitability and the emergence of withdrawal symptoms. If you do not qualify for tapering off alcohol this way, a medical detox program puts you in safe hands.

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When he’s not busy treating The Freedom Center’s clientele, you might find Kevin engaged in his other passion as an actor/director in the local theater community. Cheryl is a Clinical Social Worker licensed by the state of Maryland with over 30 years of experience in the field. She graduated from The University of Maryland with a master’s degree in social work. 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. He earned a Bachelor’s degree at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania while pursuing his CAC-AD. With strong ties to Victory Christian Church and the 12-step community, Federico shares an amazing personal story of redemption and long-term recovery.

  • People who have successfully tapered from alcohol before may be especially likely to benefit from this strategy.
  • Ativan will stay in the body for 50 to 100 hours, which is much longer than alcohol.
  • That said, tapering off alcohol doesn’t completely eliminate withdrawal symptoms.
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