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 sometimes be dangerous. Making a schedule to slowly reduce your alcohol intake is a safe way to taper off the substance. This will ensure that you are not quitting cold turkey which could result in severe and debilitating withdrawal symptoms or even death.
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. Although detoxing from alcohol at home can have benefits, the early stages of sobriety pose a dangerous risk for medical complications.
Benefits of drinking less alcohol
Whether you’re a daily imbiber, heavy drinker, or frequent binge drinker, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when you quit. Unfortunately, there’s little to no evidence that tapering off reduces the effects of alcohol withdrawal, some of which can be severe or even life-threatening. Quitting with proper medical supervision may be more important than whether you stop gradually or all at once. For a safe recovery from heavy drinking, have a plan in place. Quitting abruptly can be dangerous without medical supervision due to potential withdrawal symptoms. Gradually decreasing alcohol intake through supervised tapering can make quitting safer and ease withdrawal severity.
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. For some drinkers, cutting down on the amount of alcohol they drink simply does not work.
Because tapering can be tricky and alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous, you should never start a taper before talking to your doctor. 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. For instance, many people binge drink on the weekend without drinking during the week. They may have a mild-to-moderate substance use problem without being chemically dependent.
Don’t quit other lighter substances while you’re detoxing from alcohol. I’m specifically talking about things like weed, cigarettes, and vaping. 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.
Tapering off Alcohol: What You Need To Know
For this reason, experts advise that alcohol cessation be monitored safely with steady effort between oneself and a physician. Most people recover from alcohol withdrawal within a week, but people with severe dependency may experience withdrawal for multiple weeks. Alcohol causes serious changes in the brain, how to taper off alcohol and prolonged symptoms such as sleep problems, mood changes and fatigue may take months to overcome, according to the U.S. Early symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually start about six hours after the last drink. Early symptoms include headache, sweating, tremors, vomiting and difficulty concentrating.
- Before you start your detox, ensure you have enough alcohol on hand to last you a few days.
- Metaphorically speaking, do you like to dip your toe in first, or cannonball right in?
- If your BASELINE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION is less than 20 drinks per day then we recommend reducing consumption by two standard drinks per day.
- Exercise can reduce stress, improve mood, and bolster your immune system.
- Some individuals find church and reconnecting with God to be helpful.
If you go through alcohol withdrawal multiple times, a kindling effect can occur. With kindling, the brain becomes increasingly sensitized to stopping alcohol. In turn, you can suffer from increasingly severe withdrawal symptoms every time you try to stop drinking. Tapering alcohol is beneficial because you can avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This is because when you drink heavily for months or years, your body can start to depend on alcohol to function normally. When you are physically dependent on a substance like alcohol, your body adapts accordingly.
Who is likely to have significant alcohol withdrawal symptoms?
If you or a loved one is ready to overcome an alcohol addiction, reach out today. Treatment providers can connect you with programs that provide the tools to help you get and stay sober. Tapering off alcohol can be challenging, and withdrawal symptoms are common.
Another sign that you might need to taper is morning alcohol cravings. For one thing, it creates tangible goals for the person tapering to reach, helping to build their confidence in themselves and the belief that they can eventually stop drinking completely. Ark Behavioral Health offers 100% confidential substance abuse assessment and treatment placement tailored to your individual needs. Delirium tremens (DTs) can begin 48 hours after your last drink and last up to five days. Between five and 25 percent of people with DTs don’t survive.
Medical Detox for Alcohol Addiction
Hallucinations and panic attacks are common during this time as your body rids alcohol from its system. As you approach the end of the first 24 hours of detox, symptoms may become increasingly severe. Alongside the effects felt from the first 12 hours, additional symptoms may involve disorientation, https://ecosoberhouse.com/ hand tremors and seizures. Big gaps in your drinking schedule open the door to unwanted symptoms. That can also mean increased symptoms first thing in the morning, as you stop drinking overnight. Instead, you should try to reduce the amount you drink slowly, over a few weeks.