How To Safely Taper Off Alcohol
Tapering is a strategy focused on reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms as someone attempts to reduce their alcohol intake.
Tapering is not a process that works, or is appropriate for everyone. People with a severe alcohol addiction, or who experience severe withdrawal symptoms, should seek professional help to safely detox from alcohol.
- have a mild dependence on alcohol
- are concerned about your drinking habits and want to cut down
- have support from friends or family to help you through this process
Then tapering may be a helpful process, particularly if you dont have the time or resources to enter an inpatient detox unit. Having backup support from friends or family can be crucial during this time, in case withdrawal symptoms become serious enough to require medical attention.
Why Is Quitting Drinking Cold Turkey Dangerous
Quitting drinking cold turkey is dangerous because of the side effects it can produce, especially if you are a heavy drinker or have been relying on alcohol for a long time.;The more mild effects of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Memory loss and other short-term cognitive issues.
- Mood swings.
- Vitamin deficiency.
- Rapid heart rate.
In more serious cases, withdrawal may produce seizures and hallucinations. A small percentage of individuals may experience delirium tremens;;because of alcohol withdrawal. DT includes severe delusions and hallucinations, which can cause someone to feel like theyre having a mental breakdown. Individuals who experience DT may also suffer from high blood pressure, racing heart, confusion, heavy sweating or fever.
Individually, any of these symptoms can be uncomfortable. But when they combine for several days or even weeks, they can cause the person experiencing them to suffer significant mental and physical anguish. And, if a person has decided to go through this alone, they will likely give in and go back to drinking. In some cases, they experience life-threatening symptoms such as seizures, with no one around them to help.
Substance Use Disorder Treatment
Medical detox is just the first step in alcohol addiction treatment. An alcohol use disorder is a disease. Without behavioral health interventions that address the causes of addiction, youre very likely to relapse. Common components of addiction treatment include:
- Individual therapy to help you explore emotional issues in a safe space.
- Group therapy to provide peer support and accountability in recovery.
- Alternative treatments for alcohol addiction like mindfulness, fitness, and art and music therapy.
- Family therapy to begin healing the effects of alcoholism on loved ones.
- Relapse-prevention skills training to help you stay sober.
- Medication management for co-occurring disorders / dual diagnosis.
- Medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.
- Exposure to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous as well as 12-step alternatives like SMART Recovery.
- Aftercare planning and alumni programs that support long-term addiction recovery.
Recommended Reading: Does Aldi Sell Alcohol
Less Chance Of Relapse
Relapse a return to destructive behaviors is a risk for anyone recovering from substance abuse. But when you participate in an alcohol detox program and subsequent rehabilitation, you will receive the skills and coping mechanisms you need to overcome and avoid temptation. Although a treatment program cant guarantee that relapse wont happen, it has been found to reduce the chances of relapse occurring.
Smoking And Cold Turkey
If a person decides to quit smoking abruptly, there are no serious health risks. However, there is the risk of this attempt failing if they do not have adequate support.
As previous studies above mention, people who quit smoking without the help they need are often less successful than those with support.
While there are no significant health risks when quitting smoking cold turkey, nicotine withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant.
Also Check: What Wine Has The Lowest Calories
Cold Turkey: Quitting Drinking Alcohol Withdrawal And What Happens When You Quit Drinking Cold Turkey
John Lennon sang about the negative effects of substance withdrawal in his 1969 song Cold Turkey.
Cant see no future
Cant see no sky
While Lennon has expressly stated that this particular song is about his experience while withdrawing from heroin, the all-encompassing nature of withdrawal can be applied to many other substance use issues as well. This song also helped to bring the term to the forefront of popular culture.
Despite the edible implications of the term, cold turkey does not refer to leftovers. It refers to stopping the use of addictive substances, completely and abruptly, or to undergo sudden and complete withdrawal from a habitual activity or behavior pattern. The term is said to originate from the goosebumps and reaction of the skin during withdrawal. It closely resembles the skin of a turkey in the fridge.
This is an admittedly silly term for an action or condition that can come with some very serious implications, even death. In this article, we will be discussing what happens to the body, physically and mentally when someone stops the habitual consumption of alcohol.
Why The Cold Turkey Approach
Some people use the cold turkey technique as they believe it will be easier to cease taking the substance completely straight away. They may also think if they cut the substance out entirely, they will feel less tempted to use it again while quitting.
Another reason why people use this method is that the substance is causing their body harm, and they wish to stop this effect immediately. However, this may not be the best approach and could even lead to relapse in some cases.
There are some benefits to quitting cold turkey. They include:
You May Like: What Wine Has The Lowest Calories
Why Quit Alcohol Gradually
Each person has their own unique needs. There are some people who genuinely benefit from quitting abruptly. These individuals may prefer to get things over with as quickly as possible, or have a medical reason why they must stop immediately. For others, gradually quitting alcohol feels less severe, is easier to follow through on, or is safer for them.
The most important thing is choosing an approach that is safe and effective for you. Quitting cold turkey can be harsh, and cause severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms for some people. If quitting gradually seems like the best fit for your personality and goals, its probably the best choice.
Serenity Lane Is Here To Help You Quit Alcohol For Good
When choosing a treatment center for alcohol use disorder, it is important to choose one that understands the disease of addiction and the best ways to help promote strong, lasting change. Under the care of our compassionate team of healthcare professionals, we will guide you through the first steps of living a life free of alcohol dependence.
With centers all around Oregon, Serenity Lane makes your physical and mental health our number one priority.
Youre stronger than you may think, and were here to help.
Call us today at for a no-cost consultation from one of our mental health professionals.
Recommended Reading: Make Glasses From Beer Bottles
Setting Up A Taper Schedule
It is very important that you estimate your BASELINE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION in terms of standard drinks in order for you to be able to set up a taper schedule. You can find the definition of a standard drink here. Just for reference a 12 ounce regular strength beer is one standard drink. A standard bottle of wine at 12% alcohol contains 5 standard drinks. A 750 ml bottle of 80 proof booze contains 17 standard drinks. A liter of 80 proof booze is 23 standard drinks.
If you have been drinking 20 or more standard drinks a day then we recommend that on the first day of your taper you drink one beer per hour starting when you wake up in the morning for a total of 16 beers the first day. On the second day drink one beer every hour and a half for a total of ten beers. Then continue to taper down by reducing the amounts by two beers per day until you are down to zero.
If your BASELINE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION is less than 20 drinks per day then we recommend reducing consumption by two standard drinks per day. For example, if you have been drinking an average of 12 drinks per day then your taper schedule can be 10 beers the first day, 8 the second, 6 the third, 4 the fourth, 2 the fifth and 0 the sixth day. Likewise if your average consumption is 6 standard drinks per day you can set a taper schedule of 4, 2, 0.
Quitting Cold Turkey Is The Best Way
This couldnt be further from the truth. Quitting cold turkey is never recommended and strongly advised against. Your body will go through withdrawal symptoms, and these symptoms can include life threatening ones, such as seizures or gastric bleeding, the two most common ways people quitting alcohol die. In fact, before you enter our drug detox rehab well advise you to wait until you arrive to quit drinking. The safest way to quit alcohol is gradually with the help of medicines and nutritional supplements that will prevent life-threatening symptoms.
Also Check: Burgundy Pro Club
What Is Medically Supervised Alcohol Detoxification
The safest way to quit alcohol is to seek professional treatment in a safe setting equipped for detoxification. Medical attention will ensure the minimization and management of the negative and life-threatening effects of alcohol withdrawal through necessary medications.
12 Keys provides a hospital-type setting for alcoholics serious about defeating their addiction. Staff members include registered nurses, addiction psychiatrists, and psychologists, physicians specializing in substance detoxification and counselors. Each client has room and bed and receives constant monitoring from staff members to ensure their safety and comfort during the detoxification process.
What Happens When You Stop Drinking Cold Turkey
One out of every 12 adults in the United States suffers from alcohol dependence, making alcohol the most regularly used addictive substance in America, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports. Drinking large amounts of alcohol regularly can cause the brain to get used to the way that alcohol interferes with neurotransmitter transmission, movement, and absorption.
Alcohol disrupts regular levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain, and the more the brain becomes accustomed to the artificial interference, the more it will rely on alcohol to keep these levels stable. After a person becomes dependent on alcohol, dopamine and GABA activity is altered, leading to uncomfortable and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop drinking. Alcohol is a substance that should never be stopped cold turkey without professional intervention, care, and supervision.
Don’t Miss: Does Aldi Sell Wine On Sunday
How To Avoid Alcohol Withdrawal
Once your body has become dependent on alcohol, theres nothing you can do to reverse this. If you decide to stop drinking cold turkey, supervised detox is the best and safest option for navigating withdrawal. However, if you attempt to taper off drinking rather than stop all at once, you might avoid, or at least minimize, withdrawals effects on your body.
How do you taper off drinking? This short guide shows how:
Tips For Quitting Smoking
If a person does not wish to quit smoking cold turkey, nicotine replacement therapy offers an alternative method. With NRT, people use products, such as nicotine gums, patches, and sprays, that provide nicotine to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
One 2016 study suggests NRT could increase the chances of a person successfully quitting smoking by 5070% .
The American Thoracic Society recommend that individuals wishing to quit smoking begin by taking the medication varenicline.
This drug may help a person quit smoking across a 12-week treatment period. The ATS recommend taking varenicline over nicotine patches and other prescription medications.
If a person is quitting cold turkey, they are more likely to succeed with the right support.
Therefore, a person wishing to stop without the aid of NRT or varenicline may consider seeking the help of smoking support groups, counseling, therapy, or smartphone apps.
Other treatments and remedies to help quit smoking include:
Recommended Reading: Does Aldi Sell Wine On Sunday
How Do I Use Alcohol To Taper Off
It is also very important when tapering off to fight dehydration and to replenish lost vitamins. If you go through a medical detox the people they may rehydrate you with an IV and may also give you vitamin shots. If you are doing a self detox be sure to drink lots and lots of fluids and to take vitamin pills. We recommend Gatorade because it has balanced electrolytes. If you choose to drink water make sure that you get enough salt for electrolyte balance so that you avoid water intoxication.
How Can I Overcome Withdrawal When I Quit Drinking Cold Turkey
I am a single mother who has been drinking one-two bottles of wine a day for about ten years. I run my own business successfully, and am a good mother. But I have taken not care of myself physically, and in addition to the drinking Ive gained weight and gotten out of shape. I am going to quit drinking cold turkey. How can I make the experience more manageable are diet and vitamins important? What are the dangers for me to withdraw from alcohol cold turkey so suddenly? Can it be done?
If you are anticipating medical problems, you should consult a sympathetic physician. I say sympathetic, because you could easily consult a doctor who would insist that you enter treatment.
Of course, people quit drinking all the time . They also quit all sorts of chemical dependencies . You seem confident of your ability to stop drinking go for it, confidence and motivation are critical to successful withdrawal, along with careful planning, which you also seem prepared to do.
You will also see, if you explore withdrawal at my site, that it is influenced as much by your environment, expectations, and lifestyle as is the use of a drug or alcohol in the first place. Thus, the experience of alcohol withdrawal varies dramatically, including from country to country. In Canada, it has been customary to withdraw alcoholics in nonmedical settings , while in the U.S. DTs are considered to be such a problem that medical supervision is usually required.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Red Wine Out Of Tablecloth
What To Expect When You Stop Drinking
Although theres no way to predict which withdrawal symptoms youll experience, you can expect that certain side effects;come in a predictable order, beginning with tremors and quickly progressing into any or all of the issues listed above. The longer and more heavily youve been drinking, the more severe the symptoms will be.
In most cases, withdrawal effects subside after approximately five days, although some patients may take longer.
Being alone during withdrawal is one of the worst things you can do.;The experience of it is intense. You may feel physically sick, or you may undergo more emotional issues, such as feeling agitated or anxious for no apparent reason. These problems are why its vital to go through withdrawal in a supportive environment.
In some cases, a person might try to stay with a well-meaning family member, but family members dont usually have the knowledge or expertise to safely see them through such a physically and emotionally trying experience.
What About Quitting Drugs Cold Turkey
The same reasons why its not a good idea to quit drinking cold turkey apply to quitting drugs cold turkey. Depending on the substance youve been using, drug detox can bring about painful or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. When you have a drug addiction, your brain has gotten used to having substances to help it function. Quitting cold turkey can send your body into withdrawal. Going through this process in a detox center is the safest way. Only a medical professional knows the appropriate medications and taper schedules that are safe for your physical make-up and history of drug abuse. Medical detox is especially important for people with heroin addiction, painkiller addiction, benzo addiction, and alcohol addiction.
Read Also: Where To Find Marsala Wine At Kroger
What Medications Are Used During Alcohol Detox
There are a number of medications that can be prescribed to soothe the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and to assist in helping your bodys physical recovery process. These include:
- Naltrexone: Reduces alcohol cravings, as well as reducing the pleasure derived from consuming alcohol
- Benzodiazepines: Reduces the severity of withdrawal by calming the patient
- Acamprosate: Reduces the more acute symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, as well as reducing alcohol cravings
- Disulfiram: Produces a severe nauseous reaction should alcohol be consumed; also more commonly known as Antabuse.
Those suffering from alcohol abuse will often be malnourished, so during the detox process, vitamins, supplements, and the implementation of a healthy diet and regular sleep schedule are also introduced to improve withdrawal side effects, and help the body heal faster. Additionally, fluids will also be given to prevent and reverse dehydration.
On average, patients remain in detox for around 5-7 days, but the exact duration of detox is wholly dependent upon the history, needs, and progress of each individual.
It is important to remember that alcohol detox is only the essential first step it should be followed by a complete addiction treatment program, including behavioral therapy, counseling, participation in support groups, medication, and complementary therapies.
Treatment Programs For Overcoming Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
Some people may be able to quit alcohol on their own. Others, however, may need professional help to successfully give up drinking. Additionally, individuals who are physically dependent on alcohol should not attempt to stop drinking on their own, as they may experience serious and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Vertava Health offers a number of treatment programs for individuals of every walk of life looking to overcome an addiction to alcohol.
To learn more about what happens when you stop drinking alcohol or to get more information on the alcohol addiction programs we offer, contact an Vertava Health treatment specialist today.
This page does not provide medical advice.
Recommended Reading: How To Make Glasses Out Of Wine Bottles