Tapering Off Alcohol: Does It Work? Is it Safe?

Reach out to one of our Recovery Advocates and begin the healing process. While a taper may seem appealing to some, it is not a medically recommended method of detoxing from alcohol due to the increased risk of not completing it. Medical detox involves stopping alcohol all at once and managing withdrawal symptoms through medications and other treatments instead of reducing them with a taper. The guidelines Sober House for tapering from alcohol are generalized; you may need to modify the tapering schedule if you have difficulties with the original plan. The risk of tapering too quickly is potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and the risk of tapering too slowly is a decreased probability of completing the taper. Alcohol tapering is a way to quit drinking while reducing your risk of withdrawal and complications.

Triggers: How to Manage and Avoid Them

Insomnia, anxiety and paranoia — the opposite effects of alcohol — are the expected results. Thus, a user will likely seek out alcohol again to rid themselves of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. However, even the best-designed tapers can put you at risk for alcohol withdrawal syndrome. For this reason, you should never start an alcohol taper before clearing with your doctor. If you are tapering off of alcohol, the time it takes depends entirely on how long the taper is and how well you adhere to it.

Strategies for Weaning off Alcohol

  • Information, advice and self-help resources to help you cut down or stop drinking or using drugs, and improve your mental wellbeing.
  • They are available in long-acting (e.g., chlordiazepoxide [Librium], diazepam [Valium]) and intermediate-acting (e.g., lorazepam [Ativan], oxazepam) formulations.
  • Gain the perspective of those who have attempted tapering off alcohol.
  • Central nervous system depressants are a class of drugs that includes several prescription medications like benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and sedative-hypnotics.
  • A sample taper schedule involves calculating the number of drinks consumed per day.
  • Alcohol dependence can be fatal, with rising death rates attributed to alcohol consumption.

Tapering is the practice of reducing the consumption of alcohol over a period of time until the amount of alcohol in the system has dropped to zero. 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. When you slowly taper your alcohol intake over time instead of quitting cold turkey, you reduce the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms. By weaning yourself from drinking, you allow your brain to adjust its sensitivity to GABA.

Decreased Risk of AUD

Withdrawal usually begins 6 to 8 hours after the last drink and peaks within 72 hours. The effects of alcohol can vary depending on weight, gender, age and other factors. Each person’s https://thesandiegodigest.com/top-5-advantages-of-staying-in-a-sober-living-house/ 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.

Reach out and get support

Whatever schedule is chosen, it’s important to commit so you can build upon your progress and avoid withdrawal symptoms as much as possible. The purpose of alcohol tapering is typically to avoid some of the more dangerous symptoms of detox. The length of time for alcohol tapering depends entirely on your baseline of use.

alcohol tapering schedule

Obviously quitting cold turkey from a 12-beer-a-day habit is going to be more stressful than tapering off slowly. For example, healthcare providers usually don’t take patients off antidepressants suddenly; rather, they gradually reduce the dosages. Alcohol withdrawal can begin within hours of ending a drinking session.

alcohol tapering schedule

Approach to the Treatment of AWS

  • For example, those who drink more heavily may need more time to taper than those who drink less alcohol.
  • If your pulse exceeds 100, your blood pressure goes very high, or you have irregular heart beat then this means that you are tapering too fast and you need more beer.
  • There are many other potential diseases that long-term alcohol use can cause, and it is important to stop using alcohol heavily if you are.
  • Alcohol withdrawal will last about a week to a week and a half for most people, with symptoms peaking two to three days into withdrawal.

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. The imbalance in GABA that occurs when you suddenly stop drinking causes withdrawal symptoms. Slowly reducing your drinking over time instead of suddenly stopping allows your brain to change its response to GABA. Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site.

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, and anxiety release. However, your body is adaptable, and after a period of regular, heavy drinking, your nervous system will adapt to the presence of alcohol. There are many other potential diseases that long-term alcohol use can cause, and it is important to stop using alcohol heavily if you are. A taper may help you to get off of alcohol; however, medical detox is typically recommended as the best way to stop using alcohol.

Rather than beginning your sober life drained and dazed from a week of feeling ill, you can already be getting on your feet. 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. Alcohol dependence can be fatal, with rising death rates attributed to alcohol consumption.


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