If you’ve thought about quitting drinking, you may have heard about “tapering down,” gradually drinking less to reduce the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Anyone that’s had a bad hangover has experienced alcohol withdrawal – nausea, headache, racing heart, and sweating. You may feel like you’re dying – but if you’re planning to quit cold turkey, you should know that abruptly stopping drinking can cause you to die.
But always consult your doctor or a physician trained in addiction services before you stop drinking or have questions about tapering. They can assess your health and help guide you to the right options for getting clean without risking your health.
The Argument For Tapering Down
Tapering down is a medical standard for many other types of drugs, but how well does it work on alcohol? Common sense would suggest that tapering out from alcohol would also be effective, but how does this work in practice? There could be strategies that work for some people.
At-home tapering down detox may be a cost-effective method of doing an alcohol detox for people who cannot go to detox facilities or have home responsibilities they cannot miss. But, it comes with serious risks, which should be discussed with your doctor first.
Tapering Down Strategies
The simplest method of tapering down is to reduce the number of drinks you have each day. For example, you may have five glasses of wine or about a bottle each night. Try cutting back to four glasses or leaving a little left in the bottle and see how that goes. Then, try reducing it to three, and so on.
Spacing out the length of time to drink each drink can help. Instead of quickly chugging a drink to feel the effects faster, try alternating your drink with soda, water, or Gatorade – anything non-alcoholic – to slow your consumption. Or, if your drink of choice spirits, consider making eaker drinks or watering your drinks down.
Some people switch from their favorite drink to something they don’t like, such as light beer to an IPA or whiskey to gin. The intention here is to drink less because they’re drinking something they don’t enjoy.
Challenges of a Taper Down
The biggest challenge of tapering down from alcohol is being able to stop. Many alcoholics have a problem with not being able to stop drinking once they start the day. And, once you’ve become intoxicated, your impulse control is much weaker, which can lead you to think, “Well, one more drink won’t hurt.” Then, you soon find yourself back at your usual drinking levels.
The other challenge of tarping down is risking the side effects of alcohol withdrawal. Unlike other drugs, alcohol withdrawal can be deadly, causing stroke, seizures, or serious heart problems. Many people have more success with medically supervised detox, which mitigates the health risks of alcohol withdrawal.
Do You Need Help Quitting Alcohol?
If you’re experiencing negative effects in your life because of drinking, or if you’re concerned that you might be addicted to alcohol, we can help. Baystate Recovery Center offers evidence-based treatment in a compassionate environment, with therapy available for anyone, no matter how severe their addiction is. We also work with professional detox facilities in our area and can refer you to a place to safely detox before starting one of our programs. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.