To create an effective taper, you must know how much you drink daily on average. It can be easy to underestimate how much you drink, and being as accurate as possible is important. As you prepare to wean off alcohol, consider taking the following steps ahead of time to have a clear path to success. “Alteration of glutamate/GABA balance dur[…]prospective analysis.” Alcohol and Alcoholism, October 2012. “Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders.” Alcohol Research & Health, 2002.

how to taper off alcohol safely

Kindling refers to lasting physical changes in the brain that cause each subsequent withdrawal period to be worse. Someone who has gone through alcohol withdrawal several times is more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms than someone going through it for the first time. More serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms may require medical attention.

What To Do After You Complete Your Taper

Seeking help as early as possible during the withdrawal process is the best way to stay safe as you cleanse your body of alcohol. It can be tempting to just “rip off the Band-Aid” when getting sober, but tapering off alcohol is often much safer—and much less stressful. Rather than quitting drinking abruptly (or “cold turkey”), many professionals recommend gradually reducing your drinking (or tapering) over time. This can give your body the chance to adjust, helping you avoid the worst of withdrawal symptoms. 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.

Gradually decreasing alcohol intake through supervised tapering can make quitting safer and ease withdrawal severity. The reason for weaning off alcohol instead of quitting cold turkey is to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. If a person abruptly stops drinking alcohol within 6 to 8 hours they will experience hyperactivity, anxiety, tremors, sweating, nausea, and confusion.

You Experience Withdrawals When You Stop Drinking

Quitting binge drinking may require different strategies than either tapering or cold turkey. 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. Just for reference a 12 ounce regular strength (5%) beer is one standard drink. A standard (750 ml) bottle of wine at 12% alcohol contains 5 standard drinks.

how to taper off alcohol safely

It can help you reach goals and can minimize some of the unpleasant and severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. If you want to change your relationship with alcohol, it’s important to have an honest conversation with a doctor about your drinking habits before you start tapering off. They’ll be able to help you create a tapering schedule that won’t only raise your chance of success but also avoid severe symptoms. The bottom line is, finding healthier alternatives to replace alcohol is crucial for a successful alcohol detox. It can be tough to quit alcohol entirely, but by finding reasonable and healthier alternatives, you can ease the process of not drinking alcohol and establish new healthy habits. You can consult a doctor or therapist for additional support and guidance, who can tailor recommendations based on your unique health needs.

Sample Alcohol Tapering Schedule

Studies have shown that 13–71% of people undergoing alcohol detox develop withdrawal symptoms. Factors such as pattern of alcohol use, other medical conditions, genetics and how your body responds to alcohol can play a role in withdrawal symptoms. When someone stops drinking, they must decide whether to quit “cold turkey” or taper their alcohol use. Quitting cold turkey involves suddenly stopping all alcohol use, while tapering involves slowly decreasing the amount of alcohol a person drinks daily. Weaning off alcohol reduces the chance of experiencing withdrawal or the severity of withdrawal symptoms. If you suddenly quit drinking, your brain can start to make more of an excitatory substance called glutamate.

I’ll be honest, your chances of staying sober on your own are slim to none. It doesn’t mean you have to go to rehab (though that’s certainly an option). You can try support groups, therapy, psychiatrists, spiritual groups, and outpatient rehab services. I have a complete guide on Alternatives to Rehab, which has over a dozen different options to select from. If you repeatedly cannot cut back on your drinking or otherwise cannot get lower than a certain point in the taper, this might not be the right method for you. You can look into medication assisted treatment, such as getting the anti-craving medication Naltrexone, see if your doctor will give you benzodiazepines to taper with, or go to rehab/detox.

It’s vital to speak with a medical professional before you begin weaning off alcohol to ensure you have a plan to do so safely. Alcoholism Drinking on a daily basis can have irreversible consequences on the body and mind. Moreover, one of the key elements of alcoholism is “binge-drinking,” which is evidenced in an addict’s inability to stop drinking once they start. These alcohol binges, or “benders,” often last several days for the seasoned alcoholic and more-often-than-not do irreparable damage to one’s family and professional life.