How to Wean Off Alcohol & Safely Taper Drinking

In Witt-Doerring’s practice, older people take longer to recover than younger ones. He does note, though, that the APA guidelines are currently under review. After 23 years on the medicine, and two unsuccessful attempts to wean himself off, Eliasberg decided seven years ago that he felt well enough to stop. His psychiatrist instructed him to halve his dose several times over a six-week period before discontinuing. When the drug is removed, the lower number of serotonin receptors creates an imbalance. “When you take the medication away and the receptors haven’t had time to repopulate, there will be a massive deficiency, leading to withdrawal,” Shapiro says.

As with many self-detox methods, the risks and rewards go hand in hand when attempting to overcome an alcohol substance use disorder. But, with a little prior knowledge on how to taper off alcohol, adequate planning and professional consultation from a healthcare provider, it can certainly be done. This may work for many people, but in practice each individual will respond best to a different pace, and each doctor will have their own recommendations. The risk of tapering too slowly is that you won’t stick with it, while the risk of tapering too fast is severe withdrawal.

Quitting Drinking: How to Taper Off Alcohol

Switching to beer from hard liquor is safer because it is easier to control the amount of beer that is consumed and is harder to binge drink. Consuming a lighter alcoholic drink like beer also makes it easier for someone to stay hydrated throughout the taper. A direct taper means drinking the regular substance of choice but lowering the amount consumed daily. Someone should typically only direct taper if their drink of choice is beer with a low alcohol percentage. One of the more difficult parts is maintaining sobriety after you achieve it. Professional help, such as a support group or addiction rehab center, can provide the support and help you need to overcome the long-term cravings that occur and keep your newfound sobriety long into the future.

  • Day six of no alcohol consumption usually brings some relief for the most severe withdrawal symptoms, but some nagging symptoms can persist.
  • Tapering can sometimes help a person avoid uncomfortable and sometimes deadly symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Tell them what you’re planning on doing, give them a copy of your planned taper schedule, and have them hold all the alcohol to portion out and give to you as needed.
  • This may reduce the risk or severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, but it will lengthen the time it takes to stop using alcohol and reduce the likelihood of your efforts being successful.
  • I’d try to shoot for your original goal the following day if the physical withdrawals were subsiding.
  • This method works best with gradual reduction, as alcohol withdrawal symptoms can start within 12–24 hours after stopping drinking.

They can help you decide if it’s the safest way to start your recovery, and they can help you make a taper plan. These can indicate a life threatening condition called delirium tremens. It’s important to seek urgent medical care if you experience any of these symptoms.

Do I Need to Taper?

More than a year later (despite eventually going back on the drug and others and starting a new, slower tapering regimen), he continues to struggle with exhaustion, memory issues, and an inability to feel pleasure. “The withdrawal symptoms have completely stripped me of any quality of life. My former personality—gregarious and outgoing—is completely gone,” Phil says. Tapering off alcohol can be a reasonable strategy for anyone who desires to stop drinking. A taper might be helpful for those who find they cannot stop drinking without experiencing negative symptoms.

Weaning off alcohol can benefit people who drink moderately or have support systems. If you have a severe alcohol addiction, it might be best to seek professional addiction treatment. 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.

What Does It Mean to Taper or Wean off Alcohol?

Those who find that they cannot taper off the number of drinks for any significant length of time probably have developed a severe alcohol use disorder or have become what is commonly known tapering off alcohol as an alcoholic. For others, simply cutting back the number of drinks can bring on alcohol withdrawal symptoms. That could be because they didn’t have normal sleep patterns to begin with.