How to Wean Off Alcohol & Safely Taper Drinking

Figuring out where to start your alcohol taper schedule can seem impossible. It may seem simple to count each drink you consume, but all drinks are not created equal. The alcohol content itself is important, and it depends on the percentage of alcohol, the proof of the alcohol and the actual amount of alcohol in the drink. Alcohol Alcohol use disorder affects millions of people in the United States.

  • Although it is possible for some to quit drinking without any side effects, fit leads to painful alcohol withdrawal symptoms for most.
  • Don’t try to go through the recovery process alone — reach out for help and support.
  • We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals.
  • However, they may still decide that tapering down feels most achievable for them.

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Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Alcohol dependence and addiction are serious medical conditions. Minor symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be overcome with rest and at-home remedies, and it is possible for some people to taper off alcohol without supervision. However, individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction require professional rehab. The most recommended form of alcohol to use in tapering is beer due to its lower alcohol content. Consumption should be minimal; just enough to prevent withdrawal symptoms and gradually reducing the amount until you are no longer using alcohol. You should be able to taper off alcohol with a few days, 3 to 5 at the most. While you are tapering off alcohol, it is important that you stay hydrated.

As your body gets used to alcohol, you will need more and more of it over time, which is called tolerance. If you continue to drink, your body will come to rely on alcohol to maintain its chemical balance. As your body adapts to alcohol, it will change its natural chemical balance to include alcohol. Quitting will cause your body’s chemical balance to be thrown off suddenly, leading to withdrawal symptoms. Most people recover from alcohol withdrawal within a week, but people with severe dependency may experience withdrawal for multiple weeks. Alcohol causes serious changes in the brain, and prolonged symptoms such as sleep problems, mood changes and fatigue may take months to overcome, according to the U.S.

Is Quitting Alcohol Cold Turkey Dangerous?

Some people might need medications or tapering drugs to help ease any withdrawal symptoms that arise throughout the tapering-off process. However, when you quit drinking abruptly, your body’s chemical balance will be thrown off suddenly, leading to uncomfortable side effects. You will have an imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory chemicals in your nervous system. This is why many of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms seem how to taper off alcohol to be related to overstimulation, like shaky hands, racing thoughts, and insomnia. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can lead to life-threatening health conditions and even death. If you suddenly quit drinking, your body can struggle to catch up. Because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, quitting drinking can cause your body to have too much of an excitatory substance called glutamate as it tries to rebalance.

how to taper off alcohol

An alcohol use disorder can also have an impact on your social, psychological, and financial health. Even though tapering off your alcohol consumption is one of the best ways to stop drinking, it’s important to note that this will need to be done with professional help. This can ensure that you are more likely to succeed with getting on the road to recovery, and that you are less likely to relapse.

The Benefit of Medical Detox for Tapering off Alcohol

During recovery, the liver may return to its original mass and function. A 2019 survey found 7.4% of adult Oregonians reported having alcohol use disorder in the past year. This is a significant difference from the overall United States average of 5.7% of U.S. adults that reported having alcohol use disorder in the past year. It requires ongoing effort to meet and to continue to achieve your drinking and health goals. Take notice of your feelings.Hard feelings like being worried, lonely, sad, or angry can lead to drinking to cope. Paint, play board games, play a musical instrument, do woodworking — these and other activities are great alternatives to drinking. Stay away from people who encourage you to drink beyond your drinking goal.

Is 4 glasses of wine a night too much?

Experts say a a good maximum amount of wine for women would be a 5 oz glass of wine, and for men two 5 oz glasses of wine, no more than several times a week. Experts strongly advise women against having more than 3 drinks of wine per day, and for men, 4 drinks of wine per day.

Tapering off alcohol to reduces potential withdrawal symptoms and decreases the likelihood of a potentially fatal withdrawal from alcohol in individuals who consume alcohol on a regular basis. For many other drugs, tapering is actually a standard treatment during medical detox. For people who depend on opioids, benzodiazepines, or antidepressants, it is typical to slowly reduce someone’s dosage as opposed to immediately cutting them off completely. To safely taper off alcohol, you need to work with a medical professional on a detox program that they feel is right for you.

Challenges of Cutting Down Alcohol Use

The chemical binds to its receptors on your nerve cells and opens up a channel that allows a negative charge to shut down or slow your nervous system’s excitatory functions. For the majority of people, this will need to be gradually increased over a period of time. It’s important to note that it won’t work for everyone, and is best done under medical attention or with the proper supervision so that it can be completed successfully.

  • Reframe is an evidence backed app to help people develop healthier drinking habits.
  • Is alcohol beginning to take up more and more of your time, budget, and life?
  • People who experience tremors, shakes or confusion when they quit drinking should consider medically supervised detox.
  • This is because drinking heavily over a long period can cause your body to become physically dependent on alcohol.
  • Because a lot of social events involve alcohol, it can be challenging to stay away from it.
  • Tapering off gives your body time to adjust to living without the effects of alcohol by slowly reducing your intake over a period of days or weeks.

We can leverage our resources and team to help you reduce and eventually end your alcohol use. One must always remember the importance of his or her environment. Users should avoid places where recreational or binge drinking is likely to occur, such as clubs, sporting events, parties and more. This comes down to personal discretion — nobody knows the people and places that create potentially negative consequences like the individual in question. This, of course, is easier said than done if drinking has become the crux of one’s social or romantic relationships. Experts advise surrounding oneself with positive influences whenever possible. Hard liquors, for example, contain higher alcohol-by-volume measures than other beverages.


For one thing, it creates tangible goals for the person tapering to reach, helping to build their confidence in themselves and the belief that they can eventually stop drinking completely. Asplund, CA; Aaronson, JW; et al.“3 Regimens for alcohol withdrawal and detoxification.”The Journal of Family Practice, July 2004. Set goals4for how many days to drink and how many drinks to have on those days.

how to taper off alcohol

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