How to Taper Off Alcohol Safely

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How to Taper Off Alcohol Safely

Stopping Alcohol Safely Via Taper

The effects of drinking alcohol can suddenly sneak up on you. Maybe for a while you just enjoyed having a couple of beers after work. Somehow, though, the drinking over time became an alcohol use disorder (AUD). 

The good news is the sooner you recognize the signs of a drinking problem, the better. If you are diagnosed with a mild AUD, you can learn how to taper off alcohol safely, and enter treatment.

But what if you have a more advanced AUD? After a thorough assessment, a clinician will make recommendations for the safest route to sobriety. Based on the evaluation, your detox and treatment options will then be presented to you. It may be best for you to enter a medical detox program for support while you go through withdrawal.

What Is AUD?

Alcohol use disorder is staged based upon the number of signs and symptoms you have present. There are three designations: mild, moderate, or severe AUD; the stage you are in determines your detox and treatment plan.

Here are the common signs of AUD:

  • You cannot control your drinking. You might want to cut back on your drinking, but simply can’t. Your drinking is driven by cravings, triggers, or avoiding withdrawal symptoms, and you have no control over it. 
  • You obsess about drinking. You might that much of your day is devoted to making plans to drink, getting the alcohol, drinking, and recovering from the drinking.
  • Tolerance increases. As the disease progresses you’ll notice you have to drink more to get the desired effects. This is because your brain is more tolerant to the effects of alcohol.
  • You experience memory blackouts. When you engage in heavy drinking you may have no recall of the events that took place the night before. This is called a blackout.
  • You ignore responsibilities. As your drinking escalates, you may start to neglect obligations at home or at work. As drinking takes center stage, your work suffers, you miss appointments, you forget to pay the bills, etc.
  • You engage in dishonest behaviors. You may lie about how much you drink, or hide alcohol around the house. You might steal money to buy alcohol, or even steal the alcohol from a store.
  • You have money problems. Heavy drinking can lead to financial problems stemming from a job loss or legal expenses due to a DUI.
  • Your relationships suffer. Both personal and professional relationships begin to suffer, as the drinking becomes your main focus in life.
  • You have withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms, such as hand tremors, nausea, headache, or fatigue, emerge when the effects of the alcohol wear off. 

How Do You Taper Off Alcohol Safely?

When you decide to get sober, the next question you face is, “Do I need to enter detox?” Or it may be, “How can I taper off alcohol safely?” The answer to these questions relies on an assessment of your AUD.

If your drinking problem is a new, emerging issue, it is considered mild AUD. In this case, you would be able to safely reduce the amount of alcohol you drink over a weeklong period. You can do this under a doctor’s care from home, or you can opt to be supervised to ensure compliance. Once you have stopped drinking, you can enter an outpatient program and A.A. to stay sober.

If your AUD is deemed moderate or severe, it wouldn’t be safe to stop drinking in this manner. Instead, you will enter a medical detox program, followed by rehab. You will reside at the treatment center for the duration of your detox and rehab program.

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Risks of Alcohol Withdrawal

If you have a moderate to severe AUD, there are good reasons why you should not attempt to taper off alcohol. There are risks for someone with a long history of alcohol abuse who then attempts to stop drinking, even tapering. Alcohol withdrawal can be unpredictable, and even dangerous.

The most severe problem that can arise is something called the delirium tremens (DTs). These symptoms arise on about day 3 or 4 of detox, and can become life threatening. The DTs may feature:

  • Nightmares
  • Agitation
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Severe mental confusion.
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations.
  • Tactile delusions.
  • Disorientation
  • Profuse sweating.
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

 What is a Residential Detox?

A residential alcohol detox provides a high level of monitoring and support as you go through the detox and withdrawal process. Your vital signs are closely watched, and the detox team provides interventions as needed to help manage the withdrawal symptoms. A trained detox staff is also on the lookout for any signs of severe symptoms, and will act on them right away. 

The detox team not only offers medical support, but is also trained to provide the emotional support needed. It helps to have someone to talk to, to discuss feelings, fears, or concerns regarding treatment and recovery. The detox team can stabilize you both physically and mentally, and prepare you to transition into active treatment.

After Detox, Then What?

Once you have gotten sober, you should begin treatment right away. This applies whether you entered a detox program or tapered off alcohol safely at home. Either way, you will need help in sustaining sobriety.

Treatment is available in either outpatient or residential settings. Your case manager will help you decide which setting is best for your stage of AUD. Treatment for alcoholism is a multi-pronged system of therapies and holistic methods:

  • Therapy. Psychotherapy is at the heart of alcoholism recovery. A therapist works with you to help you change your behaviors and choices.
  • Group therapy. Small groups of peers provide a safe space to share and learn from each other.
  • Classes. A main focus is learning how to navigate sobriety and to avoid relapse. You will learn new coping skills and create a relapse prevention plan.
  • 12-step program. A.A.’s 12-step program is part of the treatment program.
  • Holistic methods. Holistic methods augment the treatment experience. These may include yoga, meditation, equine therapy, and mindfulness.

Capo by The Sea Offers a Private Residential Detox

Capo by The Sea is a private addiction recovery center that can help you overcome AUD. Call us to learn how to taper of alcohol safely, and for more details about our program at (888) 529-2114