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How to Safely Taper Off Alcohol

a person wants to know how to taper off alcohol

If you are a frequent drinker determined to reduce or stop your alcohol intake, the safest way to do this at home is through a gradual tapering process. Attempting to quit all at once can lead to severe symptoms that can be difficult to manage safely outside of a detox setting.

If you are struggling with severe alcohol use or addiction, tapering off alcohol at home may not be a safe option. The most effective option for alcoholics to stop drinking is to find a treatment program that offers medical detox services. If you are interested in medical detox, contact one of our Vertava Health treatment specialists to find alcohol detox programs near you.

What Are The Dangers Of Stopping All At Once?

Tapering off alcohol, rather than stopping all at once, is the most effective way to avoid serious withdrawal symptoms and other problems such as dehydration.

While many alcohol withdrawal symptoms—such as headaches, nausea, and sweating—can be uncomfortable, more serious symptoms can also develop within the first few days of stopping drinking, such as confusion and seizures.

The most severe form of alcohol withdrawal is known as delirium tremens, which develops in about 3 to 5% of people with severe alcohol addiction. Delirium tremens is also more common in people of older age, those with a history of seizures, and people with co-occurring illnesses or disorders. Symptoms of delirium tremens can develop within 48 hours and, in some cases, have fatal consequences without proper treatment.

Tapering off alcohol is not the most beneficial option for everyone. People who are severely dependent or addicted to alcohol should seek medical support for alcohol detox.

How To Safely Taper Off Alcohol

The process of tapering yourself off alcohol begins with planning. First, you need to identify how much you have been drinking. From here, you can plan a schedule for gradually reducing how much you drink per day. Ideally, this schedule will be determined with the assistance of a doctor or addiction treatment professional.

Medical detox programs for alcohol dependency commonly offer medications to ease the discomfort or pain of withdrawal. This is a benefit that isn’t available to all who attempt to taper at home. Medicines can be used to reduce nausea, severe anxiety, other flu-like symptoms, and treat seizures.

Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal

If you are tapering yourself off alcohol for the first time, it can be helpful to know what symptoms to expect during the process. Although the symptoms can vary for each person based on personal factors, many people share common experiences during this process.

People tapering off alcohol may begin experiencing early withdrawal symptoms within 6 to 12 hours after their last drink. Over the next few days, additional symptoms may also appear.

Early symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (first 48 hours) may include:

  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Stomach pain
  • Tremors (‘alcohol shakes’)
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite

Seizures can also occur within the first 24 to 48 hours, although these are less likely to occur in people with less severe alcohol dependency. Withdrawal seizures can be a sign of delirium tremens, which can occur as soon as 48 hours after a person’s last drink.

How Long Does It Take To Taper Off Alcohol?

The length of the tapering process can vary based on the needs of the person. People with a greater dependency on alcohol may need to stretch out the process to gradually reduce their alcohol intake.

Tapering off alcohol at home versus under medical supervision can also lengthen the process, for the sake of safety. Unlike a home environment, medical detox services have the professional support and resources necessary to treat severe withdrawal symptoms. This medical supervision allows for some patients to quit drinking cold-turkey without compromising safety.

By talking with your doctor or an addiction treatment specialist, together you can determine a safe tapering schedule that suits your needs.

Alcohol Detox At Vertava Health

If you need help figuring out how to taper off alcohol, or want to find alcohol detox services near you, our treatment specialists at Vertava Health can help.

Vertava Health offers several treatment programs and resources for people struggling with drug and alcohol use, including:

  • Medical detox services
  • Inpatient and residential rehab programs
  • Long-term rehab
  • Outpatient treatment services

Contact us today at 888.601.8693 for no-cost, confidential support in finding alcohol detox services that suit you or your loved one’s needs.