However, tapering can be dangerous if you have severe AUD, leading to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. If you start noticing these symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately. Some alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that they can lead to death. Contact a medical professional immediately if you notice any withdrawal symptoms. Cutting back or completely stopping alcohol consumption is challenging, even if you are not at the point of addiction.

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After several days of 5 glasses of wine, you can reduce that down to 4. Eventually, after a period of time, you will have tapered down to zero drinks. If you’re interested in medication-assisted treatment, medication to curb cravings can be a helpful tool for reducing your consumption.

Is it Better to Taper Off Alcohol or Quit “Cold Turkey?”

So, if most of us aren’t physically dependent on alcohol, then why is it so hard to stop drinking? Why do we try to taper off or ease our way out of it rather than just stopping all at once? Daily drinking can have serious consequences for a person’s health, both in the short- and long-term.

  • To help promote safety and long-term recovery, many treatment programs have begun to offer drug tapering.
  • If you plan to taper your drinking in order to stop, make sure that you limit your intake consistently, avoid fluctuations, and adhere to a weekly reduction schedule with a set date to stop.
  • Helping individuals with free, unbiased advice to find treatment for all types of addiction and related mental health issues.
  • If you’re worried about your drinking habits, and they might be affecting your health or destroying relationships with loved ones, consider seeking an alcohol treatment program.
  • The good news is that recovery from addiction is possible for those who seek help.

Counselling either online or in person can help you understand why you are drinking in a damaging way and supports long-term recovery. Especially if you have no choice but to stop immediately, it may be best to try a medical detox, as it can be dangerous to stop drinking suddenly when you have been drinking too much for a long period. Unlike cold turkey, tapering involves taking smaller and smaller amounts of alcohol over a set period.

Severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal

The main downside of cold turkey is how unpleasant and risky it can be. If you drink heavily, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be harsh, dangerous, and even fatal. For this reason, it’s generally best to avoid quitting abruptly, or at bare minimum speak with a doctor first and have someone looking out for you. If you suddenly quit drinking, your brain can start to make more of an excitatory substance called glutamate. This excessive glutamate level can lead to alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can be dangerous.

alcohol tapering vs cold turkey

This excess glutamate triggers alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can sometimes be dangerous. Tapering off alcohol is relatively common among people with physical alcohol dependence. Tapering off helps reduce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and prevent life-threatening complications. Some people might need medications or tapering drugs to help ease any withdrawal symptoms that arise throughout the tapering-off process. Many insurance companies will help pay for some or all of the treatment costs, which may be vital to recovery. Central nervous system depressants are a class of drugs that includes several prescription medications like benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and sedative-hypnotics.

Tapering Works Best With These Drugs

In a 2016 study of nearly 700 smokers with tobacco addiction, 49 percent of people who quit cold turkey were still off cigarettes a month later, compared to 39 percent of those who tapered off gradually. One approach is the cold turkey method, which involves immediately and completely cutting out the substance. If a person is quitting cold turkey, they are more likely to succeed with the right support. The serious form of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens (DTs). It also leads to changes in how the brain regulates blood circulation and breathing.

  • There are two types of triggers that can set off a person’s urge to drink.
  • The effectiveness of going cold turkey depends on what substance you’re trying to quit and your preferences.
  • Because everyone’s body reacts differently, there’s not a lot of research that proves tapering can decrease the effects of alcohol withdrawal.

The most serious and acute substance addictions of our times require a tapering process, the kind administered through a professional treatment program. This is especially true for people who abuse more than one substance or have co-occurring disorders such as a mental health issue and a substance addiction. At a rehab clinic, an alcohol withdrawal taper can be provided to slowly get you back to normal life.

This is a highly personal decision, which can be made through self-reflection, and with the support of a medical professional and your peers. If it’s safe for you to quit cold turkey, you may find that cutting alcohol out entirely from the start helps you clearly uphold your boundaries. Or, you 100 Most Inspiring Addiction Recovery Quotes may find that quitting all at once is too drastic and decide to start by practicing harm reduction. Outpatient care, also called ambulatory care, might include medication-assisted withdrawal to make the process easier. If you’re detoxing from opioids, you might get methadone or buprenorphine.

Our “whole patient” approach to healing will ensure you feel safe and listened to every step of the way as you gain a new perspective on life. Depending on how slow a tapering-off period your doctor recommends, this timeline may be extended. If you are a heavy drinker, you may require a slower weaning rate to ensure you remain safe.

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