Author: James Anderson

16 Ways To Stop Drinking Alcohol

how to wean off alcohol

Often, people with alcohol use disorder find that other people in their lives spot their addiction long before they do. Therapy can help you understand why you drink and learn new habits so you can live a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t rely on alcohol as a crutch. It can also help you gain a new perspective as you consider how your life will change without alcohol. Whatever your reason to quit drinking, know that you’re doing yourself a favor. Alcohol impacts our sleep, relationships, weight, risk for serious chronic conditions and more. Alcohol is the third-leading preventable cause of mortality in the United States, with approximately 95,000 people dying from alcohol-related causes each year.

If you answer “yes” to four to five questions, your symptoms align with moderate AUD. If you answer “yes” to six or more questions, your symptoms align with severe AUD. Consult with a licensed mental health professional to further explore AUD. Maybe you’ve never been interested in logging your innermost thoughts, but journaling can be a great tool to track your feelings as you work on quitting alcohol. By avoiding alcohol, you’re taking a big step toward improving physical health.

how to wean off alcohol

Just as what is a useful method for one person may not be for another, what is a safe method for someone may not be for someone else. This is why it is essential to determine your method of tapering and your tapering schedule with the supervision of a medical professional experienced in an alcohol addiction recovery treatment. You should also consider an alcohol withdrawal taper if you’ve ever gone through withdrawal from alcohol, or any other depressant, in the past.

Change your environment

If you turn to alcohol to ease anxiety, try exercise as a healthy alternative. Instead of aiming for complete abstinence, for instance, aim to drink fewer than seven days a week. “Try sober Mondays or sober Mondays through Wednesdays,” he says.

Most people experience the most severe symptoms from about 36–72 hours after stopping drinking. Take our short alcohol quiz to learn where you fall on the drinking spectrum and if you might benefit from quitting or cutting back on alcohol. You should start by determining how much alcohol you drink per day in terms of standard drinks. If you answer “yes” to two to three questions, your symptoms align with mild AUD.

how to wean off alcohol

Information provided on Forbes Health is for educational purposes only. Your health and wellness is unique to you, and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment plans. For personal advice, please consult with a medical professional. “Try doing a ‘dry’ month like Dry January, Go Dry for July or Sober October,” says Moore. In January 2020, more than 6 million people reportedly participated in Dry January, a campaign to reduce alcohol consumption organized by Alcohol Change UK.

Benefits of drinking less alcohol

Another clue that can be an indication of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol is if you make “rules” around drinking. A sober life doesn’t have to mean more time at home as you try to block out triggers. It can mean more time for your other interests, and even new interests. More time to meet new people, catch up with old friends and try new things. Withdrawal usually begins 6 to 8 hours after the last drink and peaks within 72 hours.

It can help to make use of standard drink measurements, as mentioned above. Then come up with a reduction rate you think will be safe, and that you can stick to. Overall, do whatever you can to make yourself as comfortable as possible. If you’re sweating, place a cold towel on your forehead or on the back of your neck.

  1. Therapy can help you understand why you drink and learn new habits so you can live a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t rely on alcohol as a crutch.
  2. One of the keys to a successful taper is taking gradual steps that will cause as few side effects as possible.
  3. For those at risk for severe withdrawal symptoms, medically-supervised detox is often the safest choice for beginning their sobriety or moderation journey.
  4. Or, you may find that quitting all at once is too drastic and decide to start by practicing harm reduction.
  5. Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
  6. As you navigate this question, it can be helpful to think about how you typically prefer to approach change.

This can sometimes cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, and these symptoms can make it hard to stick with your recovery plan. There are a range of symptoms you can experience when you stop drinking. Tapering can help minimize these symptoms, but you might still experience some of them while your body adjusts to the lack of alcohol. But, as many in recovery will tell you, it is only the first chapter in a long process. “Once you have a sense of how much you’re drinking, it’s helpful to track how many drinks you’re having per day,” says Witkiewitz.

Psychological symptoms can include irritability, anxiety and restlessness. That said, If you’ve been drinking excessively, then stopping drinking cold turkey can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Slowly tapering your alcohol use can help you manage mild withdrawal symptoms and decrease the risk of AUD. However, you may experience withdrawal symptoms or relapse if you’re not tapering correctly and safely.

Symptoms timeline

As you begin to notice those health benefits, you’ll likely feel more energized and inspired to keep up your progress. All the same, “a quick drink” often turns into three or four drinks. When you’re having a good time, you find it hard to stop, especially in the company of friends having the same amount. But Dr. Streem knows that it can be hard to recognize signs of alcohol abuse in ourselves.

Can Tapering Down Alcohol Use Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms?

Prepare a playlist of your favorite songs or movies to pass the time. She enjoys interviewing medical experts and researchers about their work and is passionate about communicating accurate and relevant health information to the public. If you tend to drink too much whenever there is any alcohol in the house, get rid of it altogether,  the NIAAA recommends. Food can absorb the alcohol in beverages, so eating before or even while you drink can dampen the effect and may make you want to drink less, says Crews. You may also consider joining an online support group to help you feel less alone. Feeling at your best physically can boost resilience and emotional strength, equipping you to weather challenges that trigger the desire to drink.