Tapering Alcohol with Alcohol
I thought I would create a separate thread for this in order to make it easier for people to find if they are searching for the info.
Before I share these tips two quick things:
1. I am not a doctor, don't even play one on TV. Take these tips at your own risk. Alcohol WD can be fatal and very serious. If you feel like you may need to go to the hospital in order to detox then do it. It is best to at least talk to a MD before starting any withdrawal. You can receive medications to help you detox. Use this method at your own risk.
2. Tapering doesn't work for everyone. For some it is easier to just stop. I on the other hand have always responded well to tapers, especially when compared to cold turkey. I would rather have lessened symptoms, even if it lasts longer. Others will "just want to get it over with".
Anyways here are my tips for using alcohol to taper off of a minor daily drinking habit.
Try to also give yourself little rewards. Take some time to recollect yourself during the day. I have been going home on my lunch breaks to eat. This gives me a few moments to collect myself and think about what I have to do for the rest of the day.
1. When tapering, I like to follow the 3-3-2-2-1-1 pattern (adjust to suit your tolerance. On the first day I drink a beer with a bit higher abv and then switch to a beer with a lower alcohol amount on the second. For example switch from Budweiser (5.0 ABV) to Miller Lite (4.2). That way you have a small reduction in your tolerance even though you are drinking the same amount. Also try to only have one drink an hour, if for nothing else but to teach patience.
2. This sounds nasty but I suggest putting some ice cubes in your glass of beer, I usually only drink good beer so shit like miller or budweiser tastes watery to me anyways. The ice causes you to pour less of your drink and adds additional liquid. Basically it causes you to drink less beer over a longer time. That is a good thing.
3. Have sleeping pills ready and limit your caffeine intake. Lots of people get in the habit of jacking themselves up at work and then drinking themselves down later. Sleep is very important. No shame in knocking yourself out for a few hours while going for WD. I usually only need one PM dipenhydramine pill to put me to sleep. An otc painkiller is usually nessecary as well. I usually take 300 to 400 milligrams of Ibuprofen a day during a taper. A stomach antacid can also really help.
4. Set limits, don't start drinking to early. I rarely drink before 5 or 6 but those that drink during the day may have problems with this.
5. Have a plan to keep yourself busy. I personally need to start working out again.
6. Try to time your first days off of booze at a time when you aren't busy.
7. Eat, Eat, Eat. Eat healthy food. If you feel like you cannot eat, try to get some soup or even a protein shake. I have been picking up a Gatoraide and a Muscle Milk in the mornings where I haven't felt like eating anything.
8. Have non alcoholic drinks in between your alcoholic drinks. I personally would suggest having something without caffeine. I personally usually drink water, cranberry juice and tension tamer tea. Kava Kava can also slightly help with the anxiety.
9. Chart your drinks. Keep track of everything you are drinking. Keep a journal. I often write down the amount that I'm allowed to have on that day. Then the next morning I write if I reached my goal, how I feel, how I felt the night before etc. Write down the reasons you want to cut back or stop drinking. Think about how you will deal with days without being able to drink. If your goal is to take a few days off from drinking every week then start slow. Add extra sober days later on after you relearn behaviors.
10. Finally and most importantly try to have a good attitude and remind yourself that you can do this and it will all be over soon. You really have to stick too your schedule.
I don't plan on abstaining forever but I would like to get back to drinking only on the weekends. I've done it so many times so I know I can do it.
Now if you have a very serious problem and/or abusing other depressents on top of the alcohol its going to require alot more then this. Check yourself into a hospital. Severe alcohol and benzo withdrawal can be fatal.
This is just what I do though to lessen WD and allow me to function. Its not pain free but much more manageable imo. I also feel like once you complete a successful taper it becomes easier. Simply because you know you can do it.
EDIT 9/13/15: I was unable to stop drinking and ended up committing to a life of total abstinence and working the 12 steps. I have been clean for over a year at this point and cannot imagine going back to the insanity of me attempting to try "controlled drinking".