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    Tapering Alcohol with Alcohol 
    #1
    Bluelighter phactor's Avatar
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    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.

    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.
    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.

    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.
    Last edited by phactor; 22-08-2012 at 19:06.
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    #2
    Bluelight Crew Mariposa's Avatar
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    Thumbs up
    This is really sound advice. Many people can stop drinking cold turkey and suffer no ill effects, but the possibility of a seizure with abrupt cessation of alcohol use is certainly there.

    When I started writing down how much I was drinking, I realized I needed to cut down and I did. Benzodiazepines also helped a lot, as did Wellbutrin for the underlying depression (I was self-medicating with alcohol).

    Now that I drink much, much less, after an initial abstinent period which was not as long as it should have been - I've rediscovered tea and other non-alcoholic drinks. I am sensitive to caffeine, so I drink a lot of homemade herbal iced tea. I feel a lot better in general.

    A fellow staffer suggested valerian root (an herb available at health food stores) as a supplement. I take 250 mg before bed along with 6 mg melatonin and a multivitamin.

    I was not at the point where a medically managed detox was necessary. I know there are a lot of TDS readers and posters who drink problematically and hope that this provides some insight as to how to safely taper alcohol use. Harm reduction gold star to you, phactor. Keep up the good work. It is possible for problem drinkers to reduce intake to moderation, and alcohol doesn't have to ruin your life.
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    #3
    Bluelighter phactor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mariposa View Post
    Harm reduction gold star to you, phactor.
    That is what its all about! Thanks by the way.

    So far, so good for me. Taper is still going good. Actually had one less then I planned last night 2 instead of 3. I even went out to a bar to get food with a relative and still kept it too one (at the bar).
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    #4
    Bluelighter vortex30's Avatar
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    One drink? Like a beer, or a shot of 40% liquor (mixed with something obviously)? Is that what we're talking?

    So you are avoiding withdrawals, at least really bad withdrawals, by taking just a few drinks each night, as opposed to getting drunk? How much did you drink and for how long?
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    #5
    Bluelighter phactor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vortex30 View Post
    One drink? Like a beer, or a shot of 40% liquor (mixed with something obviously)? Is that what we're talking?

    So you are avoiding withdrawals, at least really bad withdrawals, by taking just a few drinks each night, as opposed to getting drunk? How much did you drink and for how long?
    Yup. One drink. Basically I cut back one beer every 2 days. Started at 4 and am on my last day of three (though I only had a little more then 2 last night)

    I've drank daily close to a year if not more at this point, usually 4 to 6 beers but I would also drink more from time to time. Before that it was weekends only. I've had periods in my life where I drink daily for months, and other times where I only drink twice a week.

    You don't totally avoid withdrawals, but nothing that prevents you from functioning. It also allows you to still get some sleep, which is key IMO. It also kinda forces you to relearn how to say no to that next drink.

    Again this is only for very minor habits.
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    #6
    Bluelighter phactor's Avatar
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    Still going fine. Dropped down to a half glass per hour. Only 2 beers tonight, within the recommended daily limit (in the US).

    Nights are becoming easier for me. Pretty much only have very slight anxiety, occasional craving and a slight head pressure (but I still need to eat). The stomach stuff is gone as well as the mild over stimulated feeling.

    Also worked out today for the first time, it helps out but damn am I sore.
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    #7
    This is a great thread! Thanks for writing all this out phactor. I'm sure there's many Bluelighters who will be greatly helped by this information
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    #8
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    yah man gj
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    #9
    Bluelighter phactor's Avatar
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    Thought I would add something to this:

    I started drinking daily again the only positive is its a little less and more controlled then this time. However I have decided I'm going to taper again.

    During this time I have been taking L-Tyrosine and L-Theanine and they are really helping. I would suggest people give them a try. Also make sure you are taking multivitamins.

    Also, if you want to reduce your usage or stop then I would suggest you do it now while the weather is warm. Having the ability to go outside and be comfortable makes things much easier IMO. I have been taking several walks a day and working a an easy bodyweight routine. I'm going to switch back to the weights in a week or two.
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    #10
    I find the warmer weather harder to stop - so many excuses to go to the pub
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    #11
    Bluelighter wingnutlives's Avatar
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    A good thread to keep!
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    #12
    Again with the tapering?
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    #13
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    Again being quite new to the site I hope people don't mind me posting but I have had a lot of experience with this. I tried to taper using alcohol but ended up having a seizure (my taper schedule was stupid and I over indulged) I know some strong willed people who've managed it but I was a chronic drinker and had to go down the benzo route. I think it helps if you have someone monitoring your intake and hats off to anyone who can manage it because benzos aren't fun to come off. (I haven't had a drink since September 26 2007) although I spent thousands in rehab. Total respect to anyone who can taper themselves
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    #14
    It can't be done. I drank alcoholically for 20 years. On September 16, 1994 I just quit. I shook like a leaf in a windstorm. I had the shits horrible bad. I just about dry heaved my asshole up. Every fiber of my body screamed in pain for Jack Daniels. But it gradually lessened over a week. Haven't touched a drop since.


    It's unpleasant, but it's the only way.
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    #15
    Bluelighter AfterGlow's Avatar
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    That sounds much like my own story! After drinking alcoholically for 20+ years and trying every which way to control my drinking... from setting limits, to weekends only, to only beer, to only with food, etc... I finally came to the conclusion that I simply cannot safely drink alcohol at all. My last bender left me blacked out and covered in bruises on my bathroom floor. I stood up, looked at myself in the mirror and had a moment of clarity. I stopped drinking and spent a week on my sofa withdrawing. I don't recommend that, but it worked for me.

    I think people who drink heavily for many years will have a VERY difficult time trying to taper or control it. But if you think you have a problem with alcohol, the sooner you do something about it the better the chances for your success. Give phactor's taper program a try and I hope it works for you. But if it does not, get honest with yourself and admit that controlled drinking is not an option for you.

    One closing remark... 5+ years of no alcohol and going to the gym regularly feels so much better than a 5th of jack daniels every evening and waking up dreading each new day. It's tough to change your behavior and start living sober, but it's well worth it. I don't crave or obsess over alcohol anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by rainbowdemon View Post
    It can't be done. I drank alcoholically for 20 years. On September 16, 1994 I just quit. I shook like a leaf in a windstorm. I had the shits horrible bad. I just about dry heaved my asshole up. Every fiber of my body screamed in pain for Jack Daniels. But it gradually lessened over a week. Haven't touched a drop since.


    It's unpleasant, but it's the only way.
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    #16
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    I wonder what the advantages/disadvantages are of using alcohol rather than benzos to taper off? I am an alcoholic, biologically at least, in that I suffer withdrawal every time I get drunk (I don't get drunk often any more, only once every few months or so, for this very reason). I normally take some benzos the next day but sometimes I go for the hair of the dog method...I always need something to get me through the anxiety. I'm planning a binge this weekend, and might try and taper off it the next day, so as to save my valium. But I wonder if valium is the better option?
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    #17
    Ex-Bluelighter Enki's Avatar
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    Phactor, great thread It was very responsible of you to put in good cautions. Ideally all withdrawals would be medically supervised but reality is that were that to happen there wouldn't be enough beds or personnel to deal with it. If anyone has the willingness and availability to have others help or checkin on them through out the process that could add an extra layer of safety.
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    #18
    Bluelighter phactor's Avatar
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    For Octsober...

    One addition I would suggest:

    Take L-Tyrosine in the morning and L-Trytophan at night.

    Anyways I put this thread up to try to help. If you disagree that is fine, but do not automatically discount it because it did not work for you. Going Cold Turkey off of alcohol can be dangerous and is not good for the brain.
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    #19
    Bluelight Crew Mariposa's Avatar
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    Phactor, I successfully completed a virtually identical taper before Octsober began.

    People have been tapering alcohol with alcohol, well, forever. I found a lot of relief once the first 100 hours passed. I don't think it's an arbitrary number.

    I agree with you that CT is not the way to go with alcoholism. It is important to go to sleep at a reasonable hour and sleep 8 full hours as well, and to keep full of vitamins and minerals.
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    #20
    Quote Originally Posted by AfterGlow View Post
    That sounds much like my own story! After drinking alcoholically for 20+ years and trying every which way to control my drinking... from setting limits, to weekends only, to only beer, to only with food, etc... I finally came to the conclusion that I simply cannot safely drink alcohol at all. My last bender left me blacked out and covered in bruises on my bathroom floor. I stood up, looked at myself in the mirror and had a moment of clarity. I stopped drinking and spent a week on my sofa withdrawing. I don't recommend that, but it worked for me.

    I think people who drink heavily for many years will have a VERY difficult time trying to taper or control it. But if you think you have a problem with alcohol, the sooner you do something about it the better the chances for your success. Give phactor's taper program a try and I hope it works for you. But if it does not, get honest with yourself and admit that controlled drinking is not an option for you.

    One closing remark... 5+ years of no alcohol and going to the gym regularly feels so much better than a 5th of jack daniels every evening and waking up dreading each new day. It's tough to change your behavior and start living sober, but it's well worth it. I don't crave or obsess over alcohol anymore.
    I am new here and trying to find out how hard it will be for me to go cold turkey. I have been drinking way too much for the past 1 1/2 year and now when I don't drink (evening drinker) I am getting heart palpatations and great anxiety. I want to just quit, but am afraid to. You said you drank a fifth of Jack per day and you just quit cold turkey? Is that safe? Just scared, but today I am trying to go without alcohol.
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    #21
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    ^ No, it's not safe, alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening. Whilst some people might be able to do it without getting DTs, seizures etc, others won't, it really depends on many factors such as personal body chemistry, amount of previous withdrawals, health problems, history of addiction, age and so on. Seriously, it's much safer, not to mention much more pleasant, to go to a doctor and see what they have to say. They will most likely either give you a benzo script for a home detox, or they'll recommend you go to an inpatient facility depending on the severity of your withdrawals.
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    #22
    Bluelighter AfterGlow's Avatar
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    Yeah... listen to what Spurs said. Quitting alcohol cold turkey can kill you. I doubt that would happen to you after drinking heavy for only a year and a half, but it's still not safe to go through withdrawals without medical supervision or advice.
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    #23
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    So I thought I d toss in my 2 cents on this thread as well, though it looks to be awhile since people have posted it. I ve drank anywhere from light to heavy, off and on for about 10 years now, quit for 6 months and then made the stupid mistake of starting it again about a year back. About 2 weeks ago I had a pretty scary anxiety / panic episode after a fairly heavy weekend night of drinking. Went to the ER thinking I was dying and so forth like I ve read a lot of people talk about, and like most was told your having anxiety problems due to the alcohol, so they gave me some xanax and sent me on my way. Within a few days of this, and taking my prescription I found the anxiety / shaking etc was coming back tenfold worse than anything I d ever experienced while in previous alcohol WD symptoms. Plus some serious dizzy spells and so forth, I m writing here cause I wanted to point out that these benzos that are supposed to help with WD in my case have actually made it far worse ( I ve already missed about 4 days of work, thank god for sick leave ) the doctor never mentioned how very addictive they can be. In my research for something to help I found this thread and am trying the taper method for the last 3 days both to try and get the xanax out of my system and to slowly ( I really hope ) get to drinking zero, it seems to be helping so far at least to avoid the real serious parts of WD, and the feelings I was having on the xanax are mostly gone. Anyway thats my story I wanted to share and hope everyone out there is doing well and thanks to phactor for providing this place to share our thoughts
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    #24
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    you can taper ethanol with ethanol. i used to be a 12-18+ drinks a day but dropped it down to 6 at the most, then going to reduce to 4 etc...after the world cup of course
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    #25
    Bluelighter phactor's Avatar
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    Made some adjustments to this. The last time I updated it I was not in a good place. I now have over a year "sober" (whatever the hell that means) and have adjusted some things to meet my observations.

    I want everyone who reads this thread and is struggling to know that you have the power within yourself to achieve your goals. How you draw out that inner willpower is up to you. It may take several tries to figure it out, but if you keep at it you will eventually get it. Best of luck!
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