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Tapering Alcohol with Alcohol

Spurs_1882

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Oct 29, 2007
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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.
 

AfterGlow

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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.
 

espltd32

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Jun 11, 2010
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chico, ca
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 :D
 

chompy

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Apr 2, 2009
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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
 

phactor

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Nov 13, 2002
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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!
 

OverDone

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Apr 14, 2008
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phactor, that's fucking AWESOME, man!!!!! <3

achieving a year takes some serious commitment. You've gone up yet another level (you were already up there as it is) on my respect-o-meter :D
 

herbavore

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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!

Congratulations, phactor, you had quite a ride! It seems like one of the hardest things is not perceiving "slipping" as evidence that one is doomed to failure, but rather perceiving it as struggling and therefore evidence that one is a capable fighter who will ultimately prevail. How did you learn to do that?
 

phactor

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Congratulations, phactor, you had quite a ride! It seems like one of the hardest things is not perceiving "slipping" as evidence that one is doomed to failure, but rather perceiving it as struggling and therefore evidence that one is a capable fighter who will ultimately prevail. How did you learn to do that?

That is a tough question. To be honest, I never really did view "relapse" as failure. Chemical Dependency takes lots of work. Now, I have to admit I am extremely hard on myself, to the point that it has been pretty detrimental to me. However, when it comes to substance abuse, I guess I just viewed it as self-medicating. Obviously, it doesn't work out for the long term. I was young and my habit waxed and waned. Thing that was scary was towards the end the trend was starting to ramp up.

Before that I was slowly slowing down, then I had some major personal crisises and of course I responded by using. This did not work out well for me. Especially considering that I was now older and my body had been beat up more.

I do have the occasional beer now and then, but I stayed sober for a year and a half. I use no other drugs besides what is prescribed. I am on a super low dose of sub now and should be off by the end of the month. When I do have a beer or two I do not crave have more. As noted, I was never a binge drinker, but I just do not crave that "self-medication" anymore. I have done tons of therapy in the last two years, but I still have a long way to go. I finally learned that using will not solve my problems.

I highly urge everyone to give sobriety a try, you do not have to make a lifetime commitment, but a decent length of sobriety changed my perspective. I had the occasional week and a few months clean but it was not enough to let my body heal.

Everyone, I must once again state: I am not a doctor and alcohol withdrawal is some dangerous shit. If you have any concerns, start to feel some serious WD effects then go to the ER or at least talk to a doctor.
 

prayersfor.rain

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I just wanted to say thank you for your posts, phactor. I wanted to quit cold turkey and was very excited - I made it almost 2 days which is longer than I've gone without in years (those 2 days weren't easy) - and then today I found out from the doctor that due to my meds, I can't just quit like that, I have to taper. So here I go.
 

pk.

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Oct 23, 2011
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I went to a public hospital for alcohol poisoning and after treatment they wrote me a single script of benzodiazapines (free of charge). I have tried tapering myself, however I'm the type that once I start drinking I cannot stop if there is anything else available. I guess you do what you feel is the best way, I've seen others successful at quitting through tapering, however benzos were extremely effective for myself and would recommend that.
 

phactor

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I just wanted to say thank you for your posts, phactor. I wanted to quit cold turkey and was very excited - I made it almost 2 days which is longer than I've gone without in years (those 2 days weren't easy) - and then today I found out from the doctor that due to my meds, I can't just quit like that, I have to taper. So here I go.

No problem. Again, I need to emphasize that alcohol withdrawal is very serious stuff. I am glad you discussed it with your doctor. Make sure you keep in touch and are totally honest with him. If you find yourself unable to cut back/taper off then you will likely have to go at it a different way.

Yes, Benzos are also very effective and are the standard treatment nowadays. However, in the US (and from what I have gathered also the UK) it is becoming less likely that a script will be written as a take home medication. In the US, you are very likely to get the suggestion that you detox in a hospital and then go to treatment.
 

captaincaveman

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Oct 30, 2007
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london
Wow, this is a blast from the past. I'll repeat what I said years ago that I couldn't taper off booze but I was drinking for England at the time.

Benzos are effective and Phactor you're right, in the UK GPs simply refuse to prescribe them which I think is outrageous for alcohol withdrawal. Go to A&E (ER) and they hit you up with librium and I think can keep you a week to detox.
In general tapering a substance with the same substance is tricky. I've got a friend staying with me trying to do it with heroin (even though I've offered him subutex codeine etc). Booze taper according to one doctor is 10% less a day which sounds kind of hard.

But good to hear things are going well, makes a change on here. I've had the odd slip with booze but talking about a few cans not a litre of vodka which I used to hit daily. GPs should be aware that benzos are available through other means, so by not giving prescribing them people will get them anyway and that, as we know, is an addiction you really don't want. Hardest substance to get off in my experience although booze ain't far behind.
 

PriestTheyCalledHim

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Oct 7, 2005
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I did this when I was drinking daily and it worked for me but I realize it does not work for everyone and that if it's really bad you should check into a treatment/detox center with medical professionals since some people do die from alcohol withdrawal when they try to do it themselves.

It's different for everyone. I would drink daily even in large amounts for a long period of time and yet I had no physical withdrawal symptoms when I'd stop or on the rare day I wouldn't drink at all since I would wake up still drunk and have a horrible hangover. However, I knew alcohol isn't something you just stop immediately so I just slowly decreased the amount I drank daily, and then stopped.

I have no idea why I do not get withdrawal from alcohol even though I was drinking in large amounts daily at the time but I asked my doctor and other medical professionals and they said it's because I have excellent genes.
 

VanishingMediator

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Jun 5, 2014
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Thank you for this really useful thread. I am trying to taper myself right now unsuccessfully, mainly because I am using vodka to do it. My stomach gets really messed up from other forms of alcohol though. I have been drinking 750 ml of vodka a day basically, and come down off of it some time during the morning. The only thing I have been sticking to is the amount I drink at one time (started with 4 shots, then 2, then 1 at a time) but I haven't even been regulating the timing. I actually did worse with smaller amounts because then I just drink constantly until it is gone.

The question that I really have though is if your taper depends on how high your bac gets when you binge. I'm the worst when it comes to that, I will guzzle vodka like it is ice water and have ridiculously high bac and still be able to function semi normally (as an arrogant prick though). I have read a lot of academic articles about the anxiety, sleep effects, and brain effects of alcohol. I am hoping to return to actually being able to sleep and having pleasant dreams.

In the end I think I am overthinking it though and just postponing tapering correctly and/or stopping. The main thing that is keeping me in this mindset though is the insane CT crowd which unfortunately I have a lot of experience with since my brother is one of the three top members of an unsanctioned cult like offshoot of AA (as if AA wasn't already cult like enough). He did take me to the hospital once where they gave me a banana bag and some vitamins and some drug called librium or something which really didn't do anything. The problem was I have prolonged sleep deprivation and after basically kidnapping me (though with my consent as someone who wanted to quit) and telling me to spend 24/7 going to meetings with other group members all over the city I started hallucinating and nearly fell into the train tracks.

The first time I ever had DTs I had auditory hallucinations which were absolutely horrible and I didn't know they weren't real which made me listen to them. This in turn made them worse (it's a positive feedback loop) and I ended up driving a vehicle off a mountain at 70mph.

So these experiences have made me really angry towards the cold turkey crowd. It's usually either people who know nothing about alcoholism or the AA crowd. It's just insane to me that these people can sit there with a straight face and say that you should just quit cold turkey and if you don't like it you shouldn't have drank in the first place. Seizures, death for other reasons, permanent reduction in mental capabilities, and in my case truly horrible hallucinations are all potential effects that can be avoided with using medication or a few bucks for some alcohol.

I get though that the hair of the dog route is tricky, especially for someone that is having withdrawals because they already have trouble controlling their drinking. I wish there was more formal research into using alcohol to do taper, but people who research such things are all of the outsider mindset that you shouldn't use the substance someone is addicted to detox.
 

Taper

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Joined
Jun 11, 2014
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A taper method

Again alcoholic withdrawl is serious. Seek medical assistance.

A method how to taper.

Step one write down how much you drink in units of alcohol.
step 2 create a journal of when and how many units you drink
step 3 in the first 3 days decrease by 2 units total. Evaluate how you feel. Record the time and units consumed
step 4 in each 3 day period continue to decrease by one to two units. Again record time and units

you will taper off alcohol slowly and give the brain and body time to adjust to the GAMA receptor and other chemical,changes.

So if you drink 30 units in seven for breakfast five for lunch and eight for bed... Decrease each of those three events by about .5 units each. (About 2 units). And keep,that level for 3 days. The reason for the three day steps is it allows you evaluate which systems of AWS you experience and how bad. If you have symptoms then decrease slower. If you have none or you can tolerate them, then decrease a little faster. Don't get carried away if you start the shakes or nausea, go back one step and use the units that didn't cause the symptoms. Also you can increase time frame to 5 days per step. Gives more time for the body to adjust. Every one is different.

If your getting moderate to severe symptoms either hold at the level where you didn't have them for longer or seek immediate medical help.
 

phactor

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Wow! What an old thread of mine. The recommendations are still good. I wish all who try this the best.

I have to admit, that I was never able to stop on my own. I tried and tried and tried (even to the point of writing this). Eventually I found that I had to stop completely with the help of Narcotics Anonymous.

If you are even questioning your ability to manage, please take a good and honest look at yourself. It took me a long damn time to do so. But I am glad I did.

If you cannot stop after trying to moderate/manage/cut back then please give SMART/NA/AA a try. I personally do not like AA, but I love NA (always have, more diverse typically, also treats ALL drugs as part of addiction which works for me). Alcohol is a drug and I am an addict. When I start using drugs I cannot stop.
 
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VanishingMediator

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Jun 5, 2014
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I successfully got out of it, but the way that worked was weird. When I was tapering all it seemed to do was prolong everything. Instead, I went a few days without drinking and got over everything but the insomnia and mild shaking. Then I binged one night on a 750 ml of vodka with no control over how much I drank. There was still a little left in the morning and I drank that too. When I came down, I was immediately sleepy. I slept that night and the shakes went away after a good night sleep with good dreams. It seems to me that BAC is a factor in tapering after all.
 

mandymxic

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Joined
Jun 26, 2014
Messages
1
I'm tapering right now, and my new method seems to be working. I'm eating A LOT, at the time I would normally start drinking, and I haven't been able to drink very much at all...I only had three beers yesterday. I hope I can do better today.
 
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