The stigma associated with alcohol use may be less pronounced than drug use, mainly because the sale of alcohol to individuals over 21 years of age is legal throughout the United States. However, alcohol abuse is a common disorder that affects many people in the country. Many of them choose to address this problem by tapering alcohol use. As with detoxification from any substance, discontinuing alcohol consumption can trigger withdrawal symptoms that are highly uncomfortable and can even, at times, be life-threatening, especially for those who have consumed alcohol in large quantities over a long time.
MAT Care Clinics understands that detoxing is challenging, and each person has a unique experience. If you are struggling with an alcohol use disorder and want to detox, you may think: Is tapering alcohol use enough? While this is a commonly used strategy that can yield good results, it’s important to remember that each body reacts uniquely to withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, many may need to seek aid to ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.
In this blog, we aim to guide you on the effects of tapering alcohol use, what withdrawal symptoms to expect, and the options available for a more effective and convenient recovery.
Impact of Tapering Alcohol Use
Tapering alcohol use is a widely accepted approach to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms. With this method, individuals gradually supply the body with less of the craving substance, helping the body return to a healthy state with minimal or no withdrawal symptoms.
Tapering the use of substances can effectively treat dependence. However, it’s essential to emphasize that determining the appropriate schedule and dosage should ideally be done under the guidance of a medical professional. While this strategy may prove effective in some instances, it’s worth noting that there is currently insufficient research to definitively assert that it prevents withdrawal symptoms and ensures a safe recovery.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shared a study that stated that discontinuing the use of any substance that has led to dependence can trigger withdrawal symptoms, and alcohol is no exception. These withdrawal effects primarily affect individuals who have been consuming large amounts of alcohol continuously for an extended period. For this reason, many people find it essential to seek support for easing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Three Reasons to Address Withdrawal Symptoms with Professional Help
MAT Care Clinics provides FDA-approved medication-assisted treatment to address alcohol dependence safely. This approach reduces withdrawal symptoms, manages cravings, and ultimately facilitates recovery. Here are three compelling reasons why you should consider seeking scientific assistance when deciding to taper alcohol use:
- Reduced Chances of Relapse Due to Cravings: When tapering alcohol use, people give their bodies the desired substance in smaller amounts. However, according to research by the NCBI, the persistence of cravings and the possibility of giving in to them can significantly increase the likelihood of relapse into alcohol abuse. By relying on medications prescribed by physicians specializing in addiction disorders, suppressing these cravings is scientifically supported, increasing the chances of long-term recovery.
- Decreases Withdrawal Symptoms Safely: Oral and injectable medications used in medication-assisted treatment effectively suppress alcohol-related withdrawal symptoms. Easing alcohol withdrawal symptoms promotes mental clarity and physical well-being and facilitates a smoother transition into detox, enabling individuals to move forward.
- Flexibility in the Recovery Process: Many individuals do not view institutionalization in a medical facility as the most suitable option for conquering their alcohol dependence. Instead, they choose approaches like tapering alcohol use, which they can pursue while continuing their daily activities, such as work and family responsibilities. Medication-assisted treatment also provides the benefit of tailoring the rehabilitation process to your timetable, as opposed to inpatient care. Furthermore, specialized physicians conduct, guide, support, and supervise this method.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol affects our central nervous system, prompting the brain to slow down our bodily functions, creating a sense of relaxation. However, when we consume alcohol, our body expends more energy, attempting to maintain the nervous system in an optimal state to counteract the effects of alcohol.
When individuals decide to cease alcohol consumption, and their nervous system starts to regulate, withdrawal symptoms related to alcohol can surface. These symptoms can be painful and, in severe cases, even life-threatening, mainly if the person consistently consumes substantial amounts. The intensity of withdrawal symptoms can vary, typically appearing within the first six hours after the last alcohol intake in mild cases, while in severe cases, they may emerge 48-72 hours later.
The experience of these withdrawal symptoms is not uniform among all people, as it depends on how each individual’s body metabolizes alcohol and how long it takes for the body to adapt to functioning without the presence of alcohol.
As stated in medical research supported by the NCBI, some alcohol withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
Mild Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shaky hands
These symptoms are common and usually associated with the hangover experienced after consuming alcohol. Typically, these discomforts tend to resolve on their own. However, for individuals who frequently drink alcohol, these symptoms can persist for an extended period.
Symptoms of Severe Alcohol Withdrawal:
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Delirium and confusion
- Profuse sweating
- High blood pressure
It is important to note that seeking medical attention is essential when experiencing withdrawal symptoms, mainly to prevent seizures or more severe withdrawal symptoms.
What is the Best Way to Cut Down on Alcohol?
The decision to abstain from alcohol is entirely personal, as is the choice of approach. While one person may find support groups ideal, another may prefer to tackle the process individually. In addition to tapering alcohol use and medication-assisted treatment, there are other practical approaches to quitting alcohol that can complement each other. Here are some of the most common options available:
- Support Groups: Support groups are excellent for learning about available services and connecting with individuals undergoing alcohol rehabilitation. Many people attend local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings where they find the support needed to stay focused on their recovery journey.
- Inpatient Treatment: In these treatments, individuals are typically hospitalized and receive continuous support from the rehabilitation clinic staff. There are also partial hospitalization options, allowing individuals to return home at night and spend half the day at the facility. People with severe alcohol abuse and lack of control might benefit from this approach.
- Outpatient Treatment: Involves group or individual therapy tailored to address each patient’s concerns. These sessions may occur several days a week for several hours for individuals with moderate alcohol cravings or previously completed other treatments.
MAT Care Clinics Can Help You Overcome Alcohol Use Disorder and Alleviate Withdrawal Symptoms
MAT Care Clinics is here to support you, no matter which approaches you choose to attain an alcohol-free life. While tapering alcohol use may not have enough scientific support to guarantee the prevention of withdrawal symptoms and long-term results, our medication-assisted treatment services for alcohol dependence are scientifically validated and offer a proven solution for achieving lasting recovery.
While we recommend therapy and maintain close connections with addiction treatment centers, we specialize exclusively in providing the best medication-assisted treatment services at MAT Care Clinics. We respect your journey and any complementary approaches you choose to overcome alcohol addiction.