Why wean off alcohol?
Did you know that alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances to wean off suddenly? Alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths each year in the United States. After prolonged or heavy drinking, the body becomes dependent on alcohol. When suddenly stopping the use of alcohol, our body may go into withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawals are not only uncomfortable, but they can also be dangerous and potentially deadly. By weaning off alcohol your body can slowly adapt to functioning without it, lessening the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
What is weaning off alcohol?
Weaning or tapering off alcohol, is a self-treatment to ease the withdrawal symptoms when quitting alcohol. This method includes slowly cutting back on the number of alcoholic beverages you consume each day until you are completely alcohol-free. Because of the severity and danger of alcohol withdrawal, it is important to seek professional help with the process of tapering. Depending on the severity of one’s withdrawals, benzodiazepines may be prescribed to help your body with withdrawals.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The withdrawal symptoms from alcohol are not one-size-fits-all. There are a lot of factors that go into how one’s body may react to cutting out alcohol, including the severity of their addiction. It may depend on how much someone drinks or how long they have been drinking. Here are withdrawal symptoms:
- Loss of short-term memory
- Sweating/Clammy skin
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
How To Wean Off Alcohol
If you decide that you want to wean off alcohol, it is important that you do so in a safe way. If you are a heavy drinker, you should seek medical supervision for a safe detox. To wean off alcohol:
- Slowly, over time, reduce the number of alcoholic beverages you consume per day or by the week.
- Extend the length of time between drinks. You can do this by setting a timer or drinking a glass or two of water before the next drink.
- Commit to how you are going to tapper and stick to it.
- Let someone you know and trust what your plan is and let them help hold you accountable to stick to the plan discussed.
Weaning off alcohol can take weeks to months to do safely. While weaning off alcohol works for some people, it may not work for everyone. If you try to wean off alcohol yourself and it doesn’t work out, know that there are other options and that quitting alcohol is possible. The best and most effective way to quit alcohol is through a medically assisted detox, inpatient or outpatient treatment, or by taking part in alcohol addiction therapy.
Benefits of quitting alcohol
Alcohol abuse takes a toll on the body and your overall health. Although withdrawals can be uncomfortable, it is possible and well worth it on the other side. Some of the health benefits of quitting include:
- Improved sleep
- Better heart health
- Improved liver health
- Reduced risk of cancer
- More energy
- Improved cognitive function.
- Improved mood