Some individuals can quit drinking cold turkey without feeling any significant symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. However, others may experience significant symptoms of withdrawal when they stop drinking suddenly. Alcohol withdrawal has the potential of causing death, so if you quit drinking and start experiencing significant symptoms of withdrawal, then you are apparently one of those who needs to detoxify gradually rather than quitting “cold turkey” all at once. This would mean that you would gradually taper off, by either drinking less and less alcohol over time or by taking medications.

Even if someone doesn’t experience significant symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, it still might be easier for them to just taper off their drinking rather than immediately going into a state of complete abstinence. 

Who would be most likely to experience significant symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?

  • People who’ve remained drunk for 3 or 4 days in a row.
  • People who’ve gotten themselves drunk every single night for the last 30 days or more.
  • People who’ve been drinking small amounts all day long for 30 days or more.
  • People who’ve had a history of experiencing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.   

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal? 

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe: 

  • Mild alcohol withdrawal (or minor) usually happens within 24 hours of having the last drink. The symptoms are insomnia, panic, tremulousness (the shakes), twitching, anxiety, sweating, upset stomach, and higher pulse rate and blood pressure.
  • Moderate alcohol withdrawal (or intermediate) usually happens 24 to 36 hours after the last drink. The individual will likely experience intense anxiety, insomnia, tremors, hallucinations, seizures racing pulse and higher blood pressure.
  • Severe alcohol withdrawal (or major) is also characterized by Delirium Tremens (DTs), which usually starts happening more than 48 hours after decreasing alcohol consumption or stopping altogether. The person will be disoriented, agitated, have hallucinations and tremulousness, rapid breathing, racing heart, irregular heartbeat, fever, intense sweating, and spikes in blood pressure.

When left untreated, someone going through this has a one in five chance of dying of the DTs. Some individuals refer to the shakes as the DTs, but this is not accurate. The DTs are far more serious.

It can even be dangerous for those going through mild or moderate alcohol withdrawal if they have heart trouble or high blood pressure. Since withdrawal causes a rise in blood pressure there is the risk of having a stroke or heart attack. The harder and longer someone has been drinking alcohol, the more severe his or her withdrawal will be.

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Can people taper off successfully using alcohol?


YES people can. People have successfully used alcohol while tapering off from drinking since the beginning of time. Medications to ease withdrawal are a recent development. The idea that people cannot taper off as a way to stop drinking altogether, is a myth put out there by alcohol treatment professionals and facilities who have turned this into an money-making industry.



How can I tell if I should be tapering off?

If you can see your hands shaking once you stop drinking, you start sweating a lot, have an irregular or rapid pulse, or your blood pressure has risen a lot then you should taper off, but not do it cold turkey. Just taper off by drinking less and less alcohol or you can get prescription medication from your physician.

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