Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is a severe condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s not just a matter of drinking too much, but a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. Quitting alcohol can be a challenging and difficult process, but it’s worth it for a healthier and happier life. There are ways to detox from alcohol at home, and many who are looking to do so are looking for a tapering strategy. It’s important to note that detoxing at home may be dangerous but in this article we will provide an overview of alcoholism, treatments, and possible detoxing strategies.
The Causes of Alcoholism
There are several factors that contribute to the development of alcoholism, including:
Studies have shown that alcoholism can run in families and that individuals with a family history of addiction are at a higher risk of developing alcoholism themselves.
Growing up in an environment where alcohol is regularly abused, or experiencing trauma or stress can increase the risk of developing alcoholism.
Mental Health Issues
Individuals with certain mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, may be more likely to develop alcoholism as a way to self-medicate.
Peer pressure and the desire to fit in with a certain group can lead to the initiation of alcohol use, and in some cases, can progress to addiction.
“It’s important to understand that alcoholism is a complex disease and can develop from a combination of various factors.”
Easy Access to Alcohol
Living in a culture where alcohol is readily available and frequently consumed can also increase the likelihood of developing alcoholism.
Symptoms of Alcoholism
The symptoms of alcoholism can vary from person to person, but common signs include:
– Loss of appetite
– Nausea and vomiting
– Anxiety and depression
– Irritability and mood swings
– Memory problems
– Cravings for alcohol
– Neglecting responsibilities at work, home, or school
– Isolation from friends and family
– Continued drinking despite negative consequences
What Alcoholics and Their Loved Ones Go Through
Alcoholism not only affects the person struggling with the addiction, but also their friends, partners, and family. They may experience:
Alcoholics often spend a significant amount of money on alcohol, which can cause financial strain.
Loved ones may feel frustrated, helpless, or angry about their loved one’s addiction. They may also feel guilty for not being able to help.
Alcoholism can cause arguments and distance in relationships, and can even lead to the breakdown of relationships.
Quitting Cold Turkey: The Dangers and Effects
Quitting alcohol “cold turkey” means abruptly stopping the consumption of alcohol. This can be dangerous and can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, such as:
Delirium Tremens (DTs)
DTs is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can cause confusion, seizures, and even death. DTs are one of the primary concerns for health professionals when quitting alcohol.
People going through alcohol withdrawal may experience hallucinations, which can be frightening and distressing.
Depression and anxiety
Cold turkey withdrawal can worsen mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
It’s important to note that quitting cold turkey should only be done under the supervision of a medical professional.
Taper Down: A Safer Option
A safer option for quitting alcohol is to taper down, or gradually reduce the amount consumed over time. Tapering down is generally the safest form of quitting drinking. Medical professionals will often also prescribe medications to reduce the symptoms of quitting cold turkey. However, gradually reducing alcohol intake can also prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. Here’s an example schedule of tapering down from alcohol:
Week 1: Reduce alcohol consumption by 25%
Week 2: Reduce alcohol consumption by 50%
Week 3: Reduce alcohol consumption by 75%
Week 4: Stop consuming alcohol completely
Benefits of Tapering Down
Reduced withdrawal symptoms
Lower risk of relapse
Eases the transition to sobriety
Additionally, to reducing the overall amount of drinks consumed you can also reduce the potency of the drinks you consume. For example, drinking a light beer with 3% alcohol content instead your usual beer which may have 6% alcohol. In some cases, drinking beer instead of shots can slow down your alcohol consumption as a beer may take longer to consume than a shot of liquor.
Dealing with Cravings during Tapering
Quitting alcohol can be a difficult process, and it’s not uncommon for individuals to experience cravings for alcohol during their journey to sobriety.
“I decided to quit drinking on my own and do an at-home detox. At first, it was really hard. I had a lot of cravings and felt very anxious and irritable. I also had some trouble sleeping and felt physically sick. But as the days went on, I started to feel better and stronger. I had a lot of support from my friends and family, and I was proud of myself for making this change.” -anonymous
Here are some tips for managing cravings:
Distracting yourself with a new activity, such as exercise, reading, or volunteering, can help take your mind off the craving.
Find Alternative Coping Mechanisms
Instead of turning to alcohol, find alternative coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing, meditation, or speaking with a trusted friend.
Staying busy with work, hobbies, and social activities can help keep your mind off cravings and provide a sense of purpose.
Remove or avoid things that may trigger cravings, such as certain people, places, or situations.
“Remember, cravings are temporary and will pass. With time and practice, managing cravings will become easier.”
Reach Out for Support
Reach out to a friend, therapist, or support group for support and encouragement.
Remember, cravings are temporary and will pass. With time and practice, managing cravings will become easier. Staying committed to sobriety and utilizing the strategies mentioned above can help individuals successfully overcome cravings and maintain their sobriety.
Knowing When to Seek Medical Treatment for Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease that can have serious health consequences if left untreated. Here are some signs that indicate that medical treatment may be necessary:
If you are experiencing frequent blackouts, it may be a sign that you are drinking at dangerous levels and may need professional help to stop.
Loss of Control
If you are unable to control your drinking and continue to consume alcohol even though it’s causing problems in your life, it may be time to seek medical treatment.
If you experience withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, seizures, or hallucinations, when you stop drinking, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
If you have developed a physical dependence on alcohol and experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit, it’s important to seek medical treatment to ensure a safe and comfortable detox process.
“Seeking medical treatment for alcoholism can help individuals overcome addiction and improve their overall health and quality of life.”
Impact on Relationships and Responsibilities
If your drinking has negatively impacted your relationships, career, or other responsibilities, it may be time to seek medical treatment to address the underlying addiction.
The Importance of Medical Treatment
Quitting alcohol can be a challenging process, and seeking medical treatment can greatly increase the chances of success. A medical professional can provide:
Medications, such as benzodiazepines, can be prescribed to help manage withdrawal symptoms.
Counseling and support
A therapist or counselor can provide emotional support and help individuals work through the underlying issues that may have led to their addiction.
Monitoring and supervision
Medical professionals can monitor individuals for any complications during the withdrawal and recovery process.
Rehab and Detox
In some cases treatment from your doctor may not be enough. Detox and rehab programs may be necessary for some to overcome their alcohol dependency.
“I knew I needed more structured help to quit drinking, so I decided to go to rehab. At first, I was nervous and felt out of my element. But as I got to know the other people in my group and started participating in therapy and support groups, I felt more and more confident in my decision to quit. The staff was incredibly supportive and helped me through the tough times. By the end of my stay, I felt like a completely different person and was ready to face life without alcohol.” -anonymous
Common programs available that help with alcoholism:
Inpatient rehab is a comprehensive treatment program that provides 24/7 support and care for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. This option is ideal for individuals who have a severe addiction, have struggled to quit drinking on their own, or have co-occurring mental health conditions that require additional support and care.
Outpatient rehab is a less intensive option that allows individuals to live at home while participating in treatment. This option may be suitable for individuals with less severe addictions or those who have a strong support system in place at home.
Alcohol detox is the first step in the recovery process and involves safely withdrawing from alcohol and managing any associated withdrawal symptoms. Detox is typically done on an outpatient basis and may be a suitable option for individuals with mild addictions who are able to quit drinking with the help of medication and support from loved ones.
Alcoholism is a serious condition that can have a major impact on an individual’s life and the lives of those around them. Quitting alcohol can be difficult, but with the right support and treatment, it is possible to achieve sobriety and live a healthier and happier life. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, seek help from a medical professional. Remember, recovery is possible and it starts with taking the first step.
It is recommended no matter what route you choose that you reach out to a medical professional. Additionally, you can contact a free confidential addiction treatment hotline or the national help hotline to get information on programs available to you.
“SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.” SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA, 30 Aug. 2022, www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
“Delirium Tremens (DTs): Severe Alcohol Withdrawal.” WebMD, 3 Sept. 2022, www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/delirium-tremens.
“How to Taper off Alcohol – Orlando Recovery Center.” Orlando Recovery Center, www.orlandorecovery.com/drug-addiction-resources/alcohol/how-to-taper-off-alcohol. Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.