More on Tapering off Alcohol

I received the following email today and I am sharing the whole of it verbatim:

I am writing this to give you my personal experience on detoxing using alcohol and to offer a possible solution to others who need to taper off alcohol in a safe and rational fashion.

First of all, my drinking over the past few years has been gradually growing and getting out of control.  I am a professional, but only work two days a week, which has caused a bit of a problem because it allowed for too much free time for me to indulge.

During the past two years, I had increased my consumption (which was already too high)  to about a fifth a day.  I would never get wasted or pass out, but I would start the day by mixing a double of some kind–a screwdriver or rum and Coke or whatever–and I would stay warmly buzzed throughout the entire day.  I knew I was drinking too much, but I was able to function well enough that I didn’t think it was too much of a problem.  I didn’t stagger, pass out, slur words, etc.  I could, tell, however, that it was effecting areas of my life in negative ways.

It’s hard to say when the real problems began, but on the days when I went to work and couldn’t start the day with “an eye opener”, I began to notice that I was starting to go into withdrawals.  I couldn’t wait to get home, not to get wasted, but just to get that drink to stop the shakes, the racing thoughts, the pounding heart, and worst of all, the dry heaves and nausea.

I worked hard to try to cover this up at work, but it was getting worse and worse, and harder to hide.  During the past couple of months I was risking my livelihood by acting in this irresponsable way.  I knew I was going to have to quit or at least taper off, or I would lose my job, and perhaps my life.  I was not only addicted, I was physically dependent, which is much, much worse.

My wife is a nurse, and she has dozens of horror stories of people going into withdrawals and DT’s.  I have to say that the hospital where she works has terrible protocols for such things.  She works in ICU, not in rehab, but the hospital and doctors don’t work with alcoholic patients properly.  Someone will usually come in for an emergency surgery, a minor injury, a hip replacement etc. When the main condition is taken care of, the patient is then put on the regular floor.  The problem now begins as the patient, who is alcohol dependent, goes into withdrawal.  Instead of just giving the person a beer or, better yet, letting them go home as the original condition no longer needs monitoring, they transfer them to the ICU and force them into cold turkey for several days.  The results are never pretty.  Hallucinations, fighting, restraints, urinating themselves, delusions, etc. etc.  (In a rational world, in a rational hospital, they would simply send the patient home when these signs start, but for some inexplicable reason, the doctors keep them against their will and force them into a painful detox.)

From the amount that I drank, and from the signs and symptoms I was getting, I knew I could very well be a candidate for this if I tried cold turkey myself.  From the charts available to me, I could tell I was at an extremely high risk for DT’s, or even worse.

I was terrified, and I mean that sincerely.  I spent months agonizing over what I could do.  I am a professional, and my license requires me to report if I ever been treated for any substance abuse.  Even if my license were put on probation temporarily, I am sure I would have lost my job.  And I might even lose my license for good.

I got online and also talked with other people in person (AA types mainly) and EVERYONE told me I couldn’t do it myself and that I HAD to check into detox and rehab, and that I would lose my life if I didn’t.  “Who cares about your job and license? You’re going to lose your life if you don’t do it this way.”  That was the mantra.

Great encouragement.  It did nothing but make me depressed.  I was painted in a corner.  I was going to have to humiliate myself by checking into a facility, and then I was sure to lose my job.  (I can’t tell you what I do, but in this market, I was guaranteed to be jobless for years to come if this happened.)

I found your website and tried reduction using beer, but your method didn’t quite work because I still found myself consuming more than I should.  I couldn’t get a good balance between the times I did and didn’t drink, and had to walk a tightrope between sobriety and DT’s.   I knew I had to come up with some sort of objective, quantifiable method of tapering off that I thought would allow for a safe detoxification.

The solution:  I bought an inexpensive breathalyzer and used this as a tool to bring myself down gradually.  In the beginning, I started on a spread when I didn’t have to go to work for a few days.  (I usually drank enough that I still blew in the mornings even after several hours of sleep.)  In short, I was constantly drunk.

To start, I waited until my BAC eventually registered zero, and then, and only then, did I let myself have one drink.  Whether that was a one-shot cocktail, a glass of wine, or a beer.  Didn’t matter.  I only let myself have just one.  After that, I repeated the process.  Go down to zero BAC.  Drink one equivalent.  Wait.  Go down to zero BAC.  Have one unit (one beer, etc.), Wait until I was at zero BAC. etc. etc.  Simply put, I didn’t let myself have a drink until my BAC went down to zero, and the only amount I let myself have was the equivalent usually associated with one drink.  I usually took about an hour to an hour and a half before I could have another drink.

The first day was a bit dicey.  I had pretty bad shakes, sweats, and was nervous, but I had my wife monitor my blood pressure and pulse to make sure I was doing okay. I was only uncomfortable, though.  I had no nausea and I just weathered through the rest.   I went through a sweaty night, but the next day was a lot easier.

Over the next few days, I lengthened the time between drinks, keeping essentially the same protocol.  For example, on the second day, I measured the BAC until it went down to zero, but instead of having a drink right then at zero, I would wait an additional hour before consuming another.  Yes, I had the night sweats and some other symptoms.  My blood pressure rose to about twenty points above my norm, but since I don’t have hypertension, this wasn’t a concern.   I stretched the drinks to about every two to three hours or so, using the breathalyzer to let me know if I could have a drink if I wanted one,.

Within four days, I went an day without a drink, and when I woke up on the fifth day, I felt better than I had in years.  It probably took nearly a week before the night sweats completely stopped, but I no longer need a drink to stop my shaking hands, racing heart, and nausea.

In short, I tapered off successfully with only minor discomfort in a fraction of the time a medical protocol uses with drugs, and I’m doing great.

People from AA make claims that you’ll never be able to have another drink, and that you can’t get off it alone, that you need to check into rehab and detox, etc. etc.

I don’t believe it.  I quit smoking without them. Why should I need them for this?   If I would have followed their advice, I’d have been in the hospital now, perhaps for weeks, jobless, and humiliated, with thousands of dollars in hospital bills.  My life would have been ruined.

I still like alcoholic beverages, and I don’t plan to stop completely, but I don’t plan to ever go back to that level of chronic low-level intoxication either.  I like good wines and hand-crafted beers.  I also like magaritas and other cocktails once in a while, and I still think that alcohol, if indulged in a responsible manner, is one of the simple pleasures life has to offer.  Yes, it’s dangerous, but so are many other things in life.  It’s how you use them.

I still use the breathalyzer as a monitoring tool, as I have found that as long as I stay within certain parameters, I’m in good shape.  No drinking before three to five and then only one drink (i.e.; one ounce of alcohol in a drink)-no doubles.  I don’t let myself have another drink until I’m down to zero again.  For example, I used this yesterday when my wife and I went to a couple of wineries.  I had one glass, savored it very slowly, and lingered in the vineyards until I was completely clear to drive to the next.  We went to another and I nursed another two glasses throughout the rest of the early evening. For me, this is the ideal protocol.  It not only keeps me healthy, but it prevents the possibility of a DUI, and I still got to sit under a canopy of trees near a river with a glass of wine with my best friend.  I didn’t have to worry about anything.

The result is that I usually have about two drinks a day now, with sometimes up to four, consumed slowly over several hours with no intoxication.  To some, this may seem too restricting or too mechanical, but for now, and for me, this works perfectly.  I kind of liken it to a diabetic who monitors their blood sugar.  I am sure that there are skeptics out there, but I don’t believe I will ever fall back into that hell I was in before.  It was too painful, especially the nausea.  I never want to go through that again.  At the same time I don’t want to live in a world where I’ll never be able to taste Grenache or a dortmunder again, either.  And I’m confident, that as long as I monitor myself, I’ll be just like the diabetic who occasionally gets to enjoy a small bowl of ice cream.

I would like to see a medical study using this procedure to set protocols on an exact detox method using measured BAC levels for tritration and safe withdrawal.

From my reading, tapering using meds and can weeks or even months.  My technique only took about five days.  It was cheap, safe, and I didn’t have to check into a hospital.

I am sure that this exact method wouldn’t work for everyone, as their tolerance levels are different.  Some people also like using alcohol for extreme intoxication, which wasn’t the case for me. But I personally believe that if a person has the willpower to keep on it, monitoring the BAC and slowly bringing down the levels could be the very best way to get to sobriety without benzos or other drugs.

Joe Evens  (Not my real name.)

P.S.

Hope this helps someone else.  If it works for you, please pass it on and make this viral.  I hope this technique help someone else as much as it did me.

Copyright © 2010, The HAMS Harm Reduction Network

About Kenneth Anderson

Kenneth Anderson is the author of the book How to Change Your Drinking: a Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol. He is also the founder and CEO of The HAMS Harm Reduction Network.
This entry was posted in Alcohol, harm reduction, taper off alcohol, wean off alcohol and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to More on Tapering off Alcohol

  1. dmcloren says:

    Wow, after 10 minutes spent just signing up to this site so i could log in and leave a comment … it’s worth it though. Your article was just what I needed. I had never considered that I could actually get a breathalyzer to use for this purpose !! I was doing a search for “tapering off alcohol” after another search for “detoxing at home”…. it wasn’t looking cheerful. Your method sounds like the thing that could work for me. I am going to immediately search for a breathalyzer. I am sick to death of alcohol and how it lies to my mind. I am through with giving anyone or anything my energy, my power. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that even though I don’t have much personal support right now, i CAN and WILL do this, because I WANT TO and I know it must be my next step on my journey to finding myself. “Seek and you shall find” … Yes, true as always. Thank you, “Joe Evens”, and may your blessing be returned tenfold.

  2. vinnievega says:

    Thanks for the post Joe. As a fellow drunk who doesn’t like the taste of the AA “Kool-Aid”, your words really hit home. This week I started seeing a shrink, and have an appointment with a therapist next week. Yesterday I had blood drawn to see what kind of damage I’ve done in 20 years of drinking. In short…I’m ready. My shrink is recommending a detox center, but admits it’s because she wants to be cautious. She admits that tapering is much safer than cold turkey, but won’t go so far as to recommend it. Personally, I think my addiciton is more mental that physical. When I don’t drink at all, I get the night sweats, but haven’t experienced much else. Of course, it’s been ahwile since I took at shot at the 96 hour mark. If I try it now, I may be in for a rude awakening.

    Bottom line is that detox centers provide a safe way to go cold turkey but they cost a shit-ton of money and it’s hard to keep it a secret when you dissapear off the grid for 6 days. They also have your undivided attention which they use to tell you never to drink again. I don’t believe in the defeatest approach to treating alcoholism. Some people need it…I don’t (at least I don’t think I do). Confronting a problem by admitting that you are powerless, becoming a sheep, and swearing off things FOREVER is a recipe for failure. AA’s shitty track record is a testament to that. Are people really following a book that was written a million years ago as the leading approach to dealing with alcoholism? I’m sorry…a man of my intelligence isn’t going to be set straight by admitting weakness, giving up control, doing some steps and reapeating a bunch of catchy phrases.

    God bless those who do succeed with AA, but my guess is their true success came from within. That’s the only place it can come from. So I begin my journey today using much of your advice. I may throw a blood pressure and heart rate monitor into the mix just to be safe. A few hundred bucks on equipment and “supplies”, some therapy with a licensed professional and maybe I get a second shot to do it the right way…

    Good luck to you and dmcloren.

    Vinnie Vega (no, that’s not my real name)

  3. ibkim says:

    I’m trying to be supportive for my exboyfriend of 19yrs. I hadnt seen him in 2yrs, he showed up at my door, injured from car accident, straight from the hospital by Taxi. He had destroyed his life, lost his job, home, then wrecked his truck. All due to alcohol. He used to drink beer, maybe sometimes more then I liked. But…He always kept his life in order, his work was his priority, always. Apparently he made friends with people that drank alot. His “new” girlfriend woke him up with a shot of vodka. He thought it was wild & crazy, but never thought it would ruin him. He increased his drinking to 1 gallon of Vodka in a 24 hr period. He used to be a big strong guy, 6’2″ & 280 lbs. He lost 150lbs, in less then a yr, he says. He had stopped eating, I guess! He is a 6’2″ twig now !

    So he now has been with me, 2 months. He is eating, gradually putting on weight & gaining strength back. We take walks on the beach to build him up. Depending on how he feels, sometimes we just sit & breathe the salt air then go home. It has been a very scary lesson for me. At first he tried quitting “cold turkey” , that was a nightmare. He had a Grand Mal Seizure & stopped breathing. I gave him CPR & didnt give up. It took forever for him to breath, but finally did. I called 911, they came but he refused to go to the hospital. (No Insurance) & they said he seemed
    stablized & should just rest. I was appalled! Needless to say I was also severly traumatized, still am!

    So I went immediatly & got him some vodka, along with seeking out info on how to do this & survive without brain damage! Info that applies to the severity of his habit is impossible to find.
    According to anything I find he should have died from alcohol poisoning! He is the most “ACUTE” case, I have come to realize. He has weaned himself down quite a bit, but it has been horrible. He gets all the withdrawal symptoms just from not drinking at night when he sleeps. He now drinks 1 gallon of Vodka in 3 or 4 days, & is eating without vomiting.

    Yesterday he decided it was time for him to do the “cold turkey” again. So now he is going through the whole painful process, here with me. This is my last wk of vacation before I return to wk. I hope he is ok, before next wk. I dont want to abandon him, or come home to a nightmare. I don’t know how to help him , except hold him when he wants. I will call 911 if he needs it. For now I just watch, wait & pray.

    It is hard to know what is the right thing to do…then to have the strength & diligence to do it. I pray alot !

  4. Eric Shultz says:

    Great post. Glad it worked for you. I am working on it myself currently. Today I had 7 beers but getting ready to bump it to 8 before bed. Tomorrow I will be cutting down to six. I’m a little scared to go further after tomorrow…

  5. ibkim…
    Please tell me how this is going. I noticed your post is very recent. The Hams website and information is very helpful. I have seen it used to great effect and can’t praise their work enough. Tapering will work, but needs monitoring and the willingness of the patient.

    Regards and best wishes,

  6. ibkim says:

    I am still hanging in there trying to be positive & supportive without enabling any unhealthy behaviors, yet trying to be as informed & responsible, not endangering either of our lives. Man is that a tall order! I am worn out. After starting to attempt sobriety several times over the last few months, he is finally sober now…2wks! He has not had any more Grand Mal Seizures for about 6 days now. I pray, I never to have to deal with those again. I’m so terrified of them. Each time he would attempt sobriety we thought all was well, then BAM! He would have a bad seizure & be so afraid he’d have to sip the vodka to ward them from happening again. There is nothing I have ever read or heard to prepare or inform me of the realities I have endured so far. He truly wants a sober life, & has worked hard to regain it each day. I would never reccomend taking on the heavy burden of responsibility of caring for,& keeping any chronic alcoholic person safe & alive without them incurring horrible side affects such as brain damage, even death from the seizures. I have, SO FAR, been very blessed, lucky…but thankful, he has recovered from the side affects of the seizures. (Speech delay, confusion, memory loss,extreme stuttering, loss of balance,etc) He displayed all of those after-effects, but with concentrated effort & focus, he has recovered from all symptoms…So Far!!!! Every day I pull in the driveway from work…hesitate & pray, that all is well before going in. My secret fear is coming home to the worst after-effects of a seizure. Today is the first time I took a day off from work. I just felt so stressed. I woke in the night with a migraine, after taking Excedrin I am able to function. I am feeling better writing all this down & releasing my fears, something I have not done enough of. Thank you for inquiring. I really appreciate your interest. I dont have anybody to vent on, except my journal. Thanks again!

  7. ibkim and friend, I hope everthing is going well! God Bless you both. How is everything going? I am starting my weaning today. Wish me luck!

    • Hi Ibkim,

      Thank you for writing. You say he has now been sober for two weeks. Is that complete sobriety? Or with the aid of tapering?

      What you have been going through is all to familiar to me. I put my wife through this over one year ago. It was serious and I thought I was going to die. I tapered successfully at first, but started drinking again (my work environment was drink related)…in the end, I did end up in detox. A horror story I will only repeat in private.

      I’m not free from my alcoholic tendencies. I don’t see that I ever can be. However, I learned a lot about myself, the truly horrific effect of serious alcohol misuse, and that I can, if I want to, control it.

      My friends don’t judge me anymore if they find I’ve had a drink. As long as I don’t end up the wreck I was. It’s difficult for them, I know. This experience has changed me and my life, and continues too.

      This year, I have had to taper twice. Both times successfully and without major problems. The fear of side effects can be a trigger to panic, and panicking makes the heart race and the fear grow. When I would taper, I would try and wait as long as possible before another beer. If I panicked, I would stand up, pace the room, think of something else, try to remain calm, then lie back on the bed, listening if my heart had slowed. If not, I’d gulp down 250ml of beer and wait. This would be an up and down process that could last for 2 – 3 days (which feel like an eternity). Nights were the worst, which is when I would drink a little more if the side effects were bad.

      I’m glad to hear you are hanging in there. It’s been some weeks now. How is he? Is he eating well? Good chuncky vegetable soups and bread, plenty of herbal tea and water. And vitamins.

      I hope to hear good news,

      D

    • ibkim says:

      Ted,
      I do hope that you have somebody that can be with you to watch out for you, especially during the night. Please dont attempt weaning without somebody to support you & make a plan to be sure you’re safe. Make guidelines if extreme shakes happen… its ok, but if seizures happen…have them call 911. It’s a good idea for the person helping you to know CPR. I’ve had to use it, only once, but it saved his life. Please keep me updated when you can! I’ll be praying for you. After work I will finish my post & update the recent events. Good Luck!

      ibkim

      • ibkim says:

        Hello David ,
        The last time I was on this site I wrote this long intense, detailed blog on all that has been happening. Then somehow it didnt get posted & was lost. I was exhausted,but felt cleansed in a way. Although I wanted to share my experience with you & felt cheated on that. So I will try to fill you in without too much detail this time. Things were tough,he was having seizures very frequently.There were some days when he had them one after another all day & night. Then none for a few days. He was having short term memory loss,which was so confusing for us both,until I figured it out. Then I woke up ubruptly at 4am on a Wed morning to find him gone,as well as my Mercedes. I was worried sick but hoped he would return unscathed before I needed to leave for work. No such luck! I walked to work that morning,sick with worry,confused,& humiliated.How could I have been so stupid, I shouldnt have had my keys in my purse so easily assessible.Well all kinds of thoughts came & went.I could barely function at work. I work with Special Ed kids & have to be on my toes always! A close friend & co-worker did the dreaded search & found he had been arrested & my car towed. Thank god he had’nt been in an accident or killed anybody including himself. He faces jail time without bail, due to previous DUI’s & detoxing the rest of the way in jail. It has been horrible for him. First they gave him meds for the seizures & he did fantastic.So well that they transferred him & the new place didnt think his Meds necessary & stopped him cold turkey from the meds.He had several serious seizures,knowing this cause he found himself naked in a rubber room when he came to. So he is trying to get the right medical attention but thats difficult. I’m trying to get a hold of somebody but havent had much luck. They keep moving him around so its hard to get somebody each time they move him. Today he sounded the best i’ve heard him sound yet. His voice was strong,his attitude positive,& he has been gaining weight he says. I went to see him 1 time & he looked amazingly better. My work schedule conflicts with visiting hours,but today he was moved again. Who know maybe the hours will be better for me to visit him. Although things are tough things happen for a reason. The true test will be after he is released. Hopefully he will keep himself on track & healthy. He has all kinds of programs he is required to attend. I will do my best to help but he has to do the real work, I cant do it for him! I will keep you posted! Thank you for your moral support.It has been profoundly priceless to me, & has been a great source of strength in a strange way. I have reflected on it frequently when feeling overwhelmed & alone. Thank you again! Talk soon to update you,ok? Ibkim

    • ibkim says:

      Ted,
      Haven’t heard from you…hope all is well! I’d love to hear from you,no matter what’s happening I’m here. I’m a good listener or reader! LOL It’s been quite “bumpy” for me , but I’m hanging in there! You are in my prayers! Take care!

  8. Thank you, Joe, for posting this. I recently moved (away from physicians for pain management) and ran out of prescriptions for morphine and xanax, which I had been on for quite some time. I had also been a regular drinker, drinking daily, but not often to intoxication. I had been tapering the medications, but did not think to taper alcohol as I did not think there would be a serious issue with it. When I stopped the medications, my stomach knotted up and I couldn’t eat or drink, and within two days, I was experiencing full delirium tremens (though at the time, I had no idea what was happening). I was hallucinating, and I believe I had some seizures, but I can’t be sure as I hallucinated through them. I ended up in the hospital with a severe blood infection, and my family thought it was brought on by the infection. I did not realize until weeks later what exactly happened to me, or that what I experienced was DT’s. In my ignorance, I began drinking again. Every day. I’m afraid to stop drinking because all I hear is that it’s not safe to stop alone, and that the chances of DT’s and seizures are hugely increased. Oddly, I get fairly ill if I drink more than 6 to 12 oz of wine per day. But even with that, I am afraid to stop.

    What happened during my detox was that my entire system was “reset.” I was so out of whack from the alcohol and medications that nothing had the proper effect on me anymore. Now I started back on pain medication therapy. I am back on opiates, and they made me very nauseated on their own, and the 6 oz of alcohol make it much, much worse. I am thinking of scaling it back more and more, as it doesn’t take a genius to know that one should not drink with opiates. I’m wondering am I being silly, continuing to drink such a small amount every day, or is caution wise? I do not want my family to know the severity of what happened, and I do not want to repeat the situation. Not in a million years.

    I really appreciate the information provided in your post. I was also getting all of the same malarkey about having to do detox, and having to go though all the things you so succinctly stated in your account that I want to avoid.

  9. vhawgood says:

    I’m also writing to share my experiences. I’ve been drinking 375ml of single-malt scotch every night (and I mean every single night, except for one 15-day stretch) for over 10 years. Trying to “taper” by reducing one drink per day per week was simply too slow and made it too tempting to cheat. I found the HAMS site by searching “tapering off alcohol” on yahoo, and it came us as the #1 non-ad-sponsored link!

    The first thing I did was cut my coffee consumption down from five 8 oz. cups per day to three. I did this for a few weeks before I began my tapering. We were taking an RV trip and I knew that starting then was going to be hopeless, so I decided to start when I got back. Just FYI, I never start drinking before 5PM, and usually go to bed around 9PM.

    Day “0″: First night back at home, had nine standard drinks — same as the six-day RV trip, and a tad above the “usual”. I actually calculated this, because I wanted to be precise in my tapering. I awoke at 2AM feeling terrible – high blood pressure, adrenaline… Lying awake knowing I would not be able to get back to sleep, I just got up. I knew from prior experience that the first night of even slightly tapering back could be a sleepless one, so I decided to try to pre-empt that with this sleep deprivation experiment.

    Day 1: Went to a yoga session, knowing that exercise will also be important. At night, had seven standard drinks — of scotch! I am not a beer guy, and I was determined to try tapering with my medicine of choice. I was even thinking it was convenient that I had so many 50ml “nip” bottles in my bar, because 50ml of 86-proof scotch is just slightly more than one standard drink. It practically makes the tapering method portable! Nursed (exactly) one 50ml shot of scotch per (roughly) hour. I felt like I could’ve stopped after five, but drank all seven.

    Day 2: Slept great last night! Down to five standard drinks tonight: 250ml, “only” a third of a bottle, I sip my medicine and have dinner.

    Day 3: Slept great again! I really can’t believe it. Went to yoga again. Tonight will be the true test, only three nips before bed.

    Day 4: Slept 10 hours!! Woke up a few times of course, but it is unbelievable to me how easy this is compared to when I tried going cold-turkey years ago. Will try to get a good hike in today, and then celebrate with my one allowed nip of my favorite 25-year-old scotch!

    • Hi everyone! I wish everyone the best of luck, and vhawgood– I am so happy to hear your experience, I am feeling much more encouraged & am happy that this is working out for you.

      So to tell my story, I am a bit freaked out after getting blood work done the other day and my Dr. office calling back the very next day about my labs. My liver enzymes were way above normal and he recommended I go to my regular physician and get a liver workup done asap. I am scared out of my mind….

      About a year ago I started drinking with my friends periodically and I just started drinking on my own. I am currently drinking a 1.75 litter bottle of vodka every 4-5 days. I ALSO take medications for depression and chronic pain. (Cymbalta, Methadone (a low dose),Abilify, and Vyvanse) Obviously, I have to quit drinking. I have an 8 year old daughter and a husband that I love dearly and I want to be here for them as long as possible.

      Reading these articles encouraged me so much. I don’t want to go to rehab and miss work and incur bills out my ass! There has to be another way….. I have started the tapering off process as of yesterday and I seem to be ok, but it’s been less than 24 hours. I think I am going to use the breathalyzer method mentioned in a previous post. I will log every few days or every week or so and let you know what happens. It’s going to be a long haul, but I can do it. I want to do it.

      I just finally after 3 years will be converted from a contractor to a full time employee at the place I work. I will have killer benefits, 401K, a raise all of that. I have to wait a few weeks for my new insurance to kick in before I get these tests run. I hope that my previous lab will not cause any findings to be a pre-existing condition. God I just pray that my liver is ok and I still have a chance. Espeically after working so hard all of these years and I finally get this awesome job!! I am really scared. I opened my lab results this morning and the liver enzymes were roughly 20 points higher than should be.
      Has anyone ever been through this?

      Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences- I am so glad I found this link today.

      Take care everyone!
      CDP

      • lauriem19610 says:

        iknowicandoit2013: I read your post and the concerns about your liver enzymes. There is an herbal supplement called Milk Thistle and I have been taking it for years. I have abused my liver for years, with alcohol and opiates, but by taking this supplement, I never have had elevated liver enzymes. It’s fairly cheap and you can find it at most pharmacies.
        I am currently in the process of tapering, and aside from a couple slip-ups (due to emotions and crazy thoughts in my head), I am nearly finished. I’m so happy that I found this blog as it’s been a great inspiration to me. I could no longer drink the kool-aid of the AA mentality, and most of those people are nutty anyway and found myself heading for a bottle of wine after attending meetings, just because I left feeling so annoyed!!
        I wish you the best of luck….if I can do you it, you can too.

  10. seashell707 says:

    All of this has been very helpful to me! Today is day 1st day of tapering for me, and I’m really scared. I have been drinking a pint to pint and a half of vodka, or a bottle of wine, almost nightly some time between 3pm and 10pm for a few years.I am 42 years old. I want this out of my life! I am married and have 2 children. I don’t drink to party or have fun. I’m addicted. It’s depressing and I drink alone, hiding it of course. I have confided in my husband and my mom, I’ve called my mom a few times today to talk me through anxiety, sweats and fear. Last night I had a pint and a half and woke up feeling horrible. I got up at 6am and cried and talked to my husband about this and the HAMS website ( I have been contemplating weaning for a month). He is very supportive and went and got beer for me. I took vitamins this morning, had a good breakfast of an egg white and spinach omelet , toast and OJ. A good lunch, turkey sandwich, 3 bean salad and a V8, and about 2 quarts so far of water with fresh lemons, a dash of salt and a bit of honey throughout the day. The hangover today was bad but I’m able to eat fine. At about 2:30 pm the symptoms were bad ( anxiety, slight shaking, cold sweats…) that I finally had a beer. it is now 5:30pm and I’m having my 3rd and anxiously waiting for my husband to get home. I am a scared crying mess right now :( But the prospect of living sober is beyond exciting! To live every day wide awake with all my senses , clear minded, full of energy and ALIVE again. I want it more than anything in this world for myself. I’m concerned about what to do if I wake in the night with symptoms. Do I just get through them? Have a beer to stop them? My husband has the next 3 days off to help me, I’m hoping by the end of this 3 days to be down to just a couple beers and well on my way to kicking this once and for all. Thanks for listening……wish me luck and prayers!!

  11. scared2013 says:

    I am scared right now. I have been drinking for about a year. & it has turned into an every night occurance for about 6-7 months. I have really been drinking a LOT the last few weeks. I decided to stop drinking. I woke up on Monday with my hands shaking. Did some research and learned about tapering down. Well yesterday day I had some shots last night. These shots were less proof then what I had been drinking. Woke up this morning with shakes ALL over my body! Scared the hell out of me. I had a small shot & immediately the shaking stopped for a little bit. Is that a mental thing??? Is my brain making this worse? My shaking is seeming to get better as the day goes one. Do I need to have a small drink when the shakes are bad or just drink at night when I am home if I need to?

    • Hi Scared

      I suggest you follow the detailed instruction you will find here
      http://hamsnetwork.org/taper/
      Most people find it much easier to use beer for taper than hard liquor.

    • unavitavive1 says:

      Scared your not alone.
      I used the taper method and so far so good. I was at 1/2 liter hard liquor every night for years. The post about beer I think is right. For me hard cider was perfect. My craving for booze would hit right around 5-6 depending on work stress. One hard cider 5.5% alcohol 1 bottle kept the pearcing headache, anxiety and crappy feeling at bay, plus it actually tasted good. Your body will thank you. If you fall get back up, you can do it.

  12. kerrigan237 says:

    I want to start by saying I am so very happy I found this wonderful blog!! I am not one who likes to type ( I do love to talk). So, I guess I will just say that everything I have read on here has helped me more then you will ever know!! I am going to start “tapering” tomorrow. I will share more later. I feel like I know you all (it is a nice feeling to know other people feel the same)..Thank you again for all your words, I hope you are all doing well, K

  13. I am new to this site… my name is danielle and i have been a pretty heavy beer drinker for about three years now.. 6-7 beers on the weekdays and then up to 1/2 case on the weekend. i had a scare this week, i drank very heavily from thursday to saturday apparently i completely dehydrated myself and had to go to the emergency room, they did my blood work, said everything was perfect i was just dehydrated. Point being i have had enough of sitting at home and drinking every night. I have an awesome job, but dont want them to know. Out of curiousity i wanted to try the tapering off, i am already on xanax 0.5 mg, so i should be good, as i said earlier i drank 6-7 beers a night, since the hospital i have been drinking 4 beers for 2 nights now..how much longer should i stick with the four then cut down to three? i dont have the shakes but my blood pressure did get really high when i was in the hospital. any advice would be great.

  14. ibkim says:

    To all, I can say this…dont give up & dont give in! Every person going through this knows they want a better life. Sometimes it may feel lonely & hopeless, just know it can be done! Society does not really have tools for people unless they have money, but if determined a person can still take back their life. My boyfriend still fights to regain control of his life. I’m proud to say he has conquered what most thought was impossible. He had been drinking 1 gallon a day of vodka, for almost 2yrs. He was almost dead, lost 150lbs, was literally killing himself. Somehow with God’s help guiding me, I took care of him through his weaning process. It was pure HELL. He now is healthy again, recovered from seizures & side affects. He has had bumps in his road to recovery, but gets back on the road & keeps going. He is a testiment to “weaning” as opposed to “cold turkey”. He literally died when he tried “cold turkey”, I brought him back with CPR. Even “weaning ” can be dangerous if the addiction is heavy. Please take heed, nobody should attempt it without somebody as a support system to check on them. My prayers are with you all! Be strong, but be smart!

  15. lucyfer82 says:

    I’ve been drinking WAY too much lately. I’ve been drinking too much fora really long time. I’m scared to stop, but I know I need to- any advice?

  16. Steve McCall says:

    try tapering off don’t cold turkey then try aa & therapy, or if ya got ins go to treatment, Fl has some good ones.. go on line with friend or loved one i too wasted click on treatment solutions just do it especially if you are blacking out this is dangerous tapering can be dangerous alone

  17. robertfaszer says:

    This particular blog really was incredibly helpful. I’m on my 3rd day of tapering. I’m only drinking when I go down to 0.0 today. Yesterday I started getting pretty severe shakes and sweats below .02. I’m 35.
    I too have a license I can’t give up. I too as of last Friday was at 750 ml per day of booze. I never really was drunk but I never really was sober.
    The night sweats and the crazy dreams and the waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning to swig on a little wine have been challenging and I’m sure I look as bad as I feel but at least no one has seemed to notice. Or at least if they do aren’t letting on to it.
    I don’t know what I would have done without this blog.
    Tomorrow I will wait an hour after I am at .00 and go from there.
    My goal is not abstinence far from it actually. My goal is 2-3 glasses of wine with the wife when she gets home from work.
    When I get to that point I’ll be fine. Looks like I might be able to get there by this weekend, or shortly after.
    Thanks again. I know for a fact that rehab or aa was not for me. At least if I am disciplined this will work for me.

    • Steve McCall says:

      i hope it goes well… I have tapered to avoid withdrawal many times, if i could drink in moderation on a consistent basis… this would not be necessary…. obviously its up to the individual to weigh the benefits of drinking along with honest look at ones ability to drink in moderation.

      • robertfaszer says:

        It’s working. I did it with heroin. No reason I can’t do it with alcohol.
        Down to 5 glasses of wine all day today. With one more to go. I will be fine.
        Thanks though.

  18. I would like to join this blog but dont want to share personal stories using my real name. I’ve never blogged before!!

  19. T P says:

    I am 43 yr old female , 4th generation ( at least ) functioning alcoholic. Liver count was 230 last month. My doc wants me into a hospital on detox and then a 6 week day out patient program ( if not 28 day in patient)– I drink about 15-20 drinks a day ( beer and wine only). I cant believe my liver is this out of whack and they tested me for everything else and it looks like its alch. related. I have tried AA in the past and have a real hard time w/ the group/religion mentality and the fact they say one day at a time but to NEVER drink again. Alch. is my only vice but it can kill you . i know that but part of me is like ( something will kill me anyway) but the truth is I need to be taking WAY Better care of myself. My friends dont drink 15 drinks a day…. So, what i decided to do is be aware of my drinking and keep a log. I will do this taper system. Yesterday I had 16 drinks. Today i will cut that to 14 and so on and so forth of 2 per day Per HAMS until I get it down to nothing. Then I will try to abstain but the thing is, I dont want to not ever have alch again , I just need to control it. This along w/ major vitamin supplements and major milk thistle to clean out my liver. I will ask my doc to do more blood work but not until I have had some weeks of repair under me. Eating better is now also going to be on schedule and I will start walking or yoga to try to get some exercise. I have numbness in my feet for a year now and the doc says its due to alch neourapathy. i am too young for this crap and now i hope to put myself first and nothing else. I travel for work and live and breathe it. Its lonely on the road. but there has to be something else to do instead of drinking all day. Alch is my pacifier, my self medication for loneliness and depression. I am a hyper person and alch takes the edge off of everything. But lately, iam having to nap. I am cranky. I dont catch a buzz and the night spasms are happening. I hope this taper thing works, if not, i will have to find another route. Staying in a hospital for days ( when I need to be workings). freaking out my employer and all my friends and family just doesnt sound kosher to me… they will always be watching me…. So taper i try. I will post back on it in the days to come. Wish me luck. This blog and original post and the Hams page was very very interesting to me. Lets see w/ a lil determination if it works for me

  20. Jan Wade says:

    I’m so glad I found this site as I already started tapering without knowing it was a concept.

    In late 2012 I was forced out of my job by a dick of a CIO at age 61 which essentially made me unemployable and I started drinking beer (mostly Natty Lite) all day to the tune of 12 to 15 a day. So that was life for a year and three months. I’ve been a drinker for many years, but never like that.

    Things took a bad turn when my beloved shepherd became paralyzed and had to be put down about two months ago. I started feeling very sick, weak, fatigued, chilled to the bone all the time and not eating due to lack of appetite about a month ago. Then I came so very close to passing out one day and went to the ER. My blood pressure was abnormal for me but all they found was a low sodium level. I told them about the drinking but nothing related to that was found.

    Reasoning that drinking had to be a factor and knowing full well that it wasn’t doing me any good, I decided to taper. I had two the day of the ER visit then went back up to 5 beers a day and now back down to 3 or 4, evening only. I still feel pretty lousy, but feel like it is just because it’s only been four days and things will get better.

    Years ago I tried AA but it is really not for me due to religious stand and the powerless aspect. So glad to see that there is hope in tapering and I do feel better being more clear headed. I live alone which is scary knowing something could happen, but I have family that is very supportive.

    I wonder if anyone uses marijuana to help the process and how that works for them. It is not my intention to stop completely and never drink again, but I want to enjoy a beer sometimes especially the microbrews since I like to home brew from time to time.

    Thanks for reading,
    Jan

  21. I’m beginning a taper today. I am an around-the-clock drinker and the physical signs of serious problems are many. I am just going to play it by ear. Usually by 6 am I have 2 to three high-gravity 24oz. beers. Today I did purchase one but am not going to drink it till I start shaking and sweating which I’m guessing will be around 10 or 11 which should carry me through to 5 or so. Like the original poster, I used to do a liter of vodka and maybe a couple of beers in an 18 hr. period every day with few side effects–not so these days. Now I feel ill all the time, can’t sleep at night, etc…So I must do this!This is my third attempt at this in as many months but what I will do differently this time is wait till the shakes come and not purchase more than one in the morning (I don’t have access to a vehicle till 4:30 pm). I am shooting for total abstinence as I think it is best for my overall health. I also did not want my full name or picture on here but most people who know me are supportive. Honesty is the best policy for dependence issues.

  22. Posting because I learned a lot here. I started my taper last night. I’m 22 and started drinking at 20, just on the weekends, though one 40oz eventually turned into two. Then I experienced my first withdrawal symptoms. Then I found out you could drink your symptoms away so I would have a mini taper in the the morning, but eventually that just lead me to being drunk all day and night because I like the feeling waaaay too much. Withdrawal is probably the most frightening stuff I’ve ever been through, especially if you have no way to get more alcohol like often times happened to me. I would always just pray I didn’t drink enough to have the worst symptoms but the anxiety was too much.
    One time I got someone to take me to the ER because I was scared but by the time I had gotten in the symptoms were gone and I still owe the hospital for nothing. So of course I didn’t stop there.
    After a bunch of depressing stuff happened to me I got up to at least a 40oz a day for a month and a half, but the past two weeks I was at two a day, and I think I had three once. It didn’t helped that I was drinking High Gravity which is 8.1%, the highest percentage in a 40oz around here. Then I started get seriously fatigued and terrible withdrawals and realized how much I was drinking was over the top. I remember sitting on the ground feeling like my body was collapsing in on itself and telling my friend “I’ve really done it this time”
    Last night I decided to try and taper with 20oz around midnight thinking it would be enough. But the symptoms came back and insomnia kicked in so I went out and got another 40oz. I had to steal it from a gas station because I had no choice. It was life or death at this point. I’ve been slowly sipping from it since about once an hour with a few in between if i feel shakes and still haven’t been able to sleep. other than not sleeping i’m feeling pretty good now. It was a real scare and i’m not drinking again for awhile after this.

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