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.)
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.
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