About

The purpose of The Alcohol Harm Reduction Blog is to publish current information about progress being made in the field of alcohol harm reduction

5 Responses to About

  1. I love your site. Keep it up !

  2. frankas88 says:

    hi there.

    well I’m really glad I’ve found this site and I’ll read it over the next few days when I have time.

    I’ve been through a rehab, gone through AA, and all the rest. I have a real beef about AA to be honest. I knew from the moment I walked in there there was something about it that I would never come “around” to – and it wasn’t the abstinence thing.

    The truth is I refer to myself as an alcoholic but still drink on occasion. The biggest thing for me was being around people who were abstinent was if you fall off the wagon I just threw the baby out with the bathwater and got plastered, because why not, it was no worse than not. Then I moved into a house where I was dumbfounded to hear my roommate had been in AA for 2 and a half years, and walked out. He drinks about 12 beers a week.

    Anyway I’ll keep you posted

  3. Graeme Ogle says:

    Hi
    This site has really helped me. I have always been one of those drinkers who only indulged during weekends and if there was something happening like a good party I’d allow myself to over-indulge. But I never felt I was out of line. 2 and a half years ago my wife of 27 years who I loved dearly left me for another man. My drinking increased to probably 6-7 standard drinks every night. Also at this time my oldest son became deeply depressed and over a 12 month period attempted his life a couple of times. Seeing my dear son battling with depression left me feeling hopeless and in despair.
    I manage my own software development company with 20 staff and it has always been reasonably stressful. Some stress is fine with me as it gets me out of bed in the morning but I found the pressure became overwhelming – some days I just couldn’t see the point of going on. My ex wife then took me through a painful legal process and I found I was not just drinking every night but some days starting drinking mid-afternoon and going to bed pretty hammered.
    I guess I have been getting hammered every day now for the last year. On week days I was good for one and a half bottles of wine. It didn’t stop there, in weekends I would start drinking at about 1pm and by evening had finished 2 bottles of wine and 3 or 4 cans of beer.
    I tried to stop a couple of times. The first 24 hours I would have anxiety and depressed feelings. Then for the next two days I would get high blood pressure, racing heart beats and, for some reason bad cramp in my hands and feet. So I read up on it and what I read really freaked me out – seizures, hallucinations etc so I put ‘giving up’ on the back burner until I was emotionally ready to go to my doctor and ask for a detox program. The problems I had in making this move were:
    – I would probably lose my health insurance (because when I renewed it two years ago I had declared I didn’t drink more than 12 standard drinks a week – but I guess any assessment of my liver would show this wasn’t the case);
    – My income protection insurance (same as above)
    – My general feeling about myself being an alcoholic who can never drink again (which seemed to be the only solution provided in the stuff I’d read);
    – I thought rather fondly of a time when I only drank in weekends and enjoyed it in a very social setting.
    I reached the stage where I was sick of my life being so controlled by alcohol but was scared about all the implications of detox. I decided it was time to call my doctor to sign me in to a detox program. I recalled someone mentioning how they were tapering – so I googled it and found this site. Tapering seemed to make sense so I gave it a go – here’s how it went.
    Day 1
    Picked a weekend so I didn’t have the worries of work. Assessed my base line intake at 16 standard drinks, so picked I’d need to drink 10-12 standard drinks. I have a problem with high blood pressure so I made the call to increase my blood pressure medication (doubled). Took the advice of using beer. Drank my first beer at 1.30pm then waited an hour or until I started feeling uneasy – found the best way was I monitored my heart beat and when it started rising I knew it was time to have another one. By 9pm I realised I had only needed 5 beers so had another one before I went to bed. Slept very poorly and seemed to sweat a lot.
    Day 2
    Started my first beer at 3pm and kept monitoring anxiety/heart beat. The next beer was at 5pm but the next was 6pm and the third at 7.30pm. Then I felt pretty good till 9pm so had another before I went to bed. Slept pretty well but still quite sweaty.
    Day 3
    Started my first beer at 5pm and only needed two more before going to bed. Probably should have had another one because my heartbeat crept up during the night – I could feel my blood pressure was up as well. Slept ok.
    Day 4
    Woke feeling pretty good. Had one beer at 6pm. Went to bed feeling pretty good and had a fantastic sleep.
    Day 5 – 7
    No alcohol. Have gradually dropped back to my normal blood pressure medication. I haven’t had any cravings for alcohol which has surprised me. By day 7 I felt the best I have felt in 2 years.

    In hindsight I probably tapered a bit too quickly but monitoring anxiety/heart beat was important in understanding how my body was coping. I think it has also been important that I was very determined to make it work – I knew it was time for me to do it and I wanted to succeed.

    From here I think I’ll take your advice and stay off alcohol for a further month so I can start enjoying things again without alcohol.

    So, a big thanks to HAMS from me – I think you’ve given me my life back
    Graeme

  4. Anne Oc says:

    Thank you to HAMS. I was desperate a while back to quit alcohol. I was experiencing withdrawal during the day–anxiety, shaking, high blood pressure spikes, etc. This was not my first taper. Thanks to HAMS, I successfully tapered several years ago using beer. After several months of abstinence, I started to drink again only on weekends for about a year and then every night for the next year and a half. In the meantime, I started experiencing some symptoms similar to the earlier withdrawal, and started taking Ativan to calm them, while at the same time tapering again with beer. I was successful, but then needed to taper the Ativan. I got down to 0.145 mg/day of Ativan, but again started drinking mainly in the evenings. I ended up updosing the Ativan to about 0.250 mg/day. I did quite well for about a year. No symptoms whatsoever, and I was able to drink several nights a week. The reason I did not continue tapering the Ativan is because I felt better than I had felt in years and I had many stressful situations for that year including a surgery. I just kept putting it off. Last summer I found out that I was going to start my dream job in August. I was so excited and happy. My husband and I like to go out in the evenings and sit on a patio drinking a few bourbons. We did this almost every night until mid September when the weather started getting cold. I was very happy at work and felt so good physically–better than I felt in years. One day in late September or early October, out of the blue, the anxiety and blood pressure spikes started. This went on for a couple of months (I was drinking about 3 to 5 beers a night). I tapered to 3 beers and then to two beers. The symptoms were getting worse. Stupidly, I upped the Ativan dose to 0.5 mg/day. I did get some relief, but still experienced some of the symptoms. I was still drinking about 2 to 4 beers per evening. Finally, about 3 weeks ago the symptoms just got worse. I have had several panic attacks and high BP spikes daily. In the mix now are hot flashes and a constant nervousness. This was scary. I realized that the alcohol/Ativan mix was causing these symptoms. I was afraid to just cut out the nightly beers, but I knew I had to do something and quickly. Medical detox is not an option for me. Last Friday evening I had the worse panic attack–my heart was racing and BP was up and it took a long time to come out of it. I started tapering the beer again. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday evening I had only two beers each night. By Monday I decided to cut down to one. I increased the Ativan doses a bit so that I could have some relief from the BP spikes and anxiety. I had one beer a night until Thursday. Thursday I drank half a beer, and finally last evening I had zero beers. Today is the first day that I have felt good and certainly much less anxious. I am assuming that since I am feeling better, there should be no danger of withdrawals from the alcohol. I know I have to deal with the Ativan, but for now I will hopefully stabilize some more and then start a very slow taper from the Ativan. I am now up to 0.75 mg/day divided into 3 doses. Today was the first time I could do any physical activity without feeling the shakiness and BP spikes. I know this could change at any moment, but I am so glad that I was able to taper the alcohol. I do not plan on taking another drink for a very long time. Once off the Ativan I would like to be able to have a drink on the weekend or if we go out to dinner, but I will never again drink every night of the week.

    Again, thank you to HAMS!!

  5. Angela DeLay says:

    I am so very glad I stumbled upon your site. I have drank to excess in the past many years, caused myself legal issues in the past, but was fortunate enough to have emerged fairly unscathed. However, I still do abuse alcohol quite frequently. I know I need to cut down, to have zero-drinking days, and to learn to drink only on a full/partially full stomach. Years ago, I chose to go to a 12-step rehab center after getting a DWI. It was helpful in that I met many persons who, like myself, use alcohol to the extreme at times. However, the very premise of AA is that we are “POWERLESS”. Really? if we are powerless, then why bother? It is a paradox. A member may as well say: “I am powerless so I have to work so hard in this program to change my life and my relationships with others because I am so powerless. I must do these steps even if the steps are difficult because I am such a wretch with no hope other than my higher power”. It is circular reasoning. Obviously if you “work” the program, that is utilizing your POWER. Will is personal power channeled. AA is a religion in itself. How can ANY reasonably intelligent person attend these meetings and not have issues with many (most) of the basic tenants? “Your higher power can be the group if you don’t believe in God”. Really? A “higher power” is only as good as the power it has in your life to make a difference. So, AA is not above calling it’s groups “gods”. The arrogance of this movement is laughable. It is amazing how the AA meetings I have attended at different times and different places all seem to have a preponderance of people “reaching out” and “wanting to be a sponsor”. Why? Because whatever drove them to drink too much is still there. AA just gives them a new narcissistic platform from which to perform. “Do the steps, get a sponsor, then one day, maybe even YOU can be a sponsor like me”. I find the entire movement repulsive, illogical, unhelpful, harmful and obviously ineffective. Studies have shown that the rate of relapse from individuals involved in AA are barely better, if at all (depends on the study) from people who don’t attend AA and just slowly cut back on their own.

    Thank you!

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