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Old 03-11-2018, 05:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question for those experienced with withdrawal symptoms


Hello Everyone,

My attempt at tapering didn't quite work. I tried in December and managed to go down to a single drink per day without any withdrawal symptoms, but then I went on vacation and I jumped back on the sauce. Now I am trying again, as health anxiety and brain fog is becoming too much. That being said, I was hoping that I could get some advice from those who have experienced withdrawal and who has drank a similar amount to myself.

Quick background: I am 29 and have been drinking for about 3 years with varying amounts. Sometimes it would be 4US units (8UK) per day, and other times it would be an average of 7.5US/14UK. Every now and then I would binge about 10US/20UK, but rarely. I hardly ever experience hangovers, constantly take supplements to keep the magnesium and vitamin b levels up, and usually never start drinking until 6pm.

Lately I have been pushing the time I start drinking later and reducing the amount gradually. I have noticed that I can go throughout the entire day (sometimes until 9pm) without any cravings or withdrawal symptoms. At the end of the day, the reason I reach for the drink is specifically because I don't want to get withdrawal symptoms; I am afraid of having a panic attack or losing my mind at work, so I keep self-medicating to ensure the withdrawal doesn't happen.

That being said, my question is: have any of you drank a similar amount and experienced only mild or no withdrawal symptoms? And, if I am able to go for 36+ hours without feeling anything more than a headache or tiredness, do you think I will experience some major symptoms down the road?

Everything I read online regarding withdrawal timeline says that the mild symptoms are from 6-24 hours, then the moderate symptoms from 24-48, and the severe symptoms are from 48-72. What the sites don't tell you is if you'd be expected to experience the each level of symptoms, and if you're likely to experience symptoms at all if you make it past a certain point. The way these addiction center blogs make it look is as if every person who goes through withdrawal will necessarily experience each level of symptoms, which I don't quite think it right.

In any case, I really appreciate you guys taking the time! I have read through so many posts on this site, and it has really helped me better myself and be more proactive in overcoming addiction in general.

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Old 03-11-2018, 05:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcpme back Jessie. We really can't give you advice in what your withdrawals might be like as each person is different. The amount and frequency you drink is not always an indicator either.

As you've found, Tapering is rarely successful as it is a form of "controlling" your drinking,, and as alcoholic we cannot control our drinking by definition. If you are concerned that yiu might experience strong withdrawals, seeing a doctor before quitting is the safest bet.
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Old 03-11-2018, 08:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcpme back Jessie. We really can't give you advice in what your withdrawals might be like as each person is different. The amount and frequency you drink is not always an indicator either.

As you've found, Tapering is rarely successful as it is a form of "controlling" your drinking,, and as alcoholic we cannot control our drinking by definition. If you are concerned that yiu might experience strong withdrawals, seeing a doctor before quitting is the safest bet.
You guys should really stop saying the whole if you can taper your not an alcoholic. I successfully tapered down it took a few tries to get right but I did it. Then again quieting out right took a few tries to.

Along with all the people that say stuff like I drank like an alcoholic drinking a liter of vodka a day. I feel like I should stop coming here. It makes me feel like I'm not an alcoholic. When I know I am.

jessiessong It sound like I drank like you and tapered down to the equivalent of 2 light beers a day. When I quit completely I still had some rough nights of sleep and the sweeting. In retrospect I should of cut off the taper sooner. At 2 beers a night I think I was just prolonging the inevitable. The taper did help though coming down from the equivalent of about 7-8 light beers a night. Scotts right that every one is different so there is no telling how your withdrawals will be but I'd bet yours will go smoother than mine. I think I had a kindling effect from trying to quit so many times and heroin use in my past.
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Old 03-11-2018, 08:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thank you, wastedpotential, for sharing your experience, and congratulations for successfully tapering! I was in a similar position as you with only 1-2US units per night for a while, but my anxiety of potential withdrawal kept me from having alcohol free days. Having recently spoken with an addiction specialist, they informed be that it is nearly certain that if you maintain such a low drink amount that just quitting would be fine. Thanks again for your input!
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Old 03-11-2018, 12:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've tapered off a few times and followed with periods of sobriety.
But it won't stick if you don't follow up with a strong recovery plan.
I still experienced withdrawal symptoms, anxiety and the shakes. But those have stuck even through prolonged sobriety and I managed them with counseling and dr prescribed medication.
I have also quit cold turkey from very heavy drinking and it was not fun, and a dangerous thing to do.
Yes tapering is not easy, but I do think that if you do it now, stop now because if you are down to a low enough amount that you should just stop and follow it up with a visit to your GP. (In retrospect I agree with Scott, a visit beforehand would be a very good idea.)

There is no guarantee that you won't experience severe symptoms like seizures so you should always err on the side of caution by following up with the doctor and not doing it alone with nobody knowing what's going on.
Also, my personal experience was that, tapering and not having a solid plan and support in place, I'd boomerang back to the bottle and I'd drink even worse almost every time. And then tapering after that just gets harder.

This is only my experience and it will be different for everyone.
Tapering is a crap shoot at best. Ultimately it's your decision though.
I wish you the best! And welcome back
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Old 03-11-2018, 12:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Please know that withdrawals are unpredictable and will not necessarily be the same from person to person.

Talking to your dr is the smartest thing to do in order to withdraw safely.

I'm not sure anyone here has said 'if you can taper, you're not an alcoholic'.

But, I know most people here have strongly cautioned against tapering because most often it does not work, and I think it prolongs withdrawal symptoms. When I tried tapering with great determination (over and over), I ended up in a worse situation.
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Old 03-11-2018, 10:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I tried tapering the last time that I quit, well the second to last time. I was tapering because I was fearful of dangerous withdrawal symptoms because I had experienced my hands shaking when trying to fill out medical forms and wasn't sure what else might happen. My blood pressure was also really high. I hadn't experienced that before. My friend who has over 20 years of sobriety said he didn't think I needed it and that I wasn't that bad off but did recognize it as a method.

He said he didn't think I was drinking enough to NEED to taper. I might not have looked like what I was drinking.

I was successful with it but I think I did 2 days and used liquor (not recommended ) the first day and then wine the second. I could see how someone could go on for weeks just to be able to keep drinking.

I felt I was out of a health scare and moved on to just cold turkey.

I can see how it could backfire. I didn't try it this time around .

Good luck but be careful. It should be like 3 days max from what I've been told.
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Old 03-11-2018, 10:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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For me

When I tried to stop on my own, I had horrible withdrawals. I drank about the same as you. I would self medicate because my anxiety/panic attacks were out of control from the alcohol. My pulse was through the roof and I just didn’t feel right. I ended up going to the ER (so embarrassing) with a pulse rate of 162 😧 they kept me over night. I would say if you’re not feeling that after a few hours of your last drink you may be fine. I’ve also heard that each “binge” you go on the withdrawals get worst and more harmful. Hope you’re feeling alright! Hang in there.
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Old 03-11-2018, 10:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I drank similarly to you and quit cold turkey immediately following a night of binge drinking. The first 30 hours or so were the worst and spent in bed, followed by a few days of nausea, mental fog, headache, etc - but I was still able to go to work and function enough to get by after the initial first day or two. I drank for 10 years. Didn't feel quite right physically until about a week but fought through, and you can too! Don't psyche yourself out , all the best
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Old 03-11-2018, 10:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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You guys should really stop saying the whole if you can taper your not an alcoholic. I successfully tapered down it took a few tries to get right but I did it. Then again quieting out right took a few tries to.
well I'm alcoholic who couldn't taper.

I'd buy enough booze to taper off on over several days - and drink it all on the first day.

If I could control my intake I wouldn't need to taper.

If you're not doing it under professional supervision or advice, tapering might be every bit as dangerous as cold turkey.

I reserve the right to warn people here of that danger.

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Old 03-11-2018, 11:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I read uncontrolled alcoholism can take place after 2-60 years of drinking.
It averages out at 10-15years.
So yes everybody is different.

As for tapering, I did it as a means to an end to get a detox but then quit befor the detox.
I can see how tapering could so easily go terribly wrong. Like riding a raging bull on fire.
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Old 03-12-2018, 03:34 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm not sure anyone here has said 'if you can taper, you're not an alcoholic'.
I've seen it thrown around a bunch in the month that I've been hanging around. When someone mentions tapering, it goes something like if you can control your drinking by definition your not an alcoholic because alcoholics can't control their drinking.

My drinking was excessive but it wasn't out of control. I didn't get duis or blow all my money. I never blacked out, didn't even like being drunk. Just drank beer every night and got to my level of buzz. At one point I started drinking during the day alot but recognized it as a serious problem. Managed to stop doing that and go back to my normal nightly drinking for a year and a half before quiting for good. While drinking less and less and for 6 months before quiting for good.

So when people say stuff like if you can control your drinking your not an alcoholic. It gets my AV going with the old see I knew you weren't that bad your fine you can drink again, all these alcoholics are saying your not one.
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Old 03-12-2018, 03:46 AM   #13 (permalink)
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It gets my AV going with the old see I knew you weren't that bad your fine you can drink again, all these alcoholics are saying your not one.
Yep. my AV could twist misinterpret and justify anything too

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Old 03-12-2018, 03:55 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Yep. my AV could twist misinterpret and justify anything too

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How is it misinterpreting if people are flat out saying your not an alcoholic if...
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Old 03-12-2018, 04:04 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I disagree thats what people are saying.

If a post makes you doubt you're an alcoholic, I reckon I'd explore the idea that it's actually your AV thats trying to convince you of that.

I also think it's time we moved on.

I'm not here to argue with you, and you're not here to argue with me.

Lets get back to the original poster.

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Old 03-12-2018, 04:34 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Thank you all so very much for the replies thus far! I can definitely see how withdraw varies from person to person. I appreciate everyone's story and will be cautious in my tapering. If I'm not mistaken, at such a low dose of alcohol, if I quite cold turkey and don't get any moderate symptoms, like shakiness and vomiting, I may be out of the woods.
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Old 03-12-2018, 05:00 AM   #17 (permalink)
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But, I know most people here have strongly cautioned against tapering because most often it does not work, and I think it prolongs withdrawal symptoms. When I tried tapering with great determination (over and over), I ended up in a worse situation.
Yes, I tried to taper too. What I found was that if I had (for example) only 3-4 drinks on my first taper day, I was compelled to at least get to my usual daily amount on successive days. It's like my body wanted that alcohol equilibrium. I am finding this also with my husband. Though he hasn't said, some days he appears to be cutting back and only have a few beers. However, the next day, he has downed many more. In my opinion, it seems he's also compelled to get his body back to what it is used to.

It's harder to taper for most people, I think.
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:09 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I will not try to stir up anything but will share my experience. I have had periods where I can in fact cut down my drinking to within national health guidelines . However, the mental calisthenics and obsession remain. I meticulously plan the time of my next drink and what I will drink Finally, I found the mornings were just as bad with brain fog and regret and utter anguish. I attribute this to long term effects of drinking on my brain. The only way to combat this is to quit entirely.

Alcohol is a horrible drug.

Have a good day.
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Old 03-12-2018, 08:09 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I was never able to taper--once I start drinking there is no 'off' switch. With all the meticulous figuring out and obsession with what to drink, how much to drink, when to drink--it was mentally easier for me to just quit.
That doesn't mean to stop without a plan, for that can be life-threatening. My drinking was exclusively beer, 8-10 daily with binges of up to 18 for four years--when I quit without supervision I had full-blown alcoholic hallucinosis and then seizures when I finally went into detox. Talking to your doctor would be the best idea. After you're sober I think a plan to remain so is essential.
Wishing you the best, jessiessong.
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:03 AM   #20 (permalink)
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My withdrawel was 100% mental
Tapering-for me-led to getting drunk ten times since I attempted to quit
Tapering may work for many
It did not work for me
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