Many people put off stopping alcohol consumption because they fear withdrawal symptoms. Uncomfortable physical distress, such as shaking, sweats, and insomnia, often induce people to continue drinking.

However, in order to be sober, a time must come for alcohol consumption to stop entirely. If this is difficult, there are ways to ease the withdrawal symptoms and manage them safely.


Reducing alcohol consumption over a period of several days often prevents the most severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This is because the body has time to adapt to having less alcohol in the blood. Alcohol is a depressant. It slows the brain’s functions. When too much alcohol has permeated the brain too often, it grows accustomed. This causes withdrawal symptoms.

Tapering works by reducing normal alcohol consumption by half for four days, and then by half again for four days, and then reducing to no alcohol. This method has been effective for many individuals; however, it takes tremendous willpower to avoid the temptation to keep drinking beyond the intended limit.

Also, it is not viable for people suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal, which may include hallucinations, paranoia, hypertension, panic attacks, and even psychosis. Severe withdrawal should always take place under medical supervision.

Medication-based Withdrawal

Medication-based withdrawal is the preferred method for those experiencing severe discomfort or dangerous risks to their health because of alcohol withdrawal.

Under the care of a physician, patients are given medication that counteracts withdrawal. This allows them to quit alcohol completely at once without experiencing dangerous withdrawal symptoms. This method is often used in in-patient settings but can also be done on an outpatient basis.

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The goal of medication-based withdrawal is to allow the body time to detoxify from alcohol. It typically takes from several days to several weeks to complete this process. Patients then often undergo rehabilitation, where they undergo therapy meant to help them avoid relapse.

Cold Turkey

This method is never recommended if serious withdrawal symptoms are present. Without tapering or medication, alcohol withdrawal starts five to 10 hours after the last drink and peaks after about three days. It then subsides gradually over many days and weeks.

Though this method may be safe for people that are not addicted to alcohol, if an addiction is present, it rarely works. Severe tremors, sweats, panic, depression, and fits can make stopping cold turkey impossible and unsafe.

Avoid DUI Because of Addiction

Sometimes people suffering from alcohol addiction drink and drive because alcohol withdrawal symptoms are severe. They cannot stop drinking and feel they have no choice but to drink and drive. This is untrue. If experiencing alcohol addiction, drinking and driving is dangerous, notes Mesenbourg & Sarratori Law Offices.

Alcohol withdrawal can be painful and difficult. With the right withdrawal strategy, it can be overcome.