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Hi all, I posted here a week or so ago about starting to taper off alcohol and I thought I'd come back and share my experience in the hope some people may find it useful .
First off, let me say that the only advice I am qualified to give is this: see a doctor first. If you want to quit, whether its cold turkery, tapering, medical detox, whatever, I would highly advise you go see a doctor first. As you all know, alcohol withdrawal can be fatal in extreme cases.
How much was I drinking before the taper?
I want to tell you this because I was probably drinking comparitively less than a lot of you, and more than some... I am well aware that people are in much deeper than I was/am, but everyones different and everything is relative.
I had been drinking every night for nearly 4 years. Usually it was 4 or 5 pints of strong lager, but other times it was considerably more - especially at weekends (where I'd drink the best part of 8-12 pints).
In the few months before I started the taper, I had brought it down to 4-5 pints per night consistently. Not a huge amount at all, but I still felt like I needed it.
Here is how I tapered off:
I used the old 44, 33, 22, 11, .5.5 model. There are many other ways to do it, it depends on how much you're drinking and how willing you are to accept some withdrawal symptoms (disclaimer: again, not a doctor).
The first few days were tough. I had quite bad shakes, irritability and terrible sleep. I felt horrible during the day, and that was just from reducing down by one pint. I should say that I can be a hypochondriac and my mental state probably exacerbated these symptoms.
I was seeing alcohol as medication that I HAD to take. No more, no less than what I had planned to drink. I wrote the amounts I would drink in my calender and drew a line through each night after I had finished the 'medicine'. This was very important for me, as it reinforced in my mind that I HAD to do this, and there was no turning back.
Each day that passed, the withdrawal symptoms got easier and easier to deal with. By the time I reached my 1 pint per night stage, I didn't even want to bother drinking it. It wasn't giving me a buzz, and it certainly wasn't going to help me sleep any better. But I had to stick with the plan. Again, it was medicine now, and taking less than the required amount was just as bad as drinking more.
Last sunday I had my last drink. It was half a pint of lager, and before I even realised it, I had drunk it and that was that. I haven't had any withdrawal since, besides not sleeping very well - but that will get better with time I am told.
I still crave a beer every now and then, but I've made a commitment to myself. Being a kind of 'all or nothing' person, I generally find it easy to stay off of things once I've quit for good. Maybe I'm speaking too soon, but only time will tell.
I hope some of you find this encouraging, helpful or at least use my boring writing as a sleep-aid.
Some of you guys have given me great advice in the past so I wanted to share my experience, and to thank you all. You played a part in getting me off the awful stuff.
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