Cold Turkey vs Tapering: Which Is Better for Ceasing Drug Use?

This means that they will non-medical treatment methods as well. That in itself makes it a good option for people who are addicted to opioids. When alcohol is stopped abruptly, it can cause serious withdrawal symptoms. Some of them can even become life threatening if left untreated. There are some drugs that only result in minor withdrawal symptoms when they are stopped abruptly.Marijuana is a perfect example. If you need help figuring out how to taper off alcohol, or want to find alcohol detox services near you, our treatment specialists at Vertava Health can help.

How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?

Exhibiting signs of irritability and extreme mood swings. Making excuses for drinking such as to relax, deal with stress or feel normal. Choosing drinking over other responsibilities and obligations. Becoming isolated and distant from friends and family members.

Once someone becomes addicted to it, they need to go through the proper treatment program to stop. Quitting alcohol cold turkey should never even be considered as an option.

With the right support, cold turkey can be effective

It is still possible to some withdrawal symptoms when tapering off a substance, but they are usually mild. The particular symptoms depend on the drug in question and the extent of the addiction. Some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal that occur during tapering off any substance include headache and anxiety. The withdrawal symptoms of some substances are so uncomfortable or disorienting that doctors recommend tapering off them. For other substances though, it is possible to quit cold turkey without experiencing any serious negative side effects. This article will compare and contrast going cold turkey and tapering off drugs, as well as when each method is most appropriate. If a person does not wish to quit smoking cold turkey, nicotine replacement therapy offers an alternative method.

  • One involves an older saying that goes, “talking turkey” or “talking cold turkey.” This just refers to someone who speaks bluntly or gets directly to the point.
  • However, it still may be helpful to speak with a doctor or medical professional to access helpful guidance and resources.
  • It also can reduce the risk of relapse by not trying to attempt too much too soon, failing, and then going back to regularly using alcohol to cope with the feelings of failure.
  • If a person abruptly stops drinking alcohol within 6 to 8 hours they will experience hyperactivity, anxiety, tremors, sweating, nausea, and confusion.
  • Limit yourself to one drink per hour, for example, or substitute a glass of water, juice, or Gatorade between each alcoholic drink.

Other research indicates the condition has an anticipated mortality rate of 37% without appropriate treatment. ​The US Centers for Disease Control has updated its guidelines for clinicians in prescribing opioids – the first update since 2016.

Cons of Tapering off Alcohol

If you’ve previously tried to stop drinking and experienced physical withdrawals, it’s likely you’ll experience them again. This Naked Mindwhich has helped thousands of people around the world quit drinking for good; as well as and her forthcoming book,The Alcohol Experiment. Annie will answer reader questions to help you break free of limiting beliefs that keep you stuck in old drinking habits. Overcoming alcohol use disorder can be a complicated and ongoing process. Getting support from peers, friends, and family to continue recovery is essential.


Unfortunately, a person’s ability to effectively taper off their drinking can be challenging. The person may try to cut back the amount they drink per day or switch to another, less favored form of alcohol. But the reality is adhering to the reduction can be difficult if the person encounters any triggers that encourage drinking. Also, the individual may not have support to help them make the change. Finally, heavy drinkers may experience withdrawal symptoms even with a slight reduction in their alcohol intake.

For those who have more than 20 drinks a day, the schedule becomes more complex:

Tapering will normally create less severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms but will spread them out over a prolonged period. Essentially, tapering provides less intense withdrawal symptoms but over a longer amount of time. Quitting cold turkey simply means stopping the use of any substance all at once. There is no formal plan of treatment, and no way tomanage withdrawal symptoms once they appear. This method can work well in some cases, such as with smoking cigarettes. It is an approach that is often applauded for smokers, regardless of how long they have been smoking. In the case of someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, however, it is never recommended.

  • Cutting down your alcohol intake may not be as easy as it sounds.
  • If the withdrawal is not too extreme you should be tapered off in a day or so.
  • One of those decisions will be what you will do when friends or family pressure you to drink.
  • Outpatient treatment is a safe and effective alternative to inpatient care, with fewer costs.
  • He holds a Master of Science degree in Counseling and has over 26 years of experience as a substance use/mental health counselor with the Montgomery County Government.

This fact alone has led to the opioid epidemic in our country today. Heroin is an illegal opiate drug that can lead to a quick addiction once someone starts taking it. Research shows that most people who use it first began by abusing prescription opioids. They gravitated toward an illegal opiate once they were no longer able to continue obtaining their prescriptions.

Drug addiction: getting help

But, with a little prior knowledge on how to taper off alcohol, adequate planning and professional consultation from a healthcare provider, it can certainly be done. Anyone wanting to stop using alcohol may benefit from tapering if they first consult with their doctor to ensure they are tapering safely. Tapering is a more cost-effective method of stopping alcohol use, especially for those who do not have healthcare insurance or the resources needed to get a professional detox. People who have successfully tapered from alcohol before may be especially likely to benefit from this strategy.

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