It's a nice dream – no detox or rehab. Not having to sweat and have horrible nightmares. No intervention form Doctors. A nice clean break from alcohol, just by cutting down a little at a time.

Sorry to burst the bubble. Very few alcoholics can taper in my experience.

People who have been binge-drinking, but are not completely addicted or physically dependent and do not drink every day, have a few things they can do to escape the shakes or a really bad hangover. Taking a boatload of B-vitamins can help you feel much better, along with some fat and a jug of water.

But if you're an alcoholic who has been drinking every day, and you know that when you stop, you get the sweats, the shakes and a racing heart at the very least, you are unlikely to be able to taper off alcohol, because the first drink of alcohol persuades you to have another, another and another.....until the bottle is gone. It's an unfortunate neural trick that happens when you are addicted.

In ye olden days, before proper detox medication, doctors' only option was to submit an alcoholic to hospital, strap them to a bed and taper them off alcohol using smaller and smaller doses each time. But you bet those restraints had to be strong, and it was an uncomfortable process, since, for alcoholics, every drop of alcohol leaves you craving more.

If you are someone that drinks until the bottle is gone and wonders how it went so quickly or if "fairies or your family dog" drank half of it, sorry you can't taper. Not unless you have a determined accomplice who will lock you in a room and not let you leave, handing you a "dose" just as the doctors did in days gone by.

But I have known people to smash locks and windows trying this method, so desperate are they for more drink. So, generally, if you are a full-blown alcoholic, don't expect tapering to be the best method for you to detox. 

It's nothing to ashamed of – I was never able to taper either. All the inability to taper means is that your brain has been changed and will fight you every step of tapering. It's nothing to do with willpower or lack of effort.

But you can get help. And not from the fairies. I recommend you read The Recovery Formula to understand more about the mechanics of drinking and stopping and a good therapist who understands addiction. 

by Beth Burgess, Therapist and author of The Recovery Formula and The Happy Addict.


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