The Benefits Of Tapering Off Alcohol: A Comprehensive Guide

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated September 22, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources.

Alcohol is a widely accepted and legal substance that people worldwide consume. However, excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to physical dependency, which can have severe consequences for your mental and physical health and well-being. Understanding the benefits of tapering off alcohol or leading a sober-curious lifestyle may help you make an informed decision about your alcohol usage. 

Don’t Face Alcohol Addiction Alone

What Is Tapering Off Alcohol?

Tapering off alcohol is often cited as an effective way to quit drinking, which may benefit your physical and mental health. Drinking alcohol can be a fun and social activity for some. However, alcohol is an addictive substance; some may use it to the point of adverse impacts and long-term dependency. If you have decided to quit drinking, tapering off can be effective. Consult a doctor before quitting; they may recommend a detoxification program for your safety. 

Tapering off alcohol means reducing your alcohol consumption gradually over a defined period. This method may be safer and less stressful for your body than quitting abruptly, which can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Tapering off alcohol can be done on your own or with the help of a healthcare professional. 

Tapering off alcohol may not suit everyone, especially those with severe alcohol dependence. Therefore, professional support is recommended for those struggling with severe addiction. Additionally, incorporating healthy lifestyle changes and seeking therapy may aid recovery.

How Does Tapering Off Alcohol Work?

When you taper off alcohol, you gradually reduce your alcohol intake over a specific period. The tapering schedule may differ for each person, depending on their drinking habits and level of addiction.

The tapering schedule involves reducing the number of drinks consumed daily and reducing the alcohol concentration in each glass. Over time, the body adjusts to the lower levels of alcohol, reducing the likelihood of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

How Can Tapering Off Alcohol Work For You?

Tapering off alcohol can be an effective method for quitting alcohol, especially for those with physical dependence. In addition, it may be more manageable than quitting cold turkey, as it allows you to continue your daily routine while reducing your alcohol intake.

The Benefits Of Tapering Off Alcohol

Tapering off alcohol may benefit your physical and mental health, including but not limited to the following. 

A Reduced Risk Of Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone dependent on alcohol suddenly stops drinking, they can experience severe withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from mild anxiety and tremors to seizures, delirium tremens, and hallucinations.

The tapering approach may minimize withdrawal symptoms' severity and reduce the risk of life-threatening complications. However, if you experience severe withdrawal symptoms, seek medical attention. Treatment may involve medications to control symptoms and supportive care such as fluids and electrolytes to prevent complications. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary to ensure safety and well-being.

Reduced Risk Of Relapse

When someone abruptly quits alcohol, they may experience intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms that can be difficult to manage. This abruptness can increase the risk of relapse, as they may become overwhelmed and struggle to cope with the changes. Instead of waiting for the symptoms to subside, they may drink to lessen the impact. 

Contrarily, tapering off alcohol allows the body to adjust to the changes gradually. This method is more sustainable and less stressful for the body, as it gives the body time to adapt to decreasing levels of alcohol in the bloodstream. This process may minimize cravings and withdrawal symptoms and make it easier for the person to maintain sobriety in the long term.

Improved Sleep

Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with sleep, leading to insomnia and other sleep disorders. Tapering off alcohol can improve the quality of your sleep and offer more rest. 

Improved Mental Health

A dependency on substances can adversely affect your mental health, including by causing anxiety and depression. Tapering off alcohol may improve mental health and reduce the risk of developing mental illness. 

Improved Physical Health

Excessive alcohol consumption can adversely affect your physical health by potentially causing liver damage, high blood pressure, and increased cancer risk. Conversely, tapering off alcohol can improve physical fitness and reduce the risk of developing health conditions. 

How To Taper Off Alcohol

If you're considering tapering off alcohol, consult a healthcare provider or addiction specialist. They can help you develop a tapering schedule that is safe and effective for you.

The tapering schedule can depend on factors such as your level of addiction, how long you've been drinking, and any underlying health conditions. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe medication to help you manage withdrawal symptoms.

Below are a few tips that may help you taper off alcohol successfully:

  • Drink water to stay hydrated.

  • Eat a balanced diet to support your body's recovery.

  • Avoid inciting factors that make you want to drink, such as high-stress situations. 

  • Get a significant amount of rest to help your body recover.

  • Exercise regularly to reduce stress and improve your health. 

  • Seek professional support, such as counseling or support groups. 

How To Cope With Withdrawal Symptoms

Tapering off may not entirely reduce the chance of withdrawal symptoms. Below are a few tips to try for coping with these symptoms:  

  • Get rest to help your body recover.

  • Drink water to stay hydrated.

  • Eat a balanced diet to support your body's recovery.

  • Exercise regularly to reduce stress.

  • Seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms.

The Importance Of Seeking Professional Help

Tapering off alcohol can be a challenging and complex process. Seek professional help if you experience severe symptoms or want to talk to a provider about your process with addiction. A healthcare professional can offer guidance and support and may prescribe medication to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms. They may also refer you to support groups or counseling services.

Don’t Face Alcohol Addiction Alone

Benefits Of Therapy When Tapering Off Alcohol

Therapy can be a valuable tool when coping with substance use challenges. Engaging in therapy during this process has numerous benefits, including identifying and addressing any underlying challenges contributing to alcohol use. In addition, therapy can help individuals develop practical coping skills to handle stress or withdrawal symptoms. 

If you're struggling with substance use and aren't sure how to avail of in-person therapy, you can also try online counseling through a platform like BetterHelp. Online therapy platforms allow clients to match with a therapist, often within 48 hours. In addition, you can send messages to your therapist throughout the week, asking questions as you go through your process of tapering off alcohol.  

Several studies have found that online therapy can be an effective treatment option for alcohol addiction. For example, one study found that online therapy was as effective as in-person therapy in treating alcohol dependency. In addition, the study found that online therapy was associated with similar reductions in alcohol use and symptoms of depression and anxiety as in-person therapy.


Tapering off alcohol is often a safe and effective way to quit drinking. It can benefit physical and mental health and reduce the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms and relapse. However, if you're considering tapering off alcohol, talking to your doctor, setting realistic goals, and being non-judgmental toward yourself can be vital. 

If you face challenges, professional support is available to you. Consider contacting a licensed therapist online or in your area to get started. You're not alone, and finding symptom relief is possible.

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