It’s possible to have a drinking problem without being addicted. If you think you drink too much or have difficulty controlling your alcohol use, cutting out alcohol by doing a reduction detox may help you resolve and recover from your drinking problem.
Here’s what it means to do a reduction detox, and where you can go if you find that you need professional help to recover from alcohol abuse.
What Is Reduction Detox For Alcohol?
Reduction detox is short for harm reduction detox, which is a detox protocol in which you gradually reduce your alcohol intake to improve your drinking behaviors and reduce your risk for dependence and addiction.
Traditionally, the alcohol detox protocol at an addiction treatment facility involves quitting alcohol cold turkey and using medications to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Over time, your doctor gradually reduces the doses of your medications until you are no longer physically dependent on alcohol. In comparison, reduction detox uses a combination of methods to help you limit your drinking and develop new, healthy habits surrounding alcohol use that do not promote alcohol abuse, dependence, or addiction.
What Is Harm Reduction Therapy?
Harm reduction therapy is a term for a set of interventions aimed at reducing the problematic effects of behaviors such as substance abuse. The strategies used in harm reduction therapy for substance abuse generally promote safer methods of drug and alcohol use rather than total abstinence. For example, a common harm reduction therapy for heroin addiction is the distribution of sterile needles, which reduces a heroin user’s exposure to used needles contaminated with hepatitis C or HIV.
According to the National Harm Reduction Coalition, there are eight key principles of harm reduction:
- Accept that drug and alcohol use is part of our world, and choose to minimize its harmful effects rather than ignore or condemn them.
- Understand that drug and alcohol use is a complex phenomenon that encompasses a continuum of behaviors, and acknowledges that some methods of substance use are safer than others.
- Acknowledge that quality of life and well-being among individuals and communities is the criteria for successful interventions and policies.
- Call for the non-judgmental and non-coercive provision of services and resources for people who use drugs and alcohol to reduce harm.
- Ensure that people who use drugs and alcohol and who have a history of substance use have a voice in the creation of harm reduction programs and policies.
- Affirm that people who use drugs and alcohol become the primary agents of reducing the harms of their substance use.
- Recognize that the realities of poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination, and other social inequalities affect vulnerability to and capacity for effectively dealing with substance-related harm.
- Avoid minimizing or ignoring the tragic harm and danger that can be associated with illicit drug use and substance abuse.
Is Alcohol Harm Reduction More Effective Than Abstinence?
Alcohol harm reduction may be more effective than abstinence for some people, but it’s not ideal for everyone. For instance, a reduction detox may work best for those whose career, education, relationships, and overall well-being are not in jeopardy due to alcohol abuse. This detox method may also be ideal for those who are not struggling with addiction, and who can effectively control urges and compulsive behaviors related to alcohol use.
The pros of alcohol harm reduction are that it is generally inexpensive, it offers fewer risks than quitting alcohol cold turkey, and it can be managed on your own at home without necessarily having to go to an addiction treatment center.
According to SAMHSA, anecdotal evidence suggests alcohol harm reduction could be an effective strategy for those who may be at risk during alcohol withdrawal. This form of harm reduction may slow a person’s health decline, provide an increased sense of stability, and eventually lead to a decrease in alcohol use over time.
If you have an alcohol problem and aren’t sure whether a reduction detox is ideal for you, consider scheduling an appointment with an addiction treatment center. That way, a doctor can evaluate your drinking behaviors and make a professional recommendation.
What Will Cutting Out Alcohol Do?
Cutting alcohol out of your life comes with a wide range of benefits including improved health, higher energy, and increased performance at work or school. It can help you lose excess weight, clear your head, and empower you to mend relationships that may have been strained or broken on behalf of alcohol use.
If you’ve been drinking high amounts of alcohol for a long period, you may be physically dependent on alcohol—in which case cutting out alcohol abruptly may be dangerous and risky. You might be dependent on alcohol if you experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and shaking when suddenly stopping alcohol use. If this sounds like you, consider talking to a doctor or an addiction treatment professional who can help you detox from alcohol with a reduced risk of complications.
What Are Effective Harm Reduction Strategies For My Alcohol Problem?
A reduction detox from alcohol can be performed in a number of different ways. Tapering off alcohol is a common reduction detox protocol, which involves gradually reducing the number of drinks you have over a period of time. For example, if you normally consume five beers a night, reduce your intake to four beers a night for one to two weeks, then reduce your intake to three beers a night for the next two weeks.
Other effective harm reduction strategies for alcohol include:
- Establishing a set length of time between each drink, such as 30 minutes between each drink.
- Drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.
- Giving your keys and cell phone to someone you trust before drinking to avoid drunk driving.
- Limiting alcohol intake to earlier in the day or afternoon to prevent sleep problems or hangovers.
- Adding a higher amount of non-alcoholic liquids such as soda or juice to mixed drinks.
- Switching from your favorite alcoholic beverage to one you don’t like.
- Establishing an early morning workout routine that motivates you to drink less at night.
- Keeping an alcohol journal to track alcohol intake and spending, which can motivate you to quit sooner.
- Eating large, healthy meals before drinking to minimize intoxication.
- Practicing mindfulness while taking drinks, helping you savor the taste and slow your drinking rate.
- Drinking only while engaging in fun, distracting activities that cause you to drink less.
Some alcohol treatment centers also offer reduction detox services that can help you successfully taper off alcohol if you need professional guidance.
Summer House Detox Center in Miami, Florida offers alcohol reduction detox programs for those who want to successfully overcome alcohol abuse and dependence. Contact us today at 800-719-1090 to learn more about our available alcohol detox programs.