HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol

HOW TO PREVENT ALCOHOL WITHDRAWAL

Alcohol withdrawal occurs when the brain has been exposed to alcohol over long periods of time. You can learn more about what alcohol withdrawal is by visiting our web pages What Is Alcohol Withdrawal and The Odds Of Going Through Alcohol Withdrawal. This page talks about prevention.

There are three sure ways for most people to prevent alcohol withdrawal.

1) Have several abstinence days every week--this will work even if you choose to get intoxicated on some days

2) Or if you choose to drink every day then do not exceed four standard drinks per day.

3) Don't mix alcohol with benzodiazepines like Valium or Librium or Klonopin.

Having several abstinence days every week gives the alcohol a chance to get out of your system completely and this gives your neurotransmitter systems to return to normal.

And since the body metabolizes about one standard drink per hour, if you limit yourself to four standard drinks per day then this gives your neurotransmitter systems many hours each day to return to normal, too.

Both alcohol withdrawal and benzodiazepine withdrawal are a result of their effects on the GABA neurotransmitter system. Mixing the two can increase one's chance of death from benzodiazepine overdose as well as worsen withdrawal symptoms which occur when either one is discontinued.

When your neurotransmitter systems have enough time to return to normal this prevents withdrawal from occurring

Even if you have had alcohol withdrawal in the past this does not mean that you ever need to suffer from alcohol withdrawal again in the future as long as you follow the above rules.

The one exception to this is people who have undergone KINDLING. Kindling is quite rare these days. Kindling is caused when people are repeatedly withdrawn cold turkey from alcohol with no tapering and no medications. In times past in the United States people were often withdrawn cold turkey from alcohol to "teach them a lesson." This always failed to help anyone quit drinking--all it did was to cause a great deal of human suffering.

People who have undergone kindling will suffer withdrawal after even drinking small quantities of alcohol. There is very little option for people who have undergone kindling besides abstinence.

However, everyone else can avoid alcohol withdrawal syndrome by following the simple advice on this page.

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