I have some experience with this. Alcohol, as we all know, is a depressant that slows down the central nervous system, which in turn regulates every automated function in the body, including pulse rate, breathing, bp, the rate at which you perspire, etc. The CNS also regulates the flow of neurotransmitters in the brain. So, if you drink enough booze for a long enough period of time, your CNS becomes accustomed to operating at a lower then normal pace. The problem is that when you suddenly stop, your CNS goes haywire. That's why you often see alcoholics sweating and shaking abnormally. It's like running all of the programs on your computer simultaneously - that will result in your computer crashing. When someone suddenly stops drinking, they often suffer a petit or a grand mal siezure as a result - their brain simply crashes. That's dangerous. It's what British singer Amy Winehouse died of.
So Tosh, your doctors gave the exact wrong advice every time. Depending on the patient, I typically administer a regimen of Chlorodiazepoxide (Librium), or lorazepam (Ativan) to a patient as part of the detox treatment. If the patient has suffered a siezure, I might be inclined to also administer diazepam (Valium).
The advice you got from these doctors is way off the mark. First of all, lorazepam and diazepam are benzodiazepines, are highly habit forming, and should in no way be administered to a patient unless the patient is under close medical supervision, and trained personnel are there to keep a close eye on the patient's vital signs.
These drugs act on the CNS much in the same way alcohol does, so the idea is to administer a heavy dose of at least one of the aforementioned drugs toa patient during the acute witdrawal stage, and then (again under close medical supervision) gradually taper down the dosages until the patient's CNS can stabilize on its own and the patient is not facing an immediate threat of dying from withdrawal (and that isn't a joke, by the way). Bottom line, no competent doctor in their right mind would prescribe benzos to an alcoholic and simply tell them to "go home and take as directed".
As far as gradually decreasing your drinking on your own-well, I think everyone on this site has probably tried that (myself included) and knows firsthand how that goes.
One more thing that may be of help: contrary to popular belief, medical detox does not get rid of withdrawal symptoms. It only ensures that you won't literally die from withdrawal. My hands didn't fully stop shaking until I had ben sober for two months. It normally takes a good 3 months for withdrawal symptoms to fully dissipate. That could be why Dr. Bob placed an emphasis on the first three months of sobriety in the BB.
Anyway, I hope that helps.
My doctor told me not to stop drinking (I took her advice and continued for another two years) and referred me to alcohol counselling, which didn't work for me.
One doctor said to taper off at the rate of 1 can of lager per day (the guy was a vodka drinker); he's back out drinking.
Another doctor said to take the diazapam and to just stop drinking; the doc said the daizapam would prevent fitting. (he took the diazampam washed down with alcohol, and is still out drinking).
And today, for the guy I'm currently working with, the doctor prescribed diazapam and said to 'cut down' on the alcohol. I pushed for a clearer course of action, and even explained how we crave for alcohol even more once we start drinking it, but she still insisted that the guy I'm helping has two-or-three cans of lager per day.
It's not easy is it. I'll phone my sponsor tomorrow morning (he gets to work an hour early to read e-mails and take phone calls from sponsees) to see what advice he can offer, but if anyone can share some experience of getting guys - who really seem determined to stop drinking - stopped safely so that we can start working with them, I'd be grateful. The guy in question does really seem to have a desire to stop drinking (but I also know how quick this can change too), but he's going to all the meetings he can, he has been trying to cut down (with the exception of yesturday), he answers his phone when I phone him, and he listens too; he knows I understand the problem from my own experience.
But when I stopped drinking, in the end, I just STOPPED. I'd tried the tapering off thing, and just couldn't do it; I'd taper straight back on drinking even more as if to make up for what I'd denied myself on previous days. But I also understand the risks of stopping drinking the way I did it.
As I say, any experience of getting guys of alcohol would be much appreciated.
(P.S. If the mods deem this post to be too 'medical' you're welcome to delete or move it into the Registered Discussion area; I'm no doctor and have just regurgitated the advice the doctors have given from my visits with alkies).
"They said a miracle would happen on my 90th day of sobriety, and it did happen...I was sober."
-Anonymous from the Trinity Group of AA in NYC