Alcohol withdrawal is an incredibly serious medical condition, and alcohol abuse is just as potentially dangerous as any other form of substance abuse. In fact, alcohol is one of the most physically addictive substances available when used in large quantities. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms often require medical intervention, with severe alcohol withdrawal calling for immediate medical attention. Read on to find out more about alcohol use disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms and alcoholism treatment.
How to Know If Alcohol Withdrawal Will Affect You
If you’re worried that you or a loved one might have an alcohol use disorder and require alcohol detox, there are several signs of a severe disease, characterized by serious complications. While the severity of alcohol abuse varies from person to person — with some having a higher tolerance than others — heavy, unrestrained alcohol intake is generally an indicator that withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur.
If you’ve tried to stop alcohol consumption and failed, can’t go for an extended period without giving into cravings and feel your physical and/or mental health is at risk, there’s a good chance you’re suffering from alcohol dependence. As soon as the body adapts to consuming large quantities of alcohol, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Should You Try an At-Home Detox?
If you’ve tried quitting alcohol for more than 24 hours and only experienced mild symptoms, detox at home might be safe. However, most experts would agree that it’s not worth going through the detox process without medical supervision.
Your brain and body adapt so that the active chemicals in alcohol are perceived as necessary for survival, and your body might go into shock if you suddenly quit cold turkey. Addiction treatment at a medical detox facility is often necessary to prevent serious complications and keep you safe and healthy. What’s more, alcoholism treatment in an addiction treatment center means you get access to addiction medicine that can help treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms and minimize discomfort.
What Happens During Alcohol Withdrawal?
During alcohol withdrawal, your body starts going through changes as the balance of chemicals in your system is thrown off balance. After the brain and body have come to depend on alcohol abuse for normal functioning, it takes time for them to readjust to the sudden change. This can lead to uncomfortable side effects that make it even more difficult to stop drinking than it already is.
The nature of alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on a range of factors, such as the length of the alcohol addiction, the amount of alcohol consumed regularly and your gender, age and size. Mental disorders and addiction to other drugs might also lead to more severe symptoms, such as delirium tremens.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms affect each person differently. Sometimes symptoms of alcohol withdrawal occur within a couple of hours; sometimes it takes a day or more. For most people, alcohol withdrawal symptoms peak at around 24 to 48 hours after the last drink. Some of the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Increased blood pressure
Severe Withdrawal Symptoms
More serious symptoms of alcohol withdrawal such as delirium tremens are more likely if you have another substance use disorder in addition to an alcohol use disorder. They’re also a risk if you try quitting cold turkey without medical intervention after drinking heavily over a sustained period of time. Seizures, high blood pressure and delirium tremens are the most intense symptoms associated with withdrawing from a physiological dependence to alcohol.
Post Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
The alcohol withdrawal timeline differs from person to person, but a very few people experience symptoms long after they stop drinking. This is known as post acute withdrawal syndrome and can last from between a few months to a year. The most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal associated with PAWS are strong cravings, feelings of worthlessness, anxiety and trouble sleeping. Thankfully, only a small percentage of people are affected by long-term alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Treating Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Safely
Due to the fact that alcohol detox comes with extreme risks, such as delirium tremens, serious symptoms and mental health complications, it’s best to go through the alcohol withdrawal process in a substance abuse treatment center. Although most people should be able to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms without the risk of seizures or serious complications, it’s not a risk worth taking. Some of the reasons it’s better to seek treatment in an alcohol detox center include:
- Although the length of use and volume of alcohol consumption are associated with a higher risk of severe withdrawal symptoms, it’s not an exact indicator. It’s impossible to predict who will develop complications, so it’s not worth the risk.
- Medications given and monitored by trained staff can make the process much easier.
- Getting specialist treatment is the best way to kick-start the recovery process.
- A medical professional can help recommend supplements to counter any nutritional deficiencies.
Tips for the Withdrawal Process
There’s no need to go through detox alone, and quitting cold turkey is never a good idea without medical supervision. Whether you choose to go through alcohol withdrawal at home or in a substance abuse treatment center, here are some tips to help you along the way:
- Stay hydrated.
- Try to eat a healthy diet and avoid sugary and highly processed foods.
- Remember that you’re not alone or a bad person — you have a disease, and you’re working hard to overcome it.
- Write a letter to your future self.
- Remember that cravings and discomfort are a temporary but necessary part of the healing process.
- Use breathing techniques, meditation and creative pursuits to self-soothe.
Get Help for Chronic Alcohol Use
Alcohol withdrawal is potentially life-threatening, and quitting alcohol isn’t something you should try without seeking professional medical advice. Call our rehab in Kentucky today at 606-342-7089 to find out more about how our supportive environment and expert clinical management team can help you quit drinking alcohol.