Making the choice to get help for alcohol abuse is the first step toward a healthier life. It’s important to realize that while making a commitment to sobriety is commendable, dealing with alcohol withdrawal symptoms alone can lead to health problems and sometimes serious complications.
Fortunately, treatment programs are available for those with alcohol use disorders. Professionals experienced in treating alcohol withdrawal can help patients manage symptoms that range from mild to severe.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
For many people, alcohol can be just as addictive and problematic as drug abuse. Alcoholism is a chronic disease that affects millions of people each year and involves alcohol abuse and heavy drinking. While it used to be highly stigmatized, more and more people have begun to realize that it is not a moral failing but a health condition impacted by social, biological, and psychological factors. With more understanding comes more opportunities for individuals to make informed decisions and get the help they need.
How Much Drinking is Too Much?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, heavy drinking involves more than eight drinks of alcohol per week for women and more than 15 drinks of alcohol per week for men. When this includes four or more drinks at once, it’s considered binge drinking — a sign of alcohol addiction.
What are the Adverse Effects?
Just like drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism can have adverse effects on an individual’s life. When a person continues to drink despite negative consequences, including problems with their relationships, work or school life, or physical and mental health, they may be struggling with an addiction to alcohol.
Health problems can arise from prolonged drinking, both physically and mentally. If it seems impossible to take that last drink, despite this, it may be time to reach out for help. Withdrawal can be challenging, but with the right support, it can be the first step toward lasting sobriety.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) is a complex set of symptoms that can occur when an individual who regularly consumes excessive amounts of alcohol makes the choice to stop drinking completely. This physiological and psychological reaction is the body’s response to the absence of alcohol, and its severity can range from mild to life-threatening.
It is essential for individuals with a history of heavy alcohol use to be aware of the potential risks associated with alcohol withdrawal and seek medical guidance when needed.
What are Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol include a spectrum of physical and psychological challenges as the body attempts to adapt to the abrupt absence of alcohol.
Initial Withdrawal Symptoms:
Initial withdrawal symptoms from alcohol often include heightened anxiety, irritability, and restlessness, signaling the nervous system’s response to the sudden change in alcohol intake. Physical tremors, particularly in the hands, may accompany these early stages as the central nervous system is affected.
As withdrawal progresses, individuals may have to deal with gastrointestinal disturbances, such as nausea and vomiting. Profuse sweating, a notable and uncomfortable symptom, is indicative of the body’s effort to regulate its temperature without the dampening influence of alcohol.
Moderate Symptoms of Alcohol Detox:
Moderate alcohol withdrawal can include muscle spasms, an accelerated heart rate, and changes in blood pressure. At this stage, insomnia is also common. Sleep disturbances can contribute to a sense of fatigue, further complicating the overall withdrawal experience.
More severe withdrawal symptoms may include perceptual disturbances, such as hallucinations, adding an additional layer of complexity to the withdrawal process. Seizures are also a potential consequence of alcohol withdrawal and one of the reasons that individuals should consider a treatment program for the management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Severe Detox and Delirium Tremens:
One of the more severe medical conditions, delirium tremens (DT), is a collection of severe alcohol use withdrawal symptoms. Common symptoms of delirium tremens include severe confusion, agitation, and even vivid hallucinations. If patients experience withdrawal symptoms of this severity, they need medical care immediately due to the life-threatening potential.
How Long do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Withdrawal symptoms are different for each individual and are affected by various factors, including the extent of alcohol misuse when they took their last drink, any pre-existing medical problems, other medications that are needed, and if there is other substance abuse that require detoxification in a drug rehab program.
First Few Hours of Withdrawal:
The first stage of alcohol detox usually begins within a few hours to a few days after an individual’s last drink. As a person’s alcohol level decreases, mild symptoms begin. This can include tremors, a symptom triggered by the central nervous system. These symptoms can intensify after 24 or 48 hours to include nausea, vomiting, and sweating.
48 to 72 Hours Symptoms:
As the alcohol detoxification process continues, patients may experience high blood pressure and sleep disturbances. The subsequent 48 to 72 hours of alcohol detox constitute a critical period wherein the risk of severe symptoms, including delirium tremens, escalates. Clinical management is essential for alcohol use disorder since alcohol detox can quickly turn dangerous.
Everyone’s Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment is Different:
It’s important to know that not everyone will experience the same timeline for alcohol detox. Substance abuse treatment may include treatment for other drugs, offer counseling, and provide mental health care to help patients stay sober long-term.
Due to the nature of alcohol withdrawal treatment, patients should consider an inpatient program to stop drinking. Otherwise, detox can lead to severe medical problems.
Accountability and Safety in Inpatient Settings
It can also be difficult to maintain the willpower to stay sober alone, and having a support system can make a huge difference. Accountability partners or professional therapists can encourage patients to keep up with their sobriety and offer valuable tips to help the process.
While an outpatient setting can be helpful after the initial onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms has passed, the potential for delirium tremens or other life-threatening reactions to alcohol detox makes residential treatment the best treatment option for dealing with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
What Treatment and Support is Available After Alcohol Detox?
Seeking medical assistance during alcohol withdrawal treatment is crucial for a safe and successful recovery. General internal medicine can be a good place to start if an individual is struggling with the management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. However, the high-risk nature of detoxification makes a treatment center such as Gloria Rehab a better option for treating alcohol use disorder.
Long-Term Community Support
Once withdrawal symptoms have been treated, the caring professionals at a treatment center can help patients begin developing a long-term care strategy to stay sober. This may include joining support groups, individual therapy at a clinical practice, getting treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders or pursuing addiction treatment for other substance abuse.
There are also online resources that can provide educational and community resources, such as Smart Recovery. Many individuals also find that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse is a good place to find statistical information, educational sources, and additional resources for helping make addiction care more accessible.
Alcohol Detox Treatment at Gloria Rehab
The alcohol detox process begins with an assessment performed by a doctor. This can be a combination of a physical assessment, which may include taking blood pressure, a basic questionnaire, and potentially a toxicology screening, which measures how much alcohol is in the bloodstream or if drugs are still in the body.
Treating Detox Symptoms
After this initial evaluation, individuals will be encouraged to go through alcohol detox treatment for their withdrawal symptoms before they tackle other substance abuse treatment. The prolonged symptoms of alcohol withdrawal make inpatient care recommended so patients can receive medical supervision.
At Gloria Rehab, we treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms with prescribed medications and therapeutic services. We provide a supportive environment with 24-hour care to keep patients physically stable as they undergo detox treatment for mild and more serious symptoms. Send us a message if you want to know more about our treatment for drugs and alcohol detoxification.
Continued Care after Withdrawal Symptoms
Once a patient is no longer experiencing the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol detox or at risk for more severe delirium tremens, we can begin the individualized care needed to stay sober. Treatment professionals include those from the mental health services administration who understand that support and ongoing care are a necessary part of the recovery journey.
We encourage joining support groups as part of comprehensive treatment, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and facilitating continued treatment programs supported by thorough research. World wide, people struggle with taking that last drink and the withdrawal symptoms after, and we want you to have the best chance possible toward sustained recovery.