Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Basics of Withdrawal
Alcoholism is often a lonely condition, as a study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggests that feelings of depression and loneliness, as well as a lack of a robust social support system, are often attached to problematic drinking behaviors, both in people who start drinking early in life and in those who develop problems with advancing age. It might be reasonable for people with alcoholism to continue their solitary ways and think about healing on their own, without the help of others. Experts suggest that this isn’t the best approach to take, due to the risks involved with alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Even getting help might not allay all the concerns people have about the detox process, however, as some are concerned about the pain they might feel when they’re asked to stop drinking. It’s easy to understand, as the intensely uncomfortable physical effects of withdrawal are unpleasant to say the least, and few relish the idea of voluntarily taking on this discomfort.
The good news is that alcoholism withdrawal symptoms are relatively short-lived, as long as the person has access to the right alcohol addiction treatment program.
The Basics of Withdrawal
People who drink on occasion rarely develop alcohol withdrawal, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Instead, people who develop symptoms of withdrawal typically have spent months or even years experiencing intoxication daily. Some have been at a low level of intoxication throughout this entire time period. The constant exposure to alcohol changes the functioning of the cells inside the brain, allowing them to stay quiet and sedated, instead of active and firing. Alcoholism withdrawal symptoms are to be expected when a person stops drinking and allows those sleepy cells to wake up once more.
Some people experience mild symptoms, including:
- Decreased appetite
People going through this process might feel as though they have a bad case of the flu, and they may also feel intensely upset on an emotional level, unable to cope with the changes their bodies are going through. This can be uncomfortable, but there are some people who have even more intense symptoms as their bodies adjust.
People with advanced cases of alcoholism can develop seizures as they attempt to recover. Their brain cells awaken much too quickly, and those awakened cells spur unusual activity in the cells that surround them. People like this may begin to hallucinate in the early stages of the withdrawal process, and the seizures that develop can do extreme damage to their brains and bodies.
People with alcoholism should know that their bodies will need time to recover, and that the process could prove dangerous or even deadly. In this case, knowledge is power. The more people know about the process they’re about to go through, the more they may be motivated to get help, so they can emerge feeling healthy when the process is over. An alcohol detox facility might be a good place to start that process, as consulting medical professionals will be accessible to help.
Early Treatment Is Key for Facing Withdrawal
Alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, is a progressive disease. Every day that the person continues to live in active alcoholism increases the severity and length of alcoholism detox. Quitting early might be key to avoiding nasty alcohol detox episodes altogether, as the brain might not have such significant damage to recover from. Additionally, quitting once and staying sober could be key to avoiding some of the more severe detox problems that are possible.
Every time a person tries to stop drinking, alcoholism withdrawal symptoms are worse than they were the time before.
For example, in a study in the journal Substance Abuse, researchers report that people who had seizures during alcohol detox were much more likely to have been through detox in the past, when compared to people who didn’t have seizures. In fact, 53 percent of people who had prior experiences had seizures, compared to only 27 percent who didn’t have a prior experience. Experts suggest that each rough recovery leaves behind little grains of damage that can blossom into major problems during the next recovery process. It’s called “kindling,” and the best way to avoid it is to stop drinking with help, and to stay sober when the process is complete. The more effective the treatment plan that follows detox is, the less likely the person might be to relapse and need yet another bout of alcohol detox.
Dangerous Alcoholism Withdrawal Symptoms
Since alcoholism withdrawal is associated with such medical dangers, it is not wise for people to stop drinking without the medical supervision and assistance provided by an alcohol detox program.
Even so, some people who have alcoholism may try to quit cold turkey on their own at home.
If these people do stop drinking and experience any of the following alcoholism withdrawal symptoms as a result, emergency medical treatment should be provided immediately:
- Loss of consciousness
- Vomiting (in relation to seizures and not in response to overindulging in alcohol)
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Chills and/or profuse sweating
About 5 percent of people who don’t obtain treatment for alcohol withdrawal will experience severe symptoms, according to an article published in Alcohol and Research World. Those symptoms can be appropriately monitored in a treatment program, however, and their impact can be significantly reduced as a result.
At the beginning of a detox program, experts ask clients to cite their history of drinking, including the amount of alcohol they’ve consumed in the previous week. Even though alcohol abuse can cause memory impairments, a study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence suggests that about 73 percent of people who enter treatment programs for addiction can answer questions like this, and most do so accurately. The treatment team might also ask clients to describe their previous attempts at sobriety, including any negative sensations they experienced. This can help the team to plan an approach that can allow the person to achieve sobriety safely and comfortably.
Periodically, the treatment team will assess the person’s physical health, and ask questions about the person’s mental health. Sometimes, people need little more than emotional reassurance and support as their bodies adjust, but sometimes, the team notices signs that indicate that symptoms are progressing at a dangerous pace. When this happens, the team can provide the person with medications to soothe dangerous electrical activity and allow the brain to heal. In a few days of this kind of care, most people will be ready to progress to the next stage of treatment.
Treat Alcoholism Withdrawal Symptoms at Michael’s House
At Michael’s House, we understand that alcoholism withdrawal symptoms can be difficult, but if you’re ready to tackle alcoholism, we’re ready to help. At Michael’s House, we can assist you in fighting alcoholism withdrawal symptoms through inpatient alcohol rehab that includes alcohol detox with the help of consulting physicians. When our clients are sober, we transition them to a treatment team that can help them to make permanent changes that result in longstanding sobriety. Call today to learn more about alcohol detox and treatment at Michael’s House.
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