We won’t sugar-coat it. Alcohol withdrawal is no easy battle. The side effects are severe and the process is dangerous, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
What is withdrawal?
A person who regularly consumes drugs or alcohol will experience withdrawal when consumption suddenly stops. The body and brain become accustomed to the intake of a substance and this abrupt change results in numerous physical, mental and behavioral consequences.
According to the American Addiction Centers, brain chemistry that has been rewired by addiction is interrupted by sudden cessation, resulting in a hyper-aroused state and a variety of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
It’s critical to get help when going through alcohol detox. Not only can medical and mental health professionals make the process smoother, but intervention can prevent painful and even lethal side effects.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Everyone experiences withdrawal differently, and there’s no way to predict which symptoms a person will face. However, these are some of the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
- Feeling anxious or depressed
- Mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
- Rapid breathing
- Changes in appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling fidgety
- Feeling irritable
- Shaking hands
- Dilated eyes
- Headaches or migraines
- Increased heart rate
- Appearing sickly
- Delirium Tremens
- According to Delirium Tremens, this severe reaction to quitting alcohol can include severe confusion, hallucinations, dangerous blood pressure changes, fever, seizures and cardiovascular collapse. It occurs in about three to five percent of the population attempting to detox from alcohol.
- Delirium tremens can begin as early as 48 hours after the last drink and last up to five days. Immediate intervention is essential for those experiencing delirium tremens, as the mortality rate is about 37 percent.
How long does withdrawal take?
According to the National Library of Medicine, withdrawal may begin around eight hours after the last drink and will peak anywhere between 24 and 72 hours, yet some symptoms may linger for weeks or months.
The symptoms and duration of alcohol withdrawal depend on several factors such as weight, age, metabolism and other genetic variables. Withdrawal will be more severe if you have a long history of drinking, consume a large volume of alcohol, drink frequently, have attempted detox before, are physically unhealthy or have other medical or mental health conditions.
How to manage alcohol withdrawal
It is never safe to detox from alcohol on your own. Side effects can be distressing enough to drive someone back to alcohol use. Symptoms can also be deadly if they are not monitored by medical professionals.
A certified detoxification facility is the best place to recover from alcohol use to prevent relapse and get safe and legal medication-assisted treatment for pain management. Not only that, but detox centers will connect you with resources and services to continue your recovery journey.
What do I do once I’ve made it through withdrawal?
Once a detox program has been completed, other forms of treatment are available to support long-term sobriety. Treatment modalities vary in intensity, so it’s best to have your detox facility assess your needs and refer you to the most appropriate services.
The most common forms of treatment after detox are inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization programs and sober living homes. Treatment generally includes addiction counseling or therapy, group support (such as a 12 step program), lifestyle changes (like occupational or educational assistance) and family services.
According to the journal American Family Physician, recovery is statistically unlikely if an individual does not engage in long-term treatment following detox.
Benefits of sobriety
As soon as you stop drinking alcohol your body begins to repair itself. Even during withdrawal, though painful, your body is working to rid itself of toxins.
When you get sober you’ll start to experience some amazing benefits, and the benefits will increase the longer you stay away from alcohol.
- You’ll maintain a healthier weight because you won’t be consuming the empty calories in alcohol.
- You’ll benefit from better sleep quality and fewer sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness, says the Sleep Foundation.
- You’ll also have a lower risk of developing certain cancers according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- You will have less risk of co-occurring psychiatric disorders according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Take the first step
If alcohol has taken over your life and you’re ready to take back control, take the first step and reach out to get the necessary help in the detox process. Dealing with mood swings, nausea, dehydration, shaking, seizures and more on your own is not only terrifying, but it can also increase your risk of relapse and be dangerous to your health.
Rehab After Work can offer you the services and support you need in your recovery. Get help now by calling (610) 644-6464.