Handling Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Those who want to quit a substance abuse problem such as alcoholism will probably need to go through a programme of detoxification before they can begin the process of rehabilitation. It is necessary to quit drinking before you can tackle the underlying issues that caused the addiction in the first place. Detoxing from any chemical substance can be unpleasant, but those who detox from alcohol may experience a variety of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The problem is that it is impossible to tell how detox will affect a person until he or she actually goes through the process.

Before Starting Detox

Image showing a man running with text alcohol detoxification

It is important to remember that as dangerous as it is to abuse alcohol, it is just as dangerous to stop drinking suddenly on your own. It is always a good idea for those with alcoholism to seek advice before quitting or, at the very least, to have done some research and be prepared for what may or may not happen during the detox.

It is vital that you are aware of the type of help you may require both during and after the detox, and you should seek advice on whether you should detox in a supervised facility or at home. In most cases, it is recommended that those detoxing from an alcohol addiction</a>, do so in a supervised facility. It is the safest and most comfortable way to detox.

What to Expect from an Alcohol Detox

It can be very complicated to detox from alcohol as it is a substance that affects almost every single cell in the body. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe, and the severity of the symptoms will usually depend on the length of time the affected person has been abusing alcohol, the type of alcohol and the amount the person regularly consumed, their age, and general health.

Detox is the process of quitting alcohol and then simply waiting until all traces of the substance have been eliminated from the body. The alcohol withdrawal symptoms experienced are caused as the body attempts to get back to normal now that alcohol has been cut off.

The aim of detox is to allow the body to heal after the damage that has been inflicted on it due to years of alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox can take a few days to a couple of weeks; however, some symptoms may linger for a while longer.

What are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Like?

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically start around six to twelve hours after the individual stops drinking. It is possible for these to begin even when there are substantial amounts of alcohol still in the blood. The symptoms range in severity from mild to severe.

In the early stages, the individual may notice that his/her body is racing due of the removal of the alcohol. This can cause the person to feel shaky and anxious. Some individuals experience mild jitters while others shake so severely that it can affect their ability to function.

Other common early symptoms of alcohol detox are vomiting, nausea, and loss of appetite. These are the same symptoms that many alcoholics experience when they go without alcohol for longer than usual. Some alcoholics feel nauseous first thing in the morning and will find that once they have had their first alcoholic drink, the symptoms subside.

Feeling alert but irritable and agitated is commonplace in the early stages of alcohol withdrawal. Recovering alcoholics often feel tired and desperate to sleep but find they are unable to do so as they are so restless. They may have a racing pulse and rapid heartbeat as well as high blood pressure. Some will feel anxious and fearful and will suffer from extreme mood swings.

Mild symptoms tend to last a few days to a few weeks. Nevertheless, other symptoms such as sleeping problems can last longer.

Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Around a quarter of those that detox from alcohol will experience more severe withdrawal symptoms, including hallucinations. While hallucinations themselves are not life-threatening, they can be very frightening for the person experiencing them as well as for those around them. Some individuals who experience hallucinations may act on them, harming themselves or others in the process.

Severe symptoms include seizures, convulsions, and delirium tremens. Seizures and convulsions tend to occur around the second day but can happen anywhere from six to seventy-two hours after the person has had his or her last drink. One thing with seizures and convulsions is that they can almost always be prevented in a medically supervised facility. Delirium tremens, on the other hand, are much more severe and should be treated as a medical emergency.

Delirium tremens, also known as DTs, affect those who experience them in a much more severe form of the mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Patients with the DTs will suffer severe shaking and sweating and may experience paranoid delusions. They might believe that people around them are saying and doing things, or they convince themselves that others are trying to harm them. Some individuals with the DTs will become aggressive and violent due to the delusions they are experiencing.

Severe DTs can be fatal if they are not treated immediately. Experts believe the body goes into shock, and a surge in adrenaline can result in over-stimulation of the nervous system. This coupled with heart irregularities can lead to death.

It is impossible to tell who will and will not experience the DTs, and for that reason, most addiction services experts will advise those detoxing from alcohol to do so in a safe environment under the care of a qualified medical professional. Early and intensive treatment is the best way to prevent the DTs from occurring.

Overcoming Detox

Image showing a hand writing on a clockface that it's time to detoxDetox is often the biggest obstacle to recovery as many alcoholics are fearful of what it will be like. They are worried that they are going to suffer intense pain and may even be strapped to a bed as they go out of their minds.

There is no doubting the fact that alcohol detox can be unpleasant, but with the right care and support, it can be much more comfortable than one might expect. A good care facility with experienced staff will be able to ensure that patients do not suffer the most severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms and that they are kept safe and secure at all times.

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