Links

Alcohol Withdrawal: How It Affects the Body and the Mind

Alcoholism is an illness that can have a devastating impact on not only those affected but also on their families. It is a progressive illness that gradually takes hold of a person to the point where he or she loses all control of their ability to stop drinking; even when doing so will have negative consequences. One of the biggest decisions an alcoholic will ever make is the decision to get sober. It is at this point that the individual decides that he or she no longer wants to live under a cloud of alcohol addiction and is prepared to make the changes necessary to get better. The next step in the process is alcohol withdrawal or detoxification.

What is Detox?

Alcohol withdrawal occurs when a person stops drinking. Once the person quits alcohol, he or she must wait until all traces of the alcohol has left the body. It is important to note that alcohol detox can be complicated due to the fact that this toxic substance affects almost every cell in the body. It is common for recovering alcoholics to experience a plethora of alcohol withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

How Alcohol Affects the Body

The first time a person drinks alcohol, it will make him or her feel relaxed and will slow down their body’s responses This is due to alcohol being a depressant. However, because alcohol is a chemical substance that affects the brain, the body will try to resist it. And since alcohol slows down the bodily functions, the brain will try to speed up to balance the effects of the alcohol.

When the effects of the alcohol wear off, the body will overcompensate in order to try to get back to normal. This makes the person feel uncomfortable and edgy, but he or she will quickly learn that these feelings subside when they drink more alcohol.

As the person drinks more and more alcohol, the body will become tolerant to the effects. This means that larger doses are required until the individual becomes physically dependent and begins to crave alcohol. When this happens, the person has developed an addiction; he or she will feel compelled to drink and will continue to abuse alcohol even knowing that doing so will cause harmful consequences.

How the Body Reacts to Alcohol Withdrawal

Once a person has decided to get sober, he or she will need to stop drinking. This is the first and most important step on the road to recovery. Nevertheless, because the body has come to depend on a regular supply of alcohol, it will react when that supply is cut off.

The body is continuously overcompensating in the expectation that the usual dose of alcohol will arrive. When it does not arrive, the body will go into overdrive as it tries to return to normal. This causes a host of unpleasant symptoms including shaking, mood swings, nausea, sweating and vomiting.

It is a well-known fact that alcohol withdrawal can be very unpleasant, but it can be less uncomfortable when it takes place in a medically supervised facility where trained staff can head off the most severe symptoms.

The aim of alcohol detox is to eliminate all traces of the substance from the body to allow the person to heal. While this process is taking place, it is common to feel unwell and unhappy, but it is important to remember that these feelings will pass. Alcohol withdrawal and the ensuing effects can last from a few days to a couple of weeks.

What to Expect

If you are someone going through this process, then you will find that as your body reacts to not getting its expected supply of alcohol, you will start to feel miserable. The severity of your symptoms and the length of time the process takes will depend on a number of factors. The type of alcohol you have been abusing, the frequency and amount of alcohol you regularly consumed, your age and your overall general health will all play a role in how you experience detox.

Some people experience only one or two types of symptoms, but others may be affected by the most severe symptoms. It is impossible to tell how detox will affect an individual, but most people do suffer from sleep problems and mood swings. These symptoms can continue for a number of weeks or even months.

Mood swings are probably one of the more common withdrawal symptoms experienced by those going through detox. Do not be surprised if you feel on top of the world one day and then wallowing in the depths of depression the next. This is quite common and is usually nothing to worry about. Nonetheless, if your mood swings are extremely severe and you are feeling suicidal, you should speak to a doctor or counsellor.

Managing Alcohol Withdrawal

It is recommended that those with alcoholism detox in a medically supervised facility. This is the safest and most comfortable way to complete the process. How your detox is managed will be determined by the senior staff at the clinic. Some individuals are given medication or nutritional supplements to ease the most severe symptoms and to help with any pain.

It is important that you are honest about any suicidal tendencies that you may have had in the past. You might be feeling embarrassed or ashamed about this, but you are not the first person with an addiction to have felt this way. The staff will be aware of how addiction can affect different individuals and how it can make a person feel as if there is no way out. Be truthful and honest as this will ensure you are given a treatment plan that will be most effective for you.

It can be very stressful to detox from alcohol, and it can also be very dangerous. However, most people will have a safe and uneventful alcohol withdrawal within a supervised facility. Your safety and comfort will be of paramount importance, and you can be sure that in the event of an emergency, you will be taken care of.

For more information on alcohol withdrawal or advice on the best facilities in your area, contact us here at Recovery.org.uk.