In the United States, alcohol is the 3rd leading preventable cause of death. Even alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening, especially if you aren’t prepared to quit. If you’re planning to withdraw from alcohol or know someone who is going through alcohol withdrawal, it’s vital first to understand the set of challenges that could accompany the withdrawal.
Keep Reading to Learn 6 Important Things Concerning Alcohol Withdrawal
1. What Is It?
Whether you’re a heavy drinker for weeks or years, once you cut back on alcohol or cut it out completely, you’re likely to face some mental and physical battles.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to serious, though it’s best to be prepared for either.
If you’re an occasional drinker, you probably won’t experience dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms. If you’ve ever been through withdrawal before, though, you’re likely to experience those same symptoms if you cut alcohol out again.
Alcohol has a depressive effect on your system and slows down brain function. Plus, it changes the way that your nerves communicate.
The more frequently you drink, the more your central nervous system must adapt and adjust to being consistently dosed with alcohol. As a result, your body works even harder to maintain nerve communication and keep your brain awake.
When you finally stop consumption, your body’s alcohol level drops suddenly. Your brain, however, remains in overdrive, and the withdrawal begins.
2. What Are the Mild Symptoms?
Mental and physical symptoms of alcohol can start as soon as 6 hours after you put your last glass down. Typically, they begin after about 8 hours but can occur days later, too.
Symptoms tend to spike around 24 to 72 hours following your last drink. Here are some common symptoms you can expect to experience during alcohol withdrawal:
- Shaky hands
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Mood swings
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of appetite
- Faster heart rate
3. What Are the Severe Symptoms?
One of the most dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms is called delirium tremens (the DTs). Without treatment, this condition can become fatal quickly.
If you or someone you love shows ANY symptoms of the DTs, you must immediately seek emergency treatment. Be on the lookout for these symptoms of the DTs:
- Extreme agitation
- Hallucinations (seeing, feeling, or hearing)
- High blood pressure
- Extreme confusion
Your detox symptoms from alcohol withdrawal will be much more manageable while under the care of a treatment center with detox experts.
4. How Is It Diagnosed?
If you do have to seek emergency medical attention, your doctor will diagnose your withdrawal from alcohol with a physical exam, your history, and blood tests. They’ll also look for these signs:
- Dilated pupils
- Fast heartbeat
- Tremors in your hands
- High blood pressure
- Fast breathing
They’ll look for disturbances in your hearing, vision, and emotions, too. Any treatment depends on how severe your symptoms are.
5. You Might Need Medical Help
You might be able to withdraw at home with mild or moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. However, you should have someone with you to ensure your symptoms don’t worsen. Depending on how bad your symptoms are, you might need to visit your doctor daily until you begin to come out of it.
Your doctor might decide to prescribe a sedative to help with the first few days, and they might test you for other medical conditions potentially related to your alcohol use.
They’ll likely recommend counseling and a reputable treatment program.
If your alcohol withdrawal symptoms are moderate or severe, you’ll likely need hospitalization to be monitored carefully. IV fluids are often used to prevent dehydration or to provide medication to stop seizures or prevent complications.
Once you’ve ensured that level of withdrawal, the best thing you can do for your body and mind alike is to stop drinking completely with the help of experienced professionals and a life-changing treatment plan.
6. Addiction Treatment Is Essential
It’s possible to learn to love and enjoy life without alcohol, but developing those habits often takes more than a simple detox.
Change takes time.
Longer treatment allows for the joyful reinforcement of new habits, values, and lifestyle choices. Living sober can be difficult, but it’s entirely possible with a therapeutic program that focuses on improved health and a life of sobriety.
It’s vital to treat the whole person by including the mind, body, and spirit in the path to recovery. Any substance abuse program should work hand-in-hand with treating mental health.
How to Detox From Alcohol
If you’re dependent on alcohol, detoxing can be dangerous. The best way to do it safely is to slowly lessen the amount you consume if you do it at home.
While this method takes longer, it’s the safer method for an at-home detox. You shouldn’t do it without a friend or someone who can stay with you to watch for danger signs and symptoms of withdrawal.
If you’re addicted to alcohol, do what’s best for yourself by getting addiction treatment and therapy. Alcohol withdrawal is dangerous and can be fatal, both during withdrawal and in the future. Through a detox and treatment program, you’ll be prepared for your life after treatment.
Choose to Withdraw From Alcohol With Help
The choice to withdraw from alcohol might be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The best thing you can do for yourself during withdrawal from alcohol is to get the help that you need and deserve.
If you choose to detox at a treatment center where you’ll have the physiological, mental, and spiritual help that you need, your withdrawal and recovery can be a positive journey.
With long-term treatment, you’ll stay safe and rest assured, knowing you have the support to achieve and maintain a life of sobriety.