When a substance with a high potential for dependency is abused it causes a physical dependence on the addict, and he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms after abruptly cutting down or stopping its consumption. The symptoms of withdrawal are not only unpleasant but could also be dangerous.
Alcohol is no exemption, like other drugs, alcohol can cause mild to severe withdrawal symptoms, charging a heavy toll on the body. The length of which it can vary depends on many factors, such as how much and how often alcohol is consumed.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol can develop dependency after prolonged use, which leads heavy drinkers to experience withdrawal symptoms when consumption is stopped abruptly.
We can’t understand what an alcohol withdrawal is without first examining how alcohol acts in the body. Alcohol acts as a depressant in the central nervous system, and after prolonged use, your nervous system starts getting used to having it around all the time. Because alcohol acts as a depressant, your body works overtime in keeping your brain sharp. After prolonged drinking, it becomes sort of a habit for your body to keep your brain ‘pumped up’. When alcoholics stop drinking, the brain and nervous system stay in this heightened state which is what causes the withdrawal.
This condition is known as ‘alcohol withdrawal syndrome’ and can be life threatening for the alcoholic. It’s symptoms range from mild to severe
What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms could start showing up in as little as a few hours after the last drink, depending on the level of dependency of the alcoholic. Mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are rarely dangerous, but can certainly be unpleasant and bothersome.
The most common mild symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Visual and Auditory disturbances
On the other hand, more severe symptoms should not be ignored as these can lead to complications and even death. When these begin to appear, it’s important to seek the help of a medical professional.
Severe and life threatening symptoms may include –
- Delirium tremens
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
- Sleep disturbances
- Cardiovascular complications
Understanding what is alcohol withdrawal, is but the first step, once the symptoms are noticed, is time to seek treatment. The best way to treat severe alcohol withdrawals is with the help of a healthcare professional. Detox and rehab centers assist alcoholics and treat their withdrawals with medications that alleviate their symptoms while maintaining 24/7 monitoring of patients.
Pharmacotherapy can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, and meds such as benzodiazepines may be employed to help with anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. Other antipsychotics and anti-seizure meds are also available as part of the detox.
After the treatment is concluded, the patient should be referred to a support group such as AA, which can provide ongoing support that will be needed through the rest of an alcoholic’s life. Attending 12-step or other support programs during sobriety is an important step for maintenance to avoid relapses. In many cases, detox centers will also offer alumni groups and aftercare programs that will support the addict. Therapy during and after may also be a good option for those who have other underlying behavioral and cognitive issues that could allure them back to a bottle.
How to Get Help
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can hinder recovery by keeping alcoholics from wanting to stop drinking, they can be dangerous and life-threatening if not dealt with adequately.
If you or one of your loved ones is suffering from alcohol withdrawals then you must act now!
Veritas Detox offers alcohol detox programs to help you or your loved ones get sober and stay that way.
Help is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week at no cost or obligation. Speak to one of Veritas recovery experts, to seek the help you and your loved ones need. Contact Veritas Detox today!