Close to half of adult Americans consume alcohol on a regular basis. The majority are social drinkers, who drink responsibly, wherein their levels of consumption do not affect their daily activities, health, and relationships with other people. However, for close to 15 million Americans, alcohol abuse and dependency is a problematic issue. Excessive drinking results in severe health problems, impaired behavior and dysfunctional relationships with the people around you.
An alcoholic relies on drinking to live and functions only because of the frequency and amount of alcohol consumed on a daily basis. Statistics show that 1 out of 8 American adults are alcoholics. After a person decides to quit drinking alcohol, our body goes through withdrawal. A person’s body needs time to understand and adjust. The alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when you abruptly refrain from drinking which may lead to threatening health complications. Whether one has been drinking for months or years, anyone can go through withdrawal. When you consume alcohol, it is broken down by an enzyme in your liver. This aids the body to get rid of alcohol via urine. The alcohol that is not excreted, remains and is absorbed in other parts of the body.
The buzz that one feels at a night out after a few shots of vodka reveals a sense of happiness and relaxation. An excessive amount, however, can lead to slurred speech, difficulty in walking or keeping balance, and memory gaps. Continual or chronic drinking affects a person’s body and tolerance. The person will crave for more drinks to produce the same feelings of joy.
The alcohol withdrawal side effects vary from each person. Some refrain from quitting to evade the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. Seeking treatment can help relieve the pain. It is best to learn how to recognize the signs of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Alcoholism is a disease with 4 clear symptoms:
1) Longing or a strong thirst for drink
2) Lack of self-discipline or control to limit drinking
3) Addiction or dependence
4) Resistance or the urge to drink larger amounts of alcohol to experience the same effects
Withdrawal symptoms range from moderate to serious, with headaches, increased pulse, blood pressure, increased body temperature, sweating, insomnia, over fatigue, anxiety, and vomiting. In more extreme cases, people experience tremors, seizures, hallucinations, and coma. Close to 80% of patients who seek treatment to detoxify will experience significant withdrawal symptoms. The strategy of slowly weaning off alcohol use is less likely to lead to serious withdrawal symptoms, but it is not effective in curing an alcoholic. The proper treatment for alcohol dependency needs detoxification under a supervised or controlled environment, with inpatient assistance inside a medical facility.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually begin between 5 to 6 hours following a reduced consumption of alcohol use. In some cases, it can start even when a patient has a considerable amount of alcohol left in one’s system. The symptoms heighten between 24hrs after the last alcoholic beverage and diminish between 24 to 48 hours, with sometimes lasting side effects that can continue for a week. Seizures and trembling can accompany extreme cases of alcohol withdrawal.
DT or delirium tremens, is one of the worst effects of withdrawal, where it is described by disorientation, unrest, shaking, high blood pressure, instability, hyperpyrexia, visual and auditory hallucinations. This syndrome occurs between 2-3 days of final alcohol use. In some cases, seizures can occur within the first day or up to close to a week later. Heavy drinkers who stop taking alcohol are bound to experience dangerous symptoms so it is essential to detox and be treated by a medical professional.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline
6 to 12 hours after consumption
- Unrest, fatigue
- Delayed reflexes
- Anxiety and emotional outbursts
- Nausea and vomiting
12 hours to a day post consumption
- Confusion, disorientation, memory problems
- Hand trembling
2 days after consumption
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- High blood pressure
- High body temperature/fever, excessive sweating
- Delirium Tremens
Seeking Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal
Close to 20% of patients require inpatient confinement inside a hospital or rehabilitation center for alcohol withdrawal, less severe cases can be addressed to at a medical facility. The dangers of alcohol withdrawal symptoms can also lead to stroke or heart attacks.
The types of services and therapy provided by a rehabilitation facility are based on the patient’s history of alcohol abuse, such as the regularity and amount consumed. Inpatient treatment at a facility can offer a safe, supervised and controlled environment for patients struggling with alcohol addiction. Most provide day and night care, and patients can choose from 30, 60, to 90 programs which best fit their situation.
Outpatient treatment at a rehabilitation center permits patients to attend to their daily routines while in recovery. This option is appropriate for those with fewer forms of alcohol abuse.
Individual counseling and support groups also serve as an outlet for people in the early stages of recovery. Continued participation in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous provides encouragement to maintain their sobriety.
Many patients hide the fact of their alcohol dependency to disguise their shame and weakness. Most alcoholics do not disclose their condition even to those closest to them. One must be diligent and know how to recognize addiction and the signs of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It is a definite way to decrease the threatening risks involved with alcohol dependency, which in turn can help save lives.