Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol addiction is one of the biggest social issues faced by the United Kingdom. In 2018 alone, there were nearly 5,700 deaths in the U.K. that can be attributed to the use of alcohol. Between 2018 and 2019, there were some 358 thousand hospital admissions that were related to alcohol consumption.

These types of statistics are concerning and it is a problem that affects far more individuals than one might think. The loved ones of individuals suffering from alcoholism often suffer alongside them. There are many reasons that alcohol can be a difficult thing for many alcohol dependants to overcome, and, it is often a combination of factors that keeps them from doing so.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are one of the major reasons why a dependency for alcohol can be so difficult to recover from. With this said, it can be valuable to take a further examination of the topic of alcohol withdrawal and the symptoms that often accompany it.

What Is Meant By Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms manifest as physical and mental problems that appear when the consumption of alcohol is ceased abruptly. The amount of time that it can take to develop an alcohol dependency serious enough to suffer withdrawal symptoms can vary greatly from one individual to the next.

The range of time can vary from weeks and months of continuous drinking or it can be a consequence of years of alcohol abuse. Alcohol withdrawal is generally not experienced by individuals who only drink on occasion. For those who have a serious alcohol dependency, withdrawal symptoms are common and they can become quite serious at their worst.

Alcohol acts as a depressant on the human body. When you abuse alcohol, your body gets used to the presence of the substance. The nervous system adjusts to functioning while under the influence of alcohol.

The heightened state that your body has to function at when you regularly consume alcohol is an attempt to ensure that the nervous system can continue functioning. When the alcohol is suddenly removed, the body often remains in this heightened state.

The end result is often that you will experience withdrawal symptoms.

What Are Some of the Specific Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can range from mild to severe. Some of these symptoms include:

Mild Symptoms:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Feelings of Anxiety
  • Headaches and Insomnia
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Shaky Hands
  • Irritability

Severe Symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delusions
  • Confusion
  • Heightened Blood Pressure
  • Heavy Sweating
  • Racing of the Heart
  • Fever
  • Delirium Tremens

These are some of the most common symptoms associated with withdrawal from alcohol. These symptoms should be taken seriously. In many cases, it is advisable to seek the services of a rehab provider that can offer you a medically monitored detox. Some of these more serious symptoms can end up becoming life-threatening. Due to this, they require the supervision of medical professionals.

Important Information About Excessive Drinking

Addiction to alcohol and the withdrawal symptoms that can go along with it are the result of excessive drinking. The moderate consumption of alcohol is generally regarded as a safe practice.

It is when drinking becomes excessive that issues of addiction and withdrawal start to enter the picture. One problem faced by many is that they do not know the difference between what constitutes moderate drinking and what constitutes excessive drinking.

A good general rule of thumb for moderate drinking is that women can have one drink per day and men can have up to two drinks per day.

What constitutes a single drink is dependent on the type of beverage being consumed. A single drink is usually classified as 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of standard 80 proof spirits or liquor, or 5 ounces off wine.

When you consume any of these drinks in an amount that goes beyond moderation, you are engaging in excessive drinking that can end up leading to addiction and withdrawal.

Factors that Increase the Risks

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are generally experienced by individuals who have an addiction to alcohol that is severe enough that they are unable to quit without help.

This is an issue that is most commonly experienced by individuals that regularly binge drink. This is a form of heavy drinking that involves four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men.

This type of consumption often leads to addiction that is accompanied by withdrawal when an attempt is made to quit. Though this is an issue that is mostly experienced by adults, teenagers can experience it as well if they regularly engage in binge drinking.

How Long Can Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Persist?

The length of time that alcohol withdrawal symptoms persist will depend on the individual and their level of addiction. If you have an alcohol addiction that you try to quit on your own, you could start experiencing symptoms of withdrawal within the first eight hours of drinking cessation.

For most people, the symptoms of withdrawal are at their worst for the initial 48 hours after the cessation of drinking. The overall process that it takes for your body to adjust can last anywhere from three days to a week.

For the most serious cases of alcohol addiction, it can be necessary to quit drinking and detox in the presence of trained professionals that can medically monitor the procedure. This is because in the worst cases, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can become life-threatening.

What Can the Most Serious Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Involve?

It is the most serious withdrawal symptoms that are the biggest cause for concern when an addict is fighting to give up alcohol. Some of these symptoms can go beyond the point of being an annoyance or discomfort and they can represent a life-threatening situation.

These symptoms require the supervision of trained medical professionals that can monitor the patient until their body has successfully detoxed. Some important factors to know about some of these more serious symptoms include:

Seizures are one of the most serious withdrawal symptoms that can occur when as addict ceases consumption of alcohol. Individuals who do experience these withdrawal seizures generally do so within the first 24 hours after cessation. Some individuals that are withdrawing from alcohol might also experience a type of seizure known as Status Epilepticus. This is a serious condition that is considered to be life-threatening.

Hallucinations can be one of the most troubling withdrawal symptoms that can accompany the cessation of alcohol. Like seizures, these hallucinations generally occur within the first 24 hour period after drinking has ceased. The nature of these hallucinations can range from auditory and visual to having an impact on touch.

The condition known as Delirium Tremens is the most concerning of the possible symptoms that can occur as a result of alcohol withdrawal. This is a condition that must be addressed by medical professionals as it is considered to be life-threatening. This is a type of withdrawal that often occurs two to three days after the cessation of drinking. Some of the symptoms of Delirium Tremens include:

  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Extreme Sweating
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Feelings of Agitation
  • Stupor
  • An Increase in Your Breathing Rate
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

These are some of the primary symptoms associated with Delirium Tremens. If you experience these symptoms after you have ceased consumption of alcohol, you should immediately seek medical care.

Individuals with a history of heavy alcohol use on a daily basis are at the highest risk of experiencing the most severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures, and Delirium Tremens. Other risk factors include suffering from another major illness at the same time that an attempt to quit drinking has been made.

A history of past episodes of Delirium Tremens and alcohol withdrawal-related seizures also increases the chance of experiencing these types of severe symptoms.

Medically Supervised Detox Is the Safest Option

For individuals that have a long-term history of daily alcohol abuse or who have experienced serious withdrawal symptoms during previous attempts to quit drinking, it is advisable to turn to the services of a rehab provider that can offer medically monitored detox. Doing so can make it possible to monitor and even avoid some of the most uncomfortable and life-threatening alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Ways That Alcohol Affects the Brain

The effect that alcohol has on the brain is closely tied to the fact that withdrawal symptoms can occur when people suffering from alcoholism cease their use. When a person consumes alcohol, it interacts with the brain’s GABA receptors.

The long-term effect of this interaction is that the brain will down-regulate GABA receptor numbers. This can lead to an individual building up tolerance to alcohol that causes them to need an ever-increasing amount.

The building of tolerance is tied to the phenomenon of alcohol dependence. Some of the body’s central nervous system functions increase their activity as a way to compensate and balance the inhibitory tone that has been caused by the chronic consumption of alcohol.

Once an individual’s body builds an alcohol dependence, they become susceptible to withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to quit drinking.

What Kinds of Treatments Are Available for Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

It is important to speak to your doctor if you are experiencing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. For most individuals, the main treatment is to simply put one’s self into a quiet environment with limited contact with others. It is important to eat healthy foods and surround one’s self with positive support.

For those that experience the more severe types of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it can be important to be medically monitored until detox is achieved.

Symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures, and a rise in temperature or blood pressure should quickly be addressed by medical professionals. In some cases, it is necessary to put a patient on medication while they go through withdrawal symptoms.

What Steps Should Be Taken After Successfully Detoxing?

As we have seen, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Seeking a medically monitored detox is advisable for anyone that might be at risk for the more severe withdrawal symptoms. Once you have successfully detoxed and gotten past the withdrawal symptoms, it is time to consider your next step toward sobriety.

This is going to involve entering into a rehab programme. Your options will include both outpatient and residential rehab models. Though the inpatient, residential rehab model is considered to be the better, more effective option, some individuals require the option of receiving treatment in an outpatient model.

The alcohol rehab program that you enter into will include aspects such as individual counselling and group therapy. It will also include activities that are designed to ensure overall wellness. Alcohol rehab can also include medication, family counselling, and meetings with support groups.

The Importance of Seeking Help for Addiction Issues

Battling against alcohol addiction is a difficult process. It is difficult to admit to having a problem, and coping with alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be difficult as well. At the same time, it is a battle that is worth fighting.

Achieving sobriety can be one of the most life-changing experiences you have ever had. It is also something that can make a dramatic difference in the lives of those who love you. Your loved ones often suffer alongside you as you battle with your addiction problem.

If you suffer from noticeable symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when you attempt to quit drinking, this is a clear sign that the time to get help has arrived. There is professional help out there from the addiction treatment community and there are also many excellent community organisations that provide valuable resources to recovering dependents.

Today is as good a day as any to seek out the help that can make a difference in your life if you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol.


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