- Table of Contents
- Alcohol Withdrawal
- Detox at Home?
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Alcohol Withdrawal & Detox
Alcohol is a chemical compound that causes a variety of effects on many different parts of the human body. It is impossible to reduce its effects, positive or negative, to a simple metric. A general description of alcohol is that it is a central nervous system depressant meaning it impairs one’s perception and slows reaction time. Those effects can makes us feel more relaxed and lower our inhibitions while at the same time it also increases the risk of accidents or makes the intoxicated person more vulnerable to violence and abuse.
When a person drinks, the alcohol increases the effects of GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for creating feelings of euphoria and calmness as well as decreasing glutamate, another neurotransmitter that increases feelings of excitement. When a person drinks heavy and often, the body starts to think it isn’t necessary to produce as many neurotransmitters naturally; so over time, naturally producing GABA decreases increasing glutamate as well. Eventually more alcohol is needed to feel the same desired effects as before. Therefore, when an individual who has been consistently drinking for some time stops drinking, their neurotransmitter levels are very low leading to harmful consequences called withdrawals.
Withdrawal symptoms typically start after Withdrawal symptoms can range from person to person, therefore it is appropriate to understand the different types of drinking patterns.
Moderate drinking is drinking up to 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. Withdrawals from this type of drinking are rare and minimal if any. Withdrawal symptoms could include minor irritations like headaches and irritableness.
Drinking alcohol to obtain (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This usually occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours. Depending on their frequency, binge drinkers can produce minor withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, restlessness, and shakiness when drinking stops.
For men, having 15 drinks or more during a week is considered heavy drinking. For women, it’s eight drinks over the course of a week. For heavy drinkers, alcohol withdrawal symptoms will be substantially more severe. The cessation of drinking can lead to symptoms like confusion, racing heart, high blood pressure, fever and heavy sweating.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Mild symptoms usually show up as early as 6 hours. The severity of withdrawals is dependent on the severity and frequency of drinking. These feelings can be apparent for binge drinkers but very common with heavy drinkers.
- Feeling anxious or nervous
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling wiped out and tired
- Mood swings
- Not being able to think clearly
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Appetite loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Pale skin
- Faster heart rate
Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
More serious problems range from hallucinations about 12 to 24 hours after that last drink to seizures within the first 2 days. These severe withdrawal symptoms are for individuals who have been heavy drinkers for a extended period of time – usually over a year. If you believe you may be a heavy drinker it is crucial that you do not try to quit drinking without professional help. Alcohol withdrawals can be extremely unpleasant and even sometimes fatal. An Alcohol Detox like Coalition Recovery is designed to help individuals through the withdrawal stages with minimum discomfort and maximum safety. Severe withdrawal symptoms include.
- Hallucinations (feeling, seeing, or hearing things that aren’t there)
- Extreme agitation
- Extreme confusion
- High blood pressure
- Seizures (Delirium Tremens)
- Alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD) is the most serious form of alcohol withdrawal. It causes sudden and severe problems in the brain and nervous system leading to severe confusion and grand mal seizures that can be fatal without proper medical supervision.
Knowing the severity of your potential withdrawal is very important considering the possibility of fatal outcomes. Alcohol withdrawal is primarily diagnosed with a physical exam and a toxicology screen. Toxicology screenings measure the amount of alcohol present in your blood and urine. Additional to your exams, the doctor will also look for physical symptoms like: tremors in your hands, high blood pressure, fast heartbeat, fever, dilated pupils and fast breathing.
The Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol scale is also a very common questionnaire that doctors may use to establish the severity of withdrawal. This questionnaire asks 10 questions to measure:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tactile disturbances, which are abnormal feelings in, on, or underneath your skin
- Auditory disturbances, which involve your hearing
- Visual disturbances, which involve your vision
Detox at Home or Alcohol Treatment?
Your treatment will depend on the severity of drinking and therefore the severity of symptoms. Always consult your primary physician first before you quit drinking on your own. IF you are considering quitting drinking it is important to seek medical advice first to ensure your safety. Consult your primary physician or call our recovery specialist today (888) 707-2873
Mild to Moderate Symptoms
If you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, chances are you will be able to recuperate at home but it is advised to have someone there with you during this stage to watch you in the event that your symptoms get worse. Counseling is often suggested to take a proactive step towards alcohol use.
Moderate to Severe Symptoms
These symptoms will require more intense monitoring. Individuals will typically be hospitalized to monitor vitals, monitor blood chemical levels, and to administer intravenous (IV) fluids to prevent dehydration. Sedative medications and are often administered to help with the adverse effects and seizures. Detox centers specialize in the safe and effective detox from drugs and/or alcohol. Learn more about the detox procedure.
Detoxing from a drug is a short-term fix to the overall problem. The best long-term treatment towards alcohol use is abstinence. Clinical treatment involving evidence-based psychotherapy counseling and medication offer the best chance towards lifelong recovery. Call Coalition Recovery and have one of our addiction specialist set you up with a personalized program today.