Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a potentially life-threatening condition that can occur in people who have been drinking heavily for weeks, months, or years and then either stop or significantly reduce their alcohol consumption. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as two hours after the last drink, persist for weeks, and range from mild anxiety and shakiness to severe complications, such as seizures.
In regular and heavy drinkers that are presenting alcohol withdrawal symptoms, the body compensates for the depressive effect of alcohol by increasing production of hormones and brain chemicals such as serotonin, epinephrine and dopamine. An estimated 50 percent of people who have an alcohol addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking. Of those people, 3 to 5 percent will experience AWD symptoms like grand mal seizures and severe confusion.
When a person stops drinking alcohol cold turkey, the body becomes flooded with abnormally high levels of these chemicals. This causes the brain to undergo rapid adaptive changes in an attempt to maintain normal function. Severe complications include dehydration, vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms and a condition called delirium tremens (DTs). The death rate from DTs -- which are characterized by confusion, rapid heartbeat, and fever -- is estimated to range from 1% to 5%.
Because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can rapidly worsen, it's important to seek medical attention even if these are seemingly mild. Appropriate alcohol withdrawal treatments can reduce the risk of developing withdrawal seizures or DTs. Alcohol withdrawal can be broken down into three stages:
Anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and abdominal pain characterize this stage, which begins 8 hours after the last drink.
High blood pressure, increased body temperature, unusual heart rate, and confusion come with this stage, which begins 24-72 hours after the last drink.
Hallucinations, fever, seizures, and agitation come with this stage, which tends to begin 72+ hours after the last drink.
Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms are often refractory to standard doses of medication and require aggressive treatment. The severity and extent of withdrawal symptoms from alcohol vary depending on an individual's history of abuse and overall health, including any exacerbating co-existing medical and/or psychological disorders.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can shift quickly and violently – you can experience minor symptoms to extremely severe side effects in a matter of hours. There are many alcohol treatment programs that focus on helping individuals overcome drinking problems, no matter how minor or how serious.
You can learn to overcome your substance dependence or addiction and achieve sobriety. The key point to remember is that it is never safe to attempt to detox from alcohol or drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs on your own. Those at highest risk for complications from alcohol withdrawal are people who drink frequently to excess and then routinely go through their own version of detox. Even if you believe that friends or family can help, only trained professionals have the skills to safely assist you through the arduous and potentially dangerous detox process. Self-detox is a bad and very dangerous idea that can prove fatal.
Specialized rehab facilities offer many benefits to those struggling with alcohol addiction. For example, treatment specialists will be able to help you understand how does alcohol rehab work, will assist you in alleviating some of your painful withdrawal symptoms, as well as provide guidance through your entire recovery process. How does alcohol rehab work may be an enigma to many patients seeking help. But, in reality, rehab works by providing ongoing support while you get clean. This happens through:
- Relapse Prevention
- A Tailored Treatment
- Treatment of Mental Health Disorders
Inpatient and residential treatment facilities with detox programs are especially beneficial for individuals with chronic addiction. Outpatient facilities are typically better suited for those with less severe addiction problems. The benefits of both settings is that they provide the experience and care needed to manage the dangers of detox, while implementing methods that can diminish both the risks and the discomfort of the symptoms, reduce stress and lower the likelihood of relapse.
Treatment facilities that provide a safe, medically supervised detox environment are the best place to start your recovery journey. There you will find trained professionals that devote their lives to helping people address and overcome addiction. For help finding alcohol treatment centers where you can go through medical detox to help with your alcohol withdrawal symptoms, contact (312) 604-7346.