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Alcohol Withdrawal

The signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome can vary from person to person. If not treated correctly, the results are often dangerous and can be deadly. Knowing what to look for and how to seek help is the first step towards recovery.

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Alcohol Withdrawal

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Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal

Often, people drink in a social setting or to unwind. Alcohol’s depressive effects cause us to slow down, which is why we experience relaxation when consuming alcohol. The body sends depressive signals to the brain. When drinking heavily or for extended periods, dependency can form for these signals.

This dependency is what causes withdrawal symptoms. Drinking frequently for weeks, months, or even years bombards the brain with signals to slow down and relax. The brain compensates for the constant flow of depressive signals it receives by sending other signals to make you more alert and aware.

When dependant on alcohol, your brain releases a continuous flow of chemicals to make you alert to counter alcohol’s effects. It keeps nerve endings stimulated all the time to compensate for the depressive signals. This leads to a dangerous level of alcohol dependency. The brain and central nervous system are so used to alcohol’s effects that it does not operate correctly without it. 

Because of this, if someone tries to quit alcohol or does not drink for a period, the brain, still used to constant depressive signals, will rev up to a heightened state. This rev up will continue the longer the user is without alcohol, leading to dangerous stimulation levels in the brain.

The danger depends on how dependant or accustomed the body and central nervous system have become to alcohol. During withdrawal, chemicals become unbalanced, and the brain does not know how to compensate for many weeks. The side effects of this imbalance are known as alcohol withdrawal or Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS).

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are often hazardous, and it is never recommended to attempt quitting an alcohol addiction without the aid of professional help.

These symptoms can start to escalate within the first few hours of the last drink and can last days, weeks, or on rare occasions, for months. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the person, and these symptoms can include:

  • Dehydration
  • Headaches
  • Tremors or shaky hands
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Delirium tremens
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

While some of these symptoms can be manageable on their own, many are not. Some symptoms, like delirium tremens or seizures, are dangerous and life-threatening.

Without the correct supervision and treatment, a person could face one or more of the following:

  • Many hospital stays
  • Worsening physical conditions
  • Frequent and more severe relapses

Other Consequences

The effect of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome on a person’s life does not end with only the physical effects. There are often mental and emotional problems that occur when trying to stop drinking. Important relationships, friendships, and career success are all impacted.

Some people have been known to experience:
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Memory loss
  • Intense cravings that lead to a relapse

Help Is Available

What should someone who wants to quit drinking do? 

For starters, never try to solve alcohol dependence on their own. Most who try without professional help are much more likely to experience relapses and some of the extreme symptoms mentioned above.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be scary and even life-threatening, depending on their level of addiction. Professionals with proper training can be beneficial in making the process a success.

So, with all of that in mind, here are some highly recommended available options:

Driving under the influence is a harshly punished crime in all states. It regularly puts the driver and others at risk of death and injury. Not being able to control your motor vehicle is extremely dangerous. A DUI will result in a life being turned upside-down and likely involve criminal punishment, including jail time.

Medical Detox Facilities
  • A patient has access to prescription medications and methods to help alleviate the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
  • Therapy usually lasts anywhere from five to ten days, depending on the severity of alcohol dependency.
Outpatient Treatment
  • A good solution for those with milder symptoms of alcohol dependence.
  • Patients still care for day-to-day responsibilities while checking in with their facility.
Individual or Group Counseling
  • Since alcoholism is often linked with other mental disorders, counseling will help a sufferer in their mental recovery.
  • Finding the root causes of alcohol dependency and how to avoid it in the future is one of the primary goals of counseling.
  • This option could also include family therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy with a licensed mental health expert.
Mutual Support Groups
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and similar organizations offer support meetings for past sufferers.
  • This helps prevent a future relapse into alcohol dependence with accountability and mentoring.

Help Is Available

Pancreatitis is a disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption that affects your pancreas. Symptoms regularly include epigastric pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Step One: Reach Out

Admitting a need for help is a vital first step and a scary one. Reach out to a trusted professional, treatment facility, or doctor to start your journey on the road to recovery safely.

Step Two: Connect With the Right Treatment

Everyone has a different level of dependence on alcohol abuse. Depending upon age, height, weight, background, and other factors, a customized plan can be presented to you, one that works for you.

Step Three: Do the Work

Breaking free from alcohol use disorders is a process that requires patience. Taking each step day-by-day can help sufferers with getting to their goals effectively.

Step Four: Never Stop Trying

Once alcohol detox is completed and treatment is successful, a patient must eventually deal with sobriety in day-to-day life. Keep working toward a sober life by reaching out to professionals, loved ones, and support groups that can help with moving forward and preventing relapses from occurring.

Not Letting Alcohol Run Your Life

Many are embarrassed or in denial when realizing they have a problem with alcohol abuse. Some take for granted just how impacted their life has become.

Whatever your situation is, help is available. Confidential Treatment Navigators and certified treatment facilities have a vast amount of experience guiding those with substance abuse disorders back to a healthy lifestyle.

Do not wait until it gets worse. Today is the day to start on the road to recovery.

What If I Can't Afford Treatment?

There are many programs available that are cost-effective and extremely confidential. According to your personal circumstances, a treatment plan can be matched with you, including your budget, insurance, and situation.

Finding a way to break free from alcohol dependence is worth looking into — it can mean taking back your life or that of your loved ones.

Where to Begin

Do not waste any more time before seeking the help you or your loved one needs. Our Treatment Navigators are here to help guide you on the road to recovery. We help in investigating all suitable treatment options available to you or your loved ones and your specific circumstances.


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