Alcohol consumption is one thing that might benefit your health if taken at moderate level but getting addicted to you can cause much harm than one can think of. It is something that makes the life of a person a living hell.
Talking about alcohol withdrawal or detoxification among people is something that the alcoholic person fears because of the physical and psychological bad experiences.
But if you are the one who is addicted to alcohol or know anyone who is alcoholic and want to detox the body, then it is very crucial to get it done in the right way. Trying it at home without considering medical know-how can even lead to the death of the person.
Generate awareness that leads to the right path and goal.
So be ready to detox and step into the life that offers you with the gift of long-lasting recovery. Read the blog to clear your doubts related to alcohol withdrawal and its effects on the body and mind.
According to the definition, Alcohol Withdrawal syndrome occurs when a person stops drinking alcohol after a heavy dependency on hard alcohol for a long period.
Since the prolonged dependency on alcoholic drink make brain and body used to it, and when the person abruptly stops drinking then the body and mind need some time to adjust their functions in the absence of alcohol dosage.
This period is accompanied by many effects like shakes, insomnia, nausea, and anxiety. Apart from these common symptoms, syndrome can affect various health activities. Many professionals are well aware of its effect and therefore recommend the rehab centers to fight with the symptoms and for better alcohol withdrawal treatment.
Must Read: How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System
Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal
Drinking of alcohol affects multiple body organs and hence functions, thus when the person quit drinking alcohol these organ functions result in alcohol withdrawal. The primary organ that is affected by quitting alcohol is the Central Nervous System.
Alcohol has a sedative effect that suppresses the neurotransmitter in the brain. This offers an easing effect on the person after drink. Thus, people usually feel happy and relax after having two drinks.
But when a person is hard drinker then it offers a depressant effect on the brain thus making them dependent on the drink. This increases their demand for the liquor.
In that case if the person quit taking the drink the brain alters its performance and start adjusting itself according to the new chemical imbalance. This causes the major side-effects of withdrawal which is completely different from what one feels after consuming it.
These symptoms can be reduced by following the right pattern and medication prescribed by the professionals. With the effective reduction in the withdrawal symptoms, one will be able to recover and get better.
Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium Tremens
Have you ever heard about the term Delirium Tremens? Although it is uncommon but many people with alcohol withdrawal are facing the symptoms of Delirium Tremens. It is the most common symptom that occurs in a person with alcohol withdrawal.
Earlier studies linked it with the deficiency of certain vitamin from the body but the latest research reveals that it occurs due to the release of glutamate in the brain during alcohol withdrawal to substitute the gamma-aminobutyric acid that is released in the brain when the person consumes alcohol.
Glutamate is an excitatory neuron that displays various symptoms and autonomic hyperactivity associated with the syndrome.
Some of the common symptoms associated with Delirium Tremens are:
- Respiratory Arrest
- Cardiac Arrhythmias
- Aspiration Pneumonitis (it may result in lung infection)
- Delirium Tremens offer more risk if the person
- Is a middle-aged or senior citizen
- Have experienced seizures previously
- Have some mental illness
- Have the abnormal liver function
- Experience alcohol cravings
- Have experienced delirium tremens before
Diagnosis of Delirium Tremens
It is challenging to diagnose Delirium tremens as the symptoms are common as those occur in the usual acute alcohol withdrawal. It has been found that this symptom can cause death in 15% of the person suffering from it. It is therefore good to undergo the withdrawal phase under the complete guidance of professional experts.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline Chart
The withdrawal symptoms of alcohol can begin immediately after 2 hours after you had your last drink or after 24 to 48 hours. It begins with the feeling of uncomforted that may arise due to insomnia, rapid heartbeat, fluctuation in blood pressure, tremors, fever, etc.
Since the withdrawal syndrome symptoms vary from person to person but can display serious side-effects especially if the person develops the alcohol withdrawal delirium tremens.
It is one of the most severe withdrawal symptoms that is displayed within the 48 hours after the last drink. It is often accompanied by confusion, shaking of the body, hallucinations, and high blood pressure.
The symptom can be life-threatening too, therefore, it is highly recommended that the person who undergoes withdrawal should be kept under proper medical guidance.
Timeline Displaying Alcoholic Withdrawal Syndrome
- In this the first stage of alcohol withdrawal is observed.
- Shaking in the body begins
24 hours to 72 hours
- Symptoms reach to the peak
- Beginning of stage 1 and 2
- Hallucination observed in some alcoholics
- Cardiac Arrest may occur
- Delirium Tremens symptoms observed in some
- Symptoms begin to get better
- Physiological side-effects that may remain for a week.
Alcohol withdrawal stages
The three stages of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms are shown in the table below:
|Stage 1 (Mild)||Stage 2 (Moderate)||Stage 3 (Severe/Delirium tremens)|
|Minor hand tremors||Hallucination||Altered Mental Functions|
|Interrupted sleep||Mental Confusion||Deep Sleep|
|Stress or Anxiety||Irritability||Fear|
|Nausea||Chronic Seizure||Mood Swings|
|Heart Palpitations||Increased Blood Pressure||Excitement|
How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last?
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may stay for a few hours to several weeks or months after the beginning of withdrawal. The severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually occur after two to three days after the last drink and tend to decrease gradually that ends within 5 to 7 days.
Can Alcohol Withdrawal Lead to Death?
Quitting alcohol drinking is good for health but it is also true that alcohol withdrawal is deadly in some cases. Some of the major and life-threatening symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are:
- Heart arrhythmia
- Liver dysfunction
- Kidney dysfunction
- Heart palpitations
- Delirium tremens
- Increased Heart Rate
- High Blood Pressure
How to Relieve Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
If you were hard drinkers and now facing withdrawal symptoms then it is the time to get some medical supervision and medication for alcohol withdrawal to prevent yourself from getting fits.
Although sometimes alcohol withdrawal last for more than a year but in general it takes 3-7 days to feel the change. The first 48 hours are the most severe and can lead to person death. To relieve your symptoms it is good to follow the right diet and pattern:
- Drink more water to keep yourself hydrated
- Avoid taking caffeine drink
- Eat properly and healthy food.
Process Involved in Alcohol Detoxification
Detoxification, the natural body process in which the liver metabolizes toxin and removes it from the body naturally. The same is true in the case of alcohol as well. When the person consumes alcohol the liver metabolizes ethanol and removes it from the body.
But if the person is hard in drinking and drinks alcohol regularly, then it might interrupt the natural process thus the traces and toxins remain in the blood. If you choose to get sober, then the foremost thing that you should practice is to stop drinking alcohol and give enough time to the body to detox.
Generally, there are two methods of detoxifying alcohol from the body:
- Cold Turkey: In this, the person quit drinking all at once. It is usually practiced by the person who tries alcohol withdrawal treatment at home. This method is quite dangerous as it is accompanied by the onset of withdrawal symptoms that may even lead to alcohol poisoning.
- Tapering: This is another way and the best way to detoxify in which the person gradually decreases the level of alcohol consumption.
Detox of alcohol from the body is often associated with some common symptoms like dehydration and delirium tremens.
Dehydration is further the major cause of seizures that can lead to lethality. On the other hand, delirium tremens is fatal for body and might cause cardiac arrhythmia and respiratory failure in some cases.
It is always recommended to undergo either of the above processes under the professional guides who monitor your body response 24/7 and give you further treatment according to your response.
Once the body detoxifies alcohol from the body, the treatment for alcohol addiction begins. Rehab centers are found to be the best option to understand and treatment of both the physical and physiological sides of the disease.
Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment
The treatment for alcohol withdrawal depends on the level and method in which the body underwent detoxification. Along with these other factors that will define the right approach for the treatment are:
- Severity of addiction
- The magnitude of alcohol dependence
- The risk associated with withdrawal symptoms
On evaluating the above factors the process is to proceed further with the complete assurance of safety and comfort of the patient.
The potential treatment for alcohol withdrawal management is discussed below. They differ from each other based on the intensity of a person’s response towards detoxification and withdrawal.
It is highly recommended for the patient with the less severe form of alcohol abuse. These people remain under the low risk of severe withdrawal. The professional monitors the progress of the syndrome by continuous checking the patient condition at the regular meeting.
Medically Monitored Inpatient Detox
It is offered by the freestanding detox center and is well suited for the people who remain under the risk of moderate to severe withdrawal syndrome.
The professionals will monitor the recovery of the patient health from time to time to assure that the patient is not under danger. Doctors usually refer to Alcohol withdrawal medication like Benzodiazepines and other similar sedative medicines to escalate the process.
Medically Managed Inpatient Detox
This includes the most intensive care that includes admitting the person in the intensive care unit in a hospital and keeping under the observation for psychiatric inpatient care setting.
The person health is monitored at the regular interval to analyze and reduce the risk of complications associated with the syndrome.
Gabapentin for Alcohol Withdrawal
Gabapentin is a generic drug which is prescribed for epilepsy and some kind of pain. The drug is found to be safe and effective for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.
For further recovery of the patient, it is highly recommended to look for the inpatient and outpatient rehab program that helps in recovering and relapse prevention as well. One can opt for group therapy, individual counseling, family counseling, supports, attending wellness activities, etc.
General Care Given To the Person During Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment
Since the alcohol withdrawal is accompanied by the loss of water and fluid from the body through hyperthermia, sweating, and vomiting, it is very important to keep the hydration level in check. The person with severe syndrome should be given intravenous fluid.
The person can also be administered with the magnesium sulfate. This would not improve withdrawal symptoms but will help the person who is hypomagnesemia. Also, the person should be provided with multivitamins and thiamine. This plays a major role in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.
Choose the Best Option for Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment
Once you analyze the right way of getting the best therapeutic approach, the next important step is to consider the specifics of treatments. Here it becomes important to consider few circumstances related to the person for whom the treatment is being taken.
- Types of Addiction
The treatment is important to know the primary source of addiction without neglecting the secondary substances that he or she might be using. Along with this, it is also important to analyze whether the person is or ever got affected by depression, lifestyle, anxiety disorder, eating disorder, etc.
It is another important aspect that one must consider before giving treatment to the person. Since the rehab center has people of different age groups including teens, adults and senior citizens.
Since the life experience and mental level of all the three groups vary and so does the treatment plan should be.
It is a gender-specific program helps in focusing on the recovery of the person without confronting any social pressure or distraction. Also, it helps in getting to know the reason why the person gets abused to a certain drug or alcohol.
- Profession and Social Status
It is the profession or the social status of the person. It might be easy for a person to speak about the symptoms and the reasons that put him or her in the trap of alcohol addiction.
On the other hand, there is another group of people who are not socially active and find it difficult to discuss the problems and other alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The professional medical expert must analyze the difference and put efforts to grab as maximum information as they can to offer the best treatment.
- Religion, Culture, and Values
The nature of the person and his views about the spiritual and religion plays another important role in offering the recovery. This helps in knowing the best way of treatment that would help the person to overcome the symptoms.
- Location and Amenities
Consider the distance, if a person might be feeling to stay away from the daily issues or stress while getting treatment. Knowing the behavior and their priority helps offer treatment and better result in less time.
- Financial Consideration
The cost of the program should not play a very big role but yes it is a major aspect for many people suffering from alcohol withdrawal. It is therefore good to ask and refer the treatment plan before finalizing the type that works the best.
Goals of Treatment
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, there are three immediate goals for the detoxification of alcohol. They are:
- To offer safe withdrawal from the alcohol and to enable the person to stop consuming alcohol.
- To provide a withdrawal that is humane thus protecting a person’s dignity
- To prepare the person for the ongoing treatment for overcoming the alcohol withdrawal symptoms