Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are potentially life-threatening. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can happen in people who have been drinking very heavily for weeks, month, or years and then either stop or reduce the amount of alcohol they are drinking. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can start within two hours after the last drink and they can last for weeks. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from anxiety and shakiness to severe problems such as seizures, delirium tremens or death.
What causes alcohol withdrawal symptoms?
There are many chemical changes that occur in the brain of an alcoholic due to alcohol abuse. The cessation of excessive daily drinking can easily be the cause of alcohol withdrawal symptoms because the brain’s neurotransmitters are disrupted. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that transmit messages. Drinking alcohol affects the brain by suppressing the brain’s neurotransmitters.
When heavy problem drinkers suddenly stop or reduce their alcohol drinking their brain’s neurotransmitters that were suppressed are no longer suppressed. The neurotransmitters actually rebound and this results in what is known as hyper excitability in the brain. The hyper excitability in the brain causes the person to feel things like anxiety, irritability, agitation, tremors, and seizures. These are the exact opposite of the symptoms felt when drinking.
What are some alcohol withdrawal symptoms?
The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms vary depending on how much and for how long an individual has been drinking. Less severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms tend to appear 12 hours after an individual has stopped drinking. Minor alcohol withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Shaky hands
- Mild anxiety
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Somewhere around 12 to 24 hours without alcohol some individuals can experience visual, auditory, or tangible hallucinations which usually go away in about 48 hours. Most individuals are aware that these hallucinations are not real.
One of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can be very dangerous is seizures. Alcohol withdrawal seizures usually happen around 24 to 48 hours after a person stops drinking. Delirium tremens tend to develop between 48 and 72 hours after a person has stopped drinking. People who have a history of alcohol withdrawal seizures, medical illnesses, abnormal liver functions or are older, are at a higher risk for delirium tremens than others.
The symptoms of a delirium tremens include but are not limited to:
- Disorientation, confusion, and severe anxiety
- Hallucinations which tend to be visual and cannot be told apart from reality
- Profuse sweating
- High blood pressure
- Racing and irregular heartbeat
- Severe tremors
- Low-grade fever
Treatment for alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Alcoholics have the option of detoxing at home or going to a Drug Rehab Treatment center that offers detox services. Detoxing usually happens in an outpatient or inpatient setting. Outpatient detoxification is usually safe, effective and costs less than inpatient detox at a hospital or other facility. Inpatient detox is safe, effective and little bit more expensive but the level of care and resources available to the addict exceeds that of outpatient detox.
Regardless of the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, if an individual is experiencing any of the signs it may be a good idea for them to seek outside help. The reason for this is outside help such as an outpatient detox or inpatient detox can administer the right medication to help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms and may be able to give the individual tools they need to stay sober for the rest of their life. If this is possible then they may never have to experience the pain of alcohol withdrawal symptoms again.
If your loved one is in need of addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.