What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
When you regularly abuse alcohol, your body and mind become dependent on the side effects that it produces. When you suddenly stop drinking, withdrawal symptoms kick in as your body attempts to regulate itself.
These symptoms can manifest in many ways. Your height and weight, medical history, other substances in your body, and the frequency and amount that you drink can all alter your detox phase. Every individual withdrawal process is unique.
While we can’t tell you exactly what will happen when you detox, we can tell you what most people experience during alcohol withdrawal. And more importantly, we can show you the importance of detoxing in a certified facility like ours.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline
The average alcohol detox lasts from three to seven days. However, the severity and length of your detox can vary according to the specifics of your addiction. One thing that remains true across the board is that it is important to remain patient through this process.
It can be a bit different for everyone. But it is okay for your addiction and recovery to be as unique as you are. Recovery is possible for anyone willing to commit to a different life and
Post-Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
After the initial one-week detox period, some of your alcohol withdrawal symptoms may linger. These are what we call post-acute withdrawals. These symptoms are typically less severe than the early-onset ones, and they can last for several weeks after your detox.
In more severe cases, post-acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms can last for months. But you should not let this deter you from building a healthy, sober life. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms eventually end. The consequences of long-term alcohol abuse are much more troubling.
During post-acute withdrawals, you may experience mood swings, trouble sleeping, and anxiety. Depressive symptoms, irritability, and cravings are also common. These symptoms will be less persistent than the ones that you experienced during your first week of sobriety.
How to Overcome Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms
During an addiction treatment program like the ones we offer, we will teach you how to override these symptoms. Cravings can be offset by a favorite meal, creative activities, healthy hobbies, and sober social networks.
When you crave alcohol, bake a treat, take a walk, journal, draw, or visit a loved one instead of drinking. Over time, your body and mind will recognize these activities as the ones that will make you feel better.
Mood swings and negative emotions can also be helped this way, or with therapy sessions, support group meetings, a healthy diet and exercise routine, proper hydration, and adequate sleep. When your mind and body feel more balanced, you will feel more at peace.
What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?
If you have tried to stop drinking, but intense alcohol cravings dragged you back to the bottle, you have likely already experienced withdrawal symptoms. Many symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be mild. Unfortunately, others can be much more severe.
While alcohol cravings are one of the most common side effects of alcohol withdrawal, this is typically only the start. Some of the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Shaking hands
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive sweating
Because alcohol addiction and withdrawals can have a profound effect on both the body and brain, we have separated the most common withdrawals into two different categories. Some of the most common physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawals are listed above. The most common mental effects and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be found below.
Why Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms May Be Different for Different People
In most cases, the milder alcohol withdrawal symptoms listed in the section above tend to be the most common. But as we mentioned before, many individual factors may alter your experience. This applies to the type of symptoms, duration, and severity.
While someone who has abused alcohol for one year will likely experience different withdrawal symptoms than someone who abused it for ten years. The amount that you drink during each binge and other substances in the body are two other significant factors.
Certain medications may interact with the alcohol in your system and make withdrawing more difficult. Other drugs, prescription and illicit, can do the same. Many people are surprised to learn that individuals who are addicted to alcohol are much more likely to use drugs, too.
But thankfully, some medications make it easier to detox rather than just making it harder. We’ll get to those soon in the medical detox section.
Mental Effects of Alcohol Withdrawal
The physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawals are similar to a bout of the flu. They are, without a doubt, uncomfortable, and may be mildly painful. But they are generally not too severe or life-threatening. The ones that are more of a cause for concern include:
- Delirium tremens
- High fevers and confusion
- High blood pressure or racing heartbeats
Delirium tremens is a condition that causes concerning and potentially life-threatening mental effects during withdrawal. While it is not common to suffer from delirium tremens, it does happen. And it is impossible to predict what will happen when you try to quit cold turkey.
Help is available. Professional detox is always the better, safer, and more effective choice.
Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal: Can You Die from Alcohol Withdrawal?
In the sections above, we talked about common alcohol withdrawal symptoms, its effects on the brain, and how long it takes to detox. We have also outlined a condition called post-acute withdrawals, in which the lingering effects of your addiction may follow you into sobriety.
But what everyone really wants to know is: can you die from alcohol withdrawal? Delirium tremens and alcohol withdrawal is a combination that we have to watch out for. This condition involves potentially life-threatening symptoms, including vivid delusions and hallucinations.
Seizures and delirium tremens are two of the most severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. While many may detox without experiencing life-threatening symptoms, the potential is always there. This is one reason why medical professionals recommend medically supervised detoxes.
Medical Detox for Alcohol Withdrawal
If your addiction or withdrawal symptoms are severe enough, you may be eligible for medical detox. Medical detox is similar to a social one in that they both involve the 24-hour care, support, and guidance of a professional, compassionate team in a certified facility.
That team will monitor your progress to ensure your safety, recommend the next best steps, and keep you fed, hydrated, and comfortable. What makes a medical detox different is the addition of certain approved medications.
These medications act as detox aids, offering different benefits to help you work toward the same goals. They ease withdrawal symptoms and help you maintain your sobriety by producing one or more of the following effects:
- Reducing or blocking alcohol cravings
- Disrupting the way alcohol interacts with your brain chemistry
- Making you feel uncomfortable or ill when you drink alcohol
Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment and Continuing Care
There are three stages to recovery: evaluation, stabilization, and treatment. The most effective treatment approach is a well-rounded one that gives the appropriate attention to each of these stages. At Circle of Hope, that is what we offer each of our clients.
From detox through aftercare, we will guide and support you in your pursuit of sobriety. We will teach you how to build a new life. Call us at 818-391-5259 to get started.