Fear of withdrawal keeps a lot of people sick in their addictions for far too long. Alcohol and other substances that are physically addictive carry debilitating withdrawal symptoms when the person that has become dependent upon it starts detoxing.
Many individuals will have a strong desire to quit and get better, but once the withdrawal symptoms start, they quickly go back to drinking simply to relieve the negative symptoms. Knowing what to expect, being prepared, and learning how to manage the symptoms can help an individual better cope and achieve long-term sobriety.
Familiarize Yourself With the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
Alcohol withdrawal usually starts about 8 hours after a person takes their last drink. Symptoms peak between the 24 to 72-hour mark and can last for weeks. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) usually occurs in three stages. The first stage occurs at the start of detox, or 8 hours after the last drink, and is characterized by nausea, abdominal pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
The second stage of withdrawal occurs 24 to 72 hours after the last drink and is characterized by high blood pressure, increased heart rate and body temperature, and confusion. The third and final stage of alcohol withdrawal occurs 72 hours after the last drink and is characterized by seizures, agitation, tremors, fever, and hallucinations.
Alcohol detox is dangerous and can be fatal. Delirium Tremens or DTs can occur and usually start 2 to 5 days after the last drink. Symptoms of DT’s include seizures, changes in heart rate, hallucinations, confusion, tremors, mood changes, and fatigue.
How to Effectively Manage Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
Managing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous and difficult to do on your own. The best way to detox is in a medically supervised treatment environment where the individual can be monitored around the clock and given medications to help manage the symptoms.
According to the National Institute of Health:
Inpatient detoxification provides the safest setting for the treatment of AW because it ensures that patients will be carefully monitored and appropriately supported. Compared with outpatient facilities, inpatient clinics may provide better continuity of care for patients who begin alcoholism treatment while in the hospital. Also, inpatient detoxification separates the patient from alcohol-related social and environmental stimuli that might increase the risk of relapse. (NIH)
Effective alcohol detox also involves adequate rest, support, a healthy diet, proper hydration, stress control, and counseling. After alcohol detox, inpatient or intensive outpatient alcohol therapy should follow to offer the alcoholic a deeper insight into their disease through psychotherapeutic approaches so they can learn how to prevent relapses in the future.
Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal Offers Hope
Alcohol withdrawal is often treated with benzodiazepines and anti-seizure medications along with a cocktail of different vitamins. Benzodiazepines help control seizure activity, anxiety, and insomnia that often come with alcohol detox. A mild sedative may also be given to help the individual sleep. In severe cases of long-term alcohol dependence, a person may require detox in a hospital setting where IV fluids and medications can be given.
Remember, trying to quit alcohol cold-turkey on your own is extremely dangerous and can be fatal. Even trying to taper down on your own is dangerous and is not ever recommended. Please seek professional help.
Treatment for Alcoholism is Available 24/7
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism or addiction, our specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Recreate Life Counseling offers evidence-based addiction treatment. Our cutting-edge addiction treatment will lead you on a road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer, call us today and let us help you recreate your life.