If you have been drinking alcohol heavily and on a regular basis, there is a high risk that you may develop both physical and mental health issues when you suddenly stop drinking or significantly reduce the amount you are used to taking. This condition is often referred to alcohol withdrawal and it is accompanied by various symptoms that range from the severe to the mild.
If you develop withdrawal, you are going to have to go for alcohol detox. Through this service, your withdrawal symptoms will be properly managed as your body gets rid of the alcohol and its resultant toxins that are still lodged in your system. Read on to find out more:
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal refers to the syndrome that will occur once you stop drinking alcohol or significantly reduce the amount you used to take after you have developed physical and psychological tolerance and dependence to this substance.
Alcohol detox, on the other hand, is the process by which your body will try to get rid of the toxins and waste products that were left behind as a result of excessive and/or long term alcohol consumption.
In the setting of addiction treatment, detox is often accompanied by counseling and therapy, medical observation, round the clock supervision and care, and medication management.
If you have been drinking heavily over the long term, there is a high risk that you will experience negative side effects when you go for alcohol detox. Some of these effects may turn out to be dangerous and life-threatening.
Alcohol withdrawal occurs because prolonged alcohol abuse leads to tolerance. It can also create biological changes that will lead to false homeostasis. If you disrupt this balance by reducing or completely stopping your drinking, you will suffer some negative effects, collectively known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
This syndrome is usually accompanied by various symptoms that will develop as soon as you suddenly stop drinking after you have already been struggling with an alcohol use disorder.
It occurs because abusing alcohol on a regular basis or heavily can change the chemistry of your brain. This is because your brain would have been exposed continuously to the chemicals that are in this substance.
In particular, alcohol can have an impact on the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and dopamine neurotransmitters in your brain. Over the long term, this impact could lead to withdrawal when you stop drinking. This is because your brain would have to readjust to its normal functioning ? leading to the development of withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol detoxification is the critical first step that you have to take on the road to recovery. It is often a requirement before you can receive further addiction treatment and rehabilitation.
It is provided in both outpatient and inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment facilities. However, it is recommended that you receive round the clock medical supervision, care, and monitoring if you were a heavy drinker.
Cause of Alcohol Detox
Drinking alcohol will depress your system. It can, for instance, change the ways in which your brain works as well as how its nerves send and receive messages. Over time, ongoing alcohol consumption will cause your central nervous system to become used to having this substance.
In the process, your body will start working extra hard to ensure that your brain is awake as well as ensure that its nerves are able to continue communication. If you stop drinking or significantly reduce the alcohol levels in your system, your brain will still be in this state. As a result, you are going to experience alcohol withdrawal.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms that you will present while going through withdrawal will range from the mild to the serious. They will often depend on the amount of alcohol you used to drink as well as for how long you used to do so.
Most of the mild symptoms will typically arise about 6 hours after your last drink. They can include but are not limited to:
- Fast heart rate
- Shaky hands
However, there is also a high risk that you could suffer some more severe side effects when you stop drinking alcohol. This is most likely if you were struggling with a moderate to severe alcohol use disorder before you stopped drinking. The effects include:
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Extreme nausea
- Heart arrhythmias
- Intense cravings for alcohol
- Kidney dysfunction
- Liver dysfunction
Often, the typical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will appear in two main phases. These include:
1. Acute Withdrawal
The first phase of alcohol withdrawal will occur a couple of hours after you stop drinking. This phase will continue for several days to a few weeks. They are often severe and include:
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Heart failure
- Profuse sweating
- Whole body tremors
2. Early Abstinence
The second phase often lasts longer ? and takes place over several months. During this time, your brain will slowly try to get back to its normal functioning. This phase is often referred to as post-acute withdrawal and comes with the following symptoms:
- Diminished appetite
You may also experience severe withdrawal symptoms during alcohol detox. These symptoms are collectively known as DTs or delirium tremens. They include but are not limited to:
- Changes in blood pressure
- Changes in heart rate
- Extreme disorientation
- Hallucinations, typically visual in nature
- Heart attack
- Heavy sweating
- High blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Issues with breathing and circulation
- Racing heart
- Severe tremors
- Vivid delusions
If you are struggling with alcohol withdrawal, it is recommended that you check into a professional addiction treatment and rehabilitation center. This way, you will be provided with a wide variety of services designed to ensure that your alcohol detox goes smoothly.
In particular, it is essential that you go through detox after enrolling for addiction recovery services. This is because medical detox is the only way you can get the medical assistance that you need to ensure that you do not suffer too much ? or even end up losing your life ? as a result of going through withdrawal.