Many Americans over the age of 21 have consumed an alcoholic beverage at some point in their life. Some can drink alcohol without any addictive issues. Others may develop heavy or binge drinking patterns. Heavy or binge drinking consists of four or more drinks for women or five or more for men within a few hours, or more than seven drinks a week for women and 14 or more a week for men.
Some people may recognize they have a drinking problem but avoid getting help for fear of the alcohol withdrawal process called detoxing. Detoxing from any addiction can be mentally and physically demanding. Some withdrawal symptoms of alcohol are life-threatening and therefore should be monitored by a medical professional.
Withdrawal symptoms begin within hours after you skip your regular time of consuming alcohol. Your body has become dependent on the chemicals and patterns. When you stop drinking suddenly, your body begins to crave those missing chemicals. During this first phase is when the painful withdrawal symptoms occur.
Whether you have quit weeks, months or even years ago, you may still experience cravings for the alcohol. Seeking professional care from a treatment facility such as Serenity Acres, you can detox under the guidance of a medical professional to reduce the pains and severity of the withdrawal process.
Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal
Once you have developed a dependency on alcohol, the addiction has taken hold. The physical addiction is what causes your body to have withdrawal symptoms when the chemical is missing. When the withdrawal symptoms are severe enough, it can cause an addict to relapse to ease the pain. Excessive use of alcohol restricts the brain’s standard functions and disturbs the brain’s neurotransmitters that send signals to the central nervous system. The primary neurotransmitter is attached to the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that affects your feelings and the feeling of relaxation. GABA receptors also make the endorphins in your brain. When the GABA receptors are unbalanced it results in mental and physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms including:
- Heart Palpitations
Alcohol consumption increases the dopamine levels in your brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter connected to your body’s reward system. This neurotransmitter controls the energy, enjoyment, attention, motor coordination, mood, and motivation within the body. As you continue using alcohol, your brain becomes dependent on the higher level of dopamine to feel good. The psychological withdrawal symptoms are when your brain is telling you it requires the substance which makes it happy. These withdrawal symptoms may be severe in the beginning and then reduce to cravings that could last the rest of your life. Psychological withdrawal syndrome can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
Some alcoholics can even go through a withdrawal process where they experience severe symptoms referred to as delirium tremens. Delirium tremens (the “DTs”) often occur when someone drinks daily for months or even years. The symptoms of delirium tremens may include:
- Changed mental functions
- Deep sleep
- Mood changes
Each withdrawal process is different for every alcoholic. Factors include how long alcohol addiction has been present, amount of alcohol intake, how often, substance abuse history, family addiction history, physiological (gender, weight, age), and polydrug use.
Acute Alcohol Withdrawal
Acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome is when you develop severe withdrawal symptoms suddenly. This typically occurs during the beginning weeks after stopping drinking. During this time, many individuals are at a higher risk of briefly losing consciousness, delirium tremens, or seizures. Since the complications of acute withdrawal syndrome can be life-threatening, it is advised for individuals to seek medical treatment from a hospital or rehab facility such as Serenity Acres. By seeking professional treatment, medical professionals can help lessen and control the severity of these symptoms. Treatment centers have experienced professionals to help you during your withdrawal process so you can focus on your well-being and your road to recovery.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
After the initial detox, many alcoholics will experience prolonged side effects of alcohol use disorder. Prolonged side effects from alcohol abuse are known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). Depending on how severe your alcohol abuse is, PAWS can last from a couple of weeks to even a year. Some PAWS symptoms may include:
- Delayed reflexes
- Increased accidents
- Irritability and emotional outbursts
- Low energy
- Memory issues
- Trouble sleeping
Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The alcohol withdrawal symptoms can change unexpectedly, suddenly, and aggressively. Withdrawal symptoms can be minor at first, and within minutes or hours, the symptoms can become more severe.
Specialized rehab centers offer many advantages for those who are battling alcohol addiction.
Since not every treatment option will fit everyone’s unique needs, there are many therapy types available based on the individual’s alcohol abuse history and amount of consumption. Some recovery programs include:
An inpatient rehab facility offers addicts a supervised and safe setting. Individuals have 24-hour care with a rigorous treatment plan that typically lasts 30, 60 or 90-days. This is also known as residential treatment.
An outpatient rehab facility gives patients the freedom to fulfill their daily responsibilities while still attending a recovery program. This option is more for those who do not have a severe form of alcohol abuse or those who are not around alcohol or other triggers that could send them into relapse.
Some treatment programs will offer medication-assisted therapy to help lessen the withdrawal symptoms. This allows patients to focus better on other areas in their recovery process.
During the challenges of alcohol withdrawal, some individuals benefit from alcohol rehab counselors to give them support during their recovery. These counselors identify the underlying issues that may have caused the addiction and help the patient recognize and overcome those issues.
After a patient has completed treatment, recovery must continue. During the recovery process, former addicts may attend support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon. These support groups help offer a place for the former addict to talk freely of their addiction, treatment goals, challenges, and accomplishments.
Are you struggling with alcohol addiction, or do you know someone who is? If you have answered yes to this question, then you may benefit from a rehab facility. Serenity Acres provides an extensive treatment program for those looking for sobriety. If you are ready to take the first step to recovery, contact Serenity Acres.