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Today’s world is fast-paced and every single day, there is a new challenge that can add on to stress. Many people resort to alcohol to combat stress. It starts off with one drink a day and slowly before they know it, they are neck-deep into alcohol addiction.
Quitting alcohol cold-turkey is not as simple as you think, it is actually very difficult to quit drinking because in many cases your body has a dependency on alcohol. You might be suffering from something called alcohol withdrawal symptoms which makes the whole process tougher. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are a result of your body becoming dependent on the ingredients of the alcohol. When suddenly you stop drinking, your body will try to figure out how to deal with the missing chemicals and this will cause some or the other reaction in your body.
If you are heavily into alcohol, quitting will be a difficult process for you. It may even take a turn towards being dangerous as you may be susceptible to multiple health complications during the alcohol withdrawal process.
It is recommended that you consult a professional/medical facility that can help you in quitting alcohol.
Alcohol Withdrawal – Causes
Let us break up the entire process of alcohol withdrawal into different factors, that may lead to complications.
When you drink alcohol, your liver works to break it down and then clean your system via urine passage. However, many times, the alcohol does not get completely broken down. Your metabolism may not be sufficient for it. In this case, the remaining alcohol gets absorbed by your body.
This may have an adverse effect on your brain. When your brain absorbs too much alcohol, you may start feeling multiple sensations – relaxation, giddiness etc. This is what is usually called – being drunk. You have more alcohol and your experience more symptoms like slurring speech, inability to walk straight etc.
The more you drink, the more your tolerance rises, which means you need more alcohol to get to the same state of drunkenness.
What essentially happens is that alcohol subdues the cells in your brain and puts you at ease. When you stop drinking, these brain cells are no longer subdued and hence the result is unpleasant alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms differ from person to person. These symptoms and their fear is one of the major reasons for people not willing to quit alcohol or taking the plunge and then giving up midway.
In a medical facility, you will have trained personnel who can help you with these symptoms. They prescribe medicines that help you handle these symptoms better. Depending on your symptoms, medicines can be given for pain relief and this helps you focus on the road to recovery.
Withdrawal Symptoms – Timelines
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms hit really fast – as far as two hours after the last drink you had. They usually peak between 24 to 48 hours. This is when the worst of if will affect you. You could have insomnia, pain, your BP levels may fluctuate and you will feel uncomfortable on the whole. Some of you may get off with a severe headache while some may have more severe symptoms. One of the worse symptoms of alcohol ( though not common) is Delirium Tremens which leads you to shake, hallucinate, have fluctuations in your BP and be generally confused. Such symptoms are why it is advised to seek professional help as soon as possible.
A generic timeline for withdrawal symptoms would be as follows
6 – 12 hours after consumption:-
- Getting agitated
12 – 24 hours after consumption:-
- Feeling disoriented
- Trembling of hands
48 hours after consumption:-
- Delirium Tremens
- High fever
- Sweating excessively
- High blood pressure
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
After the initial set of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, some people may still be subjected to prolonged effects. These people are usually said to experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). The effects of PAWS can be for a few weeks or maybe a year ( in severe cases) . It can make life cumbersome for recovering patients. Most people who try to give up alcohol are familiar with at least one of the below symptoms though they cannot label the same.
The symptoms of PAWS would include:
- General irritability
- Being prone to emotional meltdowns
- Delay in reflexes
- Less energy
- Memory issues
How to Treat Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Safely
Unfortunately, the journey is not easy. You may experience severe mood swings. The alcohol withdrawal symptoms are temperamental and you never know when you will get a severe headache or want to puke. You cannot predict when you will get what, which is what makes them difficult to treat.
Fortunately, a good rehabilitation facility will have trained professionals who can help you deal with these symptoms -no matter how severe they are. These facilities work at more than one level as they are designed for the same. The patients can be treated for the pain, the mood swings and they can also receive counseling that can help them deal with the symptoms better and hell them recover faster. These facilities can help offer specialized treatment based on your history. Some of the treatment options include –
As the name suggests, this is one on one counseling with trained counselors. They will sit with you personally and help you through the process of rehabilitation. They are trained enough to dig deep and identify factors that are the cause of the abuse and accordingly guide you towards full recovery.
This form of treatment is for those who are not that heavy drinkers.
As humans, we always need company. It helps to know that there are others who are walking the same path of recovery as you. Here is where support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous come in. They help you meet others in the same situation and this helps forms a strong and effective support system.
Therapy with Medicines
Depending on the type of withdrawal symptoms you suffer from, you may be prescribed medications to help you ease out things. This happens in case of very severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms wherein you are completely thrown off the road to recovery. Medications work to suppress such withdrawal symptoms which then allows you to focus on recovery better.
Once you have successfully overcome your alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you will then be moved into other programs and treatments as per the nature of your case. It is advised that you continue treatment and finish it fully so that you can be better equipped to maintain sobriety and live a happy life once your rehabilitation program is complete.