Withdrawing from Alcohol
Alcohol withdrawal refers to an unpleasant set of symptoms that both heavy drinkers and alcohol addicts can experience when they abruptly discontinue drinking. Although choosing to discontinue drinking can be one of the best things an addict, or heavy drinker, can do for themselves, they should plan ahead of time so they are prepared for the withdrawal from alcohol.
Depending on the severity of your drinking, and the length of time you have consumed high amounts of alcohol, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be severe and life threatening. It is advisable to speak with a doctor or alcohol rehab before you quit.
The Three Stages of an Alcohol Withdrawal
The symptoms of Withdrawing from Alcohol can be broken into three different stages. While each individual is different, the following will generally apply.
- Stage 1 of Alcohol Withdrawal – Around eight hours after the last drink, you might feel an onset of agitation, anxiety, and headaches. Stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and trembling could also occur.
- Stage 2 of Alcohol Withdrawal – Twelve to twenty four hours post ingestion of alcohol, your blood pressure may increase as may your body temperature and heart rate. You may feel confused and disorientated. In severe cases of alcoholism, seizures could occur.
- Stage 3 of Alcohol Withdrawal – At the 48 – 72 hour mark, it is possible for the alcohol withdrawal symptoms include a fever, excessive sweating, tactile, auditory, and visual hallucinations, insomnia, dangerously high blood pressure, and delirium tremens.
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually decrease within 5-7 days. Some people can experience the symptoms for several weeks or months. This is known as post acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS).
Cravings for Alcohol
When you are experiencing a withdrawal from alcohol, you will likely have strong cravings to consume more of the drink. Cravings are common in all people who are withdrawing from a drug or alcohol, and they are related to changes in the neuro chemical makeup of the brain. By ensuring you choose the right alcohol rehab, you can feel peace of mind in knowing that you will be helped to control your cravings when they arise.
Alcohol Withdrawal and Emotions
An alcohol withdrawal can be emotionally and mentally challenging. You can expect to feel anxious, confused, and even miserable. Your body is trying to adjust to the alcohol not being there, and this will take time. As you are experiencing the symptoms, you might feel addled with negative emotions. This is known as the rebound effect and is the body’s way of maintaining homeostasis. After the initial withdrawal period, you will begin to feel good again. That said, many people consume alcohol to escape negative feelings which can often be associated with an underlying trauma. Without the numbing effect of the alcohol, you might feel at your weakest point. For this reason, it is important to have a strong network of support from therapists, counsellors, and even family. Individual counselling and group therapy can provide you with an outlet to address these issues and find healthy ways to resolve them.
How to Safely Treat the Symptoms of Withdrawal from Alcohol
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can change very quickly. For instance, you might feel minor symptoms, and within a matter of hours, experience severe side effects that require medical attention. Alcohol treatment programmes are available to help you overcome the withdrawal in a safe, monitored process.
Inpatient Alcohol Rehab centres – These rehabs will provide treatment specialists who understand alcohol withdrawal and can alleviate some of the symptoms while guide you through the recovery process. As the most intensive form of treatment, you can expect to stay in the programme for 28 – 90 days or more. Following detoxification, and alcohol withdrawal, you will transition into therapies, activities, and programmes that provide you with techniques, tools, and resources to manage your recovery.
Outpatient Treatment – Outpatient rehabs allow patients to remain at home during treatment. They are ideal for anyone with a mild alcohol addiction or who has obligations that require them to stay with family or at home. An alcohol detox may or may not be included in outpatient treatment.
Medication-Assisted Therapy – During an alcohol withdrawal, medication may be offered to relieve the patient of uncomfortable symptoms. If you are interested in this, you can talk with your alcohol rehab or doctor for more information.
Support Groups – Rehab is only the beginning stage of recovery. You will need to put in a great amount of effort and time after completing the programme, Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, provide a safe outlet to discuss goals, issues, and challenges with other people in a similar situation.
Get Help Before You Quit On Your Own
Quitting alcohol without guidance and medical supervision is not advisable. If you or someone you know has an addiction to alcohol, please speak with your medical doctor or alcohol rehab, such as Siam Rehab.