What to Expect When Withdrawing from Alcohol

What to Expect When Withdrawing from Alcohol

When a person has an addiction to alcohol, and is ready to get help at a treatment center, withdrawal may be one of the first things they think about. This is because the symptoms can be extremely unpleasant, especially when the abuse has occurred for a multitude of years. In fact, alcohol is one of the only substances a user can die from coming off of; therefore, it is pertinent that an individual’s alcohol detox is monitored by professionals.

What is alcohol withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal happens when an individual, who has a dependency, quits drinking. Throughout their abuse, the brain has been “rewarded” by producing excessive amounts of serotonin or norepinephrine, (which is a similar to adrenaline). When alcohol use is discontinued, the brain no longer receives the reward it had become dependent upon. As such, the brain responds by producing a rush of adrenaline and over stimulation in the neurotransmitters. This it what causes the alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

In general, the more a person drinks the greater the chances are of developing withdrawal symptoms. Moreover, these can be exaggerated when an individual has underlying medical issues including those which are psychological (i.e. depression, bipolar, schizophrenia).

The Fear of Withdrawing from Alcohol

At an alcohol rehab, many recovering addicts discuss their fears of coming off the substance. Many had heard about the seriousness of the withdrawal and the initial first few days which can be intense. In addition to this, delirium tremens, seizures and even death is widely mentioned. The acclaimed Amy Winehouse is a primary example of someone who lost her life to alcohol withdrawal. Shortly after her death, more attention has been given to this subject matter. Hopefully it has also garnered the attention of alcoholics who could use the support and help of a rehab center for alcohol addictions.

Delirium Tremens

Delirium Tremens, also known as the DT’s, is a serious level of alcohol withdrawal which generally begins 2-3 days after the last drink. A person who has the DT’s will often have a history of alcoholism, rehab treatment and relapse.

The symptoms can last for up to a week, but can incur long term or permanent damage. During the DT’s the body goes through extreme and sudden mental or nervous system changes. The person may experience shifts in breathing patterns, poor circulation or hot and cold sweats. The heart may race and blood pressure can rise to a dangerous level. Dehydration, confusion, disorientation, anger, irrational thoughts, loss of consciousness, insomnia or hallucinations is some of the most common symptoms of delirium tremens.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

During the initial detox from alcohol, a person will likely experience some or all of the following symptoms. Because certain ones are potentially life threatening, it is highly recommended to consider an alcohol treatment program.

The shakes: Also known as tremors, these manifest as shaking in various parts of the body, especially in the hands. Alcohol shakes are one of the key indicators that the dependency is quite serious and medical help or rehab assistance should be sought.

Alcoholic hallucinosis: Although only seen in chronic alcohol abusers who have been drinking for an excessive amount of time, alcoholic hallucinosis is an induced psychotic disorder that occurs 12-24 hours after quitting and can last for days. Hallucinations, feelings of bugs crawling on the skin, stupor, indisposition, insomnia, anxiety, fear and anger are all potential symptoms which could arise.

Additional symptoms of alcohol withdrawal could include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue/Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating/Fever
  • Seizures
  • Severe confusion
  • Coma

Post Acute Stage

After the initial withdrawal from alcohol, the majority of people will experience post withdrawal symptoms. Unlike the acute stage in which the symptoms vary from person to person, the post acute stage exhibits the same symptoms in nearly all people. These include mood swings, anxiety, depression, energy dips and peaks, the inability to concentrate and lack of sleep. These post acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms can come and go over weeks or even months at a time, and can last up to 2 years. The most concerning obstacle with this stage is that recovering individuals have a high risk of relapsing when they are going through a bad period. A Thailand rehab center can help an individual to work through these times in a healthy way; thereby avoiding a potential relapse.

Seeking out an Alcohol Rehab Center

To have a more comfortable, and more importantly safe, withdrawal from alcohol a professional alcohol rehab detox program should be considered. These facilities can help to lessen or control the physical symptoms while ensuring their state of health is being monitored. Once the initial withdrawal of alcohol has been surpassed, a treatment program can begin. These individual alcohol rehab programs will teach a person how to control cravings, manage post acute withdrawal symptoms, overcome core issues and live a sober life.

If you or someone you know has an alcohol addiction and would like to be guided and supported during the withdrawal, alcohol detox and recovery, please contact us today. Serenity Thailand Rehab is a leading private drug and alcohol treatment center in Thailand which has world class facilities and a western trained team to successfully treat addictions.