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What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

By on May 25, 2023 in Blog

If you have been a heavy drinker for years and suddenly stop drinking, your body could go into alcohol withdrawal, a process that can be painful and, in some cases, dangerous. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) can be physically and mentally painful, but a professional alcohol detox and treatment program can minimize the discomfort and set you on a path to full recovery. 

Those with AWS typically experience both emotional and physical symptoms. These can range widely in severity and duration. The most severe symptoms can be life-threatening.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms you have of alcohol withdrawal will range widely depending on your addiction and dependency. Many people begin to feel symptoms as little as six hours after they stop drinking, but some symptoms may not begin until a few days into withdrawal. Some of the withdrawal symptoms you may have include:

  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • A fast heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Nightmares
  • Sweating

Withdrawal symptoms may last several days before tapering off. You may also have some symptoms that last for weeks before they start to dissipate.

What Are High Risk Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Some people have severe AWS, which may lead to a condition called delirium tremens. When this happens, a person may experience intense confusion and agitation. They may have a fever and feel very ill. Some people have hallucinations, including a sensation of burning or itching or feeling that they hear or see something that is not there.

In addition, they may have excessive sweating, a faster heart rate, and high blood pressure. If you feel these or see them in your loved one, call for immediate medical care. These symptoms can indicate a medical emergency and should not be ignored.

Why Does AWS Happen?

A person who consumes alcohol on a constant basis may become dependent on it. That means the body and brain have adjusted to the presence of the substance and need it to operate properly. The central nervous system suffers significant change as a result of the alcohol’s presence, and it cannot operate normally without it.

When you suddenly stop drinking, the brain has to start working much harder to accomplish tasks. You may feel as though you cannot get through the day without alcohol. This is called dependency, and it is a clear indication that you need professional drug and alcohol treatment.

What Can Be Done to Help with Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

A person with alcohol withdrawal syndrome may find themselves unable to manage the process on their own. If you try to simply stop drinking on your own at home, the cravings and intense sensations may become so difficult to manage that you simply give in and start drinking again. It is very difficult for a person with dependency to quit drinking successfully without professional help.

When you reach out to an alcohol addiction treatment center, you’ll gain access to a range of treatment options that may be able to minimize detox symptoms.

  • Detox: You may begin treatment in a detox program. Detox typically lasts 3 to 10 days. During that time, you are in a medically monitored area to ensure that you get help for any medical emergency that occurs.
  • Holistic therapy: You may also get help with holistic therapy, like nutritional support, massage, or acupuncture, that can minimize some of the symptoms, making withdrawal a little easier. 
  • Talk therapy: From the start, you will get to work through your addiction and dependence with a licensed therapist. You may need to work through past trauma and pain that put you on the path to addiction.
  • Medications: If you suffer from mental health disorders or health complications due to your addiction, you may receive medications to help support your overall health. 

Alcohol withdrawal is intense, and it can seem impossible to get through at first. But, with the right kind of support, it will pass, and you will be ready to begin your recovery journey. If you or a loved one needs help withdrawing from alcohol and finding that path to sustained recovery, reach out to our team in Lafayette, LA. We can help you find hope and healing.

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