Alcohol Withdrawal and Treatment: A Comprehensive Guide
“Understanding a problem is the first step to overcoming it”
This saying also stands true for alcohol addiction treatment. Once you understand the problem, which is your alcohol addiction, you will easily know the steps to overcome it.
According to professionals at Mallard Lake Detox Center, alcohol abuse and addiction are best dealt with at a rehab center. Doing so assures you of a safe and faster recovery. However, this does not end here. Detox involves a range of other side effects, mainly withdrawal symptoms. But instead of fearing these symptoms, it would be wise to gain more knowledge about them.
Thus, let’s go through this comprehensive guide mentioning details about withdrawal symptoms and how you can tackle them safely.
1. What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
In the simplest terms, alcohol withdrawal is the sign of reduced levels of alcohol in your system than usual. These often occur when you cut down on your alcohol consumption or undergo detox. Withdrawal symptoms are more prominent in cases of severe alcohol addiction.
But why do they occur? And what happens inside your body during this phase? Let’s find out.
As you get addicted to alcohol, your mind and body develop a dependency on the substance. In this scenario, your system needs alcohol, every day to function normally. But when you begin a detox, these levels of alcohol inside your body drop down rapidly.
Since your mind and body aren’t getting the usual amount of the substance, they display certain signs of discomfort. This is what is called the signs or symptoms of withdrawal. But they aren’t permanent. As you proceed further with detox, your body will start to readjust itself to sobriety. With time, these symptoms subside significantly allowing you to regain your health.
2. Common Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal and Acute Alcohol Withdrawal
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are more horrific than you can imagine. Some recently recovered addicts claim it to be the scariest experience.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism lists the following as the common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:
If you have a longer history of alcohol addiction or abuse, you are likely to struggle with acute symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Mental Health Daily mentions the following as acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Muscle weakness
- Joint pain
- Heart palpitations
- Increased drug cravings
- Loss of appetite
And the list goes on. These are usually more brutal than other common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Some are also seen to struggle with issues like dehydration, malnutrition, and a risk of self-harm. Therefore, rehab professionals always recommend joining the facility for a safe and faster detox.
3. Is Alcohol Withdrawal Deadly?
It can be!
Alcohol, when consumed, interacts with GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid in your brain. This chemical is responsible to instill a calming sensation. However, when alcohol interacts with GABA, the excitatory chemicals are released in higher amounts than usual.
But, this is not the issue. It all starts to go haywire when you quit or cut down on your alcohol consumption all of a sudden. That’s when GABA returns to its normal levels but not the excitatory chemicals. These chemicals are then stronger than GABA and set off a rise in the electrical activity inside your brain. Such an imbalance is what leads to a deadly withdrawal from alcohol.
Hence, it is always advised to detox under professional supervision.
4. The Kindling Effect
A phenomenon discovered in the late 60s, the Kindling Effect is the increasing severity of alcohol withdrawal. This is a possibility for the ones undergoing repeated alcohol detox. Let’s understand this with an example.
Let’s assume you have been unsuccessful in quitting alcohol many times. In that case, the imbalance between GABA and the excitatory chemicals in your brain increases. With further attempts to detox, you undergo withdrawal repeatedly and completely spoil the balance of GABA and excitatory chemicals. This repeated cycle of withdrawal is what is known as the Kindling Effect.
Under this effect, you are likely to suffer from acute symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Moreover, you are also likely to suffer from severe brain damage caused by the imbalance between GABA and excitatory chemicals.
Therefore, it is ideal to opt for evidence-based treatments at rehab when you attempt your first detox.
5. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
It is one of the many problems caused due to alcohol addiction and unsupervised detox. Wernike-Korsakoff syndrome is also termed as “wet brain” and is a serious condition.
Some common signs of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome are
- Visual or hearing hallucinations
- Making up stories
- Memory loss, severe in certain cases
- Inability to form new memories
- Visual disabilities
- Loss of muscle coordination leading to leg tremors
- Confusion and loss of mental activity
Severe conditions of this syndrome can make it nearly impossible for you to live a normal life. Hence, it is better to avoid the condition by quitting alcohol on time.
6. Timeline for Alcohol Withdrawal
There is no ideal timeline for alcohol withdrawal as several factors govern the process. These factors include
- Personal environment
- Support system
- Overlapping addictions
- Co-occurring disorders
- Duration and severity of addiction
- Unique physiology
Although there is no fixed duration for alcohol withdrawal, experts consider 5 to 7 days as the average time taken by a maximum number of patients. Further, the duration of detox is divided into different stages such as
- Stage – 1: Begins around 6 to 8 hours post your last drink. Symptoms show up quickly and can last for several days. Tremors, anxiety, and nausea are some common symptoms.
- Stage – 2: Begins after 24 hours into detox and can go on for a day or two. Increased body temperature, irregular heartbeat, and altered blood pressure are some common symptoms. Hallucinations may also begin in some cases.
- Stage – 3: It is the peak of withdrawal and can last for a few days. As time passes, a decline in the severity of symptoms can be experienced.
7. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
As the name already indicates, post-acute withdrawal syndrome is the elongated term for withdrawal symptoms. SAMHSA lists the following as the signs of post-acute withdrawal symptoms:
- Reduced interest in sexual activities
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Mood swings
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is a common occurrence in severe cases of alcohol addiction. However, with proper care, they can be tackled easily.
8. Why is Professional Treatment a Must?
A professional approach to treating alcohol addiction is necessary. Besides safety during detox, you also get to avail yourself of the following benefits:
- Acquire medical care during the detox and withdrawal
- Availability of emotional support and motivation during tough times
- Access to behavioral therapies and counseling
- Access to safe medications to boost recovery
9. Medications Used for Alcohol Withdrawals
Rehab experts also prescribe medicines to patients for safer withdrawal. The three main medicines used for this purpose are:
Several other medicines can also be prescribed considering your health and other needs. However, these medicines are mainly prescribed to patients with severe addiction.
10. The Cost of Alcohol Detox
The cost of detox and rehab varies greatly depending on various factors. These include
- Type of the program chosen
- The severity of your addiction
- Amenities offered by the rehab
- Types and number of treatments you would undergo
- Length of your stay at rehab
Additionally, your insurance can also make a difference in the total cost of treatment. Hence, do not forget to verify your insurance before enrolling in a program.
11. Enroll in Our Alcohol Detox Program Today!
We at Mallard Lake Detox Center have the most effective and detailed detox programs for alcohol and other drug addictions. Our programs are guided by professionals and are known for offering faster and safer recovery. You can visit our rehab center and take a look at the facilities available at our rehab center.