Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox
Knowing that your last drink really is the last drink can cause anxiety. Soon after, physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal set in that are painful to endure. It isn’t easy. The good news is that there’s help available for overcoming alcoholism and coping with alcohol withdrawal.
What Are the Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal?
Anyone who has experienced a hangover knows that the morning after a drinking binge can be painful. However, the temporary headache and nausea of occasional overdrinking have nothing on alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These can be experienced by anyone who has developed a dependency or addiction to alcohol, and they begin to set in after just a few hours without a drink.
Alcohol stays in the system for about an hour per drink consumed. Within five to 10 hours from having the last drink, tremors and shakes can begin in the head and hands. Soon after, a person may begin to feel nauseous and develop a headache. Psychological symptoms like fear and anxiety may start to appear around this time. These will intensify and may even outlast physical discomfort. Fatigue, depression, and sleep disturbances caused by nightmares set in after a few days without a drink. There will also be bouts of anger and irritability.
About one in 20 habitual drinkers will experience DTs within several days of quitting, with the more severe, life-threatening consequences occurring in the first 24 – 48 hours. Due to the danger of death in the early stages of recovering from a long-time addiction, alcohol detox should include medical supervision in a safe environment like a rehab facility.
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If you’re ready to take the first step toward finding recovery, contact Stepping Stone Center for Recovery today. Our addiction specialist can answer any questions regarding our program and the treatment options that are available to you.
What are Common Alcohol Detox Symptoms?
Anyone who’s ready to begin the process of recovering from alcohol addiction will need to begin the process with a detox. A detox is a cessation of alcohol consumption, and it can be tricky for those who are addicted. Because of the many alcohol detox symptoms that can crop up during withdrawal, it’s always recommended to go to a professional treatment facility. Understanding more about the symptoms of an alcohol detox may help prepare those ready to begin recovery, as well as their loved ones.
Mental Health Problems Like Anxiety and Depression
A significant overlap already exists between individuals who struggle with mental health conditions and those addicted to alcohol. Even among those without mental health concerns, however, a detox can result in depression and anxiety. These feelings are normal as the body learns to function without alcohol, but individuals will need to be monitored to prevent the development of a permanent mental health condition, self-harm or suicide.
Some of the most commonly reported alcohol detox side effects are related to sleep. Discomfort can mean that patients find it tougher to get to sleep and stay asleep. Insomnia, therefore, is quite common during detox from alcohol. It’s also possible to suffer from nightmares that disrupt sleep. As can be expected, these sleep issues lead to fatigue for many individuals.
Shakiness, Tremors, and Restlessness
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, tremors are a clinical feature of alcohol withdrawal. Physically, this is the body’s way of reacting to the stress of withdrawal. Similar muscular side effects common during an alcohol withdrawal include things like tremors that can’t be controlled or restlessness, which might manifest itself as pacing or constant fidgeting.
During an alcohol detox, those in recovery frequently report digestive problems. These are typically minor, and might include some of the following:
- Abdominal cramping
Temperature regulation can be disturbed significantly during detox from alcohol. Many people in withdrawal from alcohol are much hotter than normal, even if the ambient temperature is quite cool. They might be flushed, run a high temperature and sweat more than usual. Due to this sweating, and possible digestive concerns, dehydration is a major issue that needs to be treated during a detox.
One of the most serious signs of alcohol withdrawal is a condition called Delirium Tremens. This disorder is known in the vernacular as having the DTs, and it occurs when detoxing from alcohol after heavy or long-term use. Some of the symptoms are severe tremors, hallucinations, and confusion. In extreme cases, it can cause death due to heart failure or seizures.
Fortunately, delirium tremens isn’t one of the more common alcohol detox symptoms, and it occurs in just 5% of patients. However, it needs to be addressed to ensure that all patients are aware of it. Delirium tremens, or DT, can cause seizures, extreme confusion, and even hallucinations.
While the most common alcohol detox symptoms aren’t pleasant, they can be managed in a professional detox facility. At Stepping Stone Center for Recovery, you can get the right care to make your detox easier. Call 866-957-4960 to verify your insurance and to begin your journey to recovery today.
How Does Alcohol Detox Work?
Alcohol abuse disorder is a chronic condition that affects brain function first and then destroys the body. It’s treatable by using medication to address the physical aspects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and therapy to deal with the root causes of addiction. Since the craving for alcohol can continue for years after total abstinence, ongoing support is recommended to maintain sobriety.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin within the first few hours without a drink and last for weeks into sobriety. Although each person is different, detoxing from alcohol follows a general timeline.
Medications Used During Detox
Although each case is evaluated and proceeds on an individual path, residential rehab is constructed around this general timeline. Medically assisted detox is begun soon after assessment and admission into an inpatient facility and is continued with constant monitoring for up to a week. The medications used during this process can include a mild pain reliever to deal with head and body aches.
Common rehab protocol includes the use of benzodiazepines to manage anxiety and prevent seizures. It will also help with sleep issues and prepare for the work ahead in rehabilitation. Underlying health and mental health issues will be addressed and treatment has begun.
Medications Used to Treat Alcohol Dependence
There are currently three drugs with FDA approval to manage severe alcohol addictions and prevent relapse, but they’re introduced after the initial detox is completed. Antabuse (disulfiram) is a drug that causes violent flu-like symptoms if someone drinks alcohol within 72 hours of taking the medication. It’s designed to discourage alcohol use by creating an aversion, but it only works with highly motivated individuals who take Antabuse as prescribed.
Campral (acamprosate) and ReVia (naltrexone) both work to reduce cravings for alcohol. Using Campral inhibits the release of chemicals that signal addiction by blocking the affected neurotransmitters in the brain. ReVia was originally indicated as a deterrent to opioid use, but it has been found even more effective when used to reduce alcohol cravings.
With medications to help in the initial stages of withdrawal and ongoing support throughout the rehab process, a sober life is more than possible. Just take the first step.
Contact Stepping Stone and Get Help Today
Do you have questions about alcohol withdrawal? Call us at 1-866-957-4960 or fill out the form below and our admissions coordinators will answer any question that you may have about treatment options available to you.