Are you or your loved one an alcoholic?! Here’s all the help you need! From medical detox to medications, we’ve compiled everything about alcohol withdrawal process!
This tiny step of yours is gonna be a great start for a better life both for yourself and your loved ones. But even after the treatment, alcohol recovery is a long road. During the treatment, you may have a few withdrawal symptoms. However, it’s okay because this phase is temporary but you’ll be able to lead a good and healthy life and focus on things that you love!
We have listed everything about alcohol withdrawal process. Right from symptoms of withdrawal to timeline, your complete guide about alcohol withdrawal program is here. Let’s check out!
Is Alcohol a Drug?
According to the effects of alcohol on the mind, it may be termed as a drug that reduces a person’s ability to think and distort one’s judgment.
While alcohol is often termed as a depressant, it’s so much more complex than that. It slows down the vital functions like slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions and an inability to react quickly. The short-term effects may even be elating, but in the long run, it can cause serious damage to the body.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Detox or detoxification is a process wherein the body gets rid of toxic or unhealthy substances. Alcohol detox is the first step in treating alcoholism. In this stage, alcohol is flushed from the body. When you stop drinking alcohol, it leads to withdrawal symptoms, which is known as alcohol withdrawal or alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms may typically subside in the body for 2-3 weeks and may even take a longer period depending on the severity of alcohol addiction. The withdrawal symptoms are mild for some but in a few cases, it may lead to serious problems. However, with proper medical aid and support from your loved ones, you will be able to get through this phase. It’s also important to self-help and motivates yourself to end the battle against alcoholism. We have listed a few symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:
Major/ Serious Symptoms:
- Alcohol DT (Delirium Tremens) tremors – It is a life-threatening issue wherein you will feel confused and on edge.
- Unstable change in blood pressure and heart rate
Due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms, alcohol detox should be monitored by a medical professional. This is especially for the ones who have a history of lung or heart diseases, or any other medical conditions.
In such cases, the withdrawal symptoms quickly worsen. Your healthcare provider will be able to track your blood pressure and heart rate to make sure your condition doesn’t worsen. Also, in case of medical emergency, alcohol rehabilitation support centers help you get medical aid ASAP!
When Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start?
Usually, the alcohol withdrawal symptoms start between 6-72 hours and a day after consumption of the last drink.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeframe
The alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as two hours or after six hours or as late as the next day after your last drink. A few painful symptoms will subside within the first week and some mild symptoms can last for several weeks to a year. There is no exact timeline or breakdown structure to define when the withdrawal symptoms you experience. However, here’s an outline:
1. First six to twelve hours: The initial symptoms are mild but can begin to worsen as the time goes on. Some of the early withdrawal symptoms are headaches, anxiety, nausea and irritability.
2. Day one: As you approach the end of 24 hours of detox, symptoms may become severe. Along with the effects felt from the first twelve hours, additional symptoms may involve disorientation, hand tremors and seizures.
3. Day two: Similar to the first day of detox, the painful symptoms will continue into the second day. Hallucinations and panic attacks are common at this time as the body gets rid of alcohol from its system.
4. Days three to seven: This is the timeframe where you’re most at risk of life-threatening symptoms such as delirium tremens.
5. After one week: By the time you have completed the first week of detox, many of the withdrawal symptoms will begin to stop. While some symptoms may persist for a few weeks, the minor ones can be treated with medication.
Medications for Alcohol Withdrawal
We have listed a few commonly prescribed medications for alcohol detox withdrawal symptoms. However, these can only be taken if prescribed by your doctor.
- Ativan Oral
- Lorazepam Oral
- Valium Oral
- Ativan Injection
Side Effects of Alcohol Withdrawal
The duration of alcohol withdrawal symptoms are different for everyone. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Alcohol withdrawal usually occurs within 6-8 hours after the last drink, but can occur days later. Symptoms usually peak by 24 to 72 hours, but may go on for weeks.” Here are a few major severe symptoms and side effects while treating alcohol withdrawal:
1. Detox Sweating Alcohol
Night sweats are unpleasant but are harmless. One of the major causes of night sweats are alcohol consumption. It may occur if you’re an alcoholic or sometimes even if you just had one drink. If you’re physically dependant on alcohol, sudden withdrawal can result in night sweats.
2. Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
An acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when you experience sudden and severe withdrawal symptoms. This frequently happens within the first couple of weeks after you quit drinking. During this time, you’re most at risk of temporarily losing consciousness, developing delirium tremens or having seizures.
Due to life-threatening health complications, it’s advised to stay at a hospital or alcohol rehabilitation center. A medical professional will assess your mental and physical health frequently to make sure the symptoms don’t escalate quickly.
3. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
After most serious withdrawal symptoms have lessened, some people may experience post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). This is the prolonged symptom of detox. Generally, these symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, less energy and delayed reflexes. This can last from several months to years. This syndrome usually affects heavy drinkers and long-term drinkers.
Can Alcohol Withdrawal Kill You?
This is the most frequently asked question by alcoholics and also by their loved ones. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may cause severe problems if not treated well. So, it’s always advised to have a professional help.
The major symptom of alcohol withdrawal being delirium tremens or DTs affects around 5 percent of alcoholics. And people who drink a large amount of alcohol for a longer period may be victims of DTs. About 1 in 20 people who get the DTs die, but this possibility substantially reduces if you receive medical care.
Alcohol withdrawal, while bringing some minor and some severe side-effects with it, is usually treatable with the help of professional or a rehab program. However, in rare cases, if not treated properly certain causes may even lead to death of the patient. There are several reasons that might lead to death when you withdraw alcohol. Some of them include:
1. Improperly completing a rapid alcohol detox program can cause death.
2. A few medications like Xanax and Valium may be life-threatening when used for a long-term. So, it’s important to have a medical supervision to check if you have any withdrawal symptoms.
How Long Does Your Body Take to Recover from Alcohol?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that former abusers who abstain from alcohol for several months to a year may experience a partial correction of some of these structural changes. The effects of abstinence from alcohol typically are maintained after 5-7 years of complete abstinence.
Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal
While getting the treatment for alcohol withdrawal, your doctor may ask about your drinking history. They may also examine your medical conditions to know if they’re responsible for the withdrawal symptoms. Unless you have serious health conditions or you’ve had serious withdrawals in the past, all you need is a supportive environment. Here’s what can be helpful:
1. A quiet place for self-time.
2. Limited contact with people.
3. Healthy food and lots of fluids.
4. A positive and supportive atmosphere.
Detox Body from Alcohol and Drugs
Whether you are detoxing your body from alcohol or drugs, it’s important to self-help oneself to get rid of the toxins from the body. Toxins such as ethanol in alcohol harm your organs, tissues and other systems, which will result in diseases and other health problems. So, apart from detoxification, it’s important to indulge in other steps like:
1. Make up your mind to quit alcohol or drugs completely
2. Rehydrate your body by consuming loads of water. This helps to flush the toxins out of your system.
3. Change your diet by consuming nutrients. Also, cut down sugar intake and bad fats. Try to avoid processed and fried food.
4. Exercise is a must. By raising your heartbeat and sweating, you’ll be able to remove the toxins through the pores. Whether it’s running in the park or practicing yoga, it not only helps to detox but releases endorphins in your brain that will keep you in good spirits through this difficult process. Keep yourself hydrated as you sweat more.
5. Reduce stress by making time for yourself. Unwind your day by doing things you love the most as stress hormones, such as cortisol, are harmful to your health.
6. Try to stay away from caffeine and smoking. These not only are harmful toxins in themselves but they can also trigger you back to alcohol addiction.
7. Get your daily dose of sleep for at least 8 hours. Be very disciplined when it comes to sleep routine.
So, that was all about alcohol withdrawal. Hope the tips for coping the withdrawal symptoms were useful. It’s a great step that you have taken towards ending alcoholism. But you may also face a few hurdles on your way. And that shouldn’t demotivate you or let you down. Instead, think of the bright future you gonna have. Most importantly, you’re showing self-love by choosing to lead a happier and safe life. For we have only one life! Tweet us your thoughts and experiences @shilpa1ahuja!
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Sahana is a Senior Staff Writer at ShilpaAhuja.com. With an experience in fashion and lifestyle writing, Sahana is responsible for Indian and international fashion week coverage every year, and is developing an expertise in apparel trend forecasting. She also writes about health and fitness, having pursued yoga for 6 years now. She’s not a gym person at all but is all for “running in the park” and is an amateur cyclist. Books and coffee are her other passions. She’s also an amateur photographer. She’s a hardcore Bollywood fan and she loves to cover the nostalgic topics on the same. From fashion trends to famous characters, she can make anyone love Bollywood! Her best article has been 90s Bollywood fashion, a readers’ favorite so far! Prior to her experience with ShilpaAhuja.com, Sahana has written as a freelance author for online magazine, Mashup Corner, and interned at EventsHigh as a content writer. Her blogs on basic fashion, makeup, fitness and city’s food joints that gave her a chance to experiment with her writing. She also has voiced her opinions about feminism and equal rights for men and women at PolkaCafe journals and after quitting her job, she decided to take up writing as her full time career.
Sahana is an engineering graduate and has worked in an MNC, Tesco, for more than a year as an Operations Support. It was her sheer love for fashion that made her quit the monotonous 9 to 5 job to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She’s originally from Bangalore and is currently settled in Chennai (she’s loving the city)! For any queries and discussions, contact her at [email protected] You can also tweet her at https://twitter.com/Sahana_17