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Alcohol Withdrawal symptoms can be mild or aggressive and are often the most challenging aspect of any rehabilitation programme.
Here we look at what alcohol withdrawal symptoms are, why you get them and how long they last for.
By understanding what symptoms you may experience you can better prepare for rehab and under the watchful eye of our addiction specialists, complete this challenging phase of your recovery.
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- What Is Alcohol Addiction Withdrawal?
- What Are The Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
- What is The Cause of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
- How Long Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Tend To Last?
- How Does Alcohol Withdrawal Relate to Alcohol Dependency?
- What is The Best Way to Relieve The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?
When a heavy drinker suddenly decreases their drinking or stops drinking altogether, they will usually experience some withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can be potentially dangerous and should be treated as a serious warning sign that a drinking problem is present.
The withdrawal symptoms that are experienced during this time are part of a condition known as ‘Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome’. This is a reaction that is caused when a person dependent on alcohol becomes deprived of the substance.
The more you abuse alcohol regularly, the more likely you are to experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop or reduce your drinking. If you are concerned that you may be dependent on alcohol, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible.
What Is Alcohol Addiction Withdrawal?
When someone is addicted to alcohol, it causes a range of bodily changes that can make it difficult to control the amount that you drink and how often you drink. This can also make it very difficult to reduce or stop the substance abuse.
Alcohol withdrawal is the unpleasant experience that occurs when you attempt to reduce or stop your alcohol intake. When you’re constantly exposed to alcohol, this causes your body to get used to having the substance in your system. This means that the absence of the substance causes a variety of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
There are several withdrawal symptoms that an addict can experience and these will vary from person to person. Below, we will take a look at the various symptoms that may be experience with alcohol withdrawal.
What Are The Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
There are several factors that can influence the severity of the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol. These include the amount of alcohol consumption involved, the length of time that you have been addicted to alcohol, and your personal physical and mental health. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms often come in the form of physical and psychological symptoms. Below, we will go through a list of the potential physical and mental withdrawal symptoms that you may experience as a result of a lack of alcohol.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Abdominal Pains
- Decreased appetite
- High Temperature
- Excessive Sweating
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Increased Heart Rate
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms:
- Intense Alcohol Cravings
- Difficulties With Concentration
- Mood Swings
In some severe cases, an addict may experience severe withdrawal symptoms known as ‘delirium tremens’. During this type of withdrawal, the addict will usually experience visual or auditory hallucinations or seizures.
What is The Cause of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
Withdrawal symptoms from drinking are usually caused by the way your brain reacts to the consumption of alcohol.
Alcohol affects certain areas of the brain including the part of the brain that is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ function. This helps our brains respond the threats and danger by preparing us to either react to the danger or run away from the danger. Since alcohol is a depressant, drinking can supress the ‘fight or flight’ response.
With long-term heavy drinking, over time, the central nervous system will become accustomed to the supressing effects of alcohol. This means that the brain is affected if you suddenly stop or reduce your alcohol intake. As soon as the alcohol leaves your body, you may go straight into the ‘fight or flight’ response, even if there is absolutely no danger around.
Regardless of whether the withdrawal symptoms are psychological such as anxiety or physical such as tremors, these are all caused by the body going into the ‘fight or flight’ response.
Again, if you are at all worried about your own or someone else’s drinking problem, it’s important to get professional help as soon as possible.
How Long Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Tend To Last?
The length of time that alcohol withdrawal symptoms last will depend a lot on the extent of the addiction and the length of time that the addiction has been present.
The very first symptoms of withdrawal will usually occur within around eight hours of the consumption of the last drink. The withdrawal symptoms will tend to be the worst within the first 48 hours without alcohol.
However, after this stage, the symptoms should begin to gradually improve as the body becomes more used to being without alcohol and starts to adjust. The entire withdrawal process will usually last for between three to seven days after the consumption of the last drink. Some severe cases may experience withdrawal symptoms for a little bit longer.
How Does Alcohol Withdrawal Relate to Alcohol Dependency?
If you experience any withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking, this is a clear sign that you have become dependent on alcohol. Also, if you are experiencing these symptoms multiple times each week, this means that it’s very likely that you are dependent on alcohol.
Alcohol dependence is also sometimes known as ‘alcoholism’. It may also sometimes be referred to as an alcohol addiction. This is a serious condition and it can lead to a range of health issues. People who become dependent on alcohol will often experience a range of strong and uncontrollable desire to drink alcohol. They will also often feel like they can’t function without alcohol.
If you believe that you or someone you know is dependent on alcohol, you should seek medical or professional help as soon as possible.
What is The Best Way to Relieve The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?
If you experience withdrawal symptoms, you will need to get some medical support to help you through this time so that you can stop drinking. A professional will help you detox safely with medical support. People with severe alcohol dependency may be given prescription drugs and medications to help with the withdrawals and to avoid the danger of experiencing a seizure.
The best ways to relive alcohol withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Stay hydrated with non-alcoholic drinks
- Avoid caffeine
- Eat regularly
- Find some ways to relax such as listening to music or going for a walk
- Seek support from friends and family
- Take any prescribed medication as needed