Regularly consuming large amounts of alcohol and binge drinking can lead to alcohol withdrawals; these can be pretty painful and uncomfortable to go through. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms vary, but for the most part they will be done in a few weeks. In severe cases, you might experience delirium tremens. A safe detoxification from alcohol should include a healthy diet, plenty of fluids, rest, and sometimes a medication-assisted therapy— which would be monitored by a professional.
If you’ve experienced a hangover, then you probably know what it feels like to have that throbbing headache and feeling of complete agony—and nothing… not even a huge breakfast, gallon of orange juice, and pot of coffee, seems to help. “Physical symptoms of a hangover include fatigue, headache, increased sensitivity to light and sound, redness of the eyes, muscle aches, and thirst” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism -NIAAA).
Though hangovers are not to be confused with alcohol withdrawal—and sometimes when the previously described symptoms of a hangover carry on for several days, it is no longer a hangover but actually alcohol withdrawal. Though binge drinking and alcoholism contribute to hangovers and withdrawal; withdrawals are more than just dehydration and a headache.
Withdrawal can be extremely painful, uncomfortable, and the prolonged symptoms can go on for several weeks, but he first symptoms are usually gone within 24 to 48 hours. These can include:
- Heightened sensitivity to light and sound
- Difficulty concentrating
- Transient hallucinations (in more serious cases)
“The signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal typically appear between 6 and 48 hours after heavy alcohol consumption decreases” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). In more severe cases of alcohol withdrawal, delirium tremens can occur; these are extremely hard to deal with and can be absolutely terrifying—they can actually lead to seizures.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “delirium tremens, the most intense and serious syndrome associated with alcohol withdrawal, is characterized by severe agitation; tremor; disorientation; persistent hallucinations; and large increases in heart rate, breathing rate, pulse, and blood pressure. Delirium tremens occur in approximately 5 percent of patients undergoing withdrawal and usually appear 2 to 4 days after the patient’s last use of alcohol.”
Alcohol Is A Dangerous Drug
By definition a drug is a substance which has a physiological effect when introduced into the body. Alcohol, even though it’s legal, is a drug. So dangerous, that even though alcohol isn’t listed as a schedule I drug by the DEA, alcohol poisoning is responsible for the death of 6 people every day in the United States.
That’s a 2,190 people each year, and statistically, about 76 percent of those are men. Not only is alcohol killing people by poisoning them, it’s also killing them in fatal car accidents; and “every 2-hours, three people are killed in alcohol-related highway crashes” (United States Department of Transportation).
In The United States—What’s The Total Number Of Deaths By Alcohol?
At the end of the day, alcohol is the “fourth leading cause of preventable death in the United States” (NIAAA). Alcohol was responsible for about 88,000 deaths in 2014, and because of it’s availability and potential for addiction—the statistics of withdrawals, hangovers, drunk driving deaths, alcohol poisoning, and brain damage aren’t going anywhere.
How Does Alcohol Affect The Brain?
Surely with slurred speech, stumbling, and memory loss—there has got to be something going on with the brain when a person gets drunk, right? Well this is actually confirmed by the National Institute of Health, and “alcohol not broken down by the liver goes to the rest of the body, including the brain…
Alcohol can affect parts of the brain that control movement, speech, judgment, and memory. These effects lead to the familiar signs of drunkenness: difficulty walking, slurred speech, memory lapses, and impulsive behavior.” This stuff adds up, and a brain can take a beating from a lifetime of alcohol abuse.
Treatment Of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
As alcohol is removed from the picture, your body wants more of it. Alcohol withdrawals typically happen in adults, however, in some cases it can occur in teenagers as well. “The more you drink regularly, the more likely you are to develop alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. (Additionally) You may have more severe withdrawal symptoms if you have certain other medical problems” (U.S. Library of Medicine).
The road to recovery starts with treatment of the initial symptoms, and though it won’t be easy, thinking of the bigger picture can help. In a professional setting, treatment of alcohol withdrawals starts off with a detoxification. When a person is detoxing, they are actually pushing the drug out of their system which can lead to physical and mental withdrawal—alcohol withdrawal is actually a reaction to detoxing.
Some prefer the clean diet for detoxing, and along with a healthy amount of vitamins, a person should be drinking a significant amount of water to replace the amount of sweat they’re producing as a result of withdrawal symptoms.
Medication-Assisted Treatment For Alcohol Withdrawals
In some cases, if a person’s withdrawals are so severe that delirium tremens and hallucinations have taken over their mind, a pharmacological intervention will be necessary. Some of the different medication-assisted treatment methods for alcohol withdrawal are—benzodiazepines, antiseizure medications, and adrenergic medications; though some may get by with aspirin or ibuprofen.
Why Inpatient Treatment Is Important For Detoxing
“Inpatient detoxification provides the safest setting for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal, because it ensures that patients will be carefully monitored and appropriately supported” (NIAAA). Inpatient treatment is also helpful in that it will keep a person in a drug and alcohol free environment to begin recovery. The first weeks in recovery can be pretty stressful—working with professionals at an inpatient rehab facility can help ensure that you are taking the safest route to a brighter future.
What Can Inpatient Treatment Include?
“People with moderate-to-severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may need inpatient treatment at a hospital or other facility that treats alcohol withdrawal. You will be watched closely for hallucinations and other signs of delirium tremens.
Treatment may include:
- Monitoring of blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and blood levels of different chemicals in the body
- Fluids or medications given through a vein (by IV)
- Sedation using medicines until withdrawal is complete”
(U.S. National Library of Medicine)
More About Alcohol Use Disorders And Alcoholism
There are millions of people in the world who suffer from alcohol use disorders and alcoholism. For them, it might be hard to understand that getting drunk on a regular basis isn’t considered normal behavior. Some people reach a certain point in their drinking career where they decide to quit—perhaps they quit because they get a new job, or because they experience health complications, or because they have had enough.
A person suffering from alcoholism doesn’t have this luxury, and they will have a had time quitting on their own. This is because alcoholism is a disease characterized by a person’s inability to stop drinking once they have started, even when a circumstance like the loss of job, illness, or divorce is on the line. It’s a mental phenomenon of craving…
How To Get Help For Alcoholism Or An Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol withdrawals are dangerous to try to defeat alone, but sometimes outpatient treatment will suffice. For the most part, if you’re at the point of fear and anxiety, don’t give up hope. Contact us today at 1-877-958-9345 to learn more about treatment for alcohol withdrawals. Alcohol doesn’t have to win the fight this time.
For More Information Related to “What Helps With Alcohol Withdrawal?” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From DrugRehab.org:
- The Benefits of Faith-Based Recovery Programs
- How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?
- How Much Does a Drug and/or Alcohol Intervention Cost?
- What is Alcoholic Hepatitis?
- What Are The Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning?
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Alcohol Poisoning Deaths
Drug Enforcement Administration – Drug Scheduling
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism – Alcohol Facts and Statistics
National Institute of Health – Alcohol Abuse and Older Adults
United States Department of Transportation – Drunk Driving by The Numbers | Bureau of Transportation Statistics