Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment - All American Detox

Have you or a loved one been struggling with a drinking problem for some time? Despite seeming innocent at first, alcohol can quickly become part of your daily routine and before you know it, you are having several drinks just to get through the day.

Despite being legal, alcohol poses several risks to your health: the worst of which occur when you drink too much. In the short term, binge drinking can lead to dangerous and irresponsible behaviors such as driving while intoxicated, blacking out, fighting or overdosing. In the long-term, alcohol misuse can cause heart problems, several types of cancer, memory and learning problems, poor mental health, and addiction.1

In addition, the wear on the body, heavy and long-term drinkers seeking sobriety must also contend with alcohol withdrawals. More so than any other drug, the side-effects of alcohol withdrawal are destructive and potentially lethal.

Fortunately, with proper care and dedication, it is possible to overcome alcohol addiction once and for all. Read on to learn more about the symptoms, treatment and timeline of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol blocks glutamate receptors and increases the inhibitory receptors in the brain. This decreases neuronal firing and slows down the brain’s response to stimuli.2 This is the reason we feel relaxed when we drink. It’s also the reason why we get dizzy and exhibit poor judgement.

In cases where long term drinking occurs, brain chemistry is completely altered. When a person stops drinking, their brain can no longer regulate itself and becomes overexcited. This process is what is referred to as alcohol withdrawal.2

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are most pronounced for people who have abused alcohol for an extended amount of time.2 Withdrawals begin to set in within the first hour and are usually mild, however they will get worse as time goes on.

Alcohol withdrawals range from mild to severe and are physical as well as mental. Here are many of the symptoms than can occur when a person stops using alcohol.

Alcohol withdrawal Common Symptoms

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Difficulty falling asleep or sustaining sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Increased Heart rate
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Anger or irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Alcohol withdrawal Severe Symptoms

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Body tremors
  • Cardiac Arrythmia
  • Delirium tremens
  • Severe dehydration
  • Thoughts of suicide

Alcohol withdrawals, if not treated properly can result in permanent damage or even death. People who are older, have chronic health conditions and those who are severe or long-term drinkers are at a higher risk of experiencing complications during alcohol detoxification and may need to enroll in a medical detox program to safely detox.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

There are several factors that can impact the duration of alcohol withdrawal. Among them, the number of years the person drank for, the amount of alcohol they regularly consumed, their physical and mental health state, and the presence of other substances or addictions.

6-12 Hours

During the first few hours the signs of alcohol withdrawal begin to set in. At first these early symptoms are mild and may include anxiety, nausea, changes to blood pressure, discomfort, heavy breathing and difficulty sleeping.3

12-48 Hours

During this stage some may also experience visual and auditory hallucinations and seizures.

48-72 Hours

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms peak during this time and can result in fever, quickened heart rate and high blood pressure. Out of those who experience severe withdrawal symptoms, 3 to 5 percent will develop delirium tremens: a condition that occurs as a result of heavy prolonged drinking. Symptoms of delirium tremens include:

  • Extreme agitation
  • Body tremors
  • Seizures
  • Autonomic Overstimulation (nausea, sweating and rapid heart rate)
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes in mental state
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Death

Post-acute Withdrawal (72 hours or more)

After about 5 to 7 days, withdrawal symptoms return to more manageable levels making it possible for those to leave medical care without the risk of any health complications.

From this point on, individuals experience some lingering effects called post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS. These symptoms are mostly psychological and may include depression, anxiety, fatigue, brain fog, difficulty sleeping and mood swings.4

Those completing alcohol detox will also find that the urge to use alcohol remains. For this reason, enrollment in an inpatient rehab program or intensive outpatient program is highly recommended.

How Is Alcohol Withdrawal Treated

When an alcoholic is finally ready to quit, they will have to decide how to approach it. Many are convinced that quitting cold turkey with little to no support will work out fine, but as we just discussed, alcohol withdrawals have significant health risks for those that try to quit.

Medical detox programs, on the other hand, are equipped to handle the latent complications of alcohol withdrawal and can adapt treatment quickly if things start to go south. Those in medical detox also receive preventive care–they are watched around the clock, their vitals are monitored, and they are given nutritional support so that the body more properly heal itself.

When necessary, patients are also given medication to ease the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. And in the case of a medical emergency, drugs like anti-convulsant may be administered to stop seizures.

Also Read: How to deal with depression and anxiety

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Conclusion – Get Help

Attempting to quit alcohol cold turkey can be dangerous, especially if you are a heavy or long-term drinker. Alcohol abuse can drastically alter the brain leading to an overexcitement in brain activity that can cause seizures, hallucinations and delirium tremens. It can also negatively impact behavior causing irritability, mood swings, anxiety and depression.

Are you finally ready to quit drugs and alcohol once and for all? All American Detox is a drug and alcohol treatment and rehab center in Los Angeles California. Our detox and residential inpatient programs can help you overcome substance abuse in comfort and with confidence. For more information, call us today at (844) 570-1301.

Citations

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, April 14). Drinking too much alcohol can harm your health. learn the facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

Newman RK, Stobart Gallagher MA, Gomez AE. Alcohol Withdrawal. [Updated 2021 Nov 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441882/

Tietz, G., & Khan, G. (n.d.). Alcohol withdrawal symptoms: What you need to know. WebMD. Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/alcohol/alcohol-withdrawal-symptoms-timeline

What is post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)? What is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)? | Hazelden Betty Ford. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/post-acute-withdrawal-syndrome

When does Alcohol Become an Addiction

When does Alcohol Become an Addiction - All American Detox

Most people, when asked can recall at least a few memorable events when they took their drinking too far. But after a few “I’m never drinking again” level hangovers, most people return to drinking in moderation, at least most of the time. So, why is it harder for others to walk this fine line?

The truth is, the signs of alcohol and other drug dependence can be difficult to identity, more than likely because it is hard for us to accept when we’ve lost control.

Going through the motions of an alcohol addiction can start to feel very much like stages of grief, where so much time is spent denying the problem.  Attacking the ones who are trying to help and bargaining with ourselves over a few “insignificant” drinks before ending up back where we started.

If any of this sounds familiar, read on to learn about the signs of alcohol and other drug dependence.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction and its Dependance:

You are Drinking Frequently or Heavily

There are several patterns of unhealthy drinking that may indicate alcoholism. The first of which is binge drinking, also known as heavy episodic drinking.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) defines binge drinking as consuming five or more standard drinks in one hour for men or four or more drinks for females.1 In other words, binge drinking can be defined as drinking a large number of drinks over a short period of time.

The other, heavy drinking, is defined as drinking more than four drinks daily or fourteen drinks a week for men and seven drinks a week for women.1

While binge drinking or heavy drinking does not always mean alcohol addiction, engaging in behaviors along with these and getting black out drunk or drinking until you pass out are strong indicators. Another criterion for alcoholism, is continuing to use alcohol despite social and legal repercussions (i.e. loss of job, DUI, and serious health issues).

Also Read: How to deal with depression and anxiety

Friends and Family are Concerned About Your Drinking

People often notice things about us that we miss about ourselves. Not everyone will risk their relationship to confront a friend or loved one about a drug or alcohol problem, but when it’s people that you love and trust, it is time to start paying attention.

If your drinking has reached the point where it is causing harm to others, you may also find yourself being the subject of an intervention with multiple friends and family at once.

You Often Drink More Than You Mean To

How many times have you said, “I’ll just have just a few drinks” and ended up binge drinking anyways?  Not being able to moderate your drinking is a strong indicator of waning self-control–a problem associated with alcohol addiction.2

You Are Engaging in Dangerous or Unlawful Behaviors

It’s no secret that heavy alcohol consumption can result in poor life choices. From DUI’s, infidelity or causing injury to yourself or others, alcohol can result in some pretty life changing consequences.

Normally, these events are a wakeup call, but if a person refuses to get their drinking under control despite repeated negative consequences, this could be a tell-tale sign of alcoholism.

You Feel Terrible When You Aren’t Drinking

As anybody who has spent a night out of heavy drinking can tell you, the morning after hangover can make you regret ever drinking. Heavy drinkers, however, spend a lot of time dealing with the negative health effects of overindulging.

Some of the effects that heavy drinkers and alcoholics regularly experience include3

  • Stomach pain and nausea
  • irritability
  • headaches
  • Low energy
  • Haziness and difficulty concentrating
  • Weakened immune system
  • Numbness of limbs
  • Memory loss
  • Withdrawals (when not drinking)

You Have underlying Mental Health Issues

If you have one or more diagnosed mental health disorders and are abusing alcohol or other drugs, the risk for developing substance use disorder (SUD) is higher. According to the American Medical Association, approximately 50% of those with severe mental disorders also have substance abuse issues.4

The reason for this varies but using alcohol as a substitution for treatment is common. For example, a person might drink when they are feeling depressed or anxious so that they can take the edge off.4

When people lean on substances in this way, sobriety can become unpleasant, making it more likely that the person will spend more of their time drinking.

Alcoholism Runs in Your Family

Research indicates that genetics account for 40-60 percent of a person’s addiction risk. Given this fact, if you are addicted to alcohol, it’s possible that your addiction didn’t start with you.

Addiction is similar to other inheritable diseases with treatment outcomes similar to diabetes.5

Rehab Center for Alcohol Addiction

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When the signs of alcohol and other drug dependance becomes obvious, the next step is to look for addiction treatment.

Alcohol dependency can be dangerous and often requires medical detox, just to be on the safe side. People who attend inpatient alcohol rehab have better access to relapse prevention, medical support, lifesaving medications, and mental health services like individual therapy and peer support.

All American Detox Center, center is a rehab center in California that provides inpatient rehabilitation and detox services for those seeking treatment for alcohol addiction and other substances. For more information about our quality service and facilities. Call us today at (844) 570-1301.

Conclusion

It is not always easy to accept when an alcohol problem has become an addiction, but when it has, there are several signs that serve as indicators. People who are falling into alcoholism begin to drink more and binge heavily.  They also tend to lack the ability to stop drinking once they’ve started.

This may also be an indicator that alcoholism runs in your family or stems from a preexisting mental health issue as well. As a result of heavy and frequent drinking, alcoholics may do things that cause danger to themselves or others and risk life altering consequences if they continue to use.

Citations

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Drinking levels defined. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking 

Verywell Mind. (2021, July 8). Types of drinking habits to avoid. Verywell Mind. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-the-different-types-of-alcohol-problems-63139 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, May 18). Alcohol use disorder. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243 

Robinson, L., Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2022, August 18). Dual diagnosis: Substance abuse and mental health. HelpGuide.org. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/substance-abuse-and-mental-health.htm 

Retooling our comparisons of addiction to other illnesses. Recovery Research Institute. (2020, July 3). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.recoveryanswers.org/research-post/addiction-treatment-policy-expert-suggests-comparisons-addiction-illness-may-need-retooled/ 

5 Benefits of Medical Detox for Alcohol Withdrawal

Benefits of medical detox

What is a Medical Alcohol Detox?

Detox is the process by which your body rids itself of harmful chemicals. This process naturally occurs in our bodies all the time as we consume and come in contact with things that our body doesn’t need.

When somebody abuses drugs and alcohol regularly, however, toxicity builds up overwhelming the body. This in conjunction with physical and psychological dependence creates a need for medical detox treatment. Medical alcohol detox in a treatment setting is usually accompanied by medication, medical monitoring, and counseling.

All American Detox Center is a California-based drug detox center that offers a multitude of recovery options. To find more about alcohol detox centers or other addiction services, contact us at (844) 570-1301.

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If you are thinking about quitting alcohol for good, here are some of the Benefits of Medical Detox for Alcohol Withdrawal.

Benefits of Medical Detox for Alcohol Withdrawal

  1. Medical Detox is Safer

The stronger the alcohol dependency a person develops the stronger withdrawal symptoms will be. People with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) will engage in excessive drinking by drinking throughout the day or in large amounts within a short period of time; also called binge drinking.

Additionally, prolonged use of alcohol can lead to health conditions that could cause complications to the medical alcohol detox process. These include:

  • Liver Damage
  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Dementia
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe Depression and Anxiety
  • Infections
  • Heart Problems
  • Problems with eating and sleeping regularly

In an Inpatient drug rehab center, a thorough examination is run to guarantee that any methods used during the detox are going to be safe for the patient, and health problems or chronic health conditions can be considered and treated. During your stay, you will also receive 24/7 medical support and monitoring around the clock. This means that if at any point unexpected problems arise, trained staff can effectively respond. This is a huge contrast from home detoxes which can be risky and unsafe.

  1. Access to Critical Medications and Care

The second benefit of medical alcohol detox, Individuals that who suffer from more severe withdrawal symptoms in an alcohol detox program may be prescribed medication that both ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent them from escalating into more serious health problems.

It is also common for people with AUD to be deficient in several key minerals such as magnesium, phosphate, and sodium (pg. 32) Utilizing IVs, staff can administer appropriate dosages which contribute to the patient’s overall health.

One serious form of alcohol withdrawal that requires medications is delirium tremens. DTs are marked by agitation, aggressive behavior, confusion, seizures, fever, and hallucinations. Delirium tremens develops in 20% of AUD patients in detox and typically last 3-5 days or even up to 10.

The alcohol withdrawals of this disorder are potentially life-threatening and require constant monitoring by medical professionals. For individuals that don’t seek treatment, the risk of death from DTs increases by 15%. Unfortunately, it is fairly common amongst patients in detox; out of all individuals with an AUD that go to treatment, 20% will develop delirium tremens symptoms.

Here are some examples of trusted medications used in alcohol detox treatment:

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines such as Valium or Librium are sedatives prescribed during alcohol detox to treat both physical and psychological acute withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, nausea anxiety, and seizures.

Anticonvulsants

When seizures are the main symptom of focus, doctors can prescribe anti-convulsants. Medications like Tegretol or Neurontin have the advantage of having a lower potential for abuse than benzos and can either be used as a direct replacement for a benzodiazepine or in conjunction with one.

Barbiturates

Barbiturates like Phenobarbital have been found to be effective in treating seizures and other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal both alongside and as a replacement for benzos in alcohol addiction treatment.

Benefits of medical detox for alcohol withdrawl

  1. It’s Better for your Health

Putting your treatment in the hands of licensed professionals can maximize the recovery process that benefits your health in several ways including:

  • Treating nutritional deficiency with vitamins
  • Screening for health conditions common with alcohol misuse (i.e., health failure, disease of the liver and pancreas, nerve damage, and bleeding of the digestive tract) pg.
  • A peaceful, anxiety-free environment with kind and supportive medical staff pg.
  • Access to medications that can prevent severe withdrawal symptoms associated with AUD
  1. Access to a Sober Environment

One of the biggest issues with detoxing at home is the high potential for relapse. One of the biggest reasons for this is the lack of a controlled environment.

At home, a person is more likely to be surrounded by triggers. This could include things like unpaid bills, pictures, the presence of drugs and alcohol around the house, or friends and family who may be using themselves.

According to data by the PEW research center, almost half of Americans have a friend or family member who is presently or was at some point addicted to drugs. Considering this, and the fact that alcohol runs in families, we can infer that many people with an AUD live in compromised environments unfit to detox in.

Receiving treatment in a safe medical facility or alcohol detox center in California is the only way to guarantee a safe and sober detox.

  1. It Prepares You for the Next Stage of Treatment

The biggest barrier to recovery is getting yourself to treatment. Each step you take down the path to recovery helps you to build the resolve and master the skills needed to beat addiction and retake your life. Whether you decide to attend a residential inpatient treatment or an outpatient treatment program, detox is a crucial step in making recovery possible.

So, these are the benefits of medical alcohol detox. Enrolling in an alcohol detox program can be overwhelming at first. During treatment, withdrawal symptoms range from uncomfortable to painful.

Once the detox phase of treatment ends, however, you can take comfort in knowing that the worst is over. The withdrawals of the detox period are replaced with post-acute withdrawals or PAWS which are in most cases more manageable.

You can also read about: How Can a Healthy Diet Help Addiction Recovery?