Attempting to withdraw from alcohol on your own can be potentially life threatening. There are significant symptoms that can begin as early as two hours after the last drink, depending on how severe and how long an alcohol addiction lasted. Without the right medical support, a self-induced alcohol detox can lead to what’s known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a condition that can develop in those who have been drinking heavily for many weeks, months, or years, and then stop or reduce their alcohol consumption. Symptoms can range from mild anxiety to severe physical complications, including seizures and tremors.
Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
- Shaky hands
- Mild anxiety
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Hallucinations (visual, auditory, or tactile)
- Seizures (can occur either as a single clearing seizure or as a brief episode of multiple seizures.)
- Severe confusion
- Irregular heartbeats
- Impaired attention
- Death (not common but can occur in 1-5% of people)
Why you Should Seek Medical Attention
Of course, the way to avoid significant complications with detoxing from alcohol is to obtain the support of a medical professional. It’s particularly important to seek medical attention even if symptoms are mild because they can rapidly worsen.
Alcohol withdrawal treatment and alcohol detox programs that are supervised and facilitated by medical professionals can reduce any health risks. In fact, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can create a medical emergency if alcohol detox is not done facilitated by professionals.
Alcohol is a liquid that is colorless, flammable, and comes in various forms. The form that is most commonly known is ethyl alcohol (ethanol), the kind of alcohol used in beverages such as wine, beer, and liquor. It is produced through the fermentation of grains and fruits, which happens when yeast acts upon certain ingredients in food and creates alcohol. Beer and wine are drinks that are fermented and can contain anywhere from 2% to 20% alcohol. And other drinks that are distilled, such as liquor, can contain anywhere from 40% to 50% of alcohol.
Of course, it’s well known that alcohol, when consumed, distorts perception and judgment and can affect an individual’s mood. It can also slow down one’s reaction time, making it dangerous to drink before getting behind the wheel.
When someone is attempting to end their alcohol consumption, the effects produced while drinking will have an opposite effect. In fact, the cause of alcohol withdrawal syndrome begins in the brain. Heavy drinking, especially if it was daily, interrupts the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain, the chemicals that transmit messages to the rest of the body.
While at first drinking can enhance certain neurotransmitters, later it suppresses them. This is true of the neurotransmitters GABA, which produces a calming effect, and glutamate, which produces feelings of excitability. When heavy drinkers suddenly stop or significantly reduce their alcohol consumption, the neurotransmitters previously suppressed by alcohol are no longer suppressed.
They rebound, which produces a phenomenon known as brain hyper-excitability, and this causes many of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome
In order to help minimize the discomforts of alcohol detox, addicts have been prescribed benzodiazepine tranquilizers, which are commonly prescribed for anxiety. Benzodiazepines have been very effective in treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
However, the risk with Benzodiazepines is that they are highly addictive and have severe withdrawal symptoms themselves. Yet, when recovering addicts take Benzodiazepines as prescribed, they usually don’t experience the risk of addiction and instead, the medication greatly facilitates their alcohol detox process.
If you’re experiencing an alcohol addiction and you’re ready to get sober, be sure to get the professional help you need for a healthy detox from alcohol.
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