What a Detox From Alcohol Looks Like and Its Withdrawal Symptoms

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Detoxing from alcohol is one of the hardest things some people will ever have to do. Not only is it emotionally taxing but the alcohol withdrawal can be very hard on your body too. Many people even end up giving up on their alcohol detox because of the brutal withdrawal symptoms. 

Proper planning and knowledge of what to expect during your detox may make you more successful at alcohol withdrawal. Keep reading below for more information about detox from alcohol and what withdrawal symptoms you may expect. 

Detox From Alcohol

Alcohol is a chemical that alters how your brain works when giving most people a feeling of joy and relaxation. Years of abuse may lead to becoming dependent on it. This can cause the body to become unable to function without a daily dose of alcohol.

In these cases, reducing the amount of alcohol that the brain is used to would lead to the body as well as the brain reacting negatively. These reactions are called withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawing from alcohol is a good long-term decision for the sake of your mental and physical health. However, in the short term, detox from alcohol causes extremely painful side effects. If not properly managed, alcohol withdrawal can even be fatal. This is why medically supervised detox is the healthiest option for alcoholics. 

The people most likely to suffer from alcohol withdrawal symptoms are alcoholics and binge drinkers. An alcoholic could be described as someone that is physically or psychologically dependent on alcohol and unable to control their desire for drinking. Binge drinkers are those that consume large amounts of alcohol in one sitting. This floods their brain with alcohol and leads to massive hangovers and withdrawal symptoms. 

Below are some of the symptoms one can expect to experience after giving up alcohol or reducing your consumption amount. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and the amount of time it takes for the symptoms to disappear depends on many factors. These include the amount you normally drink, the length of time you’ve been drinking and whether you’ve detoxed before. Those that consume large amounts of alcohol and have been drinking for a long time or have previously detoxed will experience more severe symptoms.

It will also take a longer time for them to detox. Most people will experience detox symptoms for up to 5 days after consuming their last alcoholic drink. The withdrawal symptoms experienced will vary based on the time that has passed since taking alcohol. 

Timeline Of Withdrawal Symptoms

An alcoholic’s body will start showing signs of withdrawal within two hours after having your last drink. The most common symptoms are experienced between 6 to 12 hours after your last drink. The first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include feelings of depression, anxiety, and irritability.

Physically you would experience headaches, nausea, and high fever. Early withdrawal symptoms are often not dangerous but should be closely monitored as some alcoholics may experience seizures 6 hours after their last drink.

Typically 24 to 48 hours after your last drink is when the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms occur. Seek medical attention immediately if the symptoms appear unbearable. The most common symptoms at this time include tremors, insomnia, rapid heartbeats, seizures, confusion, excessive sweating, stomach upset and high blood pressure. Emotionally the alcoholic will experience delirium tremens and confusion. 

After 48 to 72 hours of drinking, those that were severe alcoholics will most probably experience delirium tremens. This is an altered state of consciousness marked by confusion, delusion, and visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations. After 72 hours some people continue experiencing withdrawal symptoms for weeks and some for even up to a year.

These long-term alcohol withdrawal symptoms are called PAWS which stands for post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Indicators include loss of consciousness, delayed reflexes, and emotional outbursts.

Managing Detox From Alcohol

Alcohol rehabilitation centers have developed superior ways of managing withdrawal symptoms which is why alcoholics should check-in to a rehab facility when they are ready to give up alcohol. Along with medical management of the physical side effects, addicts usually undergo counseling to help manage the emotional side effects. 

There are both inpatient and outpatient types of rehab clinics. Outpatient facilities may be best for those not severely addicted to alcohol. They should be able to manage their routines even while going through detox and withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient facilities are more suitable for those severely addicted to alcohol and those that will require medical intervention for their serious withdrawal symptoms. 

To prevent relapse, both types of rehab clinics offer group counseling called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). People going through alcohol detox can share with and get support from people going through the same process. Some medications can also be prescribed to reduce the possibility of relapse. 

Medications Used to Treat Withdrawal Symptoms

There are several types of medications for alcoholism that are used during and after withdrawal to manage the physical discomfort that arises. Benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax, and Ativan are prescribed to prevent seizures. Neuroleptic medications can also be prescribed to prevent seizures as well as manage the agitation that occurs during alcohol withdrawal by depressing the nervous system. 

Doctors can also prescribe nutritional supplements such as folic acid, thiamine, and magnesium. These can correct nutritional deficiencies and imbalances caused by alcoholism. 

The two main drugs used to suppress alcohol addiction are Disulfiram and Naltrexone. Disulfiram reduces alcohol cravings and causes one to be severely sick if they consume alcohol. The second drug popularly used is Naltrexone which prevents relapse by blocking feel-good receptors in the body. 

Seek Medical Advice When Considering Detox From Alcohol

Going through detox from alcohol can have lots of different types of effects on your mind, body and emotions. One of the best things to do is to seek medical advice from a professional. This is especially true if you are a long-term drinker.

Your doctor can check your physical condition and establish whether you would best be under medical supervision as you detox. Taking a step forward to recovery is an amazing step. For extra support, consider medication assisted treatment for further assistance.

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