People who become dependent upon alcohol face a great challenge when they finally make the decision to get sober. Over time, their bodies and brains have become accustomed to drinking in order to feel and function properly. When alcohol usage suddenly stops or decreases by half following chronic and heavy use, users are likely to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms as their body attempt to regain balance.
These uncomfortable symptoms often stand in the way of many people who attempt to get clean on their own without professional help. To truly have the best chance at overcoming an alcohol problem, they need a professional alcohol addiction treatment program.
What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
Alcohol raises dopamine levels in the brain, which produces euphoric feelings. Alcohol consumption can increase self-confidence, improve mood, and lower inhibitions. These pleasurable feelings exist as long as alcohol is present in the blood stream. Unfortunately, they start to fade away if drinking stops.
Some people can enjoy the effects of alcohol occasionally without ever developing a problem. Others, however, begin to crave these effects and engage in chronic over-drinking. Experts define binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more for men, all within about a two-hour span. People who frequently drink in excess are far more likely to develop an alcohol problem compared to those who don’t.
Once individuals with an alcohol dependency decide to quit drinking, they might begin to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms within hours of their last drink. This is because their brains have come to believe that they need alcohol in order to function properly. Withdrawal symptoms are simply a visible sign that the body is attempting to restore itself to its standard functions.
Managing Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to life threatening. The severity of each person’s withdrawal varies, and is based on:
- Frequency and volume of drinking
- Family history of addiction
- Childhood traumas
- Presence of any underlying mental disorders
- Medical history
While symptoms vary from person to person, alcohol withdrawal is generally a three-stage process.
Stage 1 is generally mild and occurs within about eight hours after the last drink. Symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, nausea and/or vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. Some people also experience depression, loss of appetite, and extreme fatigue.
Stage 2 becomes more intense, and usually begins 24–72 hours after the last drink. Symptoms can include elevated blood pressure, body temperature, and respiration, irregular heartbeat, mental fogginess, sweating, and increased mood swings.
During Stage 3, individuals may experience delirium tremens, or DTs. If they develop, individuals will usually feel the effects 72 hours after their last drink. Symptoms of this final and most difficult phase can include hallucinations, seizures, fever, severe confusion, and irritability.
Once alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin, they’ll typically dissolve within five to seven days after the last drink. Because these symptoms can sometimes be life threatening, a supervised medical detox is generally the best option. Trained and experienced medical staff will handle any possible complications that could arise during detox. Altogether, medically supervised detox is the safest route for removing harmful toxins from the body and preparing individuals for sober living.
Professional Help for Your Alcohol Problem
If you or a loved one is battling an alcohol addiction, our facility Crest View Recovery Center in Asheville, North Carolina, can help. After attending detox at one of our partner facilities, clients can take advantage of our life-changing substance abuse treatment programs.
- Initial rehab treatment centered around intensive clinical care
- Intensive outpatient program for continuing care
- Proven addiction therapy methods
- A reality therapy model that promotes growth and life skill development
A New Life Awaits
You don’t have to let alcohol addiction control you or your future anymore. Crest View Recovery Center in Asheville, North Carolina, has the treatment services needed to overcome addiction and prepare for a life of successful sobriety. To get started on your new, substance-free life, call Crest View Recovery Center today at 866.327.2505.