We have all heard it at meetings, drinking alcohol used to be fun. It starts out for everyone as something that could make us feel confident, funny, coordinated, and sexy. What happens for those of us who are real alcoholics, is that over time, drinking becomes less of a leisure activity, and turns into an absolute necessity. Our bodies and minds begin to rely upon it, until one day, we try to stop drinking and realize that are unable to – either because of the obsession to drink or because of the torture of the alcohol withdrawal.
At this point, we are officially in a pickle.
24 Hour Alcohol Rehab Hotline – Get Help Now
Alcohol Withdrawal & the Characteristics of Drunks
Alcohol has been around for thousands of years with evidence tracing it back to the stone age over 10,000 years ago. It is safe to assume that people have been abusing the drink since then, and ancient texts even discuss the characteristics of drunks and the decline of their mental and physical health over time.
Every year, thousands of people are hospitalized or die due to alcohol-related causes, and alcohol withdrawal is well known to be the most potentially fatal detox process. This is why it is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL to seek professional detoxification after heavy binge and alcoholic drinking.
So What Happens During Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal can be broken down into 3 phases, beginning anywhere from 6 to 24 hours after the last drink. They are:
- Stage 1: anxiety, insomnia, nausea, abdominal pain and/or vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, tremors, depression, foggy thinking, mood swings, and heart palpitations.
- This stage of alcohol withdrawal usually occurs anywhere between 6-8 hours after the last drink for someone who drinks excessively
- This is usually the stage in which an alcoholic, who is not detoxing, will just go out and get another drink to combat the continuation of the withdrawal process. Those of us who drank heavily are well aware of the “Hair of the Dog” method, and how a stiff drink will calm the shakes and the headaches
- Stage 2: increased blood pressure, body temperature and respiration, irregular heart rate, mental confusion, sweating, irritability, and heightened mood disturbances.
- Occurring anywhere between 1-3 days after the last drink
- The increased blood pressure and heart rate here are what brings about the most damage. The sudden lack of alcohol can send the body into a state of shock, and if enough damage has been created through drinking, many of the organs here can go into the beginning stages of failure
- Stage 3: hallucinations, fever, seizures, severe confusion, and agitation
- Occurring anywhere from 3 days to a week, and potentially lasting several weeks or permanently if left untreated
- This is primarily the stage in which people develop delirium tremens or a wet brain. Although many of the physical effects will subside, it is possible for many of the psychological effects to become permanent
It Really Depends on the Type of Drinker
Not everyone who abuses alcohol will experience all of these withdrawal effects. It depends largely on a multitude of factors that can either lessen or increase the severity of the alcohol withdrawal such as:
Frequency and amount ingested, medical history, co-occurring disorders, stress levels, amount of time alcohol abuse has been present, presence of any drug use or prescription medications, etc.
The timeline will also be slightly different for each person, but these 3 stages have been shown to be the most common in heavy drinkers.
Alcohol Withdrawal and the Nervous System
By in large, alcohol is a depressant, although sometimes it can feel like a stimulant. That feeling of euphoria and loss of inhibition is actually a numbing and suppression of the area of the brain that controls these feelings. Over time, with excessive drinking, comes excessive numbing of the brain and nervous system.
This is why, when a person stops drinking, insomnia, anxiety, tremors, mood swings, and blood pressure all go out of whack.
Hence, Why Detox and Treatment are so Crucial
There are a lot of drugs out there that, while detox makes the process easier, could generally be safe enough to withdrawal from on the couch at home. However, for people who struggle with drinking, or even drink excessively in combination with other drugs, detox is the safest bet every single time.
Not only do detox facilities and treatment centers have staff on hand around the clock, they also ensure that there is a trained medical professional either on the property or on call, in case of any emergencies. Most detox facilities do rounds every few hours to ensure that the blood pressure, respiration, temperature, and heart rate are all normal.
Detox and treatment programs also provide the option of highly monitored and professionally administered prescription medications that can stabilize and alleviate many of the physical and mental side effects of drug and alcohol withdrawal.
Most people that come in for alcohol abuse are highly malnourished. Medical detox can help get the person back into a routine eating schedule, with healthy foods and supplements. A good diet, in conjunction with enough rest, can help alleviate the alcohol withdrawal symptoms dramatically.
The Long Term
The danger of alcohol is that it is legal and widely accepted. That being said, for people who are looking to truly stop drinking, once and for all, will often require a longer stay at an inpatient substance abuse center. This will allow them to not only be separated from alcohol and other substances for an extended period of time, but they can work with therapists and other alcoholics and drug addicts, to delve into the reasons behind their drinking.
Many people struggle with co-occurring disorders for years and have no idea. Most people who suffer from an addiction have, at some point in their lives, experienced trauma.
Being on site with medical professionals and therapeutic doctors allows the person to not only identify some of the root causes for their drinking and substance abuse but will also help them learn tools to combat the cravings in the future.
24 Hour Substance Abuse Hotline – Get Help Now
Freedom From Addiction
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism or addiction, understand that you are not alone in your struggles! If you are ready to change your life and finally be free of your addiction, then FindAddictionRehabs.com can help. We can give you the jump start you need in order to experience the recovery you have always wanted. The holistic programs we frequently refer clients to are unique in that they don’t just treat the addiction, but rather they treat the whole person, so if you are interested in finding out more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call today at 1-877-959-7271.
Anna M. joined Find Addiction Rehabs with extensive experience in the field of addiction treatment. As a former Nurse Practitioner in Miami, she found her passion for addiction treatment when a family member was lost to his disease. With each article and resource, she hopes to save other families from experiencing the anguish of a loved one’s passing due to drinking or drugs.