Alcohol Withdrawal and Alcohol Detox: What You Need to Know – United Recovery
Alcohol withdrawal and alcohol detox are serious, but essential steps in the process of getting sober and recovering from alcohol addiction. At United Recovery Project, we have alcohol detox programs to help with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. We also have inpatient and outpatient rehab options for those that are trying to recover from an alcohol use disorder. Learn more about alcohol withdrawal and alcohol detox below, and why people may benefit from having a rehabilitation facility to assist them with this process.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal describes the symptoms a person experiences during the first few days after they stop drinking. Experiencing withdrawal is a sign that someone has a dependency or addiction to alcohol. Withdrawal occurs because the body becomes used to and dependent on the frequency of drinking, and then must adjust to the sudden lack of alcohol. Alcohol acts as a depressant on the brain and central nervous system, and when it is used over a long period of time, the nervous system eventually adjusts to having alcohol around. When a person suddenly stops drinking, the nervous system must again take some time to adjust to the change.
There are a variety of negative symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that range in severity. These symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, shakes, anxiety, disorientation, and more. People can even experience symptoms as severe as seizures, high blood pressure, and hallucinations. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal below.
Alcohol Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms
As discussed above, alcohol withdrawal has a lot of negative symptoms. In fact, many people continue drinking because they want to avoid withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms occur as the body detoxes alcohol from its system. The different symptoms of withdrawal can range from mild to severe, depending on the specific alcohol dependence.
Mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include shaky hands, headaches, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and insomnia. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, confusion, and mood swings.
These symptoms are just mild signs of alcohol withdrawal. However, if a person drinks excessively and daily over an extended period of time, they could experience more severe symptoms, known as delirium tremens.
Delirium tremens or DTs is a sudden and severe change in a person’s nervous system. This type of withdrawal is very dangerous. It is most common in people who have abused alcohol long-term. However, the symptoms from delirium tremens do not show up right after a person stops drinking; they usually show up two or three days later. Some symptoms of delirium tremens include high blood pressure, hallucinations, seizures, and extreme anxiety. If someone is experiencing delirium tremens, they should seek the help of a medical professional because this is serious withdrawal and it can be fatal if not treated properly.
The specific symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are very dependent on the person and the length of alcohol use or dependence. However, if you or someone you know is experiencing the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, they should get help from a medical professional as soon as possible.
A Timeline for Alcohol Withdrawal
We have gone through the many different alcohol withdrawal symptoms; now, we will take a closer look at a timeline of alcohol withdrawal. While the exact timeline is dependent on the person, and the severity of the addiction, we can give you estimated time frames.
- 6 to 12 Hours After – The first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can occur as soon as a couple of hours after a person stops consuming alcohol. Most commonly, symptoms tend to show up six to twelve hours after quitting alcohol. These first symptoms usually include headaches, shakes, nausea, and anxiety.
- 12 to 24 Hours After–From twelve to twenty-four hours after stopping drinking, patients may experience symptoms such as disorientation and hand tremors.
- 48 Hours After– This is when some more severe symptoms tend to arrive. Anytime around or after forty-eight hours, patients can experience delirium tremens, which includes severe symptoms like hallucinations, seizures, high blood pressure, and even cardiac arrest. If these symptoms are happening, seeking immediate medical attention is a wise decision.
Obviously, a timeline for alcohol withdrawal can be slightly different for everyone, but this is a good general timeline for alcohol withdrawal and the symptoms that patients may experience.
About the Alcohol Detox Process
Detox or detoxification is the process of the body getting rid of toxins in its system. When consumed, alcohol is a drug that releases harmful toxins into the body. However, after a certain point, the body grows accustomed to alcohol being in its system. Only after a period of complete withdrawal does the body start to detox and get rid of the toxins caused by consuming alcohol.
There are two basic ways to detox from alcohol. One way is known as going cold turkey. Cold turkey is quitting alcohol all at once. The other way to detox is by tapering or gradually lowering the amount of alcohol that you consume over a period of time. Tapering allows the body to adjust to the change more gradually, and it can help people experience fewer and less severe symptoms of withdrawal.
Consulting a Medical Professional About Alcohol Withdrawal and Detox
Alcohol detox at a rehabilitation or medical facility is a good idea because alcohol withdrawal can be deadly. Lethal symptoms that can come from alcohol withdrawal include:
- Heart arrhythmia
- Kidney dysfunction
- Delirium tremens
- Liver dysfunction
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
Detoxing from alcohol can be a dangerous process because of all the symptoms of withdrawal. That is why it is good to go through a medically assisted detox program in a rehabilitation facility. A rehab facility will help you taper from alcohol in the safest way possible to make the detoxification process easier.
United Recovery Project is a rehab facility that helps people safely detox from alcohol and learn skills to help them not go back to alcohol in the future. Reach out to us if you would like to learn more about our treatment options.