Alcohol withdrawal is the reaction of stopping excessive alcohol consumption. This reaction can include a variety of symptoms and can lead the person experiencing them to resume drinking alcohol in order to relieve them.
The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on the intensity of the following indicators:
- The amount of alcohol consumed excessively
- The length of time of excessive drinking
- Medical conditions present
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include what is commonly referred to as “the shakes” or “the DTs.” The shakes, characterized by shaking hands and slow-gaited walking, are a symptom of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Ti is typically comprised of physical shaking or tremors, sweats, increased blood pressure, anxiety, headache, nausea and rapid heartbeat.
There will likely be a desire or craving to consume more alcohol, especially to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms. The good news is that these symptoms are generally only uncomfortable or irritating – rarely are they life-threatening.
These delirium tremors, or shakes, usually occur when the person has gone for three to five days without consuming alcohol. The DTs can also include disorientation, hallucinations, cardiovascular disturbances of an extreme nature and extreme confusion. The DTs can quickly become dangerous without medical treatment.
It is important to note that the hallucinations caused by the DTs are more than just visual. They can include smells and sounds, which puts the person experiencing them at even more risk for harm to self and others. These hallucinations can last up to weeks at a time. Once the excessive drinking stops abruptly, hallucinations may start to appear as early as six hours.
Other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include depression, jumpiness, clammy skin, loss of appetite, pallor, dilated (enlarged) pupils, insomnia, mood swings, fatigue, nightmares, irritability, and vomiting. In extreme cases, fever and seizures may also occur.
Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment
Quitting drinking is not something a person has to do alone. There are a number of resources available to offer advice, guidance, support and treatment. One thing a person who is experiencing withdrawal symptoms should do is seek medical attention.
A physician can order tests that will help ensure the patient is doing well medically. Dehydration can be a concern with alcohol withdrawal. Again, having a medical physician is necessary. In this case, a physician is able to diagnose and treat effectively according to the withdrawal process.
Treatment of alcohol withdrawal can help reduce the symptoms and help prevent complications from occurring. A physician can assess the physical condition of the individual and make recommendations, including treatment programs, support groups, and therapists.
Treatment for alcohol withdrawal can include therapy. The purpose of therapy is to address the mental withdrawals and help reinforce the positive messages of life without alcohol. Therapy can provide tools and teach skills that make abstinence from alcohol a little easier.
Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment
Minimized symptoms follow in line with proper alcohol withdrawal treatment. Treatment can be undertaken using inpatient or outpatient models. There are ways to help assess which model may be best for the particular individual and situation.
Outpatient treatment for alcohol withdrawal can be best with those individuals who are experiencing only mild or moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. For these individuals, treatment may include blood tests, counseling (individual and family) and prescription drugs to help ease symptoms.
Inpatient treatment for alcohol withdrawal symptoms may be best for those individuals who are experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms that are more severe. These may range from moderate to severe in nature. For these individuals, the withdrawal symptoms can become dangerous, so close monitoring may be in order. Treatment for these individuals can include monitoring physical stats such as blood pressure, prescribed medications to help alleviate or reduce symptoms, and intravenous (IV) fluids or medications.
The cost of these programs may vary. A quick phone call to Champion Center can help provide answers to questions about the program specifics and costs, thereby better enabling the individual to make the best decisions regarding how to get the help they need.
Alcohol Withdrawal Prognosis
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can last for months, but any damage done to internal organs may be more long lasting. The ongoing care of a physician throughout alcohol withdrawal can be crucial to minimizing risk and damage, as well as early identification of potential long-term problems.
Following the end of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, the prognosis is generally good. However, this also depends on the individual making good choices concerning ongoing treatment and abstinence. Any medical conditions caused by alcohol consumption may also play a role in the prognosis.