The Symptoms and Dangers of Alcohol Detoxification

Alcohol dependence is one of the most common substance use disorders across the world. Drinking is such an important part of so many cultures that millions of people across the globe develop alcohol dependence without ever recognizing the signs or symptoms. Many people only realize that they have a problem when alcohol begins to seriously affect their health and quality of life.
alcohol withdrawal symptoms
While many people try to reclaim their health by kicking their alcohol habit, they often begin drinking again once they experience the discomfort of alcohol withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely difficult to endure, and in many cases, quitting alcohol in an unsupervised setting can pose a huge hazard to a person’s health. Therefore, if someone in your life is struggling with alcohol dependence, then you should read on to learn more about the effects of alcohol withdrawal and the importance of safe detoxification.

How Does Alcohol Dependence Happen?

As someone drinks more and more often over a prolonged period, their body becomes accustomed to alcohol. The brain, muscles, and organs build up a tolerance over time and gradually require higher amounts of alcohol to function normally. Due to the highly social nature of drinking, the signs of alcohol dependence are often ignored or overlooked. Many people who struggle with alcohol addiction don’t know that they have a problem until they hear it from someone else or get into alcohol-related trouble.

Generally, the intensity of a person’s alcohol dependence is proportional to how much they usually drink and how long they’ve been drinking. For example, someone who consumes five drinks per day over the span of three months would probably not be as chemically dependent on alcohol as someone who consumes eight drinks per day over a period of three years. Nonetheless, each person in that example would almost certainly experience withdrawal symptoms after several hours without a drink.

What Is Detoxification?

Detoxification is the process by which the body readjusts to function without an addictive chemical after a prolonged period of sobriety. During the detox process, a person will experience the uncomfortable symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. These symptoms can be very hard to deal with alone, and they may even be dangerous, so many people undergo detox in a medical environment to stay safe and increase their odds of success.

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

The early stages of alcohol withdrawal are easy to confuse with the common cold and similar ailments. For this reason, many people don’t recognize the signs of alcohol withdrawal as something significant. The most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include unpredictable headaches of varying intensity, insomnia, anxiety, tremors, gastrointestinal discomfort, mood swings, hyperthermia, cardiac problems, and hallucinations. In some cases, patients may even experience one or more seizures. The presence and intensity of symptoms widely vary between individuals based on their health, age, drinking history, and other factors.

Is Alcohol Withdrawal Dangerous?

In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can be deadly. A small percentage of patients develop alcohol withdrawal delirium, which is a condition that causes extreme confusion, brain damage, and heart failure. Generally, someone who has alcohol withdrawal delirium will experience increased body temperature, tremors, agitation, vomiting, and excess perspiration. Moreover, patients with this condition may feel extreme confusion and could have difficulty following conversations or answering basic questions about themselves.

Many patients also experience seizures during the withdrawal process. Without proper medical supervision, an individual may hit their head while experiencing a seizure, or they might experience a seizure while driving or operating heavy machinery. In rare cases, patients may suffer from status epilepticus. This is a severe type of seizure that causes convulsions and often leads to serious brain damage or death.

How Long Does the Detox Process Take?

Typically, an individual who struggles with alcohol dependence will see mild symptoms around six hours after their last drink. They may feel moderate anxiety or have a headache at this point. Depending on the extent of their dependence, symptoms may already feel unbearable at this stage. The severity of withdrawal symptoms typically escalates between 12 and 48 hours after a person’s last drink. At this point in the process, patients often experience seizures, hallucinations, mild fluctuations in body temperature, anxiety, and gastrointestinal discomfort.

The period between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose tends to be the most dangerous. Symptoms at this stage include heart palpitations, confusion, excess sweating, fever, and withdrawal delirium. Usually, the situation will start to get better after the 72-hour mark, and the worst symptoms should gradually fade away over the span of a week. Still, patients may experience depression, anxiety, poor concentration, and similar difficulties for several months as the brain adjusts to a sober lifestyle.

What Services Does an Inpatient Facility Offer?

Alcohol dependence isn’t easy to overcome. Unlike many harmful drugs, alcohol is completely legal and can be found almost anywhere. This is one of the reasons why inpatient medical treatment is so useful for people who struggle with alcohol addiction. While every residential treatment center is different, most high-quality facilities offer the three following services.

Supervised Detox

Some people manage to get through the detox process alone, but alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous for most patients. Thus, it’s much better to undergo the detox process in a safe medical environment. Residential treatment centers have specialized doctors, the best medications, and the right medical facilities to keep patients as safe, healthy, and comfortable as possible.

Dual Diagnosis

Alcohol dependence frequently occurs alongside depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental disorders. When someone struggles with alcohol dependence and a mental disorder at the same time, the two illnesses may play off of each other and exacerbate the patient’s suffering. For example, someone with depression may consume alcohol in an effort to manage their symptoms.

However, prolonged alcohol use usually worsens symptoms of depression, so the patient needs to consume more alcohol to feel better. This leads to a vicious cycle of endless consumption and pain. The mental health professionals at a residential treatment facility will work closely with a patient to find the right solution to their mental disorder while helping them achieve sobriety.

Holistic Therapies

Treating alcohol dependence isn’t just about talking to doctors, taking medications, and enduring withdrawal symptoms. Like most conditions, stress plays a huge factor in a person’s recovery. To help patients effectively deal with stress, the best treatment centers take a more holistic approach by offering massage therapy, yoga classes, physical therapy, acupuncture, and similar therapies.

Why Is Medical Supervision Important?

Unfortunately, many people who try to quit alcohol on their own end up failing. This is not a result of some sort of character flaw or a lack of conviction. People have trouble overcoming their addiction for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be unimaginably painful. People often feel as if they’re going to die after 24 hours without a drink. This feeling isn’t unwarranted. After all, the later stages of the alcohol withdrawal process can be deadly.

To make things more difficult, alcohol is everywhere in most societies. A person can’t turn on the television, walk down the street, or browse the internet for more than a few minutes without seeing alcohol, a bar, or an ad for some alcohol-related product. In fact, drinking is so common in some places that sober people are seen as strange, asocial, or snobby. These attitudes lead to immense social pressure to binge drink.

A reliable detox center always has a team of medical professionals on standby to guide patients through their discomfort, handle any medical emergencies, and provide emotional support as they endure the alcohol withdrawal process. Moreover, when someone spends time at a detox center, they are completely removed from alcohol and the social contexts in which they usually drink. In short, a good detox center gives a person the opportunity to overcome their addiction in a safe environment and helps them develop the necessary skills to maintain their sobriety.

A Team of Qualified Addiction Specialists Can Help

Addiction can cast a dark shadow over a person’s life. This is especially true when it comes to alcohol dependence. Not only is a drinking habit hard to overcome, but it can also be deadly. Naturally, you want your loved one to be safe and happy, so you need to contact Allure Detox today to find out more about high-quality residential treatment services in your area.