Symptoms of Severe Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol use disorder is a condition that affected over 15 million adults in the United States in 2015, according to a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). A person who drinks heavily on a regular basis runs the risk of forming an alcohol use disorder – a disease that includes alcohol abuse, dependence and addiction. Once a person has reached the level of dependence, severe alcohol withdrawal follows when the person tries to stop or slow down.
In this article, we will review alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including the most severe alcohol withdrawal cases that involve delirium tremens.
What is the Cause of the Withdrawal Symptoms?
Heavy alcohol use interferes with the process in the brain – in particular, the nerves that relay messages around your body. In order to lessen the effect of this interference, a person’s body starts to adjust to having alcohol as a constant in the body. This is what causes a person to become dependent, because once the use of alcohol stops – even for just a few hours – the body is left in this adjusted state and severe alcohol withdrawal then sets in.
Common Withdrawal Symptoms from Alcohol Abuse
Symptoms are amplified the longer a person has engaged in heavy alcohol use as well as the amount of alcohol that was consumed on a regular basis. A person’s health can also affect how severe alcohol withdrawal is, and can cause even mild symptoms to be dangerous.
Initially, the first symptoms begin to surface after about six hours from the last drink the person had. The mild symptoms include the following:
- Shakiness in the hands
- Heavy sweating
Most of these symptoms are easily managed but with the onset of the more severe symptoms, medical assistance is usually a requirement to avoid possibly fatal outcomes. The more serious symptoms set in after about 12 to 24 hours and include seizures and hallucinations.
The most dangerous of all the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are delirium tremens, or DTs. DTs can start after two days and can be delayed to the third day. While they only occur in about 5 percent of the patients going through detox, they are a cause for concern. The symptoms of DTs are as follows:
- Vivid hallucinations
- Severe confusion
- Profuse sweating
- A dangerously rapid heart rate.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Treatment for alcohol addiction and dependence can help a person to stop drinking, even if they have struggled to stop by themselves before. This is because alcohol addiction treatment makes use of medication during detox to make the process far more manageable and safe – it even helps to reduce cravings.
At first, the addict’s withdrawal symptoms must be dealt with to put them in a state of mind that would make therapy and counseling more effective. After about 7 to 10 days of detox, the medical detox program will be completed, and then the therapy can begin.
An addict will sit with an addiction specialist in a one-on-one setting to delve into the issues that may have started their alcohol abuse in the first place. After also looking at problematic behavior and thinking and replacing them with alternatives that support a healthy life, the addict is one step closer to their goal of sobriety. Relapse prevention is a cornerstone of long-term sobriety, and techniques are offered along with information on support groups that can be used long after rehab has been completed.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.