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Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

symptoms of alcohol withdrawal

One of the bravest decisions a person can make involves choosing to address their addiction to alcohol. Many people who struggle with a substance use disorder such as alcoholism have attempted to stop drinking more than once. They sometimes find that the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal they experience when trying to go it alone prove to be too much. 

These individuals often begin cycling in and out of attempts at sobriety. They find themselves full of determination and cease drinking for a short while, then find the withdrawal symptoms to be more than they can handle. For this reason, medical experts recommend that treatment professionals provide the framework for true recovery. 

Alcohol Functions as a Depressant

People who suffer from alcohol addiction may be used to viewing alcohol as something that improves their mood. While alcohol can cause a person to experience joy, relaxation, and a temporary ability to stop focusing on their problems, it actually falls under the category of a depressant. Depressants are a class of drugs that inhibit or depress a person’s central nervous system. 

Alcohol slows the brain and nervous system activity down and causes impairment. Excessive drinking over time can actually cause a person to be more likely to develop depression. This results in changing the person’s emotions, perceptions, senses, and movements. When a person stops drinking, their central nervous system attempts to readjust to the loss of the depressant. This sudden change contributes to the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

What the First Stages of Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Feel Like

When a person with an addiction to alcohol stops drinking, they first experience what is called acute withdrawal symptoms. These predominantly manifest in the form of physical ailments. This makes having medical help to alleviate them important.  

As quickly as six hours after the last drink, a person may experience any of the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid pulse
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Depressed feelings
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Cravings to drink

Within 12-48 hours of stopping alcohol consumption, a person may experience hallucinations. Within 24-48 hours, some people have withdrawal-related seizures. 

Within 3 days to a week, some people develop delirium tremens. More commonly known as “DTs”, this condition involves hallucinations and delusions. Delirium tremens can cause reduced blood flow to the brain, dehydration, loss of consciousness, angry behavior, and other dangerous symptoms. This may require a person to be treated in a hospital until the symptoms pass. Approximately 5% of people experiencing alcohol withdrawal develop delirium tremens. Of the people who have this, it proves fatal for 5% of them.  

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

After acute withdrawal symptoms subside, many people move into the stages of what is termed Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS. While acute withdrawal symptoms are mostly physical in nature, PAWS shows up a lot in emotional reactions and changes in mood. Because of this, having therapeutic support benefits a person dealing with PAWS.

A person who has adapted to numbing difficult emotions with alcohol often finds experiencing them while sober to be frustrating. Dealing with these psychological and emotional pressures puts a person at risk of returning to drinking. PAWS symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Feelings of panic
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty thinking or making decisions
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Changes in appetite
  • Being easily frustrated by situations
  • Craving alcohol

Professional Treatment Programs Treat Both Acute and Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Going it alone while trying to quit drinking alcohol often ends up in failure. Participating in professional treatment programs increases the odds of a person with a substance use disorder such as addiction to alcohol staying in recovery. 

Attending formal treatment options affords a person access to medical experts who understand how to diagnose and treat their symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. These same programs typically offer psychological support for the emotional fallout sometimes experienced during withdrawal. 

Options for treatment include supervised detoxification, residential, outpatient, intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs. 

Individuals who receive treatment from professional programs typically experience much of the following:

  • Less likely to relapse
  • Longer amount of time spent between any relapses that occur
  • Better mental health
  • Improved physical health
  • More likely to reach out for support when feeling the urge to drink
  • Less likely to be involved in the legal system, such as arrests and probation
  • Better rates of employment and school attendance
  • Less volatile relationships with loved ones

How To Pay for Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Worrying about how to pay for professional treatment programs often stops someone from reaching out for help. The person may understand they need medical and psychological supervision to help deal with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal but assume help falls out of their price range.

Spending some time looking into options for procuring coverage can pay off. If a person does not feel capable of handling making phone calls and looking up information online, they can enlist a loved one to assist them. 

A good first step involves contacting a person’s insurance company. Many of them cover treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. They will be able to discuss what options they cover and which treatment programs they recommend. 

If insurance held through a job or other source is not available, investigate options available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many insurance plans that fall under this umbrella offer coverage for substance use disorders. The ACA plans will not disqualify a person for having a pre-existing condition. Medicaid and Medicare also often offer coverage for addiction treatment. Consult with your state’s plan to see any benefits they offer.

Alcohol Rehab in Texas

Casa Colina offers world-class treatment in luxurious surroundings in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. Our residential treatment for men only offers multiple treatment modalities to help those who struggle with an addiction to alcohol and drugs. Casa Colina also offers regular updates and visitation for the families of our residents. We welcome you into our home, help you embrace recovery, and send you back to your home ready to start your new life. Click here to find out more about how we can help you. 

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