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The Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

For the majority of Americans, alcohol doesn't enter their lives except for a couple of drinks at social functions. But for some, alcohol takes over their lives and makes it almost impossible to live in a functioning, normal way. These people's best chance for recover is a qualified rehab center, If you or a loved one has issues with alcoholism, here are some things you should be aware of.

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal?

When someone has been consuming alcohol for a period of time, whether it's weeks, months, or years, and then suddenly stops drinking, it causes a chain of events in their bodies that, if left untreated, could prove to be fatal. The symptoms generally start soon after the person has their last drink, and can last for weeks. The symptoms vary from person to person, and will depend on how much alcohol they have been consuming.

The symptoms appear because when a person suddenly stops drinking, their brain's neurotransmitters are disrupted. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in the brain that carry messages, and the alcohol suppresses those messages. When a person stops drinking, the messages are no longer suppressed and the neurotransmitters rebound, which results in brain hyperexictability.

What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are serious, and should be taken seriously. Some of the things to watch for are:

Hands that shake
Inability to sleep
Visual or auditory hallucinations
Seizures, especially in people who have detoxed from alcohol before
DTs, especially in people with abnormal liver function, prior DTs or seizures, or an advanced age. Between 1 and 5 percent of addicts die from DTs.
Disorientation or confusion
Racing heartbeat
High blood pressure

The above symptoms can appear only two after the addict's last drink, even if there is still measureable alcohol in their blood.

What to Do if You or a Loved One Exhibits Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal

Just because the symptoms of withdrawal appear mild at first, that doesn't mean you should ignore them. The symptoms can progress rapidly, and you will need medical attention to ensure they don't become life threatening. If you or your loved one is experiencing hallucinations, fever, confusion, or a rapid heartbeat, you should call 911 right away because it's a medical emergency. Be sure to tell the doctor if you have experienced seizures or DTs before, or have an infection, heart or lung disease, or any other health condition as this can affect how they will approach your treatment.

The Best Way to Go Through Alcohol Withdrawal

The good news is that you don't have to put your life at risk in order to achieve a sober life. When you get help from the right rehab center, the trained professionals there will give you the medical attention and mental support you need to kick the habit once and for all. When you speak to a professional who is trained in alcoholism, they will advise you about whether you should consider an outpatient treatment center, or if you would be better served spending some time in an intensive in-patient treatment center. Either way, once you make the call, you will have taken the first step in getting your life back on track.

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