Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome - How To Detox Safely

By Midwest Detox Staff

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It can be easy to say that you will stop drinking. Particularly for addicts, it is almost too easy to convince yourself, your family, and your friends that you can simply quit alcohol. However, cutting off alcohol is a difficult and treacherous endeavor. Alcohol withdrawal comes with a plethora of mild to very severe symptoms, which is why roughly 42% of patients admitted to hospitals each year are due to alcohol use disorders.

To help monitor and manage withdrawal symptoms, it is imperative to detox under the guidance of medical professionals. In a safe and controlled environment, the detox process, the first and most vital step in addiction recovery, can take place.

In This Article
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    What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

    It is easy to think about all of the negative short-term effects that you will immediately experience when quitting alcohol, but it is imperative to acknowledge the massively advantageous long-term benefits that will follow.

    When you quit drinking alcohol, your body and mind will start functioning better. Physically, one the most obvious benefits is improved liver function. Every time your liver filters alcohol, some of its cells die. While the liver is able to regenerate new cells, it can lose that ability if excessive drinking forces it to work too hard. Improved heart function is another major long-term benefit. Drinking raises blood pressure and high blood pressure strains the heart muscles, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. You will also develop a healthier immune system since you won’t be suffering from the dehydration and inflammation caused by alcohol consumption. Additionally, there will be less at risk for numerous cancers that have been attributed to excessive alcohol intake, including larynx, esophageal, colon, and liver cancers.

    Mentally, you will experience numerous benefits as well. Since alcohol is a depressant, drinking it can slow brain function and cause memory loss. When alcohol is removed from your system, you will experience more balanced moods, a clearer mind, and less sluggishness. Last, but certainly not least, you will experience healthier relationships, increased productivity, and a new outlook on life. The positives of quitting alcohol are inherently clear, and it is best to focus on those positive outcomes throughout the recovery journey.

    Typical Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

    The process may seem daunting. You may wonder - what does alcohol withdrawal feel like and how long does alcohol withdrawal last? The severity and the amount of symptoms can differ depending on the extent of the individual’s alcohol use disorder. Generally, the symptoms occur in direct proportion to the amount of alcohol intake and the amount of time the person has been suffering from alcohol use disorder. Individuals with a heavy and long-term dependance will experience more severe symptoms.

    However, regardless of personal history, there are typical withdrawal symptoms from alcohol that you can expect to experience along the timeline of quitting. Knowing what to expect is beneficial not only for mentally preparing yourself, but to ensure that you place yourself in an environment equipped to handle the withdrawal symptoms.

    Within 6 to 12 hours after your last drink, when your body still has a measurable blood alcohol level, you may experience mild anxiety, headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, restlessness and minor tremors. These are generally considered stage one withdrawal symptoms and are relatively mild and early signs of withdrawal. Additional symptoms may include depression, fatigue, lack of appetite, and impaired judgment.

    Within 24 to 72 hours after your last drink, all of the previously listed symptoms will reach their peak. The symptoms are now considered stage two withdrawal symptoms. The 48 hour mark, day two with no alcohol, is usually when symptoms are at their worst. During this time, you may suffer from more severe symptoms, including fever, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nausea and/or vomiting, disorientation, visual and auditory hallucinations, and most severely - seizures. This would be considered stage three. It is dangerously easy to quickly progress from stage two to stage three without medical supervision.

    Within 48 to 72 hours, a small percentage of individuals will experience alcohol withdrawal delirium, also known as delirium tremens. Delirium tremens manifests itself as a clouding of consciousness and the onset of deliriousness. Symptoms also include severe agitation, a change in mental status, and seizures.

    An individual’s level of alcohol abuse will often dictate whether they are more likely to be at risk for delirium tremens, however, age, abnormal liver function, previous detoxifications, and a history of severe withdrawal symptoms can also all be risk factors. The mortality rate for individuals suffering from delirium tremens can jump up to five percent if not treated properly.

    What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

    Roughly 76.3 million people worldwide suffer from alcohol use disorders. From that 76 million, 2.35% die each year. Oftentimes, symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are ignored until more severe symptoms occur. Under guided medical supervision, the mortality rate drops to one percent or less.

    Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a condition that occurs after abruptly cutting off all alcohol intake. Prolonged alcohol intake causes the brain to inhibit NMDA neuroreceptors. Sudden cessation will then cause brain hyperexcitability, since whatever receptors were previously inhibited are now fully released. This brain hyperexcitability can manifest itself as anxiety, irritability, agitation, and tremors. In severe cases, manifestations can also include alcohol withdrawal seizures and delirium tremens.

    While it may be possible to predict which individuals may be more at risk for these more severe symptoms based on their history of alcohol abuse and general health, it is impossible to fully predict who may be potentially at risk for these life-threatening manifestations of alcohol withdrawal.

    Due to the potential severity of these alcohol withdrawal symptoms and the uncertainty of who will be affected by it, it is imperative that the detox process be done in a safe and controlled setting. With the help of qualified medical professionals, symptoms can be monitored, treated, and/or alleviated as needed.

    Detox Safely From Alcohol With Midwest Detox

    At Midwest Detox, we specialize in the first and most crucial step in your addiction recovery journey. The most perilous part of recovery is something we take very seriously. We aim to provide our patients with comfort and dignity during the trying process that is alcohol detox. Carefully designed by an expert team of addiction and mental health professionals, our detox center offers warmth and understanding throughout all the stages of alcohol withdrawal.

    Located in Brookfield, Wisconsin, our state of the art facilities are crafted to provide you with everything you may possibly need to begin your journey. There is no need for you or a loved one to continue suffering from alcohol use disorder, our team is waiting to guide you through the process and make it to the other side, cleansed and poised to continue your recovery journey.

    Don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out to Midwest Detox at 414-409-5200 or send us a message today.