The Facts About Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
If you’ve been drinking too much and want to stop, you’ve already taken a critical first step in the right direction. But desire is only the beginning. For those who have been drinking for an extended period of time, physical and psychological issues may arise during the alcohol cessation process. Some of these alcohol withdrawal symptoms can even be life-threatening if left untreated. If you want to stop drinking, it’s important to ensure a medically-safe detoxification process. If you don’t, you put your health at risk and also make it nearly impossible to stop drinking, as you’ll need to consume alcohol to feel normal.
So how do you manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms while attempting to stop drinking?
First let’s look at the science behind alcohol withdrawal. Because alcohol acts as a sedative and hypnotic, it can quickly create dependence among regular users. This dependence is a result of your brain reacting to the changes in brain chemistry alcohol use creates. Alcohol use leads to these changes by manipulating the levels of neurotransmitters within your brain. This leads to euphoria, relaxation and other “positive” effects associated with alcohol use in the short term. But long-term, your brain responds to these changes by altering its own chemistry. Essentially, your brain stops producing the things you need to feel normal without alcohol. And once you stop drinking, that leads to alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild to life-threatening in severity.
Some of the more severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Visual and audio hallucinations
- Depersonalization or derealization
Milder symptoms include:
- Heart palpitations
- Gastrointestinal issues
If you’re dealing with severe dependency, some of these symptoms may arise within hours after you’ve stopped drinking. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms will increase in severity as time goes on and may require immediate medical intervention. Left unchecked, these symptoms can lead to severe medical problems or even death.
All of that is enough to make you keep drinking. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. If you believe you might struggle with any of these symptoms, your best course of action is to get in touch with an industry professional.
Under supervised care, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be minimized and safely managed with the use of medication. Experts in the field know exactly how to safely deal with alcohol cessation issues and can ensure you remain as comfortable as possible during the detoxification process.
Once you’ve completed detoxification, you’ve cleared the toughest hurdle. But other, less physical symptoms can persist for weeks or months during a process called protracted withdrawal.
While these symptoms are generally far less intense, protracted alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Lack of enjoyment in normal activities
- Desire to drink
While these symptoms can be tricky, the support of friends, family and professionals in the field can help you safely navigate your way to sobriety. And once you get there, you may re-discover how great life can feel without the ever-present compulsion to drink.