Alcoholism is a serious health crisis that has plagued many nations of the world. Today, alcohol is the most abused drug substance in the world with Governments spending billions of dollars on an annual basis on treatments. There are basically three stages of alcohol withdrawal, these are; The Mild, Moderate and “Delirium Tremens”. Each stage is characterized by different and similar symptoms. The time lapse for each stage of withdrawal also varies and the severity along with complications of the stages differ. It is advisable to get help as soon as you discover that you are suffering from alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Stage 1: The Mild Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Stage
This stage begins some 8 hours after the last alcoholic drink. It is characterized by symptoms such as Nausea, Insomnia, anxiety and Abdominal pain. The inpatient treatment recommended for people suffering from mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms is relatively easy and natural. In most cases, water intake is increased to re-hydrate the patient. Re-hydration can speed up the recovery of the patient. Sometimes, induced vomiting can also be applied to help the patient get better quickly.
Alcohol withdrawal is caused by many factors. Alcohol is broken down by designated enzymes in the liver and that is how the substance is eliminated through urine from the body. Moderate consumption can improve a sense of relaxation and great feel in the brain, however excess alcohol consumption will lead to primary issues such as slurred speech, memory lapses, and difficulty in walking. Chronic drinking, especially on a long-term basis can eventually affect your body’s tolerance, because it will crave for more, in order to induce the same “happy feelings”.
Alcohol is known to suppress certain neurotransmitters connected to the brain, making you feel at ease but when the alcohol subsides from the system and the neurotransmitters are no longer inhibited, the primary or mild withdrawal symptoms will start showing up. Mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms are actually signs that your body is beginning to heal from excessive consumption of the substance over a long period of time. It is very important to seek medical attention immediately you notice them.
Since the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal at this stage are not as severe as the second and third phases of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, many patients may recover quickly at this stage without the need for serious treatment therapies. Many patients may become addicted to alcohol despite witnessing symptoms of early alcohol withdrawal symptoms and they end up having to deal with moderate and advanced symptoms.
Stage 2: The Moderate Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Stage
The is the secondary stage of alcohol withdrawal syndrome that occurs some 24-72 hours after ingesting excess alcohol in the body. This stage is characterized by increased body temperature, high blood pressure, increased in heartbeats, and confusion.
As one drink, the level of Dopamine hormones continues to increase in the brain. And the flood of pleasant feelings will increase at the second stage which means your mood becomes elevated, and there is a sharp increase in self-confidence. As Alcohol leaves the bloodstream after the last drink, the good feelings will dissipate.
According to researches conducted on the effect of alcohol, it is believed that 1 out of every 3 visits to the emergency room is related to excessive alcohol consumption and stage 2 alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Alcohol consumption is also linked to 1 out of every 10 deaths in the working age group of 20 and 64.
Some individual alcoholics do report shaking and tremor as symptoms they witnessed as early as the second day of withdrawing from alcohol consumption. Though the tremor and pounding heartbeat may relapse in as early as the second day.
Many victims of alcoholism are often anxious about the return of some of the withdrawal symptoms. The anxiety makes many to resort to self-help by using over-the-counter medications that may eventually aggravate or cause the symptoms to relapse. Some over-the-counter medications for alcohol withdrawal symptoms treatment can trigger the onset of the advance alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Stage 3: The Advance Stage of Alcohol Withdrawal
This stage occurs between 2-4 days after the last drink and it is characterized by symptoms such as Hallucinations, seizures, fever, and agitation.
Though most symptoms will decrease between 5-7 days after the last drink, the damages caused by prolonged alcoholism can last a lifetime, especially when treatment is not sought.
The good news about alcohol withdrawal symptoms is that there is a detox timeline, though, there is no specific timeline for such withdrawal. Symptoms of alcoholism withdrawal will normally decrease within 5 to 7 days but some psychological side effects may continue for several weeks even after treatment.
In many cases, the onset of advanced alcohol withdrawal symptoms may be characterized by sweating, especially in the night. Insomnia is another issue associated with this stage with most patients becoming restless and had to result in the use of sleeping pills.
Constant shaking and dry heaves have also been reported in conjunction with sleeplessness and irregular heartbeat.
In addition to the psychological and medical problems attached to the advanced stage of alcohol withdrawal, it could also lead to problems such as loss of jobs, divorce and many other social issues. Individuals suffering from an advanced stage of alcohol withdrawal end up abusing their partners or other family members.
Blood pressure measurements in patients suffering from advance alcohol withdrawal symptoms may have high blood pressure in excess of 200 and a heart rate of over 150 BPM. The withdrawal symptoms can be so bad that they can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Some patients do report feelings of needle pricking sensations all around their bodies.
Skin dryness alongside redness around the mouth can also be noticed at this stage. Vomiting constantly may lead to sore throat and abdominal pains. There are lots of secondary problems that can occur as a result of advance alcohol withdrawal symptoms. For instance, constant diarrhea may lead to chronic dehydration and loss of body weight.
Loss of appetite has been recorded in many patients witnessing advance alcohol withdrawal syndrome. It is believed that one of the most devastating effects of alcohol occurs in metabolism and the partial blockage of neurotransmitters that send hunger sensations to the brain. Most alcoholics are malnourished and they are often placed on nutrient supplements for some days to restore the supply of essential nutrients to the body.
Breaking the Habit: Getting Out of Alcohol Withdrawal
Though detox is usually the first medical help recommended but a much better and more efficient way is to go for intensive outpatient treatment. The main purpose of detox is to monitor and have a better grip on the physical symptoms.
While natural detox procedures such as improved diet, an increase in water are administered, the medical detox is designed to treat symptoms such as nausea, chronic dehydration, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, respiratory problems and irregular body temperatures. Insomnia and seizures are also commonly treated with the use of medicines such as Benzodiazepines.
Dietary changes such as the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables and withdrawal of high carbs are normally recommended during the detox phase. The purpose of doing this is to restore the natural order of the body’s functional systems.
Getting an Intensive outpatient treatment perhaps is the best possible way to cope and deal with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This program is for alcoholics of 18 years and above, and it is available for both men and women. The treatment method is individualized or personalized and it involves individual counseling alongside two group meetings every morning. The treatment also includes three group sessions every afternoon and evening.
The group session for patients can be process or educational-oriented, with the educational group dealing with the physiological damages that alcohol has caused in the body, how to identify triggers, alcoholics anonymous steps, and avoidance of relapses. The patient will be taught lessons on how to deal with alcoholism withdrawal in a positive way, anger and stress management, how to be sober and, family dynamics.
Weekly alcohol abuse treatment plans will also be a subject of interest here, and most patients would normally have visiting sessions on Sundays.
In conclusion, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome at different stages. These symptoms may aggravate some underlying medical conditions; hence a proper diagnosis may also be recommended before treatments are administered for any stage of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Since alcohol is partly considered as partially a social and psychological disorder, it is important to know that patients who use medical treatments alone have higher risks of suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms few months and years later. An all-inclusive in-patient treatment that relies on socio-psychological treatments such as counseling will surely help the patient get over the problem and also reduce the risks of future alcoholism.
In-patient treatments are personalized; hence its duration can vary from one patient to the other, but the lasting effects are usually the same. Researches have shown that alcohol withdrawal symptom patients who complete in-patient counseling have more than 92% chances of avoiding such problems in the future.