When a person frequently drinks alcohol, they may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop drinking. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be mild to severe symptoms depending on the amount of alcohol consumption, when their last drink was, medical history and the overall health of the person. For some people going through acute alcohol withdrawal, it may mean that they will need immediate medical attention to treat the alcohol detox.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
Alcohol withdrawal and acute alcohol withdrawal is when someone who suffers from excessive drinking and heavy alcohol use decides to quit drinking and experiences mild to severe withdrawal symptoms.
If your alcohol use is only occasionally, you will most likely not feel alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But if you have gone through alcohol withdrawal once, you are more likely to go through it again the next time you call it quits.
What is Considered Excessive Drinking?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines chronic alcohol use as more than eight drinks per week for women and more than 15 drinks per week for men. The following are the equivalent of one drink:
- 8 ounces of malt liquor
- 1.5 ounces of distilled liquid or spirits that can include rum, gin, whiskey and vodka
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
The most common form of excessive alcohol use is binge drinking. For men, binge drinking is described as five or more drinks in one sitting. For women, it is four or more drinks in one drinking session.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
When you drink heavily, and person suddenly stops drinking and alcohol use it is common to experience alcohol withdrawal syndrome that results in some unwanted withdrawal symptoms. Excessive drinking excites and irritates the central nervous system.
When someone stops drinking, it affects how the body and brain functions and can lead to alcohol abuse or dependence. These symptoms can range from mild to severe symptoms.
The most objective and best-validated tool to assess the severity of alcohol withdrawal is the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol, Revised (CIWA-Ar). There are both mental health symptoms such as mild anxiety to physical health symptoms such as increased or high blood pressure. Some severe or life-threatening symptoms are called delirium tremens.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
You may experience physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking and from your last drink. Common detoxing from alcohol symptoms include:
- Dilated pupils
- Sleep disturbances
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Appetite loss
- Faster heart rate
- Pale skin
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
You may experience mental symptoms during the withdrawal process and when you stop drinking and from your last drop of alcohol such as:
- Feeling anxious or nervous
- Feeling irritable
- Mild anxiety
- Feeling depressed
- Having nightmares
- Feeling wiped out and tired.
- Mood swings
- Not being able to think clearly.
Severe Withdrawal Symptoms
In severe cases there may be potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms that justify medical care. Some of these symptoms can cause alcohol related physical complications. Typical severe withdrawal symptoms are:
- Extreme agitation
- Extreme confusion
- Liver disease
- Alcohol poisoning
- Hallucinations (feeling, seeing, or hearing things that are not there)
- High blood pressure
If an AWS has advanced enough, then delirium tremens are more likely to happen. Someone who has delirium tremens could be at a severe risk because it could be fatal.
Timeline of Alcohol Withdrawal
The alcohol withdrawal timeline and stages of alcohol withdrawal will depend on certain factors dependent on alcohol intake. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can occur as quickly as within 6-12 hours since the person’s last drink.
Below is the typical alcohol withdrawal timeline:
6 hours after you drink: Mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can start as soon as within 6 hours after you stop drinking.
12-48 hours after you drink: About 12-24 hours after you stop drinking there may be more serious problems, including seizures or hallucinations. These alcohol withdrawal symptoms may occur within the first 2 days after you stop. You can feel, hear, or see things that are not really there.
48-72 hours after you drink: Around 48-72 hours after your last drink, delirium tremens, or DTs as they are commonly called may occur during this time. These are severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms that include vivid hallucinations and delusions. A small percentage of about 5% of people with alcohol withdrawal may experience delirium tremens. Those that have delirium tremens could also have:
- High blood pressure
- Racing heart
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact Inland Detox for additional information and help. We would like to provide you with assistance during an episode of alcohol withdrawal.
What is Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal is the process in which you stop drinking, and experience uncomfortable alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol detox typically occur when you drink excessively and then decide to quit. The best way to treat alcohol withdrawal is with the help of treatment facilities that have a medical professional on site. When at a treatment facility you can be monitored and medically reviewed to ensure you are safe and comfortable.
Addiction to Alcohol
Alcohol addiction and alcohol substance abuse is when a person uses alcohol to excess, resulting in an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder can show itself in a variety of ways. The severity of the disease will vary from person to person including the alcohol they consume and how often someone drinks. Some people binge drink and then stay sober for a while, while others drink heavily all day.
Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Someone who suffers from alcohol abuse will display certain signs and symptoms that likely mean they have a drinking problem.
Some symptoms of an alcohol use disorder are:
- Avoiding situations where there is no alcohol and wanting to be where alcohol is present.
- Increased frequency and use of alcohol.
- High tolerance for alcohol, or lack of “hangover” symptoms
- Drinking during inappropriate situations such as in places like work, church or first thing when you wake up.
- Feeling dependent on drinking to get through your day.
- Changes in certain relationships; someone with an alcohol problem may only choose friends who drink.
- Experiencing symptoms when your withdrawal alcohol
- Professional or legal problems such as the loss of a job or an arrest
- Avoiding contact with loved ones
- Hiding situations where you drink or hiding alcohol.
- Increased depression, lethargy, or other emotional issues
Who is at Risk for Alcohol Addiction?
Certain people are more at risk for alcoholism than others, but there is not one determining factor that will say whether a person will develop an alcohol problem. Experts have tried to determine the risk factors like sex, genetics, race, or socioeconomics that may predispose a person to become addicted to alcohol.
It was determined that there is not one single cause of the disease. Genetic, psychological, and behavioral factors can all contribute to someone developing the disease. Regardless of these factors, a person may have an alcohol problem if they rely on it to feel “normal.”
If you are concerned that you have a problem, please contact Inland Detox, to be medically reviewed by our clinical management team.
What is GABA?
For years, researchers have known that alcohol produces certain chemicals in the brain that make it particularly intoxicating and enticing. One specific neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Typically, GABA activity is reduced when you withdrawal alcohol from your body, making it harder to quit. When you drink excessively more of the GABA neurotransmitter is produced, and withdrawal is more likely.
Several studies of alcohol use disorders have shown that GABA activity decreases in the in the part of the brain that causes pleasure during alcohol withdrawal syndrome and during a defined period after a person stops— that period when someone with alcohol addiction is particularly more vulnerable to relapse.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
There are many treatment centers, including Inland Detox that can treat an alcohol use disorder in our clients. Because of the severity of the disease, and because alcohol detox symptoms can be life-threatening, it is important to seek out our medical professionals to manage these common withdrawal symptoms.
Upon being admitted to our facility, Inland Detox will ensure you are medically reviewed and will provide medical advice for the alcohol abuse. Often, the first step is to go through alcohol detox where the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are assessed.
Addiction Treatment at Inland Detox
Inland Detox is an alcohol and drug abuse treatment center that treats all types of addictions include alcohol use disorders. Our program offers treatment options such as clinical management, family therapy, and mental health services to treat substance use disorders.
Our family physicians are trained and educated on addiction and substance abuse treatment. We can provide professional medical advice and medical detox services to treat those who are dependent on alcohol.
Inland Detox offers an array of additional services to all clients including round the clock client monitoring, low staff to client ratios, and holistic care options. Attention to detail, cleanliness and nutrition are cornerstones of our program.
To begin treatment at our facility, you will first need to be medically reviewed by our support staff to determine what treatment is best for you or your loved one. Please contact our office for more information on our programs and addiction treatment services.