What Is Alcohol Withdrawal and What Causes It?
If someone has been abusing alcohol, during the first few days after he or she quits drinking withdrawal symptoms might be experienced. After ongoing drinking, an individual’s body becomes dependent on the alcohol consumption frequency and patterns. If you stop drinking abruptly, your body needs time to determine which chemical is missing. This is when the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can occur.
Painful side effects are suffered during this phase. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms might happen when you quit drinking and might trigger life-threatening health complications. If you have been drinking a lot for weeks, months, or even years, you might suffer alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
If an individual is suffering from alcohol withdrawal syndrome, professional care from an alcohol rehab facility is recommended for those who are ready and committed to quitting drinking.
Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
There are several different factors that play a role in alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol is broken down by enzymes in your liver when you drink. This process helps you get alcohol out of your system in your urine. When you drink, and the alcohol impacts your brain, you might feel relaxed or happy.
Excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to drunkenness symptoms, such as memory lapses, difficulty walking, and slurred speech. Chronic drinking will affect tolerability so your body will crave more alcohol so it can experience the same feelings.
Alcohol consumption will suppress neurotransmitters in the brain which will make you feel more relaxed and at ease after drinking. When you stop drinking, neurotransmitters won’t be inhibited by alcohol anymore. Because of this, you will suffer hyperexcitability, which causes withdrawal symptoms to affect you much differently than the reaction you get from drinking alcohol.
The side effects suffered by alcohol withdrawal vary from one person to another. Often, drinkers are hesitant to stop drinking because they are wary of the withdrawal symptoms they might suffer.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
A range of physical symptoms might occur from alcohol withdrawal. If your daily glass of wine has turned into multiple drinks, of your drinking has started to negatively affect your home and relationships, you might be wary of what is going when you start to get rid of your habit. There are different psychological and physical symptoms that might result.
The mild to moderate psychological symptoms of withdrawal that many people suffer include:
- Feeling nervous or jumpy
- Easily excitable or irritable
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Bad dreams
Physical withdrawal symptoms of a mild to moderate nature:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased appetite
- Different sized pupils
- Clammy skin
- Abnormal movements
- Hand tremors
- Involuntary or abnormal movements of your eyelids
Severe symptoms that some people suffer during alcohol withdrawals include:
Delirium tremens, known as DTs, can happen anywhere from two to four days and up to seven to 10 days after you stop drinking. The odds of DTs happening are much more likely if you fail to eat properly. Some of the symptoms of DTs include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Rapid mood changes
- Sensitivity to sound, light, and/or sound
- Short periods feeling energetic
- Excessive sweating
- Falling into a deep sleep that lasts at least a day or longer
The Duration of Alcohol Withdrawal
While alcohol withdrawals are normal, it is different for everyone, so technically there is no real normalcy when it comes to alcohol withdrawals. For the typical individual, alcohol withdrawal symptoms start within a couple of days after their last drink then peak anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after stopping drinking.
Certain minor changes such as fatigue, sleep pattern, and mood changes can last anywhere from just a few weeks to several months. Most patients start feeling better about a week or so after you stop drinking.
Effective Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be significantly reduced or even eliminated with the appropriate medical care. Those who decided to quit drinking might find the withdrawal symptoms to be a major stumbling block in staying sober.
One of the leading causes for relapses when in recovery’s early stages are the withdrawal symptoms and their effects. There are specific treatment programs available for anyone who wishes to stop drinking for whatever reason, even if there has been chronic, long-term alcohol abuse. After the withdrawal symptoms start, many find the symptoms so aggravating they take a drink to ease the discomfort they are experiencing.
There are prescription medications, such as Ativan and Librium, that can help curb the withdrawal symptoms without you needing to consume alcohol. If symptoms are mild to moderate, you might be able to stay at home and stop drinking.