There comes a moment in every alcoholic’s journey that they realize their drinking goes beyond…
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms: A Deeper Look
Withdrawal symptoms keep too many people from getting sober. Find out more about them and how you can get help.
If you are looking to quit alcohol once and for all, navigating withdrawals safely is a necessary first step. When you quit drinking, your body and brain goes through significant (and even severe) changes. The physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms you experience can be extremely painful and uncomfortable to endure. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. The thought of these withdrawal symptoms makes many who want to quit drinking feels tremendous anxiety.
While it is common to feel anxiety of the prospect of withdrawing from alcohol, having knowledge of what alcohol withdrawal is, its symptoms and a general timeline will help. If you are looking to overcome alcohol addiction, call Hawaii Island Recovery toll-free today.
The Levels of Alcohol Use
Millions of people throughout the United States use alcohol responsibly. Many holidays during the year involve drinking in some way or another. Going out for cocktails is a common way for coworkers to socialize after a long day. Cases of beer are a staple at nearly every Super Bowl party across the nation.
Most people consume alcohol without a problem. On the other end of the spectrum are those who cannot stop drinking no matter what the consequences are. A few more types of drinkers exist between these two extremes as well. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) outlined a set of drinking levels to help classify the seriousness of a person’s alcohol use.
86 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have tried alcohol at least once in their lives. More than half of the population had a drink in the past month alone. Still, the majority these individuals can have one or two before calling it a day. This is called moderate drinking. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines moderate drinking as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
College students are notorious for massive parties where millions of young adults binge drink. What exactly is binge drinking, though? The NIAAA classifies it as drinking behavior that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to .08, the legal limit, within two hours. This takes four drinks for most women and five drinks for the majority of men.
Heavy Alcohol Use
Heavy alcohol use occurs when a person binge drinks on five or more days in a single month. The risks to your health increase and you might want to take a look at your alcohol use if you regularly drink this much. Still, you don’t yet qualify as having a serious alcohol problem. You probably will not experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms yet if you quit drinking now.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) defines someone with a serious alcohol problem. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) outlines 11 criteria for diagnosing an AUD. These are the individuals who experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they quit. An estimated 6.2 percent of the population in the United States has an alcohol use disorder.
Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal
Simply defined, alcohol withdrawal is the changes your body undergoes when you quit drinking altogether. When you drink, alcohol interacts with specific receptors called GABA receptors. These receptors help you feel calm and euphoria. Alcohol also decreases the production of the neurotransmitter glutamate which helps create feelings of excitability. As your intake increases, it becomes harder for your brain to increase GABA and decrease glutamate. As a result, more alcohol is needed.
Once you quit drinking, your brain continues to increase glutamate production while decreasing GABA production. You will feel more excitable, anxious, and feel shaky as your body tries to adjust itself without alcohol present. Depending on the length of time you drank, the quantity consumed and if you are taking other drugs, what you feel may be more severe in nature.
Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually appear within eight hours after your last drink. Usually, the withdrawals you experience reach their peak within 1-3 days and will subside within 10-14 days. The common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include the following:
- Frustration or irritability
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Tiredness or exhaustion
- Rapid and extreme shifts in mood
- Difficulties thinking clearly
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hand tremors or other body tremors
- Delirium tremens (DT’s)
Getting Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal
When you make the commitment to getting help dealing with alcohol withdrawal and addiction, you may be tempted to try and go “cold turkey” or try self-detox methods. While you may have short-term success with these methods, you will return to drinking if you do not address the underlying issues. Additionally, alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and life-threatening—especially if you are using other drugs and/or have an underlying medical issue. That is why is it important to get professional help in dealing with alcohol withdrawal.
In your search, you must find a treatment program that offers medical detoxification services done by trained professionals in a safe, secure and comfortable environment. Through the use of medications, nutrition therapy and other interventions, you can better tolerate the discomfort of alcohol withdrawal. Staff will also conduct comprehensive mental and medical evaluations to pinpoint any underlying issues that may impact your recovery.
When you are physically and psychologically stable, you will enter formal drug treatment where you will have a specialized treatment plan created by program staff. Your treatment plan will be a combination of individual and group therapy, 12-step support, life and coping skills training and other traditional and holistic therapies. These components will give you the tools and confidence you need to address the root causes of your addiction and get you on the path to long-term recovery.
Hawaii Island Recovery offers detox services to those looking to get sober. We first help you through the detox process then move you into the next level of care necessary for you.