When people use alcohol in excess on a regular basis the body undergoes a physical and psychological transformation that makes it nearly impossible to live without it. These severe cases reach a point where that person’s body “NEEDS” it and without a regular flow, the body responds adversely. We are convinced alcoholism is a VERY serious disease and has the power to kill those in the grips of this progressive illness. Those with alcohol dependence often lose their jobs, their significant relationships and more during the more advanced stages of their addiction. Unfortunately it is only when these complications are severe enough that individuals begin to contemplate what life would be like without alcohol and move towards any alcohol detoxification process. We are here to say that no individual in these advanced stages should attempt to stop abruptly without medical monitoring of some kind, preferably at an inpatient facility.
Detox From Alcohol Can Get Ugly
Detoxing from alcohol without medical supervision is downright dangerous. With so much recent attention on opioid deaths, we sometimes hear of users diminishing the dangers of alcohol like “I’m only using alcohol now”. We see many clients coming to us that have physically been through the wringer because they attempted to detox from alcohol at home unaware that it is an extremely intense process that begins only a few hours after the last drink is taken. The alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from a severe case of the cold sweats to life threatening delirium tremens and require the intervention of medical staff. Here is what you need to know about alcohol withdrawal and the need for medical supervision.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
According to WebMD, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually start anywhere from 4-12 hours after the alcoholic takes his or her last drink. The symptoms of withdrawal can last several days and cause the alcoholic a great deal of distress.
Mild withdrawal symptoms include things like an intense feeling of worry or dread along with irritability, nausea (with or without vomiting), abdominal pain and generalized shakiness and weakness. These symptoms of withdrawal can be managed without pharmacological intervention and often includes getting proper rest, plenty of fluids that help move toxins along excretion pathways, a diet enriched with vitamin supplements and medical observation should there be a need to administer sedatives.
More severe side effects of withdrawal can include experiencing an altered mental status that may include confusion, emotional liability, and edginess as well as sensory hallucinations. Physical symptoms like vomiting, nausea, heavy perspiration and high blood pressure are often present. Some people who have experienced severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms say that they felt things on their skin that weren’t there. The alcohol detoxification process may begin within 4 to 12 hours after you cut down or stop drinking and last as long as several days (5-6 days) after the last drink. These symptoms are significantly more disturbing than those in the mild category and can be alleviated by using different medications aimed at controlling these symptoms.
Inpatient Alcohol Detox Programs Are Mandatory for Heavy Users
Then there is a category of heavy alcohol users or those who have abused alcohol for a long period of time. Those that fall into this category should not try to stop drinking cold turkey without proper medical supervision. The hallmark symptom of severe alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens, or the DTs. Those undergoing unsupervised detox for alcohol abuse may experience DTs, which must be treated immediately to prevent the escalation of tremors to seizures and ultimately death.
Medically supervised detox allows those who wish to stop using alcohol to do so in a safe manner by providing the physical and emotional support they need to prevent the escalation of physical withdrawal symptoms and manage the discomfort of the withdrawal process. Once these individuals are out of harm’s way, our team of clinical specialists can suggest treatments for alcoholism that may include