Alcoholism & Withdrawal: What you need to know

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Alcoholism & Withdrawal: What you need to know

According to a new report from the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention, 2,200 Americans die each year from alcohol poisoning.  That is six people everyday who die directly as a result of alcohol abuse. In recent years, binge drinking has been identified as the leading cause of these alcohol poisonings.  While imbibing large amounts of alcohol in a short time can be extremely dangerous, it is the chronic and habitual use of alcohol that is responsible for the 75,000 US deaths a year.  Alcoholism is a serious condition with even more serious legal and health complications.  For those who battle with addiction, Alcohol can take a powerful hold over their lives.

What is Alcoholism?

The Mayo Clinic refers to Alcoholism as “The chronic and often progressive disease that  includes problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect (physical dependence), or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.”

Denying that there is a problem is not the answer.  If you or a loved one is suffering from this seemingly debilitating and uncontrollable disease the first step in recovery is to admit you need help.  Getting sober can require a lot of work and dedication.  But before you or your loved one can quit, it is vital to seek the advice of a professional to help prepare you for the road ahead.

Detoxing can be a difficult and grueling experience. Below we will identify some of the most common questions people have about the symptoms and steps of withdrawal.

When does withdrawal begin?

Typically, withdrawal symptoms begin around 6 to 12 hours after your last drink.  This time varies depending on the amount of alcohol in the body, and the patient may still have a measurable blood alcohol level while in withdrawal.

How long does it last?

There is no set amount of time that withdrawal can last.  Some people report it lasting a few hours, others reported months. The length of withdrawal depends on several factors.  How long the person has been abusing alcohol and the amount of alcohol regularly consumed are two factors.

How will I know I am in withdrawal?

The most common symptoms of withdrawal at the beginning stages are: sweating, shaky hands, headache, mild anxiety, insomnia, nausea or vomiting.

Some patients report experiencing symptoms like visual and auditory hallucinations at around 12 to 24 hours of sobriety.  These usually disappear within 48 hours.

When do the DTs hit and am I at risk?

Typically, DTs (Delirium tremens) develop between 48 and 72 hours after alcohol cessation.  However, some cases have been reported in as early as 2 hours into withdrawal.   DTs usually peak at about five days into detox.  Symptoms of the DTs include a low grade fever, high blood pressure, hallucinations, disorientation, confusion, anxiety, profuse sweating, racing and irregular heartbeat, severe tremors and seizures.

Risk for developing DTs include a history of withdrawal related seizure, abnormal liver function, old age and acute mental illness.

Am I at risk for seizures during withdrawal?

The risk of suffering a seizure during withdrawal is highest in patients who have a history of multiple detoxifications, and usually they occur between 24 and 48 hours.

The symptoms of withdrawal can be quite serious or life threatening.  If you or a loved one is suffering from the symptoms of withdrawal, seek medical attention right away.  At NorthStar Transitions, we understand how important the decision to get clean and sober is, we are here to help. For more information on sober living and counseling please contact us today.