The symptoms of alcohol detox. Convulsions, anxiety, nausea, hallucinations
Alcohol detoxification...don't do it on your own.
The health risks of alcohol detox
We often underestimate the dangers of alcohol, and because it is both legal and socially accepted, we forget that it is a very destructive and powerful substance.
Once someone becomes dependent on alcohol (addicted) they will need more alcohol to feel the same effects, they will feel a compulsion to drink (cravings) and they will experience withdrawal pains if they do not drink.
For some heavy drinkers, with a relatively brief period of dependency, these alcohol detoxification symptoms are uncomfortable but manageable. For anyone with a serious history of alcohol abuse, or a recent history of very heavy drinking; the symptoms of alcohol detox can be severe, dangerous, and in some cases even fatal.
What are some of the symptoms of alcohol detox?
A sudden cessation of alcohol use really shocks a body and mind accustomed to the regular effects of the drug, and the withdrawal symptoms that will ensue soon after cessation are uncomfortable and can even be dangerous. Some of the symptoms of alcohol detox include shakiness, anxiety, nausea, hallucinations, convulsions, delirium tremens and heart failure-death.
Why do we experience detox symptoms?
With regular consumption of alcohol, the brain physically changes as a responsive mechanism. Alcohol is a whole brain depressant, and works particularly through GABA (a neurotransmitter). Alcohol depresses (lessens the activity) of this transmitter, and to compensate the brain becomes more sensitive to the small amounts that remain active.
With a sudden cessation of use there is nothing inhibiting the neurotransmitter, and since the brain is overly sensitive to its effects, a normal release of GABA sends the brain into overdrive. GABA excites or quickens activity in the brain, and this brain excitement is what is causing many of the experienced symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol.
What is the treatment for alcohol detox?
No one who has been drinking heavily or drinking for a very long time should attempt to detox off of alcohol without professional medical supervision. Under medical observation, alcohol dependent people will be given small stabilizing doses of benzodiazepine like drugs to slow the brain down to a safe level through the initial risk period of detox. Medical personnel may use additional medications to alleviate some of the discomfort of the detox.
Detox is very safe with medical involvement, and very dangerous without it.
The worst of the detox symptoms will pass within a couple of days, although long term withdrawal symptoms will continue for months.
Are you cured after alcohol detox?
Although after a successful alcohol detox an alcoholic may no longer be physically dependent on alcohol, without additional therapy there is very little probability that anyone will maintain abstinence.
The reasons why someone drinks have not changed simply because they have endured detox, the cravings to drink remain strong, and they have learned no strategies to strengthen their resolve against relapse.
Detox is a necessary first step to recovery and treatment, but it should never be an only step. After detox, further treatment can continue on an in or outpatient basis, and will likely include group therapies, individual counseling, 12 steps programs, education and other programming.
Alcohol detox…not too bad if treated
I've been through alcohol detox, and it's nothing like an opiate detox; and worry about the pains of alcohol withdrawal should never deter anyone from getting help. Although it is not nearly as uncomfortable as opiate detox, it is far more dangerous, and you should never try to detox without consulting with a medical professional.
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