It is estimated that millions of Americans suffer from alcoholism. Alcohol abuse costs the US economy $249 billion every year, and its human costs can be devastating. Every year, 88,000 people in the United States die as a result of alcohol-related accidents. Alcoholism is a devastating disease, but help is available.
For those who struggle with alcoholism and addiction, can they quit cold turkey? Are there any withdrawal symptoms associated with long-term alcohol abuse, and are they fatal? Let’s take a closer look at this issue.
What Are the Symptoms of Withdrawal?
Alcohol is broken down by an enzyme secreted by the liver during consumption, which assists the body in eliminating the toxin. If alcohol is not broken down and excreted, it can enter other parts of the body, including the brain. Alcohol inhibits neurotransmitters in the brain, causing the individual to feel calm and relaxed while inebriated. Once the alcohol wears off, these neurotransmitters are no longer muted, resulting in withdrawal symptoms.
The withdrawal process can be physically, mentally, and emotionally painful. In many cases, a person will encounter all of these symptoms at the same time. The withdrawal timeline can also vary greatly from one person to another.
How to Carefully Manage Withdrawal
When your body becomes reliant on alcohol and you stop drinking or drastically reduce your drinking, you experience alcohol withdrawal. There can be moderate withdrawal at times, but it may also be dangerous, even deadly. Alcohol slows down the central nervous system (CNS). Over time, your body becomes used to the depressing effects of alcohol. If you stop or reduce your drinking, your CNS becomes overexcited. There may be withdrawal symptoms as a result.
Depending on how dependent you are on alcohol, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be severe, even hazardous. Because of these reasons, it is important to carefully manage your withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms might appear as soon as two hours after quitting. They will peak between 24 and 48 hours after quitting. It is possible for at-risk individuals to experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Depression, anxiety, and cravings are all frequent withdrawal effects. Heavy, long-term drinkers are at an increased risk of experiencing potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms.
Why Do People Die During Withdrawal?
Alcoholics in recovery will undoubtedly admit to feeling as if they might die during detox. While withdrawal does not in itself cause death, two withdrawal symptoms have been linked to the rare death of alcoholics in recovery. A long-term drinker is more likely to develop seizures during detox and withdrawal. There is a risk that convulsions, choking, aspiration, or bodily damage may occur. “DTs” are dangerous withdrawal symptoms that include confusion, disorientation, hyperactivity, seizures, heart attacks, and stroke.
Almost everyone will experience some symptoms of alcohol dependence or addiction. People with a history of heavy drinking or misuse of drugs in addition to alcohol are more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms that can be dangerous. People at risk of delirium tremens throughout the alcohol withdrawal timeframe. A fatal seizure illness called delirium tremens may occur in patients with AUD for over 10 years and who are heavy drinkers. People at risk of delirium tremens also suffer from head trauma, infections, and other illnesses during withdrawal. A person with delirium tremens usually experiences it within a few days of taking their last drink. However, it can occur for up to 10 days following discontinuation. It is a volatile state.
Why It’s Essential to Seek Medical Detox & Therapy
To avoid unpleasant or deadly alcohol withdrawal, it is imperative that individuals seek medical assistance. For alcohol consumption disorder therapy, medical detox clinics and inpatient rehab facilities are highly beneficial. Medical staff at detox and rehab facilities can securely monitor patients for seizure disorders because they are a risk factor for alcohol withdrawal.
As soon as withdrawal symptoms are noticed, patients should seek therapy. Medical experts may prescribe medicines and assist patients in tapering alcohol in order to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. People suffering from alcohol withdrawal might be prescribed anxiety medications and medications for concomitant mental health issues. The patient must be hospitalized when delirium tremens are detected and given seizure medicines. Medical detox centers and rehabilitation facilities are proven effective strategies for persons struggling with alcohol addiction to manage the complications of drug and alcohol abuse.
If you or someone you love is thinking of quitting alcohol, but not sure how to do it safely, please call our counselors at 855-334-6120 to discuss your best options.