A substance use disorder involving alcohol can adversely affect your life in many ways. You might not even initially realize that you have a problem until things get worse. However, a slew of symptoms that comprise alcohol withdrawal syndrome or AWS might suddenly make you realize you’re not just a social or occasional drinker.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can include some serious symptoms. In the worst-case scenario, the condition can be life-threatening. Once you have recognized that you have a serious substance use disorder with alcohol, however, you can take that first big step toward seeking help.
What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a condition that affects individuals who have serious alcohol use disorder experience when they abruptly stop drinking or limit their intake of alcohol. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can manifest in both physical and mental issues.
Individuals who only drink occasionally don’t have to worry about alcohol withdrawal syndrome. However, those who struggle with a serious alcohol addiction often experience it and have a wide range of problems when they stop drinking or cut down on their alcohol consumption.
What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can have a significant impact on your central nervous system. When you drink large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis and develop a serious dependency, it slows the function of the brain and changes the way messages are transmitted to the brain and other parts of the body.
When you have a serious alcohol addiction, your central nervous system becomes accustomed to the large consumption of alcohol intake. This causes the brain and body to work together in a way that keeps your body more alert to the signals the nerves tries to send. However, if you suddenly stop drinking alcohol or reduce the amount of it that you drink, it has a serious effect on your body and the signals the brain sends. The result is alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Your brain is so used to your body consuming such a high level of alcohol that it becomes used to it.
What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome vary depending on the severity and how long you’ve gone without alcohol or with a considerably smaller intake of it. Mild symptoms might include the following:
• Shaking or tremors
• Heart palpitations
More serious side effects of alcohol withdrawal syndrome include the following:
• Increased heart rate
• Increased blood pressure
• Extreme agitation
• Extreme confusion
• Various types of hallucinations
• Faster respiration
Severe symptoms from alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be very serious and should not be ignored. This should be considered a medical emergency. Call 911 and immediately get to the nearest emergency room.
Mild symptoms often occur within six hours after a person stops drinking or significantly cuts down on their alcohol intake. After 12 to 48 hours, more serious side effects such as hallucinations might begin, followed by seizures. It’s common to experience odd sensations, sounds and sights that aren’t actually real.
By 48 to 72 hours after reducing or stopping alcohol consumption, side effects might become more severe. However, only around 5% of all people experience severe symptoms such as fever and severe hallucinations.
How Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Diagnosed?
A doctor can diagnose alcohol withdrawal syndrome by asking questions about your history with alcohol and learning about when you stopped drinking. They’ll also ask about the symptoms you’re experiencing and give you a physical examination to determine whether your symptoms stem from certain medical conditions instead of alcohol.
How Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Treated?
Sometimes, treatment for alcohol withdrawal syndrome requires hospitalization and an anti-anxiety medication to help calm the central nervous system. Benzodiazepines might be administered. The goal is to safely manage your symptoms, give fluids intravenously to prevent dehydration and monitor you closely.
If your alcohol use disorder is serious, alcohol rehab is a good step to take to reclaim your life and health. You can attend therapy sessions to help you get a better perspective about your usage and how you can better manage certain triggers. Continuing treatment can help you to be a more productive member of society so that you no longer need alcohol to function.
Ready to seek the help you need? We’re available for you 24 hours per day. Call us today at 855-334-6120 to get started.