What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
Alcohol is the most commonly used psychoactive substance globally. Unfortunately, excessive use of alcohol can lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD), and upon cessation, alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
A survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that 140 million Americans aged 12 or older consume alcohol.
Among these, nearly one-quarter (23%) are binge drinkers. Around 6% are considered heavy drinkers, and another 6% were diagnosable as having alcohol use disorder.
Only a small percentage of those with an AUD seek treatment, and of those, an even lower percentage actually receive it. Tragically, long-term, excessive alcohol consumption can adversely impact the brain, liver, and heart.
The first step toward treatment and recovery is usually a medical detox.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
Technically, even a hangover exhibits symptoms of withdrawal, but depending on the amount consumed and length of time used, typical withdrawal symptoms may include, but are not limited, to the following:
- hot/cold sweats
- inability to concentrate
- Craving for alcohol
- Insomnia and nightmares
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
In rare cases, alcohol withdrawal can be fatal.
What is Delirium Tremens?
Uncommonly, some people experience a particularly severe pattern of alcohol withdrawal symptoms called delirium tremens (DT.) In addition to other possible symptoms of withdrawal, characteristics of DT include notable confusion/delirium and can include symptoms such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
Factors that Affect Alcohol Withdrawal
The severity and duration of symptoms from alcohol withdrawal can be dependent on a number of factors, including:
- Gender (male or female)
- Level of alcohol use
- Use of additional substances
- Peak blood alcohol levels
- Past withdrawal period is also a significant factor – three or more past withdrawal periods, particularly if one was severe, may be a potential risk factor for severe withdrawals in the future.
What Happens During Alcohol Detox?
Before a clinical detox for alcohol, an assessment is made by a medical professional who will determine the protocol for detox as well as the transition into treatment, if prudent.
During detox, the patient is monitored 24/7 and is administered medication as needed to ease withdrawal symptoms.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you love is abusing substances, please seek treatment as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one.
Please call us today at 877-497-6180 for a free consultation.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology