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Can Alcohol Withdrawal Kill You?

In This Article

If you have a problem with alcohol, you’re not alone; according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which is a division of the National Institute of Health, more than 15 million Americans have admitted to struggling with an alcohol use disorder of some kind. It is also worth noting that some individuals who have a problem with alcohol believe that they have their drinking under control. After all, the line between celebratory drinking and alcohol abuse can quickly become blurred. If you have decided to end your relationship with alcohol, you’re already leaps and bounds ahead of those who fail to recognize that they have a drinking problem or those who are disinterested in seeking help. In this article, we will take a closer look at how alcohol withdrawal can impact your health and how an alcohol rehab facility can help you achieve sobriety.

CAN ALCOHOL WITHDRAWAL KILL YOU?

Similar to other substances, the withdrawal process involved in overcoming alcohol addiction can be difficult and, in some cases, life-threatening. To further put this into context, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that 3 to 5 percent of individuals will experience delirium tremens as part of their alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can be fatal if left untreated. For those who may not be familiar with this condition, delirium tremens is an alcohol withdrawal complication that can cause extreme mental or nervous system changes, which can result in cardiovascular collapse. Also worth noting, delirium tremens is typically the byproduct of attempting to stop drinking “cold turkey.” The best way to avoid this severe complication and to ensure long-term recovery success is by seeking the help of a qualified alcohol rehab facility.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHILE GOING THROUGH ALCOHOL DETOX

When it comes to quitting alcohol, there a several withdrawals symptoms that an individual may encounter, and the severity of those symptoms can vary depending on how long they have been drinking. As far as timeframes are concerned, the onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms can start anywhere from 6 to 24 hours after an individual has consumed their last alcoholic beverage. However, they will generally become less intense within 5 to 7 days. Some of the more notable withdrawal symptoms include

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Changes in body temperature
  • Changes in respiration
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fevers
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia

Along with physical symptoms, it not uncommon for some people to also experience psychological withdrawal symptoms as well, some of which include

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Foggy thinking

MEDICATION-ASSISTED TREATMENTS FOR ALCOHOL ADDICTION

For many people, the challenge of overcoming alcohol addiction is no different than overcoming an addiction to harder drugs like opioids, for example. In many cases, medically-assisted detox may be needed to help with severe withdrawals symptoms or to help combat delirium tremens for those who have developed the condition. Some of the medications commonly used by most alcohol rehab facilities include acamprosate, naltrexone, disulfiram, topiramate, and benzodiazepines, which are all designed to help patients cope with alcohol dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms. Now that we understand how these medications work collectively, let’s take a closer look at how they work individually:

Acamprosate – This medication is specifically designed to provide ongoing relief from alcohol withdrawal symptoms like alcohol-related cravings, for example.

Naltrexone – This medication, which is an opioid blocker, helps minimize cravings along with the feelings of reward that come from consuming alcohol.

Disulfiram – Similar to acamprosate, disulfiram is a medication often prescribed to help soothe cravings and many other alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Topiramate – Also used to treat mood disorders, PTSD, and other mental health problems, topiramate is a medication that helps decrease alcohol cravings while also addressing some of the psychological symptoms that come with alcohol cessation.

Benzodiazepines – This medication is an anxiety-reducing, hypnotic, sedative, and anticonvulsant drug used during detox to help patients overcome a variety of psychological symptoms associated with quitting alcohol. It can also be used to normalize a patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and body temperature.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DETOX?

Although alcohol may be out of an individual’s system, it doesn’t mean that they are out of the woods just yet. In fact, after completing detox, many individuals are faced with feelings of anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. In response, many alcohol rehab facilities will offer addiction therapy as a way to not only help individuals cope with these feelings but also to prevent a potential relapse.

In summation, withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening for a small percentage of those seeking to overcome their addiction to alcohol. However, with medically-assisted detox offered by many of today’s alcohol rehab facilities, it is possible to avoid some of the more severe complications that could potentially put your life in danger. If you have a problem with alcohol, you’re encouraged to schedule a consultation with one of our friendly and compassionate representatives today at 877-497-6180.

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