Alcohol addiction causes disruption in body chemistry that affect both the body and the brain. When the alcohol is removed, your entire body will have to re-calibrate to function normally, without the chemical effects of alcohol.
This process can often cause lingering brain fog and mental confusion that can sometimes be severe. However, over time, these symptoms disappear, and you will return to normal cognitive function. Here is a closer look at what happens to brain function during withdrawal and recovery from alcohol addiction.
Effects of Alcohol Addiction on the Brain
Chronic alcoholism affects the tissues throughout the body. When used over an extended period of time, alcohol can actually shrink brain tissues, which can lead to problems with memory, mood changes, unstable sleep patterns and learning difficulties. Even the chemical messages that control muscle function can be affected. Poor nutrition and abnormal liver function can also affect the brain. However, months or years of abstinence from alcohol can reverse this damage to the brain.
Withdrawal Effects on the Brain
Because alcohol affects the neurotransmitters in the brain, withdrawal can bring a variety of severe effects. Without the sedating effect of alcohol, brain wave activity speeds up significantly. You may experience trembling, insomnia or severe anxiety. Hallucinations can occur within 24 to 48 hours of stopping alcohol consumption.
Typical Symptoms When Self-Withdrawing From Alcohol
Many individuals attempt withdrawal from alcohol on their own, which can have many disturbing effects. The physical symptoms can be severe. Mental symptoms, such as confusion, brain fog, feeling detached from reality and profound depression can be overwhelming. Seizures can occur during withdrawal, which makes unsupervised withdrawal from alcohol a hazardous method. Supervised withdrawal at an addiction treatment facility can help to reduce these symptoms.
Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal
When the depressant effects of alcohol are removed, the body and brain can go into a hypersensitive state. Heart rate, body temperature and neurological function can become elevated. This can lead to: · heart arrhythmia · strokes · seizures · hallucinations.
Benefits of Addiction Treatment For Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Medical supervision during withdrawal provides monitoring of the patient’s condition, so that they can receive treatment as soon as it is needed. Professional addiction treatment provides experienced care during the withdrawal period, as well as management of ongoing symptoms as treatment progresses.
Medications That Can Help Brain Fog From Alcohol Withdrawal
When individuals are undergoing professional addiction treatment, they can be carefully watched by trained personnel. Severe withdrawal symptoms can be managed with medications, such as anti-anxiety drugs or anti-convulsive drugs. Sleep medications can be administered for severe insomnia. Nutrition can be monitored to ensure the individual in receiving the proper amounts of nutrients to reduce symptoms. These measures can help to reduce severe brain fog and memory disruption.
Managing Brain Fog During Recovery
If you are withdrawing from alcohol use and experience severe brain fog or inability to concentrate, consult with a physician or addiction treatment specialist to learn about effective ways to manage poor cognitive function. Your health professional will consider your overall medical history in determining the right treatment to help you.
You may be prescribed medications to reduce anxiety and improve mental focus. In some cases, supplements can help to provide additional nutrients to the brain for improved function. Increasing your daily exercise, eating a healthy diet and ensuring your get high quality sleep can also help improve cognitive function. Engaging in hobby activities you enjoy can also provide mental stimulation, to help calm and regulate brain waves.
Support Groups & Additional Aftercare
Because the effects of alcohol withdrawal on brain function can last for significant amount of time, your attendance at support group meetings can be helpful in understanding your cognitive issues. If necessary, you can also go to treatment aftercare sessions to help support your recovery. Counseling sessions and medication may be necessary to help you get through the adjustment period, as your brain and body chemistry returns to normal.
Recovery from alcohol addiction can be difficult, but if you know what to expect, you can make the necessary adjustments along the way that will minimize the disturbance. Symptoms like brain fog and poor concentration can impact everyday life, but they are seldom lasting effects. If you continue to implement your recovery plan and take a proactive approach, you will be able to manage lingering problems with greater success.