When you’re dealing with an alcohol addiction, the idea of quitting and recovering is challenging. It’s much easier to grab a drink and feel good. Putting your health first takes bravery and commitment. The first stages of kicking a drinking habit are the most difficult, however. They include alcohol withdrawal.
It’s time to take a hard look at alcohol withdrawal and its key features. Many people wonder if alcohol withdrawal can be streamlined or sped up. The answer is no. These stages of withdrawing from a depressive drug are relatively concrete. The body must go through the stages in order to arrive on the other side. Be your own champion by learning about the alcohol withdrawal stages right now. They won’t seem as challenging when you understand the science behind them.
Science Behind Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal is a chemical imbalance that must be straightened out for the person to move forward with sobriety. Because chemical changes within the body cannot be altered to a certain point, there’s no fast track past this part of your journey. Before you drank alcohol, your brain had a certain chemical balance. Between the brain and nerve cells are neurotransmitters that create signalling pathways across your tissues. These signals tell your body to walk, blink, scratch, laugh and perform hundreds of other operations. The body works hard to keep this chemical balance in check. As you started drinking, however, several changes took place.
Although alcohol is a depressant, it allows dopamine and other chemicals to flood the brain. You feel euphoric for a short, time period. This sensation is the drunken feeling you end up with after a few drinks. When a person is an alcoholic with daily drinking occurring, the brain’s chemical balance is constantly battling the changes brought on by the intoxication. The brain is an amazing organ, so it adapts. It alters its chemical balance to be in harmony with the intoxicated state. This adaptation may seem like a wonderful feature of the human body, but it backfires if alcohol isn’t available. Your chemical balance is now dependent upon the alcohol’s effects on the brain. Making the stages of alcohol withdrawal a bit faster isn’t possible because the human body will process the changes at its own pace.
The Stages and Symptoms of Withdrawal
Doctors and researchers have been studying alcohol withdrawal for many years. They’ve created a definitive timeline so that you know which stage you’re in at the moment. You first decide to stop drinking. This decision is often a simple one at first. It’s the morning after a big party, and you’re feeling the hangover effects. After about eight hours, however, you reach the first stage of withdrawal. You might feel these effects, such as:
• Muscle weakness
• Digestive issues
These symptoms tend to be mild and slightly frustrating. After 24 hours of sobriety, your body starts to really deal with alcohol’s withdrawal effects. The brain craves balance, but it’s still looking for the alcohol’s influence. Shallow breathing, mood swings and overall malaise might overtake a person. This second stage is variable. It can last from 24 to 72 hours in length. There’s no way to tell how long it will be until your body reaches the next stage.
The third stage of alcohol withdrawal is a difficult one. In fact, it can get so serious that medical professionals must intervene. It happens after about 3 days of sobriety, but it’s not unheard of for it to occur after only 12 hours of sobriety. For these reasons, seeking out professional help is a major part of tackling your addiction. Be aware that the medical staff cannot make the process go any faster on their terms either. They can merely help you through the toughest parts. Stage three can be outright dangerous with symptoms that might include hallucinations, tremors or confusion. It’s also important to note that you won’t necessarily feel every symptom in a particular order. Every person will have a unique experience that follows these basic parameters.
Seeking Out Professional Help
To make the stages of alcohol withdrawal as easy as possible on your body, it’s ideal to work with medical professionals. Detoxing by yourself at home can lead to medical emergencies and worst-case scenarios. You’ll always be safer with professionals helping you out. Start with a detoxification program that’s in your local neighborhood. Ask about their qualifications for alcohol treatment. Every facility has a different specialty. You want medical professionals monitoring you during the first week of sobriety. Those stages will develop as time wears on. The medical staff can offer medications, such as acamprosate, to ease the body through withdrawal. It won’t speed up the process, but it’ll be more comfortable than without it. The time passing by in detox will feel shorter, but the reality is that time is still the same for each stage.
You only have to go through alcohol withdrawal one time if you fully commit to a sober lifestyle. Following your detox is the counseling portion of your journey. You’ll meet with a private counselor and graduate to group discussions. Talk about your withdrawal symptoms here because you’ll learn about other people’s struggles. It can solidify your commitment to sobriety when you hear about harsher recoveries. The group discussions are also a way to bond with other people. Create a support system in the discussions so that they can translate into real life. When you go back to your everyday life, sobriety will be easier to achieve.
Alcohol withdrawal is a biological process that must be faced as you head down the path to sobriety. The stages won’t slow down or speed up. Working through them with a professional by your side is the best way to tackle your demons. The sobriety road does get easier. In reality, the hardest part is just getting started.
Work with our professionals today. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 877-497-6180. There is a bright light of sobriety just ahead on your healthy pathway forward.