Withdrawal symptoms are a very real part of alcohol dependence and addiction. Alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous and have life-threatening side effects and before you decide to detox, it is important to seek medical advice. If you are a heavy drinker, you may need to detox under medical supervision.
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem and is characterised by an individual’s alcohol dependence and need to drink alcohol, regardless of the consequences or negative impact that it might have on their daily lives and health. Alcoholism can be divided into three levels; severe, moderate and mild and each level has various symptoms and side effects. If left untreated alcohol abuse will have a devastating impact on the life of the addict and their family.
Understanding The Physical Effects of Alcohol Consumption On Your Body
It is important to realise that alcoholism is a disease and people who suffer from alcohol use disorder struggle to control their alcohol intake and often feel as though they can’t function without a drink. Severe alcohol dependence affects their physical and mental health, leading to various personal and professional problems. According to the World Health Organisation, over 3 million people die annually from the harmful effects of alcohol. To understand alcohol addiction, one needs to realise that alcohol is a depressant that affects the balance of chemicals in your brain. Extreme alcohol consumption and binge drinking lowers your serotonin levels, upsetting the chemical balance in your body.
Fortunately, alcohol abuse and addiction is treatable and there are a growing number of addiction treatment centres that specialise in treating alcohol use disorders with clinical detox, counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, and outpatient support groups.
An early indicator that you have an alcohol dependence problem is that your body develops an increased tolerance to alcohol and as a result, you need to continually increase your alcohol consumption to achieve the desired effects. You may start drinking to relieve stress, take the edge off your day or to deal with a trauma but because alcohol affects the body physically, the more you drink, the more your body will adapt and become accustomed to alcohol and the more you will crave it when you can’t get it. Once your body is physically addicted, you will need to drink more heavily just to function and when your body is deprived of alcohol you will experience withdrawal symptoms. If you are a regular heavy drinker there is almost no way that you will be able to detox and avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Here are some of the most common symptoms which arise during alcohol withdrawal:
- Depression and anxiety
- Headaches, fevers, and chills
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nightmares and insomnia
- Shaking, sweating
- Irritability, restlessness and mood swings
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Changes in body temperature
- A loss of appetite
- Confusion and disorientation
- Cognitive issues and lack of concentration
- Muscle weakness
Individuals who consume copious amounts of alcohol on a regular basis can suffer from delirium tremens or DT’s when they detox. This is one of the most severe forms of alcohol withdrawal and can cause life-threatening conditions like uncontrollable tremors, hallucinations, seizures and even heart complications.
Heavy drinkers should never detox on their own because they will experience unavoidable alcohol withdrawal symptoms that could put their lives at risk. Anyone with a serious drinking problem should be under medical supervision in a treatment centre for the duration of their detox program.
Relieving The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
Treating alcohol addiction is complex and while you may not be able to avoid the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, there are ways to reduce them.
Get Medical Help
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can range from uncomfortable to severe. If you are a heavy drinking, during clinical detox in a rehab facility a medical professional will be able to help you reduce the most severe withdrawal symptoms by administering prescription medication. Not only will this reduce the side effects of alcohol withdrawal, but it will also lower the risk of life-threatening seizures. If you only have moderate withdrawal symptoms and are part of an outpatient program, your GP may prescribe medication to relieve your alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Drink Water & Eat Fruit
It is important to drink lots of water and fluids that contain electrolytes to avoid dehydration and nausea during the detox program but stay away from caffeine. As alcohol metabolises your body converts it into sugar. This means that you will have become accustomed to an excessive amount of sugar and therefor eating lots of healthy fruit and vegetables can help balance the sugar levels in your body.
Exercise is one of the best tools for coping with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal because it releases endorphins in your brain and creates a natural happy state of mind. It is also good for your overall health and confidence. If you don’t want to do a heavy work out or go to a gym, even simply getting outside and taking a walk will have a positive effect on your body, improving your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Meditation, Yoga and Deep Breathing
Meditation, yoga and deep breathing techniques can help you relax during alcohol withdrawal by clearing your mind and allowing you to focus on what is truly important to you. If you are feeling stressed, try breathing in through your nose of four second, holding it for four second and breathing out through your mouth for four seconds. This will help you engage your prefrontal cortex and maintain the ability to think rationally during the withdrawal process. You can also take a cold shower to clear your mind.
Read A Book Or Listen To Music
Distraction is a powerful tool to help you focus on something other than your alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Reading a book or listening to music can take your mind off what your body is going through.
Alcohol withdrawal can be painful and there is no way of avoiding alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But if you truly want to stop drinking and lead a happy, healthier life you need to get treatment for your alcohol use disorder. Call us today so that we can discuss your options.
Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2019 at 11:13 am in Alcohol Addiction.