Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are most frequently associated with serious alcoholics – those individuals who are always drunk or in the process of getting that way. The reality is that it is not necessary for people to fit this stereotype before they begin to experience the negative effects of alcohol abuse. It is not unusual for binge drinkers to also experience alcohol withdrawals even though they might only drink heavily on the weekends.
Binge drinking is a pattern of alcohol consumption that is popular in many parts of the word. It is most associated with young people but there are binge drinkers of every age. Those who engage in this pattern of drinking deliberately set out to become inebriated because they enjoy the feeling. It means consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Binge drinking is the most dangerous pattern of alcohol consumption, and it leads to all sorts of problems for the individual and society. Even those who only binge drink once a week may be doing a great deal of harm.
Binge drinking is considered to be the most dangerous pattern of drinking because:
* It can easily lead to alcohol poisoning, and this can be life threatening.
* Those people who binge drink are far more likely to develop alcoholism.
* Binge drinking can cause a great deal of damage to the body and mind. It is not necessary for the individual to become an alcoholic before they begin to experience the negative effects of this type of behavior – including alcoholic liver disease.
* This pattern of drinking is most likely to lead to accidents. This is because when people are inebriated their judgment is impaired and so are there motor skills.
* Those people who binge drink are far more likely to commit suicide. This is because alcohol increases impulsiveness and reduces the ability of people to reason properly.
* Binge drinking can lead to symptoms of depression.
* This pattern of drinking often leads to blackouts. This type of amnesia means that the individual is not able to remember periods of time when they were inebriated.
* People who drink this way will usually suffer from a hangover the next day. This means that they will feel ill and will not be able to take care of their responsibilities effectively.
* Binge drinking can encourage sexual promiscuity. This means that people may be more at risk of catching sexually transmitted diseases or it could lead to unwanted pregnancies.
If people have been drinking heavily over a long period or they drink heavily on a regular basis they can develop a physical and psychological dependence on the substance. A physical dependence means that the body has adapted so well to dealing with alcohol in the system that it develops unpleasant symptoms when alcohol is removed. It is these effects that are referred to as withdrawal symptoms, and they can occur whenever the level of alcohol in the bloodstream falls too low. Some binge drinkers will experience these symptoms for a few days after the binge ends, but they may mistake them for hangover symptoms. Another sign of physical dependence is that people develop a tolerance for alcohol. This means that they have to drink more to get the same effect.
The most common withdrawal symptoms that people will experience include:
* Shaking or body tremors
* Feelings of restlessness
* Nausea and vomiting
* Body aches
* Inability to concentrate and confusion
* Mood swings
* Loss of appetite
* Symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts
* Changes to sleep pattern
* Feelings of weakness
* Heart palpitations
* The individual may experience depersonalization where they feel like an outsider looking in.
* Changes to pulse rate, respiratory rate, or blood pressure.
* Feelings of anxiety.
Some individuals will experience a particularly dangerous form of alcohol withdrawals known as delirium tremens (DTs). These effects of DTs can be potentially life threatening so it is vital that those who are at risk of experiencing such symptoms have their withdrawals medically supervised. The symptoms of DTs include:
* Seizures/ convulsions
* Intense audio and visual hallucinations. A common hallucination is insects crawling on the skin.
* High degree of agitation
* Severe confusion
* Elevated blood pressure levels
Sometimes people will mix up withdrawal symptoms with hangover symptoms. They do share some similarities, and it is common for heavy drinkers to experience them both together. Common hangover symptoms include:
* Nausea and vomiting
* Loss of appetite
* Inability to concentrate
* Moodiness and irritability
* Sensitivity to sound
* Feeling dehydrated
* Body aches
* Feelings of fatigue
* Body shakes
* Feelings of dizziness
* Feelings of anxiety
It is not necessary for people to drink every day for them to develop a physical dependence on alcohol. Those who only binge drink at the weekend may experience these symptoms for the first half of their week but believe them to be due to a hangover. They become caught in a vicious cycle of binge drinking followed by withdrawals followed by more binge drinking. The individual can go on like this for years, and they may be doing serious damage to their mental and physical health.
Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. In order to deal with them the individual can:
* If people are experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is a sign that they have become dependent on alcohol. The only real solution to this is complete abstinence.
* Those people who have been drinking heavily for a long period of time or ever suffered from a convulsion as a result of drink may be at risk of delirium tremens. If that is the case then their withdrawals should be medically supervised.
* These days it is common for people to enter rehab when they give up alcohol. This is not only to help them make it through withdrawals safely but also give them an opportunity to develop the skills they need to enjoy a sober life.
* The symptoms of withdrawal can last a few days, but they are rarely any worse than a mild flu. Those who are serious about quitting their addiction will be easily able to manage this period, but those who are ambivalent about recovery may find it more of a struggle.
* If people try to distract themselves, it will lessen the severity of symptoms when recovering from alcoholism. The worse thing they can do is to wallow in the discomfort.
* Once the individual escape their addiction there will be no need for them to ever experience withdrawal symptoms again.