What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

People who drink alcohol regularly and heavily for months, years or even a few weeks are likely to develop both physical and mental problems when they quit or cut back on the quantity they drink. This is known as alcohol withdrawal and its symptoms can vary from mild to dangerous.

Individuals who drink alcohol once in a while are less likely to develop alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. In contrast, those who have been through alcohol withdrawal in the past, are more prone to experiencing it again once they call it quits.

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal?

According to doctors, alcohol has a depressive impact on your body, especially the brain. It tends to retard brain function, changing the way the nerves transmit messages back and forth. With the passage of time, the central nervous system gets used to having alcohol present all the time.

As a result, your body exerts more effort to ensure your brain stays in an active state and that your nerves keep communicating with one another. However, when you quit or reduce drinking, the alcohol level drops all of a sudden, but the brain maintains this keyed up state. This is what leads to withdrawal and accompanying symptoms.

If you drink heavily, you are more susceptible to alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are usually experienced by individuals who imbibe at least eight units of alcohol, five or more times per week.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can appear anywhere between six hours and a couple of days since your last drink. There are both physical and psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal which can affect those dependent on alcohol and they are as follows;

Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

  1. Tremors
  2. Nausea
  3. Sweating
  4. Seizures (fits in more serious cases)
  5. An unstable or irregular heart rate
  6. Vomiting
  7. High blood pressure
  8. Visual hallucinations (seeing things or images that do not exist)
  9. Auditory hallucinations (hearing sounds that do not exist)

Psychological Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

  1. Anxiety
  2. Depression
  3. Restlessness
  4. Irritability
  5. Insomnia
  6. Confusion

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are usually grave and require immediate medical attention. Therefore, if you or your loved ones are experiencing severe shaking, repeated vomiting or hallucinations, seek medical help.

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A majority of individuals with alcohol withdrawal symptoms fully recover. In most cases, if you get appropriate treatment, quit drinking and have no other health issues, usually the outlook is pretty good. However, keep in mind that irritability, sleep disturbances and fatigue can persist for several months. If your withdrawal symptoms are more severe, they can be fatal. Therefore, if you start to experience severe withdrawal symptoms, it is vital to get medical attention right away. If you begin your treatment soon, you will have better chances of averting life-threatening complications.

Avoid heavy drinking on a regular basis as it is the best way to get rid of withdrawal symptoms. In case you already have alcohol dependence, seek medical care and counseling as soon as possible. Set a goal to gradually and safely reduce your alcohol dependence to resume a productive and healthy life.

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