Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are the body’s reaction when a person suddenly stops drinking after long-term and heavy alcohol use. Those symptoms can be so severe to require detoxification treatment at our New Hampshire Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center.
Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the brain and central nervous system. Prolonged and heavy drinking causes the brain to overproduce adrenaline-like chemicals to keep the body functioning normally. A person who decides to suddenly stop drinking still has revved-up brain functioning. When the brain is suddenly deprived of the alcohol depressant, it behaves like a speeding car suddenly losing its brakes.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. The most severe, as discussed below, is delirium tremens. The bottom line is that most symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are the result of an overstimulated brain.
A Timeline of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur in a pattern that is predictable following the person’s last drink:
Within 5 to 10 Hours
The person experiences tremors or “the shakes.” Tremors typically peak between 24 and 48 hours. Tremors are often accompanied by a quickening pulse, an increase in blood pressure, as well as other unpleasant symptoms like nausea and vomiting, sweating, anxiety, irritability, nightmares, and insomnia.
Within 12 to 24 Hours
Hallucinations (or alcohol hallucinosis) cause the sufferer to see or experience things that are not real. Some visions resemble crawling insects or small moving objects like falling coins. Sufferers report very detailed and vivid visions.
Within 6 to 48 Hours
Alcohol withdrawal seizures are common. The sufferer loses consciousness for several minutes and can experience rigidity and muscle contractions. Someone undergoing an alcohol withdrawal seizure could also bite their cheek or tongue, clench their teeth or suffer incontinence.
The following is first aid for someone undergoing an alcohol withdrawal seizure:
- Isolate the person from hard/sharp objects.
- Do not restrain the person or place anything between the person’s teeth.
- Cushion the person’s head.
- Loosen the clothing around the neck.
- Position the head so that the tongue does not obstruct the airway.
When the seizure has passed, the patient should be placed on his/her side to avoid the risk of asphyxiation. Also, the patient should be monitored until he or she has regained consciousness. Do not administer liquids until the patient has regained complete consciousness. If the patient begins to experience repeated seizures, seek immediate emergency medical treatment.
Within 2-3 Days
About 1 out of every 20 persons going through alcohol withdrawal symptoms will experience the DTs, or delirium tremens. With DTs, the brain cannot readjust its chemistry after the person stops drinking. The result is a temporary state of confusion and disruption of the brain’s ability to regulate circulation and breathing. The body’s heart rate or blood pressure can change suddenly, with the danger of heart attack, stroke, or death.
The DTs are also accompanied by extreme nausea, seizures, as well as hallucinations. Delirium tremens is a very serious condition. Anyone experiencing the DTs should get immediate medical attention.
After 5 Days
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically improve within five days. However, a small number of patients could have symptoms lasting weeks.
Easing Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Anyone undergoing detoxification treatment either at an inpatient or outpatient detox facility like ours will be in a safe, medically supervised setting. The goal of detoxification is to purge the body of the poisonous effects of alcohol and minimize withdrawal symptoms. Once the patient has come away from withdrawal, serious treatment and healing can begin.
Granite Recovery Centers Can Be the First Step Before Your First Step
Don’t let the disease of alcohol addiction continue to control your life, call 855.712.7784 to find help. Each of our drug and alcohol treatment centers has the certified detox facilities, residential and outpatient programs, along with sober living and aftercare programs you need to overcome and get out from under the addiction and take control.