When an alcoholic makes the decision to end the cycle of addiction, they undergo alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The condition may cause life-threatening circumstances for anyone who has abused the substance for an extended period of time. If you have stopped drinking and begin experiencing symptoms, regardless of how mild, you should contact a health care provider for appropriate attention.
Chronic drinking interferes with normal brain function and the communication that takes place between brain cells. By way of chemical messages, the brain regulates all of the body's functions. Habitual consumption initially enhances the effects of neurotransmitters known as GABA and glutamate. As alcoholism continues, GABA production diminishes and glutamate production increases. When alcoholics stop drinking, neurons do not automatically make the necessary adjustments and the body systems respond accordingly, producing an array of symptoms.
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Symptoms
Symptoms of withdrawal correlate with the amount and degree of addiction. Symptoms may appear within six to 12 hours after stopping the habit, even if alcohol remains in the blood. The list of mild effects include:
Within the first day of going without a drink, individuals may begin having auditory, visual or tactile hallucinations. Within two to three days of being without alcohol, an individual may experience delirium tremens (DTs). These symptoms may last up to five days and include:
Importance of Medically Monitored Detox
When ready to take the first step in obtaining sobriety, entering hospital or alcohol treatment centers ensures that medical assistance is available if needed. Upon admittance, a physician performs a thorough medical evaluation that includes getting a complete medical history and performing a physical assessment. Certain medical conditions may worsen when detoxification begins. In this way, the healthcare team is prepared to deal with any symptoms and prevent possible complications. Detox does not cure chemical dependency, but counseling and therapy provided by licensed and trained therapists uncover and help alcoholics deal with the reasons behind the problem. Therapy may occur in off-campus or residential abuse treatment centers.