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Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal: When Should You Get Professional Detox Treatment For Alcohol?

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol withdrawal is much more serious than most people think. The notion that people can easily walk away from alcohol dependence without the need of alcohol stems from the fact that it is widely available. This, however, is farther from the truth. As a matter of fact, alcohol dependence can sometimes lead to some of the most fatal withdrawal symptoms of any type of substance addiction and abuse.

For those who want to recover from alcohol addiction, alcohol detox is worth a try for those who are likely to go through mild to severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Often, it is a prerequisite to rehabilitation, as dependence goes together with addiction. If you’d like to know more about alcohol detox in Florida, give us a call at 503-447-5064.

Who qualifies for alcohol detoxification?

Those who have developed tolerance and dependence on alcohol should seek alcohol detox to recover safely. A detox program is a professional medical program that helps people with substance abuse disorder to flush out the substance from their bodies without the risk of the withdrawal symptoms with the help of medication. But detox, alone, is not enough. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends that a detox program must be followed by alcohol rehab.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) states that physical dependence on alcohol and symptoms of withdrawal are just two of the indications that someone is suffering from alcohol addiction. Having withdrawal symptoms means that you are experiencing side effects when you quit a substance abruptly. In the case of alcoholism, withdrawal affects both the physical and mental state. With alcohol detox though, you can go through these effects safely under medical supervision.

Who are at risk of alcohol withdrawal?

The good news is, not everyone who consumes alcohol gets withdrawal symptoms after quitting abruptly. Often, it’s those who consume large amounts consistently for a long period of time. The more you chug and the more often you do, the more susceptible you are to alcohol withdrawal. But alcohol withdrawal, too, happens to people who binge drink too much in one go.

Someone who has experienced alcohol withdrawal before is also more likely to experience it again. In addition, they are more susceptible to more serious or fatal symptoms.

It is therefore imperative that you never take the potential for alcohol withdrawal symptoms lightly if you or someone you know drinks too much and too often. It doesn’t matter if you or someone you loved has total control of his or her intake. Quitting cold turkey can be detrimental to one’s health especially if you’ve been drinking large amounts consistently.

Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms often begin around 6-8 hours after the individual stops consumption. Sometimes, the symptoms can start manifesting in a matter of hours, or days after the last drink. It is for this reason that you should seek medical help if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms can last from around several days to a couple of weeks, and will usually peak in the first 24-72 hours upon onset of withdrawal.

Listed below are the common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:

  • mood disorders, like depression

  • anxiety

  • nightmares or insomnia

  • intense mood swings and irritability

  • fatigue

  • tremors

  • nervousness

  • mental fogginess

  • pallor

  • excessive sweating

  • lack of appetite

  • dilated pupils

  • headaches

  • palpitations

  • nausea and vomiting

Worst case scenario, the withdrawal symptoms can be lethal.

Delirium Tremens

Delirium tremens is a more serious form of alcohol withdrawal, happening between 48 to 96 hours after the individual’s last drink. In some instances, they happen days or even a week after the last drink. Symptoms include:

  • delirium and hallucinations

  • phobia

  • light, sound and touch sensitivity

  • severe mood swings and agitation

  • mental fogginess

  • anxiety

  • daze

  • long sleeping spells that last for hours or days

  • episodes of mania or energy bursts

  • tremors

  • fever

  • chest or stomach pains

A few individuals have a higher risk of going through delirium tremens, like for instance, those who have suffered from an injury (especially head trauma), or have a co-occurring illness at the period of withdrawal. People who have drunk heavily for 10 or more years are also more susceptible to experience this condition.

In addition, NLM states that those who consume a certain amount of alcohol daily for a long period are at a high risk of experiencing delirium tremens. This includes:

  • Those who down 7-8 pints of beer daily for several months, or more

  • Those who consume 4-5 pints of wine daily for several months, or more

  • Those who take in a pint of hard alcoholic drink a day for several months, or more

Delirium tremens is a serious medical emergency. Per the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the mortality rate of delirium tremens is around 5-25%.

How do I know that I need to get professional alcohol detox?

Determining if you need to go through a medically assisted detox for alcoholism can be tricky. As mentioned, people don’t really see the gravity of one’s addiction or dependence on alcohol as alcohol is widely available. In addition, it’s often difficult to admit that you have a problem and that you need help.

But these situations can help you gauge what you need to do to recover from alcohol addiction safely:

  1. If you think that you are at a high risk of experiencing delirium tremens, seek alcohol addiction treatment and detox right away. This condition is not only fatal. It’s also unforeseeable. NIAAA states that delirium tremens occurs in about 5% of those suffering from alcohol withdrawal. However, it can onset between two to ten days after the individual’s last drink.

  2. If you have experienced withdrawal symptoms before. More often than not, those who have gone through withdrawal will go through even worse symptoms the next time around. Hence, it may be safer for you to seek treatment, especially if you do not have much-needed support at home.

  3. Do you receive help from friends and family at home while you’re going through withdrawal from substance abuse? If you don’t have a support system at home, it may be best to get professional help from a facility.

  4. Do you have a co-occurring condition (e.g. mental disorder, chronic pain or other physical condition, or a co-existing drug addiction)? It’s best to seek treatment. A coexisting condition can possibly exacerbate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. A professional detox center might be able to help you traverse the withdrawal symptoms and the existing condition without causing you discomfort.

The above situations are strong indications that you need to seek professional alcohol detox. But do know that anyone, in general, who has alcohol dependence and has started going through symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can safely recover in an alcohol rehab facility. This way, you are assured you get a more stable recovery.

How do I seek assistance in treating alcohol withdrawal?

If you think that you are highly susceptible of going through painful alcohol withdrawal, or have already started experiencing the symptoms, Give us a call at 503-447-5056 anytime, any day, 24/7 to speak to an addiction specialist who can help you start your journey towards recovery in Portland. Visit us at 1316 SE 12th Avenue Portland, OR 97214. Know that it’s never too late to start your journey towards long-term sobriety.

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1 Comment

Dec 11, 2023

Recognizing the signs of alcohol withdrawal and knowing when to seek professional detox treatment is absolutely crucial for anyone struggling with alcohol dependency. These symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe health risks, so it's imperative not to underestimate them. Seeking professional help through detox programs and medical supervision is a responsible and potentially life-saving decision if you or someone you know is dealing with alcohol addiction. Timely intervention can make a significant difference in ensuring a safer and more effective recovery journey. It's always better to err on the side of caution and prioritize one's health and well-being when it comes to alcohol withdrawal.

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