What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
Alcohol withdrawal is the physical and biological change the body goes through when someone suddenly stops drinking alcohol (ethyl alcohol / ETOH) after prolonged and heavy alcohol use. Alcohol is found in Ale, Lager, Beer, Cider, Wine, and spirits such as vodka, grain alcohol, rum, whiskey, gin, absinthe, tequila, mezcal, and brandy.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal:
Insomnia (sometimes severe)
Trembling / Shakes
Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Severe symptoms are known as delirium tremens DTs, a complication of alcohol withdrawal involving sudden and pronounced changes in mental or nervous system function.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) or Alcohol Abuse is a term for persons who drink alcohol excessively.
Alcohol misuse in the United States is broadly defined as women who drink more than one drink per day (7 drinks per week) or men who drink more than 2 drinks per day (14 drinks per week). Another form of alcohol misuse is binge drinking which is defined as males who have 5 or more drinks in one sitting or females who have 4 or more drinks per sitting.
Alcoholism and alcohol addiction can often start as a few drinks per day and then binge drinking. Alcoholism is a disease characterized by the inability to control alcohol use despite negative, harmful consequences. Signs that people may have an alcohol addiction include mental and physical cravings, tolerance for the effects of alcohol (the need to drink more to experience the same impact lesser amounts previously produced), and having withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop drinking. Alcohol detox and withdrawal can be some of the most uncomfortable experiences a person goes through. The physical symptoms that occur after cutting back or quitting drinking are a lot to handle alone. This is a primary reason people return to drinking alcohol, to relieve their symptoms and discomfort.
What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal?
Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal is thought to arise due to various changes in brain activity caused by prolonged and excessive alcohol use. Symptoms reflect the brain’s response to disruptions in both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter activity. When a person drinks alcohol, it changes gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate receptors which slow down brain activity. People typically experience an easing of anxiety and feelings of drowsiness after consuming alcoholic beverages. The brain reacts by lowering the amount of GABA it releases and increasing glutamate to compensate for how alcohol adjusts these levels. This is what’s known as tolerance. The more you drink, the more you need to drink to experience the same effects.
Reducing or stopping alcohol intake disrupts brain activity in a short period of time. Hyperarousal is the result, and this can lead to a variety of withdrawal symptoms within just a few short hours of someone taking their last drink. It is estimated that more than 80% of those with an alcohol use disorder can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms. These range from feeling irritable and anxious through vomiting, sweating, or diarrhea. Extreme alcohol detoxification cases can result in seizures, strokes, and heart attacks.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
What happens to your body when you give up alcohol?
This may depend on a variety of factors.
Depending on the level of alcohol consumption and severity of physiological dependence, alcohol withdrawal varies from person to person. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, there are three potential stages of alcohol withdrawal.
1.) Stage 1 (mild): symptoms may include headache, insomnia, anxiety, hand tremor,
gastrointestinal disturbances, and heart palpitations.
2.) Stage 2 (moderate): symptoms can include Stage 1 mild symptoms in addition to increased
blood pressure or heart rate, confusion, mild hyperthermia, and rapid abnormal breathing.
3.) Stage 3 (severe): symptoms include Stage 2 moderate symptoms in addition to visual or auditory hallucinations, seizures, disorientation, and impaired attention.
The average quantity and duration of drinking will determine alcohol withdrawal, as it varies from person to person. Therefore, when seeking an alcohol detox in NH, it’s essential to be truthful with your provider and medical professionals about how much you are drinking.
A timeline of alcohol withdrawal symptoms may look like the following:
6-12 hours after the last drink, you may begin to feel some mild withdrawal symptoms, including a headache and insomnia, upset stomach, and mild tremors.
Within 24 hours, some people may experience visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations.
Between 24-72 hours, the alcohol withdrawal symptoms may have peaked and begun leveling off or resolved. The risk of seizure is generally highest during this period. The 48–72-hour period is when DTs are most often observed.
Some people experience more persistent withdrawal-related symptoms—such as sleep disturbances, fatigue, and changes in mood–that last for months. Though most will have a complete recovery with medical withdrawal management for alcohol detox.
Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment and Detox in NH
Alcohol detox is generally the first step in any alcohol addiction rehab program. Various treatments and detox options can help provide ongoing residential support necessary to maintain recovery during detox. At Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire, we will make sure you’re safe and comfortable during withdrawal. With our team of compassionate medical professionals, physicians, and nurses, we can help you remain safe and comfortable while going through the withdrawal process.
How long does Alcohol Detox in NH take?
Alcohol detox usually lasts between 3 to 7 days.
There may be situations that require fewer or additional days in detox to be physically separated from alcohol. The symptoms of alcohol detox and withdrawal can span temporary anxiety to seizures. If you’re struggling with physical symptoms during the detox process, medications such as anti-anxiety, anti-seizure, and comfort medications will be administered during your stay. A comfortable facility with kind staff and pleasant surroundings is also beneficial to the process.
What is Alcohol Detox and withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal is a range of symptoms, physical and psychological that individuals experience when they cut back on drinking and then move to abstinence from alcohol after extended periods of drinking.
What Medications are used for Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol detox medications may include primary and comfort medication. The primary meds used generally are anti-anxiety and anti-convulsant. In addition, patients are assessed regularly and given comfort meds to help assist with any physical or emotional pain experienced during the detox process.
Can I Detox at Home?
Attempting to detox from alcohol at home, on your own, is never recommended. Instead, an experienced medical professional should always treat alcohol withdrawal management and detoxification.
Licensed medical alcohol detox facilities in NH are generally the safest location and the most hospitable to persons needing detox from alcohol and drugs in NH. Even with full family support, alcohol detox at home in NH can be very risky and should not be attempted alone.
Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire is licensed and contracted to provide alcohol detox in NH and for clients from New England, including Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. So if you’re searching for a comfortable detox near you to help with your drinking problem, we can help.
We have facilities in Antrim, NH, near Keene and the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.
Drug and Alcohol Detox in New Hampshire
Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire provides drug and alcohol detox for those wanting to start their lives free from the bonds of addiction.
Residential Inpatient Addiction Treatment in New Hampshire
Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire provides residential inpatient addiction treatment for those that need to have a comprehensive addiction treatment program in NH.
PHP Program in New Hampshire
Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire provides a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) in New Hampshire for those who want treatment and still want a life at home.
IOP Program in New Hampshire
Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire provides an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in New Hampshire for those needing a lower level of care for substance use disorder.