One of the most common signs of severe alcohol dependency is experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. It occurs when you abruptly stop taking alcohol and can trigger life-threatening symptoms. If you are addicted to alcohol, your body and the brain become dependent on your drinking patterns and frequency over time. So when you suddenly stop drinking, you deprive your body of the effects of alcohol, and it needs time to readjust to normal functioning. The adjustment causes serious body changes and the painful side effects of alcohol withdrawal.
Other than uncomfortable side effects, alcohol withdrawal can cause life-threatening symptoms, especially after prolonged and heavy alcohol use. The symptoms can be very unpleasant, which is why many people fear quitting alcohol. But note that whether you have been drinking heavily for years, months or weeks, you are likely to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly stop taking it. That is why professional care from a rehab facility is required when attempting to quit alcohol.
The scientific principle behind alcohol withdrawal
Excessive drinking of alcohol excites the central nervous system. When you regularly take alcohol, it interferes with body and brain functioning, which results in alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop. Alcohol causes a sedative effect on the brain; it suppresses some neurotransmitters, so many people experience a relaxing effect after drinking. Many people tend to feel happy, relaxed, and more sociable after taking alcohol.
So, with heavy and prolonged alcohol use, the brain gets exposed to the suppressant effects of alcohol for the long term. This causes you to develop a dependency on alcohol, but you require more and more amounts to get the same effects hence an addiction. When you abruptly stop drinking alcohol, the neurotransmitters which are already used to the effects of alcohol struggle to adjust to the new chemical imbalance leading to the debilitating symptoms f alcohol withdrawal.
Many people hesitate to quit drinking in fear of the scary symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be different from one individual to another. They can range from mild to severe physical and psychological symptoms. Still, alcohol addiction treatment professionals prescribe medications to relieve pain and counseling to help you deal with the psychological symptoms.
How alcohol withdrawal symptoms manifest
Depending on your alcohol addiction levels, you can start experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms as quickly as two hours after your last drink. But typically, alcohol withdrawal symptoms kick in the first 24 to 48 hours after cessation. This is when you are likely to experience the most uncomfortable symptoms, including headaches, vomiting, tremors, sweating, fever, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, and changes in blood pressure.
Although some people experience mild symptoms, others suffer life-threatening symptoms such as delirium tremens. It involves confusion, hallucinations, seizures, severe tremors, and high blood pressure.
The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on addiction levels, frequency of drinking, length of alcohol dependency, medical history, and other co-occurring medical conditions. If you have abused drugs together with alcohol, the severe the withdrawal symptoms are likely to be.
It is essential to undergo medical detox program when attempting to quit alcohol which helps you manage the withdrawal symptoms.