Quitting “cold turkey” may work for cigarettes and a few other types of addiction, but alcoholism brings an entirely different situation. Alcoholism causes profound effects in the mind and body, and the dependency that alcoholism creates is extremely difficult to break. Quitting alcohol on your own can be very dangerous for a person with advanced alcoholism.
Understanding The Physical Effects of Alcoholism
Anyone struggling with an alcohol use disorder needs to know the dangers of sudden cessation. Any type of addiction can cause withdrawal symptoms after cessation, but what are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal? The symptoms a person experiences generally depends on the severity of his or her alcohol abuse. For example, a person who has struggled with alcoholism for one or two years will have a very different recovery experience than a person who has been a heavy drinker for 20 years.
Symptoms That Drive Alcoholism
The intense cravings for alcohol that happen in an person with alcohol abuse disorder will typically spur a person further into alcoholism before he or she realizes the need for help. Some of the short-term effects of alcohol withdrawal may include shaking, body pains, restlessness, cramping, and bowel problems. The more advanced the person’s drinking habit is, the more severe these withdrawal symptoms will be, and will appear much more quickly than in someone with a milder drinking habit.
Long-Term Medical Complications from Alcohol Abuse
Heavy drinking over a long period of time can lead to brain damage, liver disease, internal organ failure, depression, nerve damage, and significant financial, social, and psychological problems. Some of the effects of alcohol consumption may require long-term medical care. As a severe drinking problem persists, the risk of alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents and interpersonal violence increases.
Having access to appropriate alcoholism treatment makes a huge difference in long-term outcomes. Proper detox treatment can help identify long-term medical complications related to alcohol addiction that could help initiate treatment sooner than later.
Malnutrition, Vitamin Deficiency, and Dehydration
Many alcoholics also suffer from malnutrition, dehydration and vitamin deficiencies from long-term alcohol abuse. Alcohol naturally dehydrates the body and many alcoholics forego proper nutrition in favor of drinking their libation of choice and eating only when necessary. During detox, an alcoholic will likely receive vitamin replacement therapy and nutritional support to replace nutrients lost during active addiction. This helps lay the groundwork for a stronger recovery because the stress of rehab is much easier to handle with a healthy body.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal causes physical discomfort for anyone with alcoholism. Mild symptoms may include sweating, mild tremors, increased blood pressure, and an elevated heart rate. These symptoms often run in tandem with cravings for more alcohol. The more severe the addiction, the more intense these cravings will be for a person ceasing alcohol consumption. One of the most dangerous possible withdrawal symptoms is delirium tremens.
What is delirium tremens? It is a severe neurological condition resulting from alcohol withdrawal. Roughly one in ten people who experience alcohol withdrawal develop this condition and the death rate can be as high as 35 percent. Delirium tremens or “the DTs” can involve a host of dangerous symptoms including:
- Grand mal seizures. These seizures cause violent muscle contractions and periods of unconsciousness that can interrupt brain function and even cause brain damage.
- Cardiovascular problems. DTs can cause blood pressure fluctuations, breathing problems, and deprive the brain of oxygen.
- Violent tendencies. Some people experiencing hallucinations from DTs may lash out aggressively if they believe something is trying to harm them.
- Paranoia and confusion.
- Anxiety and irritability.
Treatment for Delirium Tremens
Delirium tremens treatment typically involves medications to manage these symptoms like anti-convulsants and anti-seizure medicines. Medical supervision is necessary to control a patient who may be experiencing intense hallucinations and could be a danger to him or herself or others. Licensed practitioners can also monitor patient vital signs to track heart function and breathing.
Without medical intervention, the symptoms of delirium tremens can be deadly. If a person with an advanced case of alcoholism decides to “go cold turkey,” he or she may be putting his or her life at serious risk.
What to Expect during Alcohol Detox
Anyone suffering from advanced alcoholism needs a very robust detox treatment plan. Detox must include 24-hour monitoring from licensed professionals. Without an appropriate detox plan and full spectrum of addiction treatment services, it can be very easy for a person in detox to leave before finishing the program and relapse.
If you or a loved one needs alcohol addiction treatment, detox is the first step. In fact most people begin detox treatment while still under the influence. It can be difficult to transport an individual already suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms to a treatment facility. Many individuals who attempt to self-detox from advanced alcoholism wind up in emergency rooms. It’s vital to approach detox in a way that’s comfortable for you and truly commit to making a change.
If you are looking for a California drug and alcohol detox center that offers comprehensive, professional detox services, Bright Future Recovery can help.
Finding the Right Treatment for You
Bright Future Recovery has a spacious nine-bed detox center in Hollister, California. Our cozy atmosphere and spacious, private and semi-private rooms for men and women offer a professionally-hosted detox experience in a comfortable, supportive environment. Substance abuse treatment programs include a recovery preparation program that begins with detox, leading to admission into a rehabilitation program. We also offer holistic treatments to help fight the stress of rehab with equine, massage, and exercise therapies.
Our comprehensive continuum of care offers the best chance of achieving lifelong sobriety. We understand that you or your loved one with alcoholism may dread the thought of enduring detox, but our professional, licensed, and thoroughly trained staff has the skills and resources to provide a safe and effective alcohol detox.