Alcohol is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches. It affects every organ in the body. The withdrawal symptoms of alcohol are because it is a central nervous system depressant rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. The substance is metabolized in the liver by enzymes. The liver can only metabolize a small amount of alcohol at a time, leaving the excess alcohol to circulate throughout the body, causing intense intoxication. Over time, the body becomes addicted to the levels of alcohol in the system, resulting in Alcoholism.
What is Withdrawal from Alcohol
Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol are distressing and dangerous symptoms that stem from the brain lacking alcohol’s influence on the system. Withdrawal is part of a process that begins within a few hours after last use and can last for 4-5 days.
Withdrawal from alcohol is a by-product of physical dependence on alcohol in the body. When someone has become alcohol-dependent, the body and brain require alcohol to function normally. The person that is alcohol dependent experiences withdrawal symptoms of alcohol once alcohol is officially out of their system. Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol occur during alcohol detox. In this natural process, the body removes toxins from the system and reaches a new equilibrium without the influence and dependence on alcohol.
Alcohol withdrawal is the process of the changes the body goes through when a person suddenly stops drinking after prolonged and heavy alcohol use. Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol include the following:
· Trembling (shakes
How Does Alcohol Work?
Alcohol has a sedating effect or depressant effect on the brain. In a heavy, long-term drinker, the brain is almost continuously exposed to the depressant effect of alcohol. Over time, the brain adjusts its chemistry to compensate for the effect of the alcohol. The brain does this by producing the following naturally stimulating chemicals:
Excessive alcohol use causes a GABA imbalance that the brain becomes accustomed to, so it regulates its neurotransmitter production to account for the influence of alcohol. When alcohol use ends, the brain’s chemical balance is disrupted, which results in the negative physical and mental symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Without a doubt, withdrawal from alcohol is a physically and psychologically uncomfortable experience. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are often so uncomfortable that many heavy drinkers will continue drinking despite the negative consequences of continued alcohol consumption.
Alcohol is a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant. As alcohol consumption is continued in excess, it interferes with the brain’s natural functions, disrupting neurotransmitters that send messages to the CNS.
Are Withdrawal Symptoms of Alcohol Fatal
Alcohol withdrawal and detox can be deadly in certain circumstances, so it’s incredibly important for those detoxing from alcohol to do so in a medical facility. Detox can be dehydrating to the body as it uses any means — most notably vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating — to expel alcohol and toxins. Alcohol itself is also a dehydrating substance. Combining alcohol’s pre-existing dehydrating qualities with withdrawal-related dehydration can easily induce seizures and may prove lethal in some cases.
Alcohol withdrawal can cause many deadly symptoms, including:
- Heart palpitations
- Elevated blood pressure
- Severe Dehydration
- Choking on vomit in the airway
- Reduced kidney function
- Reduced liver function
- Tonic-clonic seizures
- TBI from seizures
- Delirium tremens
It is important to contact a physician if you plan to end use or if you begin to feel any withdrawal symptoms after you stop using alcohol, as withdrawal symptoms can become life-threatening if not treated appropriately. The most severe withdrawal symptom of alcohol is delirium tremens, known as the DTs. Delirium tremens is another symptom of alcohol withdrawal that occurs in less than 5% of people withdrawing from alcohol. The symptoms of DTs include the following:
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Cold sweats
- Withdrawal Symptoms of Alcohol Timeline
The withdrawal symptoms of alcohol timeline include all alcohol withdrawal symptoms and generally begin within 6-24 hours of the last consumption of an alcohol-based drink. The withdrawal from alcohol timeline is usually as follows:
- 6 hours after your last drink, more mild withdrawal symptoms may start. You may not even recognize these as withdrawal symptoms. They may include anxiety or headaches.
- 12-24 hours after your last drink, you may start to experience more intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations or seizures.
- 24 to 48 hours after your last drink, you’ll likely still be experiencing milder alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But more intense symptoms may start at 48 hours.
- 48 to 72 hours after your last drink, you may be dealing with the more intensive symptoms. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal in this period can include delirium tremens, seizures, elevated heart rate, or alcohol withdrawal fever.
- 72 hours after your last drink, your withdrawal symptoms are likely at their worst. You might be dealing with problems like the DTs, hallucinations, seizures, or elevated heart rate.
- 72 hours and beyond after your last drink, you may still be experiencing mild or intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These might include hallucinations, nausea, or other issues that can extend days or even weeks beyond your last drink, though the exact duration varies from patient to patient.
The exact withdrawal symptoms of alcohol and the corresponding timeline will vary depending on the following factors:
- Duration of drinking
- Intensity of alcoholism
If a person has detoxed from alcohol in the past and detoxed again from alcohol, they may experience the more severe withdrawal symptoms of alcohol. Severe withdrawal symptoms, DT’s included, is also a similar risk with older patients’ alcohol detox.
When to Seek Help for Withdrawal Symptoms of Alcohol
Can withdrawal symptoms of alcohol be fatal? Fatal symptoms are why it is extremely important to undergo the alcohol detox process with medical supervision. Medical professionals will monitor your condition during the alcohol withdrawal process. The medical team is experienced in providing the therapeutic and proper medical support needed to detox from alcohol that is not fatal. Physicians must medically treat certain withdrawal of alcohol symptoms such as the DTs, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal fever to prevent fatal complications.
Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol don’t always follow the general alcohol withdrawal timeline. It is extremely important to get professional medical supervision and support for your alcohol detox from the very beginning to ensure a safe and non-fatal detox.