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What to Expect from Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a set of often unpleasant symptoms that alcoholics will go through when they cease drinking for a period of time.  While some may drink alcohol in excess some of the time, there are also many people who drink in excess a lot of the time or all the time.

Quitting drinking if you have a problem is always the right choice, but it’s also important to consider whether you may or may not go through symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and how best to manage the whole process to ensure full detox.

Before you quit cold turkey, ensure you are surrounding yourself with the right resources and help you may need to make the process endurable, so sobriety can be found.

Often, the best way to withdraw is in a professional facility that can offer medicine and support during uncomfortable bouts.

Here’s what you should expect when withdrawing from alcohol.

Withdrawing from Alcohol: What to Expect and Ways to Make It Better

In contrast to a normal hangover that may last a couple of hours to a day, alcohol withdrawal gets worse over the first few hours and days, lasting as much as a week or even longer. The alcohol withdrawal experience varies between individuals, but there are some typical expectations that all alcoholics should consider before detoxing.

Main Symptoms and Possible Treatments:

Craving for Alcohol

It’s normal to experience strong cravings for the alcohol you are not getting. The craving is partly driven by the knowledge that drinking would ease the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal and partly by the desire to become intoxicated again. Learn more about alcohol rehabs New Jersey here.

Changing of Mood

Being without what your body has become addicted to can take a real toll on your mood and presence. One way to understand withdrawal is to think of as a period of debt repayment. When you drink, you get an advance of feeling good. But that debt piles up, and the more debt you racked up, the more you will have to pay back. During withdrawal, you are stripped of those good feelings, as a way for your body to maintain proper homeostasis. Once the debt has been fully paid, you return to feeling normal again.

If alcohol was used as an antidepressant or anti-anxiety treatment of choice, there may be feelings of depression or anxiety once you are withdrawing from those coping mechanisms.

If alcohol was using as a method of avoidance, there may be negative feelings revolving around those repressed issues that finally resurface while you’re detoxing.

Physical Agitation

Withdrawing from alcohol can physically agitate the body, causing a higher heartbeat and inducing sweating, shaking, tremors, or fever. However, being able to recognize these symptoms as part of the withdrawal will help in getting through it, as you won’t seek treatment via other medications and maintain distance from alcohol.

This is possible to treat with medication.

Trouble Sleeping

Despite the exhaustion most addicts experience during withdrawal, it often causes difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep, also known as insomnia.

There are some natural and medicinal methods that may help this.

Feeling Nauseous

Feeling as though you are going to vomit, or actually vomiting, is a normal withdrawal symptom. Staying close to a bathroom is helpful for this reason.

There can be medical help to fight the nausea.

Having Hallucinations

Also known as delirium tremens, hallucinations are one of the worst symptoms of withdrawal. Not everyone experiences them, however. While these can be very scary at the time, they usually cease once the withdrawal has completed or you get medical treatment.

Proper supervision and medical attention can soothe hallucinations.

Having Seizures

These are uncommon, but they should always be considered and prepared for. Always call 911 or seek immediate medical attention if someone is having a seizure.

Immediate emergency attention can stop seizures and save lives.

Typical Withdrawal Duration

All alcohol withdrawal has three main stages, but there is no set timeline for an addict to go through all three stages. The first stage is the least severe. The second, which usually begins a day or so after drinking ends, is more serious. The final third stage is the most dangerous and may last a few days until symptoms subside.

In total, withdrawal may take a full week or more, but again, the duration varies for everyone.

How to Withdraw from Alcohol Safely

Safely withdrawing from alcohol is crucial, because although rare, there are possible life-threatening side effects.

The safest way to withdraw is under the care of medical or professional rehabilitation staff. They are experienced in dealing with all levels of withdrawal symptoms and will be able to offer medical or emotional support during uncomfortable moments. They will also be there to respond immediately should a medical emergency arise.

Help with Alcohol Withdrawal – Talk to SOBA

If you are looking to get sober but are worried about the process of detox, call SOBA for the support you need to get through the tough stuff and find sobriety and freedom as the light at the end of the tunnel.

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