Never Again The scenario has been played over and over many times. After a particularly damaging or embarrassing binge, the hungover person will make an oath to himself and others to drink never again and quite often is sincere about quitting. But with the onset of withdrawal symptoms, also comes the craving for more alcohol. The body is telling the drinker that it needs alcohol. As the physical symptoms of withdrawal begin to increase, taking another drink simply becomes less painful than not taking one or so it seems at the time.
For those who have committed themselves to not drinking again, or forced by circumstances to not have access to alcohol, the struggle to fight the withdrawal symptoms can become a dangerous battle, one that can actually become life threatening.
The Shakes For some, who are less chemically dependent, withdrawal symptoms might be as mild as merely getting the shakes, or the sweats or perhaps nausea, headache, anxiety, a rapid heart beat, and increased blood pressure. Although these symptoms are uncomfortable and irritating, they are not necessarily dangerous. But they are often accompanied by the craving for more alcohol, making the decision to continue abstinence much more difficult to make.
Even the morning after hangover of someone who only occasionally drinks to excess, is actually a mild form of alcohol withdrawalfrom the excesses of the night before, as the alcohol content of their blood begins to drop. The symptoms can appear within a few hours after not drinking.
The DTs However, within six to 48 hours after not drinking, hallucinations may develop. These usually are visual hallucinations but they can also involve sounds and smells. They can last for a few hours up to weeks at a time. Also within this time frame after quitting, convulsions or seizures can occur, which is the point at which alcohol withdrawal can become dangerous, if not medically treated. The symptoms may progress to delirium tremens (DTs) after three to five days without alcohol. The symptoms of DTs include profound confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, hyperactivity, and extreme cardiovascular disturbances.
Once DTs begin, there is no known medical treatment to stop them. Grand mal seizures, heart attacks and stroke can occur during the DTs, all of which can be fatal.
Getting Treatment The good news for those who are extremely alcohol dependent, and who wish to quit drinking, all of these symptoms can be alleviated and even eliminated with proper medical treatment. Typically, for those who are mildly dependent doses of vitamins (Thiamin) and a proper diet will prevent most of the mild withdrawal symptoms from occurring. For the severely dependent, medication can be administered, but only by a physician. One approach is to substitute Valium for alcohol and gradually reduce the dosage until the patient is drug free.
If you are a heavy drinker and want to quit, consult a trained medical professional or a facility that specializes in alcohol and drug treatment, and be honest about your usual alcohol intake. The psychological withdrawal is enough to deal with, without also having to fight the physical symptoms.
You dont have to do it on your own to prove anything to anyone. Help is available, take advantage of it.
- Doctors Own Alcohol Consumption Colors Advice to Patients (addictionts.com)