Over time, alcohol abuse can lead to extreme dependency on alcohol to the point that an alcoholic needs to consume alcohol just to function and feel "normal." If at any time an alcoholic stops drinking alcohol or even tries to reduce his or her intake, symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may kick in.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be quite startling and dramatic, and may include:
- the shakes
- the "DTs" (delirium tremens, Latin for the "trembling madness")
The DTs can be a particularly challenging symptom or set of symptoms, wherein the alcoholic's body starts shutting down, and the alcoholic may hallucinate, no longer recognizing his surroundings. Acute cases of the DTs can lead to seizures, and can be life-threatening. For this reason, it is recommended that you undergo alcohol detox under supervision by a doctor, preferably in a structure detox program.
Detoxification from Alcohol
Treatment for withdrawal from alcohol addiction (or alcohol poisoning) is called detox, specifically detox from alcohol. Generally, detox from alcohol occurs in a hospital or rehab facility where the patient can be observed and monitored 24 hours a day. Sedation, tranquilizers and therapeutic alternatives are used to help the patient manage the symptoms as they arise.
Support during detox from alcohol is essential, because the patient's body is telling the patient that all the painful symptoms would be relieved with alcohol; this is one of the reasons that it is so difficult a habit to quit. The length of the detoxification period, during which the body is cleansed of all traces of alcohol and the patient adjusts to sobriety, does not take a prescribed period of time for everyone. The time it takes to undergo detoxification will vary according to the length of time the patient was addicted to alcohol. Furthermore, enrollment in a rehabilitation program after alcohol detox is strongly recommended so the alcoholic can learn to break old habits and patterns of addiction.
It is important for all recovering alcoholics to remember that a single drink can potentially send you right back to where you were before detox. For this reason, it is essential to enroll in a good rehabilitation treatment program or 12-Step social support program (like Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA) after detox from alcohol, in order to get the behavior therapy and support you need to stay sober and manage challenges.