If you're addicted to alcohol, you likely already know that quitting drinking will improve your health and lower your risk for certain deadly diseases long term. Quitting will also help heal your broken relationships and allow you to move on to a happier, healthier future surrounded by family and friends. But quitting isn't as easy as not taking another drink. Your body has developed a dependency on alcohol. When you take alcohol away, you will go through withdrawal, which can be a painful, scary, and dangerous time. Following are four things you should know about alcohol withdrawal.
Withdrawal Can Be Deadly
About 50 percent of people who are dependent on alcohol experience withdrawal symptoms. Around 1 to 5 percent of people experience symptoms so severe that they die simply by trying to eliminate alcohol from their life. People who become severely ill are suffering from delirium tremens or DTs. This condition can cause rapid heartbeat, seizures, confusion, and fever. Since withdrawal can be deadly, you should always have medical supervision during detox.
There Are Three Stages
There are three stages of alcohol withdrawal. The first stage is the most dangerous and covers the first 72 hours following your last drink. During this stage, you may experience anxiety, hallucinations, tremors, vomiting, insomnia, DTs, high blood pressure, and heart failure. The second phase lasts several months. During this time, your body is trying to get back to normal, but you may still experience some lingering symptoms. The final phase involves symptoms of anxiety and dysphoria, which can lead to cravings and relapse.
The Body Changes Rapidly
Within hours of taking your last drink, your body begins to change rapidly. Since your body and brain are so used to being suppressed by alcohol, they have adapted by releasing chemicals and hormones in elevated amounts. When you stop drinking, your systems try to rebound and will eventually level out, but there will still be a period of time when virtually everything in your body is going haywire.
Medication Can Help
Fortunately, there are some medications that can help alleviate your withdrawal symptoms. If you want to stop drinking, be sure to check into a detox facility where you can be monitored for symptoms and provided with the proper medication.
Once you get through the most dangerous phase, you will be able to go to a rehab facility like Pacific Ridge that will give you the tools and skills that you need to remain alcohol free.
When I started volunteering a lot, I realized that there was something that I needed to do before I gave service to others: work on myself. I had been struggling for years with depression, and I knew that I wanted to do something to make a difference. I started visiting with a professional to learn self help methods, and it really helped me to cut through the darkness. Within a few short months, I felt like I really had a handle on my depression, and it felt amazing. This blog is all about understanding how to make a difference--by changing yourself first.