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What Helps for Alcohol Withdrawals?

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The vast majority of alcohol dependent people who try to quit drinking experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

As a result, one of the first questions asked by alcohol addicts who are interested in quitting their drinking behavior is the following: "what helps for alcohol withdrawals"?

The simplest and best answer to this question, however, is this: do not go through alcohol withdrawal symptoms and home.

If you have made up your mind to quit drinking and there is a possibility that you will go through alcohol withdrawal symptoms, seek professional addiction treatment so that you can receive an accurate assessment of your drinking situation and then get the best treatment for your particular circumstances.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are exhibited by individuals who stop drinking alcohol after a pattern of continuous and excessive alcohol consumption over a relatively long period of time.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to moderate to severe and include both behavioral and psychological components.

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Mild to Moderate Psychological Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The following represents mild to moderate psychological alcohol withdrawal symptoms that typically occur within 6 to 48 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Feeling nervous or jumpy

  • Fatigue

  • Nightmares

  • Rapid emotional changes

  • Depression

  • Difficulty with thinking clearly

  • Anxiety

  • Easily excited, irritability

Mild to Moderate Physical Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The following represents mild to moderate physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms that typically occur within 6 to 48 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Abnormal movements

  • Sweating (especially on the face or the palms of the hands)

  • Tremor of the hands
  • Clammy skin

  • Insomnia, sleeping difficulties

  • Looking pale, without color

  • Rapid pulse rate

  • Eyes or pupils different size (enlarged, dilated pupils)

  • headache (especially those that pulsate)

  • Involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids

  • Loss of appetite

Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The following represents severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms that typically occur within 48 to 96 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Fever

  • Seizures

  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

  • Visual hallucinations

  • Severe autonomic nervous system overactivity

  • Agitation

  • Muscle tremors

  • Profound confusion

  • Convulsions

  • Black outs

Most Alcohol Withdrawal Cases Rarely Require Hospitalization

Recent evidence shows that it may be important to treat every person who is experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Having said this, it can be noted that approximately 95% of the alcoholics who quit drinking alcohol suffer from mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms and can normally be treated on an out-patient basis by a healthcare professional.

The remaining 5% of alcohol dependent individuals who experience withdrawal symptoms, however, suffer symptoms so severe that they must be treated in a hospital or in an alcohol rehab facility that specializes in detoxification.

So the first question that should be asked when experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms is probably not "what helps for alcohol withdrawals?" but rather "who should I contact about the alcohol withdrawal symptoms I am experiencing"?

And the best answer to this latter question is this: seek medical assistance immediately so that your doctor, urgent care center personnel, healthcare provider, or emergency room doctor can assess the severity of your withdrawal symptoms and suggest the best option for treatment.

Non-Drug Detoxification

A number of different techniques exist for managing alcohol withdrawal. While some of these treatments use medications, many do not.

In fact, according to the current research literature, it appears that the safest way to treat mild withdrawal symptoms is without medications.

Such forms of non-drug detoxification use screening and extensive social support during the withdrawal process.

Other non-drug detox programs use vitamin therapy (especially thiamin) and proper nutrition in treating mild withdrawal symptoms.

Detoxification with Drugs

On the other hand, numerous researchers now advocate that chronic alcoholics who cannot maintain sobriety should receive drug therapy to control withdrawal symptoms.

By using the medication route, these alcohol-dependent individuals are less likely to experience possible seizures and/or brain damage.

Recent research suggests that the drugs most likely to produce effective results when treating alcohol withdrawal are the benzodiazepines, for instance, the longer-acting benzodiazepines like Librium and Valium or the shorter-acting benzodiazepines such as Serax and Ativan.

Historically, when administering benzodiazepines, doctors have employed a progressive decrease in doses over the time-span of the withdrawal.

Moreover, due to the fact that these drugs do not linger in the person's system and they allow for measurable dose reductions some researchers have suggested that intermediate to short half-life benzodiazepines should be used for treating withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient Versus Outpatient Detox Programs

One more point needs to be discussed: studies have shown that inpatient detoxification is more effective and long-lasting than outpatient detoxification.

The upshot of this seems to be the following: the more severe the alcohol-related withdrawal symptoms, the more likely that inpatient detox programs should be considered.

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Conclusion: What Helps for Alcohol Withdrawals?

Perhaps the most important lesson learned from the above discussion is this: the first concern when experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms should be "who should I contact about the alcohol withdrawal symptoms I am experiencing" rather than "what helps for alcohol withdrawals?"

When you have decided to quit drinking alcohol and there's a possibility that you will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms, always see your doctor or healthcare provider immediately so that he or she can assess the severity of your situation and suggest the best option for treatment.

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