Alcohol withdrawal refers to a group of symptoms that may occur from suddenly stopping the use of alcohol after chronic or prolonged ingestion. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. Degree of severity and number of symptoms often depends on how long a person has used alcohol habitually, and how much alcohol one has used on a regular basis.
People who have consumed small amounts of alcohol for a short period of time usually experience only mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Those who have used large amounts of alcohol for a long period of time can have extremely severe symptoms, called delirium tremens (DTs), which can be life-threatening.
Alcohol withdrawal usually occurs in adults, but it may occur in teenagers or children as well. It can occur when a person who uses alcohol excessively suddenly stops drinking alcohol. Withdrawal usually occurs within 5 – 10 hours after the last drink, but it may occur up to 7 – 10 days later.
The more heavily you drink every day, the more likely you will develop alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. The likelihood of developing severe withdrawal symptoms also increases if you have other medical problems.
There are more than physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms to be dealt with as a person recovers from alcoholism. There are some dramatic mental and psychological issues that will have to be dealt with as well. These might include fatigue, severe moods swings and anxiety attacks that can occur without warning. These symptoms can also include irritability, nervousness, emotional instability and prolonged periods of depression and uncontrollable trembling. Many people in recovery also say they experience severe nightmares and have trouble thinking clearly.
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.
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.
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.