Alcohol withdrawal is a condition that occurs when you try stopping or significantly cutting down your alcohol intake after some period of heavy drinking. Like any other condition, the experience is unique for each individual. Therefore, you might experience anything from mild to severe- life-threatening even- alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal?
Ideally, alcohol has a depressive effect on your system. That means it leads to decreased overall brain excitability. Chronic exposure to alcohol leads to increased tolerance of the effects of alcohol. Consequently, the central nervous system adjusts to having alcohol constantly. Since alcohol decelerates the brain, your body has to work extra hard to keep it active. Then kicks in the withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol level in the system drastically goes down. The reason being, even after you cut down the alcohol, the brain remains in a keyed-up state.
Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal is a fatal condition, which ought to be treated like a medical emergency. In some cases, the patient can exhibit complications, whose extent varies from person to person and how much alcohol they used to take. The good thing is, these complications are self-diagnosable in most cases, making it easy for medical professionals to combat the situation before things get out of hand. Here are some of the most common complications associated with alcohol withdrawal:
Minor withdrawal symptoms
Minor withdrawal symptoms kick in shortly after you try to abstain from the bottle or cut down on the alcohol (6 to 48 hours). If the withdrawal does not persist, you can expect the symptoms to resolve within a day or two. Some of the symptoms of minor withdrawal include anxiety, anorexia, and palpitations.
While seizures don’t occur to everybody experiencing alcohol withdrawal, a good number of people experience them. Usually, the seizures kick in a day or two after your last alcoholic drink. The alcohol withdrawal seizures are also commonly referred to as grand mal seizures and involve symptoms like jerking motions and muscle stiffening. Difficulty in breathing and unconsciousness are also symptoms associated with grand mal seizures.
Todd’s paralysis is a neurological condition that occurs after one has had a seizure. Other terms for Todd’s paralysis are Todd’s paresis and postictal paresis. This condition can last anywhere between a few seconds to several hours, and it can either be partial or complete. If you experience complete Todd’s paralysis, you cannot feel any sensation on the affected part of the body. On the other hand, with partial Todd’s paralysis, you can feel some sensation. Although the symptoms of Todd’s paralysis can easily pass as those of a stroke, the primary distinction is that Todd’s paralysis only occurs after a seizure. These are some of the symptoms: • Numbness • Disorientation • Weakness of a limb • Slurred speech
Alcoholic hallucinosis is one of the not-so-common complications of alcohol withdrawal. This psychotic disorder can almost exclusively only occur if you have severe, recurrent alcohol use disorder. Usually, you can experience alcoholic hallucinosis 12 to 24 hours after you stop heavy drinking suddenly. The condition can persist for days and involves auditory and visual hallucinations (mostly accusatory or threatening voices). Notably, before the hallucinations kick in, you might experience other symptoms, such as dizziness, irritability, and insomnia.
Delirium Tremens (DT)
Delirium tremens (DT), also referred to as alcohol withdrawal delirium, is a serious and potentially fatal complication of alcohol withdrawal. Usually, DTs don’t start until 2-3 days after you end a long drinking binge. Once delirium tremens kicks in, it may last for two or three days, though symptoms may linger for longer. Some of the symptoms of DTs include chest pain, dehydration, confusion, rapid heartbeat, severe hyperactivity, and shaking hands and feet.
If you have experienced any of these alcohol withdrawal complications of alcohol withdrawal, let that not stop you from the journey of quitting drinking. It would be best if you sought the help of a professional when alcohol withdrawal kicks in. Once you visit a professional, they can assess the severity of your withdrawal symptoms before guiding you on the next step. One of the treatment options is outpatient treatment, which is ideal for mild to moderate symptoms. However, if you exhibit severe complications, your healthcare provider might recommend inpatient treatment. Ready to walk the quitting journey with a professional? We are here to help. Give us a call today at 844-639-8371.