Have you spent months or years drinking alcohol?
And are now realizing the impact it has had on your body? Do you think it is high time to stop drinking alcohol and lead your body into alcohol detox? Alcoholism is a grave concern and has serious health implications if it’s not tackled properly.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), 14.1 million adults had Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in 2019 in the United States. This makes alcohol one of the most frequently used addictive substances in America.
However, it’s never too late to give up drinking for the sake of your health. As the chairperson of the Boston University School of Public Health’s Department of Community Health Sciences, Dr. Richard Saitz states that it is always safer to quit the habit of heavy alcohol drinking, and this can be done safely.
Nonetheless, the prerequisite is to prepare yourself for alcohol withdrawal. This process can be made a lot easier and efficient by equipping yourself with the knowledge of potential hazards for your body and how to deal with them.
What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?
You may have decided to stop drinking alcohol or seriously cut back on its consumption.
What to expect now? The root causes behind withdrawal symptoms are very few if you only drank once in a while. But with heavy drinking, can lead to serious psychological and physical effects on your body. The condition that your body goes through is generally referred to as alcohol withdrawal. The alcohol detox symptoms can vary from mild to serious.
What Happens To Your Body If You Stop Drinking?
Alcohol has a depressant effect on your body. This means that it diminishes or slows down the functioning of the central nervous system (CNS). When used for long-terms, your body gets accustomed to the presence of alcohol at all times. It learns to adapt to the depressant effects on your brain.
Whereas, during alcohol detox, as soon as your body lacks habitual alcohol intake, your CNS tends to readjust to the absence of alcohol. This lack of alcohol tends to lead your system into a hyperactive state, which seriously disturbs its balance. Before it acclimatizes to the absence of alcohol, your body activates its sympathetic system. This causes your body to experience the following characteristic symptoms:
- Rapid heart rate
- Higher temperature
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in appetite
- Anxiety and Restlessness
- Muscle pains
Not everyone may enter the red zone and can safely move out of the alcohol detox period without the use of any medications or experiencing any complications.
However, the actor Nelsan Ellis allegedly died of alcohol withdrawal in 2017. According to his family, Ellis had alcohol dependence for years, and in an attempt to quit, he ran into blood infection, liver inflammation, and kidney failure. Thus, it is important that those who experience severe symptoms seek necessary medical assistance as this can be a life-threatening situation.
Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal
Severe symptoms of alcohol detox are known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). The symptoms of AWS can start appearing from hours to weeks after quitting alcohol. These can include:
1. Delirium Tremens
Delirium tremens (DT) is a condition that develops in people who have had severe alcohol dependence due to heavy drinking habit for decades. The associated symptoms include:
- Severe confusion
- Extreme agitation
- Tactile hallucinations – false sensations such as itchiness, burning, or numbness
- Auditory hallucinations – false hearing of non-existent sounds
- Visual hallucinations – Seeing objects or images that are actually not present
Other symptoms of DT may include sensitivity to light, confusion, and nausea. Seizures that occur in DT may also cause physical trauma and metabolic issues. If not dealt with promptly, DT can be fatal. It is important to get into a detox facility in South Florida for the reasons.
2. Low Electrolyte Levels
Fluid and electrolyte balance in your body plays a vital role in maintaining the activity of various organs in the body, including muscles and the heart. When your body undergoes AWS, it disturbs your blood electrolyte levels. This can lead to muscle disorders and cardiac complications, giving rise to irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and even sudden death.
Reduced phosphate levels (hypophosphatemia) also impact cardiac activity and can cause muscle weakness, breathing disturbances, and coma. Another vital electrolyte that is at risk of potential imbalance during alcohol withdrawal is potassium. Lack of potassium in the blood is called hypokalemia, which can also be hazardous. This condition is symptomless; thus, it needs regular monitoring of its serum levels.
In addition, recurrent vomiting can put your body at risk of dehydration. Hence, it is essential to maintain a sufficient intake of fluids, vitamins, and other nutrients to curb these adverse effects. Other symptoms such as nausea, headache, and fever need symptomatic treatment and can be sorted out easily by over-the-counter drugs.
3. Alcoholic Ketoacidosis
You might have heard of alcoholic ketoacidosis in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus. This condition can also develop during alcohol withdrawal. It manifests due to the impact of alcohol on the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin. If not treated promptly with adequate medical care, alcoholic ketoacidosis can be a potentially lethal condition.
When it comes to drugs, only benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium), can be used to minimize the risk of complications and chances of death that occur due to seizures and DT.
The treatment aims to achieve a state of calmness and wakefulness for the patient. Proper reassurance and a quiet and peaceful environment can also help ease the patient. On the other hand, some doctors avoid prescribing benzodiazepines because they also have addictive potential.
How To Minimize The Hazards Of Alcohol Withdrawal?
You can deal with alcohol detox in South Florida by some minor adjustments in your lifestyle. These include tapered quitting, regular exercise, staying hydrated and healthy eating.
So, seeking timely medical attention for alcohol detox in South Florida is crucial if you were a chronic or heavy drinker and are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. Prompt medical treatment helps to curb any internal conditions that are silent and symptom-free but would have caused irreversible damage to your body if you had delayed professional healthcare services.
While untreated alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, most people move out of the condition safely with proper treatment and care. The addiction centers which provide detox from alcohol in South Florida play a tremendous role in helping people go through the symptoms smoothly, helping them turn over a new leaf.
- Alcohol Facts and Statistics. Oct, 2020. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
- What Is Alcohol Withdrawal? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-withdrawal-symptoms-treatments
- Wetkins M. Quitting Drinking Cold Turkey: The Hazards of Alcohol Withdrawal. Aug, 2020. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/cold-turkey
- Legg T J. Night Sweats and Alcohol, Healthline. Sept, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/night-sweats-and-alcohol#alcohol-withdrawal
- Legg T J. Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. Healthline. Sept, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/alcoholism/withdrawal
- R. M. J. Burin, C. C. H. Cook, Alcohol Withdrawal And Hypokalaemia: A Case Report, Alcohol and Alcoholism, Volume 35, Issue 2, March 2000, Pages 188–189, https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/35.2.188