The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal and How to Cope

Dr. Ximena Sanchez-Samper

Ximena Sanchez-Samper, MD is a Board- Certified Addiction Psychiatrist who obtained her degree as a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and completed her Addictions Fellowship through the combined Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital / Brigham and Women’s Hospital Addictions Fellowship program in 2004.

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Safely Managing Alcohol Withdrawal: Importance of Professional Treatment and Support

Alcohol withdrawal is a condition that can develop when a person who has been drinking alcohol heavily suddenly stops alcohol consumption. Alcohol withdrawal can be severe and even life-threatening if not properly treated. The most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include increased heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety or restlessness, tremors, nausea or vomiting, sweating, and difficulty sleeping. Alcohol withdrawal can be treated with various medications to help lessen the symptoms’ severity. Some medications used to treat alcohol withdrawal include benzodiazepines (Lorazepam, Ativan, Diazepam, Valium, etc. among others, anti-seizure medications, and other types of medication depending on the individual’s needs. It’s important to talk to a doctor about the best treatment for alcohol withdrawal, as it can be quite dangerous if it’s not properly managed. It’s also important the individual gets enough rest, eats nutritious meals, and stays hydrated. It can also be helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist about the difficulty of withdrawing from alcohol. With the right help and treatment, alcohol withdrawal can be successfully managed. Given the potential for severe medical complications stemming from alcohol withdrawal, it is recommended that detox occurs in an inpatient setting with 24 hour nursing/medical supervision.

How can someone identify if they are experiencing alcohol withdrawal? 

It can be difficult to identify if someone is experiencing alcohol withdrawal, as the symptoms can vary from person to person. Common signs include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, hand tremors, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, nausea, sweating, and mood changes. If someone exhibits these symptoms and drinks excessive amounts of alcohol, it is important to talk to them about the issue and seek professional help. With the right support and treatment, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be effectively managed.

Long-term effects of alcohol withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is a serious medical condition that can lead to potentially life-threatening complications if not properly managed. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can vary from mild to more severe and can include anxiety, tremors, irritability, insomnia, sweating, shaking, and nausea. More severe symptoms can include seizures and delirium tremens. Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and it can cause extremely high fever, seizures, confusion, and other life-threatening symptoms. It is essential to seek help from a medical professional when dealing with alcohol withdrawal to receive the best advice and treatment. Our team at Charles River Recovery can help you with our world-class facility and inpatient care team. Treatment plans can vary depending on the severity of the alcohol withdrawal and the individual’s underlying health issues. These treatment plans typically involve medications to help reduce the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms and stabilize the individual. Supportive care and counseling are important to address any underlying issues contributing to alcohol abuse in the first place.

Risks of attempting to cope with alcohol withdrawal without medical help

Attempting to cope with alcohol withdrawal without medical help can put individuals at greater risk of developing serious physical and psychological complications. The most common symptom of alcohol withdrawal is the DTs (delirium tremens) which can be life-threatening if not properly managed. Other potential complications include seizures, hallucinations, anxiety, depression, and a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms. Additionally, attempting to cope with alcohol withdrawal without medical help can increase the relapse risk, further exacerbating the individual’s condition. Individuals with alcohol use disorders need to seek medical help and supervision when managing withdrawal symptoms. A medical professional can provide the necessary guidance and resources to help manage the symptoms and keep the individual safe and comfortable. With the right support and guidance, individuals can take the necessary steps to achieve a safe and successful recovery.

How can someone support a loved one who is struggling with alcohol withdrawal? 

Supporting a loved one who is considering an inpatient addiction treatment facility for alcohol withdrawal (“detox”) is essential. It can be helpful to remind the individual that it is possible to get through the withdrawal period and that they are not alone in their recovery journey. Showing patience and understanding, which they will receive during their detox process in an inpatient setting is extremely helpful.

Tips for Recovery Description
1. Find a supportive community Surround yourself with people who understand and support your journey to recovery. Seek out groups or organizations that specialize in addiction recovery.
2. Build a strong support network Build a network of trusted family, friends, and professionals who can offer you support and guidance throughout your recovery journey.
3. Identify triggers and develop coping strategies Identify the people, places, and situations that trigger your addictive behavior. Develop healthy coping strategies to help you manage those triggers without turning to drugs or alcohol.
4. Take care of yourself Take care of your physical and mental health by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Practice self-care by doing things you enjoy and that bring you peace and calm.
5. Seek professional help Don’t be afraid to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in addiction recovery. They can help you develop a personalized plan for recovery and provide ongoing support.
6. Stay motivated Remember why you started your recovery journey and stay motivated to achieve your goals. Celebrate your successes and don’t be too hard on yourself when you experience setbacks.
7. Avoid high-risk situations Avoid situations that could trigger a relapse, such as parties or gatherings where drugs or alcohol will be present. Find alternative ways to have fun and socialize without turning to substances.
8. Learn from your mistakes Mistakes and setbacks are a natural part of the recovery journey. Learn from them, and use them as opportunities for growth and improvement.
9. Practice mindfulness Practice mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, to help you stay calm and focused. These techniques can also help you manage stress and anxiety, which are common triggers for addictive behavior.
10. Take it one day at a time Recovery is a journey, not a destination. Take it one day at a time, and focus on the progress you’ve made, rather than the obstacles ahead. Remember that every day is a new opportunity to make positive choices and move closer to your goals.

What lifestyle changes can help to reduce the risk of experiencing alcohol withdrawal?  

It is essential to offer emotional support and understanding to someone who has made the decision to get help and get sober from alcohol in an inpatient setting. Inpatient alcohol withdrawal management (“detox”) is the first step in the journey to recovering from alcoholism. It is a difficult journey, and it is essential to remember that patience and kindness are key. Offering compassion and understanding can help provide the essential support needed for someone to make it through the withdrawal period and recovery process successfully.

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Charles River Recovery’s convenient location allows us to offer individualized addiction treatment to clients all over Massachusetts. Our expert licensed staff are invested in your specific needs and are committed to placing you in the most appropriate level of inpatient care. If you or your loved one is suffering from an alcohol or substance use disorder, look no further than Charles River Recovery’s effective and proven evidence and medical-based treatment programs. Contact us today by clicking here!