Withdrawing from a substance that you’ve relied upon for a long period of time can be difficult.
In fact, it’s important to know what those symptoms are so that you don’t confuse it with another medical condition, confuse it with a psychological condition, and so that you know what to expect. For instance, when a person decides to quit drinking, they may experience the difficulties of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The way to avoid significant complications with detoxing from alcohol is to obtain the support of professionals, including a doctor and mental health professional.
When a person begins a period of detoxification, there can be many emotional, psychological and physical reactions. Just six to eight hours after the last drink a person will begin to experience the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. These can include the symptoms listed below:
- Shaky hands
- Mild anxiety
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Hallucinations (visual, auditory, or tactile)
- Seizures (can occur either as a single clearing seizure or as a brief episode of multiple seizures.)
- Severe confusion
- Irregular heartbeats
- Impaired attention
- High blood pressure
Some experts say that the more severe effects of alcohol withdrawal happen within the first 12 to 24 hours of sobriety, depending upon the severity of the addiction. Sometimes, the experience of alcohol withdrawal will get worse before it gets better. And if a person quits drinking and then tried to get sober and then returns to drinking again, the experiences of withdrawal can get worse and worse. It’s important to have an idea of what alcohol withdrawal is like so that you don’t mistake the experience for something else. And it gives you an idea of what to do and how to support yourself.
For instance, if you find that you are struggling with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you may need to call your doctor, your sponsor, or your therapist. You might even need to call for more help then you expected. Ideally, if you are withdrawing from alcohol, then you are already in treatment and you can call upon the support of your therapist or treatment center staff. Most alcohol detox programs are supervised and facilitated by medical professionals. They are there to help a person move through the challenges of alcohol detox in a healthy way. Furthermore, medical and mental health staff can help avoid an emergency. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can create a medical emergency if alcohol detox is not done facilitated by professionals. If you are not under medical care during your detoxification, it’s particularly important to seek medical attention even if symptoms are mild because they can rapidly worsen.
Remember that although the first few weeks of alcohol withdrawal can be challenging, once you’re over the physical withdrawal, it will get easier. And then you can focus on how to manage cravings, face triggers, and create stability.
The first few months of sobriety are always the most challenging. Yet, with support, commitment, and dedication, you can stay sober and create a new and healthy life for yourself.