What You Need to Know About Alcohol Withdrawal
Whether you are trying to stop drinking for a short time or for a long time, there are some things you need to know about alcohol withdrawal. In this article, you’ll learn about the symptoms, treatment options, and signs to watch out for.
During the process of alcohol withdrawal, people may experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms can range from nausea and vomiting to sweating, rapid heartbeat, and restlessness. The severity of the symptoms will vary depending on a person’s health, mental state, and amount of alcohol consumed.
Generally, the withdrawal symptoms are a result of the body’s natural brain system being overstimulated by alcohol. The body produces more glutamate and GABA to counteract this effect. The brain then becomes accustomed to the new chemical imbalance.
Symptoms begin within eight hours after the person’s last drink. They typically peak within 24 to 72 hours. Some people will experience symptoms for a longer period of time.
In some cases, symptoms may be confused with other conditions. The best way to determine whether you are suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms is to consult your physician. Your doctor may prescribe medications or connect you to a shelter program.
Alcohol withdrawal is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Heavy drinkers should seek medical treatment at a detox facility. These centers have experienced staff that is trained in recognizing and treating DT symptoms.
Some people may require a hospital stay. The hospitalization may include monitoring of vital signs, blood tests, and medications to reduce or treat withdrawal symptoms. The benzodiazepine sedatives oxazepam, diazepam, and chlordiazepoxide are very effective in treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
In severe cases, the patient may require intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. The patient should also be evaluated for other complications.
Choosing treatment options for alcohol withdrawal can help you manage the symptoms of withdrawal and prevent the development of more serious symptoms. Several treatment options are available, including outpatient, inpatient, and medical detox.
Outpatient treatment may involve counseling, medication, and group therapy. Inpatient treatment involves intensive monitoring and medical treatment. It can include individual therapy, group therapy, and aftercare planning. The goal of alcohol withdrawal treatment is to reduce withdrawal symptoms and prepare the patient for ongoing treatment.
Detoxification centers provide medical supervision and support during the withdrawal process. Medications are used to help manage withdrawal symptoms. These medications may include anticonvulsants and benzodiazepines.
Inpatient treatment involves 24-hour intensive monitoring. This may include regular monitoring of vital signs such as blood pressure, breathing, and body temperature. Some patients may also be referred to other specialists.
Medical detox programs can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and remove the harmful effects of alcohol. Inpatient treatment can last for as long as 90 days. These programs also address the risk of relapse and help patients return to a healthy lifestyle.
Medications used in alcohol withdrawal treatment may include vitamins, anticonvulsants, and other medical procedures. Patients may also be given electrolyte corrections, which can help restore balance to the body.
Medical treatment for alcohol withdrawal can help patients avoid delirium tremens, which can lead to hospitalization. This condition is only present in about 5% of withdrawal patients, but it can be very serious.
Signs to watch for
During alcohol withdrawal, people can experience various symptoms. Some of the symptoms include high blood pressure, trembling, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and nausea. These symptoms can be serious and may require hospitalization. If you’re planning to stop drinking, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. You may also be tested for other health problems that may be associated with alcohol use.
Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the central nervous system. After drinking for a prolonged period, the brain becomes used to the presence of alcohol. This results in an increased concentration of the inhibitory neurotransmitter g-amino-butyric acid (GABA). GABA is responsible for making people calm and relaxed.
Alcohol withdrawal is a clinical disorder that occurs when a person stops drinking suddenly. Typically, symptoms of withdrawal appear within the first 24 to 72 hours after the last drink. However, they may occur earlier.
In the first three days of alcohol withdrawal, you’re at the highest risk for developing withdrawal seizures. Seizures can be fatal in rare cases. If you experience seizures, seek medical care immediately.
Alcohol withdrawal is also associated with delirium tremens (DTs). DTs are medical emergencies that may occur within 48 to 72 hours after the last drink. Symptoms include hallucinations, confusion, and tremors.
The risk of developing DTs is highest in people who drink daily and also have a history of delirium tremens. Other risk factors include abnormal liver function, older age, and concurrent acute medical illness.
Usually occurring as part of acute alcohol withdrawal, Delirium Tremens is a frightful condition. Symptoms include tremors, restlessness, sweating, and fever. The typical duration is two to three days.
As with any medical condition, delirium can be caused by many factors. Some predisposing factors include chronic alcohol use, hepatic failure, fluid volume overload, and substance use disorders. However, delirium can be caused by more than just alcohol.
As with any medical condition, a nurse plays an important role in the care of a substance abuse patient. It is important to identify desired patient outcomes and then develop a plan of care. The nurse must also monitor the patient for any changes in vital signs, hypotension, and seizures. The nurse must also monitor for suicidal ideation.
The best way to diagnose a client with alcohol withdrawal is to know the last drink the client had. The nurse must also determine the client’s current dosage. The nurse must also ask the client if this has happened to them before.
The best way to identify the most important symptoms is to monitor the client for any changes in vital signs. As with any medical condition, delirium tremens can be life-threatening. The nurse should also provide a quiet, non-stressful environment for the client.
The most effective remedy for a client with alcohol withdrawal is Ranunculus bulbosus. The tincture has been shown to be calming in the acute stage of delirium tremens.
Benzodiazepines are often prescribed for alcohol withdrawal. These drugs are used to help alleviate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and reduce the risk of seizures. They are also used to treat depression and insomnia. Benzodiazepines should be administered under the supervision of a doctor. They can cause a variety of adverse effects.
There are three different types of benzodiazepine regimens used to treat alcohol withdrawal. These are loading-dose regimens, symptom-triggered therapy, and fixed-dose regimens. Symptom-triggered therapy is preferred over fixed-dose therapy, and it should be used in the hospital setting.
In the loading-dose regimen, benzodiazepines are given in two-hour intervals. This regimen is most effective in the inpatient setting. It requires close monitoring, and it is best used for patients who are at high risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. It can also be used in the medical setting.
When used alone, benzodiazepines cause a variety of adverse effects. They may also interact with other medications. For this reason, they should be used with caution in alcohol withdrawal. Other drugs used in alcohol withdrawal include phenobarbital, antipsychotics, and beta-blockers.
The CADTH recommends using short-acting benzodiazepines as adjunctive therapy for alcohol withdrawal. These drugs work quickly to relieve withdrawal symptoms, and they are safer for older adults. However, these drugs may not treat all symptoms during an episode of alcohol withdrawal. They may not work as well in patients with comorbid diseases.
Symptom-triggered benzodiazepine therapy requires more frequent monitoring than fixed-dose benzodiazepine therapy. Patients need to be reassessed hourly for severe symptoms. This is a more efficient method than monitoring through scales, which can be cumbersome.
Treatments for alcohol withdrawal syndrome
Several treatments for alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) have been developed, which are designed to help people get through the detoxification process. These treatments may include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and antipsychotics.
Benzodiazepines are primarily used for acute alcohol withdrawal and may also be used to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These medications work by increasing the opening of GABA chloride channels. Barbiturates may also be used in combination with benzodiazepines. They increase the duration of the channel opening.
In addition to medication-assisted treatments, symptom-triggered therapy is also recommended. In this approach, medications are only given when symptoms occur.
The most popular treatments for alcohol withdrawal syndrome are lorazepam and chlordiazepoxide. These medications have short half-lives, so they are not usually administered in monotherapy. However, they are preferred over oxazepam in patients with liver disease.
Chlordiazepoxide may cause oversedation in patients with severe liver disease. In addition, antipsychotics may interfere with heat dissipation.
Patients with mild symptoms may be able to manage their withdrawal at home. However, patients with severe symptoms may need a hospital stay.
Non-pharmacological management should include counseling and social support. A family member or friend may be able to provide support. Vitamin and mineral supplementation may also be given in liquid or pill form.
A recent literature review summarized the evidence for ED withdrawal management. Most studies included were at high or serious risk of bias. However, there was enough evidence to recommend interventions that reduce the risk of severe complications.
Health A to Z. (n.d.). HSE.ie. https://www2.hse.ie/az/
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
Directory Health Topics. (n.d.). https://www.healthline.com/directory/topics
Health A-Z. (2022, April 26). Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/health-a-z-4014770
Harvard Health. (2015, November 17). Health A to Z. https://www.health.harvard.edu/health-a-to-z
Health Conditions A-Z Sitemap. (n.d.). EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/conditions/