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Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

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Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Drinking too much can decrease your life expectancy by as much as fifteen years. However, quitting cold-turkey in order to recapture some of those lost years, can have deadly consequences. Although the life span risks and benefits of alcohol use is based on a number of variables such as how much and how long a person has been abusing alcohol, it can also be determined by the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.  

An unfortunate reality is that there are subtle yet dangerous nuances of alcohol use disorders that are not always clearly understood.  As a result, many people who sincerely want to stop drinking often suffer severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms and even die because they suddenly stop drinking. For instance, fatal alcohol poisoning is a common factor in people whose craving for alcohol cause them to resume drinking during the withdrawal phase.  Also, many people are unaware of the medical problems that can develop when someone who consume alcohol daily quit cold-turkey.  

What is Being Done to Address Alcoholism?

To address these and other concerns, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug dependence (NCADD) designated April as Alcohol Awareness Month.  The primary intent of the founders and sponsors of this program is to provide material and programs that will demystify the complexities of alcohol use disorders, reduce the stigma associated with the disease and save more lives.  

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms represent the body’s reactions to halting regular drinking patterns after tolerance for alcohol has been established.  It is most common in people who are heavy drinkers that meet the criteria for alcoholism. The duration and severity of these symptom varies from person to person and has the potential to be deadly for some.

Dangerous Withdrawal Symptoms 

Alcohol addiction treatment specialists suggest seeking professional assistance to stop drinking, especially if you have experienced withdrawal symptoms in previous attempts to reduce dependence on alcohol.  Although once they begin to manifest, alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically follow a predictable pattern some individuals experience a deadly series of reactions called delirium tremens (DTs). These have been directly linked to most alcohol withdrawal fatalities. DTs occur when the circulatory and respiratory systems respond negatively to changes in the brain that is induced by abstinence from chronic alcohol consumption.  The symptoms manifested by delirium tremens can escalate quickly, be difficult to control and fatal if the patient does not receive timely care.  

These may include:

  • Changes in respiratory function
  • Dangerous spikes in blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coma

Study outcomes indicate that the discomfort caused by alcohol withdrawal symptoms are mostly tolerable. However, for those who are vulnerable to delirium tremens can expect these to develop within two to three days after the last drink and peak from one to five days after they begin. Delirium tremens are a serious complication in the alcohol withdrawal phase of recovery.  As such, it is important to seek immediate medical attention at a hospital or addiction care facility in order to mitigate these life threatening situation.

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