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May 18, 2020 2 min to read

Is alcohol withdrawal dangerous?

Category : Health

Going through alcohol withdrawal is unavoidable if your plan is to stop drinking and recover from alcohol dependence.

If your dependence has become severe enough to the point that you experience withdrawal symptoms when you quit drinking, chances are you need professional help to get through withdrawal safely without experiencing serious complications.

In short, alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous if you try detoxing or withdrawing from alcohol on your own without treatment and supervision at an alcohol detox center.

What is alcohol withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal refers to the set of symptoms you might experience when you abruptly stop drinking alcohol after using heavy amounts on a regular basis.

Drinking alcohol regularly can cause you to develop a tolerance, which is when you stop experiencing the effects of alcohol and need to start drinking higher amounts.

Over time, this can lead to alcohol dependence and addiction. Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Mild to moderate tremors, especially in the hands
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Excess sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Dehydration
  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Nightmares
  • Not thinking clearly

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually begin within six to 24 hours after the last drink and can last anywhere between two and 10 days.

What Makes Alcohol Withdrawal Dangerous?

Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous due to the way alcohol interacts with certain brain neurotransmitters and the central nervous system to cause serious complications.

For instance, alcohol causes GABA brain receptors to become less responsive. GABA is a neurotransmitter that regulates communication between the brain and the central nervous system.

When a person suddenly stops drinking, changes to GABA can overexcite the central nervous system and trigger a wide range of dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including seizures and death.

People who stop drinking after a period of heavy intake may experience a severe form of alcohol withdrawal known as delirium tremens, which is dangerous and considered a medical emergency. Of the people who suffer delirium tremens, about 5% die from their symptoms.

Symptoms of delirium tremens may include:

  • Body tremors
  • Extreme agitation
  • Delirium, or sudden severe confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Changes in mental function
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Fatigue and deep sleep that lasts at least one day
  • Restlessness
  • Bursts of energy
  • Extreme excitement or fear
  • Sensitivity to light, touch, and sound
  • Seizures

Not everyone who goes through alcohol withdrawal is necessarily at risk for delirium tremens.

The lifetime risk for developing it in those who abuse alcohol is between 5% and 10%. Other complications that can arise include hyperthermia and respiratory failure…
 
Continue reading the article and learn more about alcohol withdrawal on Life Is An Episode website.
 
 

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