Even with individuals who are mildly alcoholic, withdrawal may include shakes, sweats, rapid heartbeat, and an increase in blood pressure, nausea, and headache. These physical symptoms are often accompanied by anxiety, feelings of discomfort, loneliness, and depression. The craving to drink becomes overwhelming. Without help and support through professional drug therapies and treatments, you may not be able to get through the physical or the mental withdrawal symptoms, let alone the craving, which happens to many people in spite of good intentions.
What happens is you will do anything to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal: you go back to drinking, which immediately makes everything seem better. Gone are the shakes, the headache, anxiety, nausea, etc., and you may tell yourself that you will quit another day. But the reality is, you will remember how awful quitting cold turkey was and never take that step again. All your good intentions will be forgotten. You may even tell yourself that you are not that bad of an alcoholic, that you can control your drinking, cut down gradually, or some other lie. You are not really your own best counsel. After all, you re the one with the alcohol problem. Would you trust your own word?
For alcohol-dependent individuals, withdrawal symptoms may become severe or even life-threatening. In 6 to 48 hours after you stop drinking, hallucinations may start. These are usually visual hallucinations, but they can also involve your sense of hearing and smell. Psychosis can also develop. These symptoms can last a few hours to a few weeks.
Convulsions or seizures occur, possibly progressing to a dangerous condition known as delirium tremens or the DT, which appear three to five days after cessation of alcohol consumption. Effects of the DTs include extreme disorientation, more pronounced hallucinations, hyperactivity, confusion, and dangerous cardiovascular problems. When you experience the DTs, you are in a life-threatening situation, and this is definitely not something you should attempt to go through on your own.
Withdrawal can be managed with proper treatment. Did you know that you can detox from alcohol and have minimal or no withdrawal symptoms? How is that for an eye-opener? The beauty of detoxification under medical supervision in an alcohol treatment facility is that there are medical practitioners and licensed professionals who will monitor your detox 24/7. The physician can prescribe medications that can alleviate or greatly reduce any discomfort you begin to feel. This medication, which is only available by prescription, is combined with a process during which you learn about the disease of alcoholism and make a commitment to ongoing treatment, which begins after you have been detoxed from alcohol.
Patients who stay in treatment longer than three months usually have a more successful outcome than those who leave sooner. There are short-term or programs of 6-month and less duration, including residential therapy, medication therapy, and drug-free therapy as an outpatient. There are also longer-term therapies and aftercare support programs.
After addiction rehab is completed, you are encouraged to continue participation in support groups or 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The goal is to keep your newfound confidence in your ability to stay clean and sober. You will be tempted to stray, and you need the support of those who can help you when that situation occurs.