Alcohol and drug withdrawal is the set of symptoms experienced when a dependent person stops alcohol or drug use. Depending on the substance in question and extent of abuse, alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms can range from mild physical disturbances through to life-threatening complications.
Alcohol and drug withdrawal includes both physical-somatic and emotional-motivational withdrawal symptoms, with medication often required to manage the detox and recovery process. Often taking place at specialized medical detox clinics, alcohol and drug withdrawal can require ongoing psychotherapy and counseling to treat the precedents of addiction.
If you are seeking help with your addiction struggles, contact Chandler Drug Treatment Centers at (602) 358-2954.
The prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol leads to tolerance and dependence over time. The withdrawal syndrome is largely a hyper-excitable response of the central nervous system as it reacts to lack of alcohol. The alcohol withdrawal syndrome includes a range of physical and mental withdrawal symptoms, many of which can be dangerous if not treated properly.
Typical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include sweating, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, psychomotor agitation, anxiety, tonic-clonic seizures, autonomic instability, hand tremors, insomnia and delirium tremens. The severity of symptoms is related to the length and extent of addiction. Symptoms are often classified according to the potential harm they might cause.
Alcohol hallucinosis is one sub-set of symptoms, with patients experiencing transient visual, auditory or tactile hallucinations during the detox period. Withdrawal seizures are another classification, with seizures typically occurring within 48 hours of alcohol discontinuation.
Delirium tremens is the third and most dangerous classification, with patients experiencing mental confusion, disorientation, tremors, diaphoresis, impaired consciousness and hallucinations. Delirium tremens can be very dangerous, with most symptoms experienced 24-72 hours after alcohol cessation. This severe reaction occurs in 5-20 percent of cases, or roughly one-third of all patients who experience withdrawal seizures.
Benzodiazepines are a group of central nervous system (CNS) depressants taken medically to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Common trade names in this class include Valium, Xanax and Serax. These substances are often taken recreationally for their sedative and hypnotic effects.
The long-term use of benzodiazepines can cause tolerance and physical dependence, with addiction often creeping up on people slowly after months or years of medical use. The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can be dangerous if not treated properly, with physical-somatic symptoms experienced upon discontinuation.
The following symptoms can occur during alcohol and drug withdrawal and abrupt or gradual dose reduction: aches and pains, chest pain, blurred vision, insomnia, agitation, loss of appetite, weight loss, impaired memory, impaired concentration, mood swings, diarrhea, dizziness, numbness, muscle spasms, depression, paranoia, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headaches and tremors.
Abrupt discontinuation can also lead to more severe reactions in certain situations, including mental confusion, delusions, suicidal ideation, mania, hallucinations, delirium tremens and organic brain syndrome. A careful medication period is always recommended during benzodiazepine detox. Doctors often reduce dosage levels slowly to avoid medical complications.
Residential drug and alcohol rehab programs are normally recommended during the detox phase of treatment, with patients needing to access prescription medications and medical staff at all times during this period. Around-the-clock medical support is very important at this time. Clinicians need to observe and evaluate patients before adjusting medication regimes.
While home and out-patient detox can be effective in some situations, physical dependence problems and alcohol and drug withdrawal should always be dealt with at dedicated alcohol and drug rehab facilities. If you or anyone you know needs to access medical detox services, it’s important to contact a residential clinic as soon as possible in order to get the help you need.