QUALITY TREATMENT & CARE
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
When an alcoholic stops drinking after prolonged, heavy alcohol use, your body experiences a variety of physical and mental changes that present as withdrawal symptoms.
You may have heard alcohol referred to as a depressant, which it is. In order to compensate for the depressant effect that alcohol has, your body has been producing more of the hormones that counteract depression (serotonin and norepinephrine). After several hours without using, the alcohol begins to leave your system, but it can take several days for your body to fully adjust to this change. This adjustment is what we refer to as alcohol detox.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symtoms
The symptoms of withdrawal may vary depending on how long you have been drinking, how much you would drink, whether you have been using any additional substances, your age, gender, as well as a number of other potential factors. Common symptoms include:
-Restlessness -Irritability -Anxiety -Lack of appetite -Nausea & vomiting -Tremors (shakiness) -Increased heart rate -Increased blood pressure -Insomnia, Intense dreaming, & nightmares -Poor concentration
-Impaired memory and judgment -Increased sensitivity to sound, light, and touch -Hallucinations (auditory, visual, or tactile) -Delusions -Seizures -Fever -Delirium with disorientation
Alcohol Withdrawal Timelines
If you are an addict who has never achieved sobriety before you may wonder how long alcohol detox can take. In reality, the answer can vary a lot from one person to another. The more an alcoholic drinks, and the longer that they drink, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms can be, ranging from mild to severe. Not all users experience all of the same symptoms, but they do occur in the same pattern.
6 Hours Following Your Last Drink
Symptoms of withdrawal typically start between 6 to 24 hours and they can get most severe over the following days. The onset of alcohol detox is marked by tremors or uncontrollable shaking. Other symptoms that can accompany tremors include rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, rapid breathing, sweating, nausea/vomiting, anxiety, irritability, vivid dreams, and insomnia.
During this time, it is also possible to experience seizures that can occur over several hours. Seizures are seen up to 48 hours after your last drink.
12 to 48 Hours Following Your Last Drink
Hallucinations may start as early as 12 after your last drink and can last up to 48 hours.
48-72 Hours Following Your Last Drink
For the most severe detox cases, you may experiences what are referred to as delirium tremens, or severe delirium with tremors. Delirium tremens is a dangerous effect of alcohol withdrawal that can cause severe changes in heart rate, breathing, and temperature. Individuals that experience delirium tremens are monitored closely to prevent violent behavior, major brain damage, and loss of life.
All symptoms typically start to wear off after about 5 days but can last for longer. Psychological symptoms can take the longest to wear off, sometimes lasting weeks. Our team performs regular evaluations and creates personalized treatment plans.
Health Risks and Dangers of Alcohol Detox
Detoxing at home is common, but alcohol withdrawal carries a number of serious risks ranging from dehydration to brain damage and even death. These health risks are the main reason why we recommend seeking the help of Compass Detox, as opposed to attempting detox at home.
Detox is unpredictable and the ability to act quickly at the onset of severe withdrawal symptoms or unforeseen complications is key in preventing permanent damage. Our doctors know what signs to look for and what interventions need to be prescribed to prevent or control changes in your mental and physical well-being.
The unpleasant side effects of alcohol detox mixed with increased cravings make it tempting to break off the detox and start drinking again in order to escape the symptoms. In the event of a relapse, your body may be at an increased risk of alcohol poisoning and overdose because your tolerance has already started to decline. You are less likely to relapse during detox when it is completed at a detox center, under the supervision of trained caregivers and with access to proper medical treatment.
If severe symptoms occur during detox, you may be transported to a local hospital for further treatment.
Round the clock care is needed for several days, sometimes weeks before you are fully sober. You cannot care for yourself during this time and even if a loved one offers to help, a full team of caregivers is necessary to provide 24/7 monitoring.
Our staff can help minimize and treat the symptoms of withdrawal, decreasing your chances of relapse or serious complications.
Alcohol Detox at Compass
Our 3-step treatment process includes a detailed evaluation, stabilization, and referral to a trusted program for aftercare. Based on your evaluation, your stabilization plan will be created to meet your personal needs and may include a combination of sedation with the use of medications, medical monitoring, IV fluids, nutritional supplements, counseling, and psychotherapy.
At Compass Detox, we offer 24/7 medical supervision to all detox clients. There will always be a risk with detox, but help from our doctors, therapists, and other medical professionals reduces risks for complications, relapses, and overdose and provides the best opportunity for a positive outcome.
Statistics On Alcohol Withdrawal
- Only 5% of people who go through alcohol withdrawal experience delirium tremens, but 1 out of 20 people who develop symptoms die from the condition.
- Only 20% of alcoholics who try to get sober without seeking professional assistance or support are able to stay sober.
- On average, life expectancy drops by 15 years or more for someone who is not able to get sober and stay sober.
- 88,000 people die each year from an alcohol-related cause, making it the third-highest preventable cause of death in the U.S.