It is exceedingly rare that someone in Western society will have gone through their life without this being presented as a question. In fact, it is one of the more often debated subjects in addiction. It is clear that as a country we the United States have not given the mental health field the dedicated studying it deserves, and our rate of mental health issues and addiction correspond to this fact.
The question is: How does the fall into addiction happen to some and not to others?
Predisposition to alcoholism has been a much researched topic in both psychological and medical fields, and seems to be correlated somewhat to how much stress someone experiences as baseline. Most of this research that involves intervention has been performed on non-human models. A study performed in 1990 using rhesus monkeys showed that more anxious monkeys were predisposed to increased alcohol consumption. However, when stress was induced in the monkeys by separation, they would increase their intake to the same levels as the naturally anxious monkeys.
Finding out how long alcohol can stay in your system is a common question. After all, you do not want to risk trying to drive if there is still any alcohol left in your system. Unfortunately, the answer depends on many different factors. You need to measure how much you were drinking, the proof of the alcohol, and your body size as starters. How well your kidneys and liver function also factor into how long alcohol can stay in your system. Then there is the factor of how old you are, whether you are male or female, and if you ate anything before or while drinking.
Thankfully, there is a pretty good rule to follow should drinking be a part of your regular routine. Most people will have no residual alcohol left after 2-4 hours if they were drinking a can or two of beer in that time. Anything more than that, the time goes up exponentially. The best way to be sure that there is never any alcohol in your system is to stop drinking. That way, any time you need to go out, you know it is safe to do so without putting yourself, or anyone else around you, at risk.
Supporting a friend or family member through detox from alcohol can be a very difficult process. While you want to help your friend through their struggle, alcohol detox requires a lot of patience and preparation for all involved. Alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous and even life-threatening, so it is crucial to learn as much as you can from a qualified medical professional.
Helping your friend or loved one recognize that they have an alcohol use disorder or dependence on alcohol is an important first step. However, alcohol detox is not something to enter lightly. Understanding the effects of alcohol detox and the symptoms of withdrawal can help you support your loved one through their journey of recovery.
When most people think of drug and alcohol withdrawal, they probably picture the initial withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person stops using drugs or alcohol and undergoes the detox process. While these initial withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and intense, another form of withdrawal comes later. According to the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, a second form of withdrawal, called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), includes symptoms that occur for several weeks or even months after a person stops using drugs and alcohol. Other names for this condition include post-withdrawal syndrome, prolonged withdrawal syndrome, or protracted withdrawal syndrome, and it most often occurs with alcohol, benzodiazepine, and opiate abuse.
Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms may vary based upon the substance from which a person is withdrawing. According to a report in CNS Drugs, post-acute withdrawal syndrome for alcohol typically involves the following symptoms:
Since alcohol withdrawal can be rough on your body, it is best to have an idea of things to do to keep your heart rate and blood pressure down. Make a list before even going to alcohol detox or rehab, if you can.
Being a pillar of strength, hope, and guidance for someone else is a very exhausting task, even for the most capable person. Support groups for families of addicts & alcoholics provide a much needed safe space to cope with the on-going strain they endure with this problem, so they don't lose themselves in the process.
An addicted person is not just changing and negatively affecting their own life, but their attitudes and actions greatly affect those around them. Because of the ripple effect addiction has on loved ones, it is often called a 'family disease'. Having an environment in which the loved ones can go and express concerns is needed for the overall long-term recovery of everyone involved.
What Types of Symptoms Often Accompany Alcohol Withdrawals?
While the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal vary greatly between individuals, there are some common effects that many people experience. Here are some of the more common effects that come with stopping the consumption of alcohol.
Headaches that range from mild to migraine-like
Anxiety that can range from a slight nuisance to all-encompassing
Struggles with getting to sleep or staying asleep
Stomach upset, which may also include diarrhea and/or vomiting
Hallucinations can happen in anyone, but typically happen with those who have consumed considerable amounts of alcohol in their lifetime
Sweating that does not seem to stop even when the person cools off
Mild shakes that can make sitting still difficult
Most symptoms of alcohol withdrawal begin by the time the person hits 24 hours without a drink. In most cases, these symptoms subside within 5-7 days. However, in some of the more serious instances, these effects can go on for much longer. Some patients have actually struggled with some of these symptoms for weeks after their last drink.
Alcohol consumption is common in the United States. In fact, according to data reported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 86.3 percent of adults in the United States have consumed alcohol during their lives, and just over half had consumed alcohol within the previous month, as of 2018.
While drinking a glass of wine with dinner or occasionally going out for a drink can be part of a healthy lifestyle, some people may drink excessively, which can become problematic. In 2018, 26.5 percent of American adults reported binge drinking within a given month, and nearly 7 percent admitted to drinking heavily, which experts define as five or more instances of binge drinking in a month.
Binging and drinking heavily may be socially acceptable in American culture, but they are concerning from a public health standpoint. People who continuously engage in heavy drinking are at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, which is the term professionals use to describe a diagnosable alcohol addiction. Such a condition can have significant consequences and requires professional intervention.
While people can safely enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol without becoming addicted, those who drink heavily may develop a tolerance for alcohol and eventually become dependent on it. In some cases, heavy alcohol use can lead to a clinical condition called an alcohol use disorder. One symptom of an alcohol use disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), is withdrawal. This happens when a person stops drinking and experiences uncomfortable symptoms such as sleep problems, nausea, and tremors as alcohol leaves the body. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can lead to seizures, but not everyone who undergoes withdrawal will have a seizure.