If you stop drinking alcohol suddenly, after a long period of continuous use, you may develop alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Here is a brief overview about the condition.
Withdrawal syndrome is a term that is used to denote those physiological changes that are experienced by people who abruptly discontinue or reduce the use of recreational drugs, smoking or alcohol consumption. While nicotine withdrawal usually refers to the set of symptoms caused by stopping smoking, alcohol withdrawal syndrome is experienced by those habitual drinkers who stop alcohol consumption, all of a sudden. Though the condition is not common in occasional drinkers, habitual drinkers may develop withdrawal symptoms, when they attempt to stop drinking alcohol.
In case of males, excessive alcohol use means intake of at least 15 drinks per week, and for females, it is eight drinks per week. As per these standards, one drink is calculated as 12 grams of alcohol. It amounts to five ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer. While this condition is more common in adults, even some youngsters develop this problem.
Usually, alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur within five to ten hours of the last drink. Some symptoms, especially the severe ones, develop after a day or two. These symptoms may last for more than ten days, or even some weeks. The severity of symptoms may vary from one person to another, and it has been noted that, heavy drinkers experience severe symptoms. Even people with certain medical conditions are prone to severe symptoms.
Mild symptoms include anxiety, irritability, rapid emotional changes, nervousness, shakiness, fatigue, depression, difficulty in concentrating and thinking, and bad dreams. Some people experience moderate symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid heart rate, sweating, dilated pupils, hand tremors, insomnia, aversion to food, and abnormal movement of the eyelids. Severe symptoms include blackouts, convulsions, fever, and delirium tremens. In case of severe symptoms, immediate medical attention is needed.
The treatment is mainly aimed at relieving the symptoms and preventing complications. It may also include a long-term therapy to promote abstinence of the person from using alcohol. While people with severe symptoms have to seek immediate medical attention; it is recommended that, those with milder symptoms must also go in for medical assistance, so that complications can be avoided.
Usually, such people will be admitted to the hospital, so that their health conditions can be monitored. Their blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and electrolyte levels, have to be monitored constantly. Sometimes, they will be administered intravenous fluids and medication.
The common medicines used for alcohol withdrawal treatment are benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and sedatives. Proper treatment and care are very much necessary for such people. There are some well-recognized guidelines, according to which, the alcohol treatment has to be planned. Sometimes, it is even advised to get oneself enrolled into an alcohol rehabilitation program to prevent chances of relapse.
In short, alcohol withdrawal syndrome is not a minor problem and should not be overlooked. It must be treated with proper care, as there is a steady increase in the number of people with alcohol addiction and withdrawal. Overlooked and mismanaged cases can have devastating effects. So, apart from proper care, support from family members and friends will also be beneficial for such people.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome symptoms can be reduced and eliminated totally, if proper treatment is provided at the right time. Specialized treatments are also offered for those who want to stop drinking alcohol. This applies to all habitual as well as chronic drinkers.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.