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Alcohol Detox: The First Step of Alcoholism Treatment

Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Symptoms such as sleep changes, rapid changes in mood, and fatigue may last for months. People who continue to drink a lot may develop health problems such as liver, heart, and nervous system disease. Isbell H, Fraser HF, Wikler A, Belleville RE, Eisenman AJ. An experimental study of the etiology of “rum fits” and delirium tremens.

What is the healthiest alcohol?

Red Wine. Red wine is widely recognized as one of the healthiest alcoholic drinks out there. Poon notes that it's "relatively low in calories and also offers some health benefits."9 She adds that red wine is rich in antioxidants such as resveratrol and proanthocyanidins and can promote cardiovascular health.

It has been proposed that brain damage due to alcohol withdrawal may be prevented by the administration of NMDA antagonists, calcium antagonists, and glucocorticoid antagonists. Clonidine may be used in combination with benzodiazepines to help some of the symptoms. No conclusions can be drawn concerning the efficacy or safety of baclofen for alcohol withdrawal syndrome due to the insufficiency and low quality of the evidence. The typical treatment of alcohol withdrawal is with benzodiazepines such as chlordiazepoxide or diazepam. Continuous care and – when necessary – medications are given to relieve the harsh withdrawal symptoms that occur when the alcohol is discontinued.

Hours 24 to 72 of Alcohol Withdrawal

This is also the period in which delirium tremens are most likely to occur, which requires immediate medical attention. Moderate withdrawal includes stage 1 symptoms, sweating, rapid heart rate, lower fever, and slight confusion. Mild withdrawal consists of less severe symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Because alcohol is a depressant, the body responds by producing more stimulating chemicals. This includes the neurotransmitters dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid . This creation of stimulating neurotransmitters temporarily restores chemical homeostasis.

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be fairly mild, but sometimes alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Withdrawal is most common in adults, but children and adolescents who have an alcohol use disorder can experience it as well. Although many people who suffer alcohol withdrawal will survive if they receive treatment, it is imperative for those who are regular heavy drinkers to receive medically-supervised detox. Despite this current understanding of the mechanisms underlying AW syndrome, some controversies still exist regarding the risk, complications, and clinical management of withdrawal.


Months or years of alcohol dependence will likely cause severe withdrawal when you quit. When detox occurs in a medical center, healthcare professionals often use medication to treat the symptoms of withdrawal. Doctors may prescribe benzodiazepines to manage seizures and other alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal is a collection of symptoms which binge drinkers or alcoholics experience when they suddenly stop drinking alcohol.

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If your symptoms are moderate to severe, you will likely need to be hospitalized. Your vital signs will be monitored, you will have blood tests, and you may have intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. Your doctor may also use the IV to give you medications to help you get through the symptoms of withdrawal or to treat seizures or other complications.

Alcohol Addiction: Why It’s So Dangerous

Some people can be treated at home, but others may need supervised care in a hospital setting to avoid potentially dangerous complications such as seizures. If you drink daily, your body becomes dependent on alcohol over time.

How long does your body need to recover from alcohol?

These findings suggest that the detrimental effects of alcohol on protein trafficking pathways occur rather rapidly (1 to 5 weeks) and that complete recovery is obtained within 7 days after cessation of alcohol consumption.

There isn’t an objective measure of when someone is classified as an alcoholic. However, a person with an alcohol dependency will almost certainly exceed these drink-per-day recommendations. In addition, a person with alcohol use disorder will find their lives disrupted by the alcohol habit.

Starting the Road To Recovery

Part of this stage may also include medications to stop alcohol cravings or block the positive feelings that alcohol can create. In detox, your medical team will assess both your physical and mental health and learn more about your drinking history. They may give you medication to help you sleep, alleviate uncomfortable symptoms, and work to avoid serious symptoms of withdrawal.

Alcohol Detox

Acamprosate, sold under the name Campral, is prescribed to help your brain begin to function normally again after you quit drinking. Research studies have also started to look into whether or not acamprosate helps reduce the symptoms of PAWS including insomnia, anxiety and restlessness. It also works to reduce alcohol cravings; however, it will not produce an unwanted effect if alcohol is consumed. Alcohol Detox Many hospitals use the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol protocol in order to assess the level of withdrawal present and therefore the amount of medication needed. The CIWA has also been shortened (now called the CIWA-Ar), while retaining its validity and reliability, to help assess patients more efficiently due to the life-threatening nature of alcohol withdrawal.

Severe Symptoms

Longer-acting drugs, such as diazepam, can be administered less frequently. However, evidence does exist that “symptom-triggered regimens” such as those used when treating with lorazepam, are as safe and effective, but have decreased treatment duration and medication quantity used. People often struggle with thoughts of self-harm, especially when they are experiencing a mental health disorder.

  • When you are taking an honest look at your own drinking or that of a loved one, it’s vital to know there are three stages of alcoholism.
  • Although many people who suffer alcohol withdrawal will survive if they receive treatment, it is imperative for those who are regular heavy drinkers to receive medically-supervised detox.
  • Continuous care and – when necessary – medications are given to relieve the harsh withdrawal symptoms that occur when the alcohol is discontinued.
  • Similarly, carbamazepine and the barbiturate phenobarbital probably can prevent AW seizures, although insufficient data exist in humans to confirm this hypothesis.
  • This is why it’s often necessary to set aside days for resting and allowing your body to heal if you’re going through alcohol withdrawal.

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