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Signs of Acute Alcohol Withdrawal

Acute alcohol withdrawal can make treating an alcohol addiction highly challenging and even life-threatening. If you have been drinking heavily for years and suddenly stop, you might go through acute withdrawal. One of the most significant challenges of treating alcohol use disorder and addiction is dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

Why Does Withdrawal Make It Difficult to Quit Drinking?

Withdrawal symptoms make it difficult to quit drinking because the adverse effects of alcohol withdrawal will go away or lessen if you start drinking again. When you experience acute withdrawal, your symptoms can be psychologically distressing and physically painful. If you drink heavily over a long period, your body and mind most likely have developed alcohol dependence.

When your body is dependent on alcohol, you cannot function normally without alcohol in your system. You might have abused alcohol as a way of self-medicating for issues like depression, anxiety, or chronic pain. Without alcohol, you might have a resurgence in these symptoms if you never learned how to cope without alcohol.

Your body also becomes dependent upon alcohol when you drink regularly and heavily. Your body might become accustomed to the rush of sugars produced when alcohol metabolizes in your system. If you used alcohol as a sedative to sleep, you might struggle to sleep without drinking.

These withdrawal symptoms leave you vulnerable to relapsing because you can fix all of this discomfort by continuing to drink. However, when you resort to drinking again before detoxing, you increase the negative consequences of alcoholism. Detoxing at a facility can help you manage withdrawal symptoms to stay sober and avoid relapse during early addiction recovery.

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Depending upon the details of your addiction, like how often you drink, your drink of choice (hard liquors versus wine or beer), and how long you have been drinking alcohol, can determine the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. You might have mild, moderate, or acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

According to MedlinePlus, common signs of mild alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Mental fog and difficulty thinking
  • Feeling “jumpy” or “on-edge”

Moderate signs of withdrawal can include even more physical and mental symptoms, such as:

  • Profuse sweating and clammy skin
  • Headache
  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia and other sleep issues
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors and body shakes
  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate

You might experience both mild and moderate symptoms during alcohol detox, depending upon the nature of your alcohol use. Acute symptoms will occur if you have been physically dependent on alcohol for a long time, either months or years. You might have prolonged mild or moderate symptoms or more severe versions of these symptoms with acute withdrawal symptoms. 

In addition, acute withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous or potentially deadly. If you attempt to quit on your own at home without professional help, you are at a higher risk of physical harm, death, or relapse.

Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Acute withdrawal can cause symptoms known as “delirium tremens” (or “DT’s”). According to MedlinePlus, these acute withdrawal symptoms are more common among those who “drink 4 to 5 pints (1.8 to 2.4 liters) of wine, 7 to 8 pints (3.3 to 3.8 liters) of beer, or 1 pint (1/2 liter) of ‘hard’ alcohol every day for several months. Delirium tremens also commonly affects people who have used alcohol for more than 10 years.”

Symptoms of acute withdrawal symptoms or delirium tremens include:

  • Increased agitation
  • Fever
  • Severe confusion (or “delirium”)
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Deep sleep lasting a day or even longer
  • Heightened sensitivity to physical sensations
  • Sudden bursts of energy
  • Feeling restless

Most withdrawal symptoms will peak in intensity within the first three days to about one week after you stop drinking. However, you might have symptoms lingering for weeks or months after you quit drinking alcohol. You might need to remain sober and abstinence for months or even up to a year or more to fully recover and heal from the damage of long-term alcohol abuse.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal

Even if you have been drinking heavily for years, you can still quit drinking if you enter a detox and rehabilitation facility. Trying to stop on your own without support or medical supervision can be dangerous and uncomfortable. If you struggle with acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you might be able to use medication-assisted treatment to ease your symptoms as you begin long-term treatment.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for alcohol use disorder uses medicines to help you feel more comfortable as you detoxify the alcohol from your system. Common medications prescribed for those with acute withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram

While these medications will not cure your alcohol use disorder, they can be included in a comprehensive treatment plan to help you or a loved one give up alcohol for good.

Treating Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms in Nashville

Acute withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and even deadly if you attempt to treat your symptoms without professional guidance. Brentwood Springs Detox of Nashville, TN, is here to help you safely manage your withdrawal symptoms, whether mild, moderate, or acute. We provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT), therapy, holistic practices, and other proven methods of treating acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms during detox. Call us today at (615) 560-7545.

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