What Triggers Alcohol Withdrawal?

You might realize you have a serious problem with alcohol if you drink heavily, cut back and then go through physical and mental problems. This signifies that you are experiencing alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which can result in side effects that can range from mild to severe.

This doesn’t apply to casual drinkers who consume alcohol once in a while and then stop. However, if you have consumed large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time and then decide to try quitting, you’ll notice that your body and mind are in serious unease. Experiencing alcohol withdrawal once means you’ll go through it again the next time you try to quit drinking.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is a serious condition that occurs when a person has an alcohol dependence and suddenly stops drinking. Generally, it’s a set of symptoms that manifest in this situation or when someone significantly reduces their alcohol consumption.

The symptoms you can experience from alcohol withdrawal can vary. However, some are severe and can even be life-threatening. It’s common to go through a slew of physical and mental or emotional symptoms. Among the most common are anxiety, nausea and fatigue. When a person has alcohol withdrawal syndrome that’s on the severe end, they can experience hallucinations and seizures.

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down your normal brain function and changes the way the nerves send messages from your brain to different parts of the body. When you consume large quantities of alcohol for an extended period of time, it has a serious effect on your central nervous system, which becomes used to all that alcohol. Your body has to work extra hard to keep your brain alert and your nerves able to communicate. As a result, when your alcohol intake suddenly declines, your brain goes into a heightened state, which results in withdrawal.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome can first appear within six hours to several days after you try to quit drinking. Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Tremors and shaking
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Faster heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • High blood pressure

If you are going through alcohol withdrawal, you will experience at least two of these symptoms, which can become worse over a few days’ time. In some cases, it’s possible to continuously experience them for a few weeks if your AWS is milder. However, signs and symptoms are often worse and more noticeable when you first wake up. Severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome, delirium tremens (DT), can occur in the worst cases. Symptoms include the following:

  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Extreme disorientation
  • Extreme agitation
  • Tactile hallucinations that include physical sensations
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Fast respiration
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate

This form of AWS is serious and a medical emergency, which means it’s imperative to call 911 for help. These symptoms can be life-threatening without timely medical intervention and treatment.

Diagnosis of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome and Treatment

If you see a doctor for your symptoms and they believe you are going through alcohol withdrawal syndrome, you can expect to be assessed. Your doctor will ask you questions to determine whether you have a history of heavy drinking and whether you have tried to stop cold turkey. They will also ask you if you have ever tried to quit drinking before this most recent time. You can tell the doctor about your symptoms so that they can diagnose you. They’ll perform an examination to rule out other medical conditions and ultimately give you a diagnosis.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome should never be taken lightly. It’s a serious condition that can cause significant problems with symptoms that can be dangerous. The best thing to do is to seek medical treatment or check into a rehab facility to become clean and sober and take back your life. If it’s the first time you’ve experienced AWS and you don’t have any co-occurring conditions, you might just need medical intervention to get well. You will get a comfortable, supportive place with limited contact and food and fluids. The atmosphere is calm and positive to help you recover. Ready to get the help that you need? We’re here to assist you in your search for the right facility. Call us now at 833-497-3812.