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Alcohol withdrawal

Definition of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal refers to the symptoms that may be experienced when a person who regularly drinks too much alcohol (an alcoholic) suddenly stops drinking.

Who can get Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is usually seen in adults, but also in teenagers and occasionally children. Alcohol Withdrawal usually occurs within 5-24 hours after the last drink, and may last as long as 7-10 days. Alcohol Withdrawal is more likely to occur when larger quantities of alcohol are consumed regularly, but also if the person has other medical conditions.

 

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Alcohol withdrawal symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • 1. mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as loss of sleep, agitation, raised levels of anxiety and panic attacks.
  • 2. Moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as sweating and tremor.
  • 3. Marked alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting and severe diarrhoea.
  • 4. Very severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms known as delirium tremens and including confusion, disorientation and visual hallucinations.
  • 5. alcohol withdrawal seizures which are alcoholism withdrawal induced epileptic fits.

Will alcohol withdrawal symptoms stop by themselves?

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually commence between 12 and 24 hours after the last drink, peak in intensity at about 72 hours and mostly resolve by 96 hours after the last drink. Raised levels of agitation and difficulty with sleep may persist for weeks or months in some cases.

Despite the fact that alcohol withdrawal symptoms resolve by themselves in time, it is usually inadvisable to stop drinking suddenly if you have become physically addicted to alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal may be fatal in some cases, and cause permanent disabling brain damage in other cases. The safest and most effective route to cessation of drinking is alcohol detoxification. Detoxification involves the prescription of medication to relieve alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This medication is routinely reduced in increments over a period of about one week, and if the detoxification is performed professionally the patient will experience no or few of the usual alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Why does alcohol withdrawal occur?

In people who drink heavily on a regular basis, the brain becomes tolerant to (used to) alcohol. Having developed an alcohol tolerance the brain becomes highly overactive if its usual dose of alcohol is suddenly withdrawn. This overactivity of the brain results in direct effects such as epileptic seizures , memory damage, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the body. Increased adrenaline release in the body occurs as a result of this overactivity, resulting in excessive sweating and shaking, the typical alcohol withdrawal symptoms.