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Alcohol Withdrawal


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Detoxing is a crucial part of rehabilitation from alcohol addiction. In most cases, individuals who stop drinking alcohol find that withdrawal symptoms are a major deterrent to their success. Alcoholics sometimes attempt to overcome such symptoms without assistance, but this typically leads to relapse and further alcohol abuse and addiction. At Liberty Bay Recovery in Portland, Maine, our professionals commit themselves to providing individuals with a healthy, comfortable environment in which they can detox at their own pace. Both our alcohol and drug rehab center at Liberty Bay are medically approved and designed to help individuals navigate this difficult process.

Many alcoholics find that their withdrawal symptoms are severe. In reality, such symptoms can even be life-threatening if one attempts to withdraw from the substance without medical supervision. During detox, alcohol produces severe psychological and physical symptoms. For this reason, alcoholics are usually instructed to seek medical evaluation before trying to stop using alcohol on a cold turkey basis.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually surface several hours following the person’s last drink. They can last as long as several weeks after the detox program has commenced, and are a key sign of alcoholism. The acute symptoms of withdrawal usually last anywhere from 5 to 14 days and are part of alcohol addiction, as they are with any type of addiction. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include anything from mild discomfort to dangerous and severe complications. This will vary from one person to the next, depending on the severity of his or her alcoholism and other personal factors. This is why it is important to seek help from a medical detox center or a trusted rehab facility.

professional at an alcohol detox centerChronic alcohol consumption causes tolerance, which means that the person is becoming immune to the effects of the substance and, therefore, requires more frequent alcohol consumption to achieve the same intoxication level. This is a major factor of all addictions. Withdrawal symptoms are typically experienced when an alcoholic stops drinking, and these symptoms are completely opposite of what a person feels when he or she is intoxicated. For example, intoxicated individuals usually feel content, talkative, self-confident, and relaxed. However, when the person stops drinking, symptoms include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Mild fever
  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Nausea

Moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms include those listed below:

  • Confusion
  • Severe anxiety
  • Irregular or racing heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Mild seizures
  • Disorientation

Severe and possibly life-threatening withdrawal symptoms typically occur 12 to 24 hours after the addicted individual has consumed his or her last drink. In addition to those listed above, they include the following:

  • Visual, tactile, or auditory hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs) – a combination of hallucinations, disorientation, and high fever
  • Grand mal seizures

Alcohol Detox Center

Before starting alcohol detoxification at an inpatient drug detox center, a physician will evaluate each person and review his or her complete medical history, including the extent of the person’s alcohol use. The physician may also ask several questions concerning the individual’s history of alcohol and whether or not the person has ever enrolled in an alcohol abuse treatment program in the past. When gathering the information, the doctor will also ask the patient if he or she suffers from any other medical disorders caused by alcohol addiction and check for health conditions that could potentially complicate the detoxification process. Some examples of such complications include the following:

  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Nervous system impairments
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Gastrointestinal issues

When the medical evaluation is completed, the physician will inform the patient of the severity of his or her problem and start a detox regimen.

The three primary objectives of any detox program are as follows:

  1. Treating acute symptoms of withdrawal
  2. Prevent and monitor complications
  3. Start therapy to prevent future relapse

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Throughout the detoxification process, sedatives are typically utilized to control severe symptoms of withdrawal. Medical professionals may also administer anticonvulsants or blood pressure medications if they are needed to prevent complications and manage moderate symptoms.

Withdrawal Complications

Doctors also typically order various blood tests for the purpose of ensuring the patient’s overall health. In most cases, clinicians administer intravenous fluids to help keep the person hydrated, and his or her electrolytes balanced. Individuals are usually monitored very closely during alcohol detox to make sure that medical complications are avoided and to ensure the patient’s safety.

Therapy for Relapse Prevention

The last, most essential step in alcohol detoxification is to start counseling and an individual therapy program for the purpose of preventing relapse in the future. Simply withdrawing from alcohol does nothing to treat the underlying cause of the addiction, prevent relapses, or provide knowledge and insight into why the person became an alcoholic. Support groups are available to recovering alcoholics in addition to their medical treatment. Social groups of this type are developed to help recovering alcoholics with their life and coping skills, as these are necessary if one is to maintain sobriety.

Preventing Alcohol Relapse

Unfortunately, relapse is not uncommon throughout the recovery process at a residential addiction treatment center. Similar to most addictions, there are numerous warning signs that recovering alcoholics exhibit that indicate a relapse is looming:

  • Increased stress without resolution
  • A negative attitude about the importance of one’s own involvement in group therapy or other recovery-based support programs
  • An overwhelming feeling of stress
  • Periods of poor judgment and unwise decision-making that can potentially lead to decreased impulse control
  • Isolating oneself and withdrawing from loved ones and social events
  • Completely excluding or taking a sloppy attitude toward structure and daily sobriety routines
  • Frequent agitation and anger
  • Misplaced sense of confidence that results in thinking one has suitable control to take just one drink
  • Feelings of hopelessness and depression

Each one of these signs can be dangerous for a recovering alcoholic, and help should be sought immediately even if a single sign is exhibited.

Don’t Wait. Reach Out Today.

Many reasons exist why one should enter a treatment facility and subsequently stop addiction’s destructive cycle. This cycle wreaks havoc on the addicted person, as well as his friends and family.

If not treated appropriately, addiction will almost certainly take everything from you that you value. Find out today how alcohol rehab at Liberty Bay Recovery can assist you to start down the road to recovery.

Regardless of which type of medical insurance you have, whether it is ValueOptions, Humana, Cigna, Aetna, United Health Care, Government Employee Health Association (GEHA), Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare, United Medical Resources (UMR), or even state insurance, we can help. We also offer many affordable self-pay programs.

Contact Liberty Bay Recovery

Located in Portland, Maine, Liberty Bay Recovery is a nationally recognized alcohol addiction treatment center, providing alcohol and drug rehabilitation services to men and women. The goal of the professionals at Liberty Bay Recovery is to rebuild the health of individuals and their loved ones by treating the body, mind, and spirit. To learn more about our Portland Maine alcohol detox center, contact us by calling 866-824-5276 today.