What’s the difference between waking up with a hangover and waking up with your hands shaking until you get another drink? Many people with alcohol use disorder will refer to their alcohol withdrawal symptoms as a hangover. That statement is inaccurate. A hangover is dehydration, and your body telling you, “let’s not do that again, okay?” Whereas alcohol withdrawal disorders are symptoms of long-standing and excessive alcohol abuse.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal
Anyone who drinks regularly, even if it’s not necessarily heavily, can experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Your body does not understand what is going on, and it’s sending out physical and mental distress signals.
At some point during alcohol abuse, your body will become reliant or dependent on your alcohol consumption. Basically, your muscles, organs, and mind are so used to having the substance in their system that they can’t function properly without it.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawals
If you have abused alcohol for some time, then you may already be familiar with these symptoms. In fact, they may have seemed like nothing but a bad hangover. The thing is that these symptoms can become debilitating and lead to life-threatening health problems. Some of these symptoms can lead to death, and many others can result in serious injury.
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Insomnia or trouble falling asleep
- Anxiety (usually when unable to access liquor)
- Excessive sweating
- Irritability or lashing out in anger
- Mood swings or excessively emotional behavior
- Tiredness paired with unrest or fidgeting
- Shaky hands and tremors
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Loss of balance
After years of alcohol misuse, a person can experience the more severe symptoms of withdrawal, including delirium tremens, which come with different symptoms. The symptoms of delirium tremens include:
- High fever
It’s clear that these symptoms will often require medical treatment. However, many of those with alcohol use disorder do not seek medical treatment, do not have help nearby when they need it, and can die as a result of the more severe withdrawal symptoms. Because of that, these withdrawal symptoms will often spur people to continue drinking even when they were trying to quit.
How Long Does it Take to Detox for Alcohol Addiction?
Is there one set timeline? No. People who abuse alcohol daily or drink heavily often will experience detox withdrawal symptoms at a much faster rate than someone who drinks less or less frequently. The severity of your dependence will dictate the extent of your withdrawal symptoms, how long you need detox for, and how serious your detox will be for your recovery.
There are people with alcohol use disorder who can begin their path to sobriety without detox. However, if you’ve heavily abused alcohol, or have abused alcohol for years, then you should consider detox for alcohol addiction a very serious step in recovery.
For people who have abused alcohol for years, they may begin to experience headaches, anxiety, and an increased heart rate after only six hours without a drink. Within twelve hours, they may experience shaking in their hands and mood swings. In some of the most serious cases, 12 to 48 hours without a drink can lead to seizures. But, the most severe withdrawals happen after 72 hours without a drink and can bring on deliriums tremens.
Detox for alcohol addiction will usually last between a few days and two weeks. However, in serious cases, a medical team may decide that the person needs to remain in detox for up to a month.
Treatments for Alcohol Withdrawal?
There are many treatment options available and deciding which is right for you will require a medical team. That is the point of detox to go somewhere that you can come off of alcohol dependency safely. Because the withdrawal symptoms can be deadly, it’s critical to have medical staff on hand in case you go into a seizure, experience delusions, or have peak fevers which can damage your health further.
Contact Rehab Carolinas About Detox for Alcohol Addiction
There are many misconceptions about alcohol misuse, abuse, and addiction. Alcohol use disorder is a rather recent term that helps to create a consistent definition of the disorder. However, many people still resort to guessing or estimating what counts as an “alcoholic.”
Alcohol, like nearly every other substance, requires detox, therapy, relapse prevention planning, and lifelong support. You cannot free yourself from alcohol alone, and there is no need to. Many other people are striving to overcome the same addiction, and together, there is a community of people you can turn to, after detox.
Contact Rehab Carolinas to learn how to start a detox for alcohol addiction, and how to start a program that will help lead you to a sober life.