Alcohol Withdrawal What is alcohol withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal is physical symptoms and emotions you have ifyou drink heavily or frequently and suddenly stop drinking. It can
also happen if you drink much less than you are used to drinking. Youare most likely to have withdrawal problems 1 to 7 days after yourlast drink. How does it occur?
If you are an alcoholic, you may have withdrawal if:
You decide to stop drinking. You are in a situation where you can't drink alcohol, such as at
a hospital, treatment center, or jail. What are the symptoms?
The effects of alcohol withdrawal vary greatly. Most people with mild
to moderate alcohol dependence have one or more of thesesymptoms:
headache dizziness nausea and vomiting shaking sweating restlessness seizures increased heart rate or blood pressure trouble sleeping or concentrating strong desire to drink to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal
A few alcoholics experience a life-threatening condition called deliriumtremens (DTs). This is a medical emergency. The symptoms may
confusion hallucinations agitation seizures memory problems fever very high heart rate and blood pressure. How is it diagnosed?
Your health care provider will review your symptoms, examine you,
and ask about your medical history and memory.
urine and blood tests to check for the level of alcohol and other
blood tests to measure blood count and other substances in
your blood to find out how your liver and kidneys are working
x-rays to check for broken bones from a fall or other health
How are alcoholism and withdrawal treated?
If you are an alcoholic, you must first admit that you have a problem.
You must take responsibility for it. Some people know they have analcohol problem but deny that they need help to stop drinking. When
you can take responsibility for your problem and admit you needhelp, call your health care provider.
Many alcoholics cannot admit that they have a problem. Loved ones,
employers, or others may then have the painful task of committingthe alcoholic to treatment. This is very tough but necessary. To say
the alcoholic can't be helped until he or she wants help is not true. Detoxification: Detoxification is also known as "drying out." It means that you stop
using alcohol completely. Detoxification can be done as an outpatient,or in a hospital or drug treatment facility. Which choice is best for you
depends on how much and how long you have been drinking. It alsodepends on other medical problems that you may have.
Treatment for withdrawal symptoms may include:
tranquilizers blood pressure medicine anticonvulsants vitamins intravenous (IV) fluids.
Detoxification may take 3 to 4 days. Long-Term Treatment:
After detoxification, you will need long-term treatment. This mayinclude social, medical, and psychological therapy.
Social treatment involves family members and focuses on
To discourage you from drinking again, your health care
provider may prescribe the medicines disulfiram or naltrexone. These medicines work best as one part of a full treatment
Disulfiram (Antabuse) will make you feel sick if you drink
alcohol after taking the medicine. Knowing you will havethis reaction will discourage you from drinking.
Naltrexone (ReVia or Depade) can help stop drinking by
reducing your craving for alcohol without the side effectsof disulfiram.
Psychological therapy usually involves group therapy sessions
to understand the illness and why you drink.
Self-help support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can be
very helpful. At local chapter meetings you can meet other alcoholics,share experiences, and receive encouragement. It does not cost
anything to join AA. Meetings are open to anyone who has a drinkingproblem and wants to become and stay sober. Phone numbers for
local chapters of AA are usually listed in the phone book.
Families of alcoholics can join a related organization called Al-Anon. For families of someone who does not recognize his or her drinking
problem, Al-Anon meetings can help build understanding andstrength before forcing the person into treatment. It's very hard to
keep denying an alcohol problem if your family is attending Al-Anon. How long will the effects last?
The severe shakes and hallucinations of delirium tremens (DTs) may
last 1 to 5 days. Alcohol has long-lasting effects. It can take weeks ormonths before you feel more clear-headed, less depressed, less
anxious, and have more energy. Delirium tremens can be fatal if it isnot treated. How can I take care of myself?
If you are an alcoholic, the most important thing you can do is toadmit the problem and ask for help. If you decide to stop drinking
alcohol or are in a situation in which you cannot drink (such as in ahospital), ask for medical help. You may not need hospital treatment
for withdrawal symptoms, but you should be where someone can gethelp for you if you need it.
While you are having treatment for withdrawal:
Take the full course of treatment your health care provider
Follow your provider's advice for treatment of any other
Have 3 meals a day. Take a multivitamin. If possible, avoid drinking coffee and smoking. Get enough sleep and stay as active as possible during the day. Attend AA meetings often. What can be done to help prevent alcohol withdrawal?
If you are physically dependent on alcohol, you will have withdrawalsymptoms when you quit drinking. Seek treatment so that you can
withdraw safely and with much less discomfort. Thankyou For Your Attention Dr. Jose Fernandez More. MD.
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