We are all aware of how habits such as smoking and drinking are injurious to our health. From film advertisements to packets of cigarettes, we have heard enough words of caution how we should withdraw from alcohol drinking and keep away from it in order to keep healthy. Several behavioural treatments have also been devised so that people can deal with the habit of alcoholism and live a happy and peaceful life devoid of alcohol. But, many of us are not familiar with the Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome, which too, like alcohol, can take a toll on somebody’s life.
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: Symptoms and Treatment
What is alcohol withdrawal syndrome or aws?
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is basically a set of symptoms observed in someone who has withdrawn from intake of alcohol suddenly after its prolonged and excessive consumption. Alcohol withdrawal may occur in those who are alcohol dependent. This may occur following a planned or unplanned decrease in alcohol intake. However, the person has to have a history of prolonged and excessive alcohol consumption in order to experience such symptoms. The logic behind this lies in the traditional psychological theory of learning. As the body becomes habituated to the alcohol, both the mental and physical set up of the person undergoes a sudden change with the sudden withdrawal of alcohol consumption.
Hence, the body shows certain revolting symptoms, when deprived of the alcohol suddenly. This can metaphorically be compared to Newton’s first law of motion which states that “an object at rest will stay at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by unbalanced force”. In this case, the unbalanced force that has to be implemented is the treatment of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Here is your ultimate guide to the alcohol withdrawal syndrome, all that you need to know about it.
What are its symptoms?
The major symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome include:
- An increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
The symptoms may worsen over two to three days, and some milder symptoms may persist for weeks in some people. They may be more noticeable when you wake up with less alcohol in your blood. This is because the alcohol does take some time, often a couple of days to reside from your blood completely.
The most severe type of withdrawal syndrome is known as delirium tremens (dt). Its signs and symptoms include the following:
- Extreme confusion
- Extreme agitation
- High fever
- Tactile hallucinations, such as having a sense of itching, burning, or numbness that isn’t actually occurring
- Auditory hallucinations, or hearing sounds that don’t actually exist
- Visual hallucinations, or seeing images that don’t actually exist
If you experience alcohol withdrawal syndrome, please understand it is a medical emergency and seeks medical attention. So, never hesitate to consult a doctor and get yourself treated.
How is it treated?
Even if someone in your family is going through this problem, don’t worry because there are treatments available for aws. But, do remember this needs medical attention if serious. The kind of treatment, however, varies according to the seriousness of the symptoms. If the symptoms are few and not very harmful, treatment at home is possible. However, if they grow cause the patient might have to be hospitalized for proper treatment. This is so that the doctor can monitor the patient’s condition and manage any complications. He or she may need to get fluids through the veins to prevent dehydration and there might be a need for medications to help ease the symptoms. Symptoms of aws are often treated with sedatives called benzodiazepines. Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:
- Lorazepam (ativan)
- Clonazepam (klonopin)
- Alprazolam (xanax)
- Diazepam (valium)
In addition to these, vitamin supplements may be given to replace essential vitamins that are depleted by alcohol use. Once the withdrawal is complete, additional medications and supplements may be needed to address complications and nutritional deficiencies that occur as a result of chronic alcohol use.
How long do treatments last?
If someone is going through the primary symptoms of aws, as mentioned above, it is most likely for them to recover soon, with proper medical care and treatment. Symptoms like sleep disturbances, irritability and the like might continue for some time, but the patient is sure to recover with time, if the consumption of alcohol can be arrested and proper treatment done. However, if aws has advanced to delirium tremens, it can be fatal. But it is not incurable. The sooner proper treatment is ensured, the sooner the symptoms are likely to disappear.
What is the risk of it relapsing?
The major things that need to be understood here are that getting cured of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome is just a short-term fix. The actual goal here is to reduce or rather stop the consumption of alcohol. So, mere treatment of aws doesn’t clear the risks of it relapsing again. One has to make sure that he or she gives up alcohol completely to get over it. You might as well consult the doctor and seek treatment on how that is to be done.
What are the health problems linked to the aws?
The symptoms of aws in itself are severe health problems. A rise in body temperature, excessive irritability, changes in heart rate, varying blood pressure, seizures, hallucinations and the like can prove to be fatal if not treated immediately. Hence, proper treatment is certainly and immediately advised. Resorting back to alcoholism would lead to further complications in health. Therefore, that is the matter of greatest importance which should be taken care of!
How bad is your aws?
No matter how serious the aws is if it is diagnosed and if you have the willpower, it can certainly be treated. What you have to do is to control your instincts and abstain from alcoholism. The rest will fall into place automatically. So, don’t worry and always feel free to consult a doctor if the need arises. Happy living!