Why Medical Help in Alcohol Detox is Important
Alcohol detox is one of the most dangerous substance detox experiences due to the severity of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms most people experience. Medical help in alcohol detox is important because it helps to ensure that people who are detoxing have the right care and support, and are looked after in the way they need to be. This is best understood through an explanation of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and the potential for delirium tremens.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms develop when someone who drinks alcohol often suddenly stops drinking. The more a person drinks every day, the more likely they are to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and the more severe those symptoms will likely be. It depends on how dependent on alcohol a person’s body has become. According to the US National Library of Medicine, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually develop within 8 hours of a person’s last drink, though it may take days for them to occur. They usually peak by 24 – 72 hours after a person’s last drink, but they can persist for weeks.
Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Jumpiness or shakiness
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Not thinking clearly
Other symptoms may include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Tremor in the hands or other body parts
These symptoms are uncomfortable at best, and can be seriously damaging. Medical help in alcohol detox can provide you with remedies to help alleviate symptoms, ensure you stay hydrated, and provide you with cognitive skills and other ways to cope with withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal is very unpredictable, and being in a detox center is helpful and safe. Even getting help from an outpatient detox center can provide you with helpful information and monitoring for the duration of alcohol detox.
A more severe form of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens. According to the US National Library of Medicine, it usually happens when you stop drinking alcohol after a period of heavy drinking, especially if you do not eat enough food. It can also happen in people who have a history of alcohol withdrawal and alcohol abuse. The more dependent your body has become on alcohol, the more likely you are to develop delirium tremens according to Columbia University.
Symptoms of delirium tremens occur most often within 48-96 hours after the last drink, though they may take up to 10 days.
Delirium tremens symptoms may include:
- Body tremors
- Changes in mental function
- Agitation, irritability
- Deep sleep that lasts a day or longer
- Memory loss
- Quick mood changes
- Sensitivity to light, sound
- Stupor, sleepiness, fatigue
- Seizures may also occur
Delirium tremens is considered a medical emergency, and requires professional care. Delirium tremens and related complications can lead to death. For that reason it is important to receive medical help in alcohol detox. You cannot predict what your reaction to detox will be, and how severe the associated withdrawal symptoms will be. At best, your thinking can be impaired and you will have mild physical reactions that warrant help, but at worst seizures and irregular heartbeats can cause serious long-term consequences.