Alcohol withdrawal in Orlando occurs when a person develops a dependence on the substance. The set of symptoms associated with detoxing the body from alcohol is known as alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can range in intensity from mild to severe. In some cases, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may be very dangerous or fatal.
Brain structure and function changes when an addiction sets in. While alcohol initially increases the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA, which causes feelings of calm. After some time this chemical is suppressed. At the same time, the neurotransmitter glutamate, which causes feelings of excitability, also becomes suppressed. As a result, more and more alcohol is needed to get the desired effects of the alcohol.
When the neurotransmitters rebound in spades during alcohol withdrawal, symptoms appear as the body's way of telling you it needs the alcohol to suppress them.
While the symptoms associated with discontinuing the use of alcohol occur in a predictable pattern, not everyone who quits drinking will experience all of the symptoms of withdrawal. In some cases, delirium tremens, or DTs, will set in, and this dangerous collection of symptoms can be fatal if not medically monitored and treated.
Minor symptoms associated with withdrawing from alcohol include anxiety, nausea, headache, and intense cravings, which appear between 6 and 12 hours after the last drink.
Hallucinations may occur anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after the last drink and usually peak around two days after quitting. Hallucinations may be visual, auditory, or tactile, but patients who experience them know that they're just hallucinations.
Delirium tremens, or DTs cause dangerously high blood pressure and heart rate, and can cause seizures as well as hallucinations that patients can't distinguish from reality. Other symptoms of DTs include severe tremors, agitation, disorientation, and intense anxiety. DTs typically set in between 48 and 72 hours after the last drink and peak around the five day mark. Five percent of patients who experience DTs without medical supervision will die from it.
During medical detox, which is available through inpatient and outpatient alcohol rehab programs, physicians and mental health professionals monitor patients for symptoms and use medications as needed to alleviate them or to prevent seizures and shifts in heart function.
While medical detox is essential for safety during alcohol withdrawal, it's also often critical for success. Patients who detox at home without medical supervision or the assistance of medications will often relapse almost immediately due to the discomfort of withdrawal.
Medications administered during the medical detox process include sedatives like Xanax to ease severe anxiety and agitation and help prevent seizures. Antipsychotic drugs help prevent hallucinations, and Clonidine helps maintain normal heart rate and blood pressure.
Treating an alcohol addiction can take place in inpatient treatment centers or through outpatient programs.
Inpatient programs require an extended stay at the facility and provide time away from triggers and stress so the patient can focus solely on recovery. Inpatient treatment is essential for those with a long history of alcohol abuse and addiction or those who are ambivalent toward recovery.
Outpatient treatment can also be successful, but only if the patient is deeply committed to recovery and has a solid support structure in place at home. Outpatient programs allow patients to continue working and meeting other obligations since they continue to live at home, and they offer more privacy since an extended absence isn't required.
For those who are unsure whether to choose an inpatient or outpatient alcohol treatment program, mental health professionals can help evaluate the situation and make recommendations based on the individual's needs and challenges. For more information on alcohol withdrawal treatment options that can help you overcome addiction, call Alcohol Treatment Centers Orlando at (407) 358-6225.