Going through alcohol detox can be incredibly taxing on the body. The symptoms are so intense they’ve been grouped together to create a syndrome called alcohol withdrawal syndrome, or AWS. When in its most extreme state, AWS can even be life-threatening.


Symptoms of AWS appear when someone drastically reduces their alcohol intake, such as a heavy daily drinker quitting cold turkey. Mild anxiety, fatigue, and nausea are among a few of the less intense symptoms, while harsher symptoms include hallucinations and seizures.


The reason alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs is because the body becomes dependent on alcohol when used daily, over a long period of time. Drinking excessively will excite the body’s nervous system, and once the body becomes dependent on alcohol, the nervous system has a difficult time adapting to a lack of alcohol. When decreasing or discontinuing drinking altogether, the nervous system will react by causing anxiety, insomnia, heart rate changes, increased blood pressure, and delirium.


Other symptoms include tremors, headaches, increased heart rate, sweating, irritability, confusion, and nightmares. These can show up anywhere from six hours to several days after the last alcoholic drink was ingested. They can get worse over the course of a few days and end up lasting for weeks.


When alcohol detox is at its worst, delirium tremens is often experienced. This is the worst type of withdrawal syndrome someone can experience. Symptoms of this include fever, seizures, extreme confusion and/or agitation, and several types of hallucinations. The hallucinations include auditory (hearing non-existent sounds), tactile (burning, itching, and numbness), and visual (seeing non-existent images).


It is possible to treat AWS symptoms at home, as long as they are mild and a relative or friend is present to help the patient. Be sure to include a doctor in the plan to detox, as their monitoring will help test for medical problems that could arise. Be sure the person helping the patient is familiar with AWS and severe symptoms to look out for.


If symptoms become more severe, hospitalization is a recommended option. Being under the care of medical professionals 24/7 will help manage any complications should they occur. In addition, the hospital can administer an IV to help prevent dehydration. Since symptoms are often treated with sedatives, having them readily available at the hospital is helpful as well. Anytime severe AWS symptoms appear, it is strongly recommended to seek professional medical assistance. Delirium tremens can be fatal, so make sure to take it seriously and ask for help if necessary. Most people suffering from AWS will recover fully, but the sooner it’s treated, the better.


Dealing with addiction and detoxing can be difficult. Call Treatment Now today for professional help with any questions.

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