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How to Start the Drug Recovery Process?

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Alcohol withdrawal is one of the most apparent symptoms of alcoholism. A person's body undergoes withdrawal symptoms when they quit consuming alcohol abruptly after a period of heavy and continuous use. This happens because the body and mind adjust to functioning on alcohol after prolonged drinking. When you suddenly stop, it takes time for your body to acclimate to operating without it. Withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sleeplessness, nausea, and anxiety are common during this adjustment period. Here's precisely what happens to your body during alcohol withdrawal.

The brain during alcohol withdrawal

In the brain, prolonged alcohol use can affect neurotransmitters such as GABA and dopamine. The imbalance in those neurotransmitters can cause Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS).

  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the most crucial neurotransmitter linked to relaxation. GABA also aids in the brain's production of feel-good endorphins. Over time, the brain adapts to an imbalance in GABA production due to excessive alcohol consumption, adjusting its neurotransmitter synthesis accordingly. After an addiction forms, cutting alcohol leads to an imbalance in the brain's chemical system that causes withdrawal symptoms.
  • Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the body's reward system, is likewise impacted by alcohol abuse. Energy, enjoyment, and motivation are all controlled by this neurotransmitter. An imbalance in dopamine is one of the telltale signs of addiction. As a neurotransmitter, dopamine aids in various bodily functions, including attention, motor coordination, cognitive function, and mood. When consumed, alcohol causes the release of dopamine. The brain's feel-good neurotransmitters become more and more reliant on alcohol as tolerance builds in the body. Dopamine production halts when chronic excessive drinking is abruptly stopped, resulting in physical and psychological withdrawal.

Additionally, AWS can cause a large number of symptoms, including headaches, anxiety, agitation, disorientation, seizures, insomnia, and in some severe cases, hallucinations and delirium tremens (DT).

Hallucinations

Within one or two days of refraining from alcohol consumption, hallucinations are a part of what happens to your body during alcohol withdrawal. Medication assisted treatment might be the right option in this case. It is not uncommon for patients with alcohol hallucinations to see, hear, or feel things that are not there, even while they are aware of their environment.

Seizures

In the absence of other withdrawal signs and symptoms, AW seizures can occur after one or two days of decreasing alcohol intake. Most of the time, a single generalized convulsion with trembling in the arms and legs and unconsciousness is all that happens to the patient. A second seizure usually occurs within six hours of the initial one. Additionally, status epilepticus can occur. Status epilepticus can be considered a medical emergency characterized by persistent seizures requiring a visit to the ER.

Delirium tremens

In most cases, symptoms of delirium tremens appear within two or three days of the last alcoholic beverage consumed, but it might take longer than a week. It peaks four to five days after the last alcoholic beverage has been consumed. This illness can severely disrupt your respiration, circulation, and temperature control. It can lead to dangerously high blood pressure and dangerous dehydration and can cause dangerously high heart rates. Delirium tremens can also lower your brain's blood flow for a short period. Disorientation, stumbling, or loss of consciousness are some of the symptoms, as are agitated or aggressive behavior, irrational ideas, sweating, sleep difficulties, and hallucinations.

The body during alcohol withdrawal

Unpleasant physical effects on the body during alcohol withdrawal include tremors, fever, sweating, nausea, high blood pressure, and many more. Alcohol shakes (tremors) typically begin 5 to 10 hours after the last alcoholic drink and peak between 24 and 48 hours later. Shakes are the most common symptom of alcohol withdrawal. Anxiety, irritability, nightmares, vivid dreams, and sleeplessness can accompany tremors. Other symptoms include a quick heartbeat, increased blood pressure, rapid breathing, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.

Ways to fight it

  • Detox - Detoxification is the first and most crucial step. This is the point at which alcoholics give up their habit. After that, there's a close check for any signs of illness. If need be, doctors can prescribe medications to alleviate these symptoms. Then, there are different treatment options to consider. Inpatient treatment provides round-the-clock care and rapid and straightforward access to the amenities patients need to recover more quickly. Patients with milder symptoms may benefit more from outpatient care. They are allowed to go about their daily routine, but they must visit their doctor regularly.
  • Counseling - The most common causes of alcoholism are emotional issues. Even for a brief time, counseling allows people to forget about the difficulties they are facing. Counseling is essential to recovery because it will enable patients to work through their emotional issues. Those who are struggling with alcoholism will also get emotional assistance through counseling.
  • Support groups - Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other support groups offer patients a safe place to vent their frustrations. They can talk about their aims and struggles in a non-judgmental setting with others who are on the same path as them. Patients can learn from one another and give each other support and encouragement through difficult times. You'll go through addiction easier with a community of like-minded individuals.

Post-rehab stage

It's critical that you don't start drinking again after you've finished rehab. You have a better chance of staying sober if you participate in an alcohol treatment program. Just around 20% of alcoholics who don't seek either professional help or self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can permanently overcome their addiction. 44% of those who join Alcoholics Anonymous and remain sober for a year are likely to stay sober for another year. For those who have been clean and sober for at least five years, the percentage rises to 91%.

Final words

We hope our guide has given you insight into what happens to your body during alcohol withdrawal and options to fight alcoholism. It's critically important that you stay on the right path if you struggle. And don't forget, you're not in this alone, so if you need help, ask for it! Good luck!

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