How to Deal with Alcohol Withdrawal and Latest Treatment Options
If you or someone you love is struggling with an alcohol addiction, you are not alone. The National Institute of Health reports that in 2015, 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older had Alcohol Abuse Disorder (AUD), including 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women.
Alcohol abuse – just as any addiction – is the result of repeated exposure to substances that cause the body to feel good. Specifically, alcohol causes our brains to release endorphins that create feelings of pleasure.
As our bodies become more immune to the effects of alcohol, they need more of it to get the same pleasure as before. Consequently, our bodies become more and more dependent on the substance of our choice, for the relief it has become accustomed to.
Social Drinking Vs. Alcohol Addiction
For many people, having one or a few drinks with friends is not an issue and causes no problems in their family or professional life. However, some are unable to control their consumption of alcohol and it can become a dangerous addiction. Perhaps the most telling sign of alcohol addiction is when alcohol interferes with work, school, or personal relationships. Many who struggle with alcohol addiction also experience depression which additionally affects their professional and personal relationships. Generally, they can become isolated, moody, and unpredictable which can become debilitating and cause their loved ones, friends, and colleagues to feel helpless.
According to the NIH, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are many more symptoms of alcohol addiction, including:
- Being unable to stop or cut down on drinking
- Getting into dangerous situations while or after drinking
- Needing increased alcohol amounts
- Continuing to drink even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious
- Having memory blackouts
- Giving up activities that were important to you in order to drink
- Getting arrested, being held at a police station, or have other legal problems because of drinking
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure) after intoxication wears off
Aside from these troubling symptoms, alcoholics often must work through their days with hangovers that affect cognition, mobility, reflexes, and energy.
Withdrawal From Alcohol
When our bodies are accustomed to receiving alcohol or other substances but supply suddenly stops, the withdrawal symptoms can be not only agonizing but even dangerous. This may be one reason why some individuals simply don’t quit: it seems easier to simply take another drink than to experience these withdrawal symptoms When a person stops drinking alcohol after a period of steady drinking, their brains go through many changes and one of the most interesting is the hypodopaminergic state, identified by scientists who studied what happened to the brains of people who stop drinking.
Their report, published in the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that alcoholics’ brains have a deficit of dopamine reception. Dopamine is the brain’s “feel-good” chemical naturally produced in the brain but the brains of alcoholics were found to have fewer dopamine receptors.
The brain is not the only part of the body to experience withdrawal symptoms. The NIH reports the first 48 hours of alcohol withdrawal are usually the most critical and the most difficult. The symptoms experienced during this time are predominantly:
- Profuse sweating
- Racing heart rate
- Feelings of restlessness and anxiety
Additionally, the NIAAA reports that Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) can also include such symptoms as:
- High Blood Pressure
In severe cases of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome, individuals can experience Delirium Tremens which is a much rarer experience but also a more serious one. Symptoms may include:
Dealing With Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms sometimes cause individuals to return to their drinking habit because they can range in severity from uncomfortable to life-threatening. However, these ranges are due to the different ways that individuals choose to work through alcohol withdrawal and work towards a life of sobriety.
Stopping Cold Turkey
Many individuals may be able to stop drinking cold turkey. While this is an admirable endeavor, it is important to bear in mind that doing so can sometimes have dangerous consequences- particularly if you are a heavy drinker. If you want to attempt to stop drinking on your own, try to have a support system in place before you do it and consult with your physician to ensure your mind and body are able to withstand the stress of alcohol withdrawal.
An outpatient detox program is one where you visit with a physician or rehab specialist who can assess your needs and provide you with possible medications and a support plan to take home with you. Generally, outpatient programs provide you with some support during the day but you live at home during the night. Outpatient detox programs are best suited for individuals who have supportive home environments and are mentally, physically, and emotionally sound.
Inpatient treatment involves living for a period of time in a rehab facility or hospital. Inpatient rehab usually is more in-depth and offers more services but typically cost more. As with outpatient detox programs, you will be provided with a treatment plan and possible medications to help stave off difficult withdrawal symptoms but you will also have around-the-clock support available while you are in the hospital. There are short- and long-term inpatient programs available that last anywhere from five to seven days up to more than 90 days, depending on the individual and the program.
Day treatment programs – also known as Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) – are treatments that provide full-day (usually 8 hours), intensive rehab services for those with addiction problems. Generally, these programs will offer psychological assistance, group meetings, activities and may include medication support and administration as well depending on the situation. Many individuals in PHPs have a dual diagnosis.
The Crown Jewel of Detox
Utilizing science and technology, a new option to help people kick their addictions has been developed and is proving to be more effective than traditional drugs used to cloak alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It not only helps alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal but actually repairs damaged brain cells to help those who use it get back to feeling more like they did before their addiction.
Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD) IV Therapy is the administration of a cutting-edge co-enzyme that makes withdrawal symptoms diminish within minutes but perhaps, more importantly, it restores brain cells and within days, patients report feeling better with up to an 80 percent decrease in symptoms and more mental clarity and energy.
Whichever method of treatment you choose, the most vital part of success is continued support after you complete your detox. For most people struggling with addiction, there is an underlying issue that can increase the chances of relapse so it’s helpful to have continued support and after care services that will help you continue on the path of sobriety.
If you or your loved ones are struggling to deal with the impact that drinking is having on your life, NAD IV Therapy can help you recover from alcohol addiction in a safe, effective, and – most importantly, compassionate way. Contact us today to set up an appointment.
Ciara Levine – Clinical Director (Psychiatric Nurse, MSN, RN, PMHCNS)
Ciara is our Intake Coordinator/Mental Health Professional that offers an atmosphere of support so that together we can work to alleviate distress and make lasting changes. We will have the opportunity to make positive and healthy improvements to your life. My professional and personal journey have led me to be compassionate, direct and goal oriented with my clients. My approach is interactive, utilizing the theories of cognitive behavioral therapy and family systems therapy.
As a registered nurse for 22 years and an advanced practice psychiatric mental health nurse for 18 years, I have had the opportunity of helping countless individuals achieve behavioral changes that have resulted in lasting improvements in their lives.