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5 Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal and How a Detox Center Can Help

Complications of alcohol withdrawal, Alcohol withdrawal symptoms, Treatment of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcoholism is a serious problem in the United States, with nearly 15 million people aged 12 or older suffering from the disease.

While there are many risks associated with long-term alcohol abuse, one of the most important concerns is alcohol withdrawal syndrome. When you suffer from alcoholism, your brain and body begin to rely on the substance to function properly. If you attempt to abruptly quit using the substance, you will experience symptoms of withdrawal.

There is a common misconception that alcoholism is not as serious as drug addiction because alcohol is legal for people aged 21 and older to drink. However, alcohol abuse can be just as life-threatening as any other form of substance abuse. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are more dangerous than withdrawal from any other substance except benzodiazepines.

1. Withdrawal Seizures

In addition to painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, you could experience severe seizures during the alcohol withdrawal process. Seizures are more common in those who are not receiving medical care once their alcohol level suddenly drops, and they are completely preventable with prescribed benzodiazepine medications.

Typically, alcohol withdrawal seizures occur two days after your last drink. Most alcohol withdrawal seizures are usually grand mal seizures, which can be life-threatening without medical attention. Symptoms of grand mal seizures include jerking motions, muscle stiffness, difficulty breathing, and unconsciousness.

2. Alcoholic Hallucinosis

Alcoholic Hallucinosis is a serious manifestation of alcohol withdrawal, typically occurring in individuals with a history of heavy alcohol consumption. It falls under the broader spectrum of alcohol withdrawal syndromes, which encompass a range of symptoms stemming from abrupt cessation of alcohol use. When alcohol’s effect on the central nervous system is suddenly interrupted, individuals may experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms, ranging from mild to severe.

In the case of Alcoholic Hallucinosis, individuals may exhibit altered mental status, psychomotor agitation, and, as the name suggests, hallucinations. These hallucinations can be vivid and distressing, often involving auditory or visual experiences.

It’s crucial for those with a history of heavy drinking and alcohol dependence to be aware of the risk factors for severe withdrawal symptoms, including Alcoholic Hallucinosis. At Woburn Wellness, we are well-equipped to help you manage more severe withdrawal symptoms. It is important to seek medical attention as it can help prevent severe complications and provide the necessary clinical management and pharmacologic treatment.

Ultimately, Alcoholic Hallucinosis underscores the importance of recognizing alcohol use disorders, seeking appropriate medical support, and considering interventions such as family therapy and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous to address the broader issue of alcohol addiction. This complex condition necessitates comprehensive care to ensure the individual’s physical and mental well-being during their journey to recovery.

Alcohol affects on exisiting mental disorders pose increased risk of further complications such as hallucinosis or bipolar disorder.

3. Todd’s Paralysis

Experiencing withdrawal seizures during alcohol withdrawal increases the risk of another complication known as Todd’s Paralysis, a neurological condition that can follow a seizure episode. Todd’s Paralysis often resembles the symptoms of a stroke, which may include numbness, disorientation, limb weakness, and slurred speech. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

Regrettably, there is no specific treatment available for Todd’s Paralysis. If you encounter this condition, the best course of action is to find a comfortable place to rest. However, during alcohol withdrawal, achieving rest without proper medical intervention can be challenging, emphasizing the critical importance of seeking help through an alcohol detox program.

This comprehensive approach addresses not only the risk of Todd’s Paralysis but also the broader spectrum of alcohol withdrawal syndrome and its potential complications, safeguarding the individual’s well-being throughout the withdrawal process.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. Complications of alcohol abuse and possible symptoms after the last drink.

4. Delirium Tremens (DTs)

If you’ve undergone alcohol withdrawal previously, you might be familiar with the term “delirium tremens” or DTs. This represents the most perilous aspect of alcohol withdrawal, capable of leading to fatality in the absence of professional intervention.

The symptoms associated with alcoholic delirium tremens encompass a range of distressing manifestations, including agitation, confusion, trembling, profuse sweating, tachycardia, nausea, vomiting, impaired consciousness, hallucinations, and the presence of shaking, tremors, and seizures. DTs typically manifest about 2 days after an individual’s last alcoholic drink and can persist for a duration of 2 to 3 days. To mitigate the potentially life-threatening nature of these symptoms, extensive medical treatment is imperative. Though alcohol withdrawal delirium affects only a fraction, approximately 5%, of those in alcoholism recovery, this still represents a substantial number of individuals. Given the severe risks involved, it’s a risk that no one should be willing to take lightly. Seeking professional assistance and guidance during alcohol withdrawal is paramount, ensuring that individuals receive the necessary care and support to navigate the challenges of alcohol withdrawal and severe symptoms safely.
Diagnostic and statistical manual defined by american psychiatric association covers symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

5. Relapse

One of the most critical concerns during alcohol withdrawal is the risk of relapse. When experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms without medical assistance, these symptoms can become overwhelmingly distressing, leading some individuals to consider resuming alcohol use as a way to alleviate their discomfort.

While returning to alcohol use may not inherently pose an immediate life-threatening risk, it can become perilous. Individuals may underestimate their loss of tolerance, potentially leading to excessive alcohol consumption, which, in turn, can result in alcohol poisoning, also known as an overdose. This can result in accidental injuries, social problems, and severe health consequences.

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning encompass mental confusion, stupor, difficulty remaining conscious or waking up, vomiting, seizures, slow and irregular breathing, a decreased heart rate, clammy skin, dulled responses (including a loss of the gag reflex, which prevents choking), and extremely low body temperature with bluish or pale skin color.

To mitigate the risk of relapse and its potential consequences, it’s crucial for individuals grappling with alcohol withdrawal to seek professional medical support and consider comprehensive interventions to address their alcohol use disorder effectively.

How Can an Alcohol Detox Program Help?

Entering rehab to receive clinical institute withdrawal assessment for alcohol use disorder. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms after last drink.

While the complications of alcohol withdrawal can be incredibly scary, receiving assistance from an alcohol detox center can reduce your risk of experiencing these conditions. Most detox centers use medications that prevent severe withdrawal symptoms such as delirium tremens and alcoholic seizures.

Because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that affects the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) most alcohol detox centers prescribe long-acting benzodiazepines like diazepam or lorazepam that target the same neurotransmitter. Benzodiazepines affect the same areas of the brain as alcohol, so they can alleviate withdrawal symptoms while also preventing seizures. Over time, your doctor will reduce your dose of benzodiazepines until you are no longer experiencing withdrawal. In addition to medication, your vitals will be monitored constantly, allowing the medical team to promptly address any medical concerns you are experiencing. Between medications and monitoring, alcohol detox centers will prevent you from experiencing the severe consequences of alcohol withdrawal, keeping you safe, comfortable, and most importantly – alive.

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Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Acute withdrawal occurs after one tends to drink heavily and impact normal function after outpatient management. Symptom triggered group therapy for alcohol health complications.

During alcohol withdrawal, individuals often experience a range of common symptoms as their body adjusts to the absence of alcohol. These symptoms may include anxiety, restlessness, sweating, nausea, and insomnia. Additionally, they might encounter heightened irritability and difficulty concentrating. Recognizing these common withdrawal symptoms is crucial, as they signify the initial stages of the withdrawal process.

Severe and Minor Withdrawal Symptoms

Mild symptoms can be distressing nonetheless and may include symptoms like headaches, mild tremors, and an increased heart rate. Individuals going through alcohol withdrawal may also feel a heightened sensitivity to light and sound. While these symptoms are considered minor compared to more severe manifestations, they should not be underestimated. Even minor symptoms can escalate, highlighting the importance of seeking medical assistance to ensure a smoother withdrawal process and to prevent the progression to more severe impacts.

Severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, such as delirium tremens (DTs), pose significant health risks and should be treated as emergencies. DTs can involve agitation, confusion, seizures, hallucinations, and profound physical distress. Other may include a drop in blood pressure, extreme tremors, and cardiovascular complications. The presence of severe symptoms necessitates immediate medical attention and intervention. Timely treatment can be life-saving and is essential for the well-being and safety of individuals with alcohol withdrawal.

Health Impacts of Long-Term or Heavy Alcohol Abuse

Long-term or heavy alcohol abuse can have severe health implications that extend beyond the immediate effects of alcohol intoxication. Understanding the health impacts of alcohol abuse is essential, especially for individuals dealing with alcohol use disorder and those committed to helping them seek treatment.

One significant concern is the development of acute alcohol withdrawal when someone suddenly stops drinking after prolonged heavy alcohol use. Symptoms can range from alcoholic ketoacidosis and high blood pressure to gastrointestinal bleeding. Managing these symptoms is critical and often requires medical assistance.

Additionally, long-term alcohol abuse can lead to liver disease, making it imperative for individuals with alcohol problems to seek timely help.

Find an Alcohol Detox Center in Massachusetts Today

Complications of alcohol withdrawal and symptom triggered therapy for support after last drink.

If you or a loved one is grappling with alcoholism, we strongly advise against attempting detoxification at home. Alcohol withdrawal can pose significant dangers without the appropriate medical assistance, occasionally resulting in life-threatening conditions, such as delirium tremens. At Woburn Wellness, our primary concern is your safety and well-being during this critical phase of recovery.

Choosing to seek help at our reputable alcohol detox facility is a decision that prioritizes your health and recovery journey. At Woburn Wellness, you will receive personalized and compassionate care, tailored to your specific needs. Our dedicated medical staff and addiction specialists are equipped to manage the full spectrum of symptoms that may arise during withdrawal, including both minor and severe symptoms.

Stop Drinking with the Help of Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment

By entrusting your care to Woburn Wellness, you’re making a conscious choice to increase your chances of a successful recovery journey. We believe that seeking professional help is a significant step towards reclaiming control over your life and breaking free from the grip of alcohol addiction.

If you are ready to take this important step toward recovery, we encourage you to reach out to us today. Our experienced team is here to guide you through the process of finding a suitable detox center and making the necessary arrangements for your care, ensuring that you receive the expert support you deserve on your path to sobriety with our comprehensive and compassionate approach to treatment.


Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC
Clinical Director

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