Despite the fact that it is both legal and socially acceptable to consume alcohol, this drug substance is acknowledged by many experts as one of the most widely used and dangerous drug substances currently in existence. What’s worse, an individual who seeks to end their relationship with alcohol can find that the road to sobriety is long and difficult. In fact, alcohol withdrawals can be so severe that the individual must receive medical supervision throughout the process. Individuals who attempt to withdraw and detox on their own can find it so difficult that they come to believe that it would be easier, and safer, to continue their alcohol consumption. However, it is best for their long-term health and well-being if they do work through withdrawals and detox, and there is a way to do so as comfortably as possible.
The length and severity of an individual’s alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on the quantity, frequency and length of their alcohol consumption. In most cases, initial symptoms begin as early as two hours after the individual’s last drink, and more severe symptoms show up within three to ten days. These symptoms can be highly uncomfortable and can persist for several weeks. Some individuals continue to experience some degree of withdrawal symptoms for months or even years after their last alcohol consumption. The most common withdrawal symptoms include alcohol cravings, mild anxiety, nervousness, irritability, depression, mood swings, nightmares, headaches, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, tremors, excessive sweating, insomnia, fatigue, clammy skin, blackout periods, hallucinations, seizures, heart attack, stroke and delirium tremens–which includes severe confusion, changes in mental function, rapid heartbeat, fever, deep sleep periods lasting twenty-four hours or longer, hallucinations and seizures.
An individual who is attempting to withdraw from even minor alcohol use should always consult with a health professional in order to ensure that they can do so as safely and comfortably as possible. In addition to whatever support and treatment is provided to the individual, there are many things they can do to help ease the side-effects of withdrawal:
● Drink lots of fluids, particularly water. The body is best able to flush toxins when given plenty of good fluids.
● Get plenty of rest. The process of withdrawal can be quite draining, both physically and mentally, so getting plenty of good rest can help to ensure it has the energy it needs in order to make it smoothly through this process.
● Take hot or cold showers to ease physical discomfort. In the same way that heating pads or ice packs can help an individual work through physical discomfort, hot or cold showers can help the individual work through unpleasant physical withdrawal symptoms.
● Think positively. It can be quite easy to feel hopeless about one’s situation when they are suffering through the painful withdrawal experience, but thinking positively can help one to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and keep persisting despite all difficulties.
● Distract yourself. Watching a movie, reading a book, keeping a journal, exercising, drawing, cleaning and other activities can help one to not keep all their attention focused on their cravings for alcohol or the physical discomforts of withdrawal.
● Seek out positive individuals. Support and encouragement are critical during the recovery process, and there are plenty of people–including medical doctors, treatment specialists, family members and friends–who are eager to provide it.
When preparing to withdraw and detox from alcohol, it is important to consider one’s reasons for doing so, and the goals they hope to achieve by doing so. It may be true that withdrawal is long and difficult, but thankfully it is only temporary and certainly well worth the effort.