Prolonged use of excessive alcohol causes an individual’s body, especially the brain, to alter normal bodily functions. Alcohol acts as a sedative, which slows the brain, and is also known as depressant giving a sedating effect. Individuals who drink heavily and for an extended period of time continually subject the brain to the depressant effect. The brain attempts to offset this effect initiated from alcohol consumption by creating serotonin and norepinephrine. These natural chemicals stimulate the brain, and supply much larger amounts than normal, in an attempt to compensate alcohol’s effect. Once alcohol is no longer consumed, the brain’s adaptation of producing the accelerated amount of natural chemicals continues, causing alcohol withdrawal.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal vary from individual to individual with the typical alcohol withdrawal symptoms duration lasting up to five days.
Shakes or trembles can start as early as five hours after an individual’s last consumption of alcohol, enduring for as long as two days. Along with this symptom, an individual may experience increases in pulse and heart rate, accelerated breathing, nausea and vomiting, irritability, sweating, anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares.
In twelve hours of alcoholic consumption, alcohol hallucinosis may occur where an individual hallucinates, perceiving images not genuine. This symptom may last for as long as two days. Seizures may also transpire within six hours of an individual’s last consumption of alcohol and persist for 24 hours.
After two days from the last consumption of alcohol, delirium tremens, arising in 5 percent of individuals experiencing alcohol withdrawal, causes changes with breathing, body temperature, and circulation. One in twenty individuals experiencing alcohol withdrawal has delirium tremens. An acceleration of blood pressure and heart rate may also occur with brain blood flow reduced and hazardous dehydration occurring. Hallucinations are also a symptom of delirium tremens along with behavioral changes of anger and nervousness, disorientation, sleep issues, saturating sweats, stupor, and irrational thoughts.
An individual should seek intensive care unit treatment if delirium tremens, seizures, or vomiting occurs. Observation of breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure can be conducted during hospital treatment with life-support readily available in case of an emergency. A doctor testing blood for damage due to the indulgence of alcohol consumption can examine the heart, nerves, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and blood cell counts. If an individual is exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, other injuries are likely to have resulted from the excessive consumption of alcohol. A doctor can also assess vitamin deficiencies like zinc, folate and thiamine caused by an individual’s poor diet choices.
While the typical, alcohol withdrawal symptoms duration, subside in five days, some individuals take up to several weeks before symptoms diminish. Benzodiazepines are medicines that may alleviate symptoms from alcohol withdrawal. An individual who partakes in programs to treat alcohol dependency improves success of remaining abstinent from alcohol.
Symptoms from alcohol withdrawal may not be ideal. However, the brief but painful suffering is an improvement in comparison to remaining addiction to alcohol. A life expectancy decrease of up to 15 years is estimated for individuals who continue to abuse alcohol.