Storm Before the Rainbow: Alcohol Withdrawals

by | Jun 23, 2023 | alcoholism, Health Care | 0 comments

Photo by Vinicius “amnx” Amano on Unsplash

Chugging down a bottle or two of beer may be the perfect way to de-stress. But everything can be a nightmare when things spiral out of control, especially when alcohol withdrawals hit.

“Everything in moderation.”

This is always a statement people throw when people start developing damaging routines. However, more often than not, it’s also the first thing to get thrown away and forgotten when things spiral down.

Alcohol is a mind-altering substance. To some, it’s only a fun way of de-stressing, flushing away the rough day to start anew the next. Others drink it as their only source of happiness and satisfaction. The substance makes them see life through a brighter lens, sparking joy in their miserable-ridden minds. This spark, though temporary, is what makes them crave more until what starts as a habitual enjoyment becomes a dependency.

Although nobody frowns when one chugs down alcohol as a pastime, this drink is still commonly considered a legal drug – addictive and dangerous. Hence, regardless of how often people remind themselves to drink moderately, once they’ve fully allowed their minds to associate it with an elated release, they won’t stop looking for it. As with every substance dependency, once people want out from alcohol, they would have to cope and grapple with alcohol withdrawals.

Tracing the Path of Alcohol Dependency

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 15 million Americans suffer from an alcohol-related disorder. This includes brain disorders characterized by compulsive alcohol consumption, heightened negative emotions under the influence, and a loss of control.

From these alone, it’s pretty easy to deduce the damage alcohol dependency brings to people. But what’s more unfortunate is that these horrors aren’t only destructive to the drinkers. Their behaviors also impact those around them, whether family or unknowing bystanders. A child of an alcoholic father may suffer from the latter’s outbursts in his drunken state. A bystander can get caught up in a traffic accident caused by a drunkard. Many disastrous events can occur when people can’t get through a day without drinking their hearts out.

It takes a lot of thinking and advice before people snap out of their trance and realize what they’re putting people through. To others, it may even take a serious event, such as a death of a loved one, to know they’ve messed up. Once this happens, deciding to step out of dependency can be terrifying, especially when alcohol withdrawals are incredibly challenging to manage.

The Timeline for Alcohol Withdrawals

When vices have been deeply engraved into one’s brain with the body highly accustomed to the high, cutting them off may be like snapping a steel rod. It may seem impossible at face value, but it’s possible with the right tools and help.

Learning about alcohol withdrawal is the proper first step toward long-term and sustainable recovery.

Alcohol withdrawals typically happen within eight hours of an individual’s last drink, but others may experience it days later. The first kick will always be the one to knock the person down. But they would have to ride symptoms out for the next days or weeks. Alcohol is a substance that alters the brain’s chemicals, and alcohol dependency embeds these changes into one’s life.

In a way, when people go through alcohol withdrawals, their brains and bodies are undoing these changes. To some, this can be a straight road toward success. But others will find themselves in a spiral which often brings them back to square one.

This event can be broken down into three stages:

Stage One

This usually kicks in within the first eight hours after the last drink. It’s when alcoholics will typically search for the substance as a force of habit. They’ll be highly disturbed and uneasy without the alcohol in their system. As the hours pass, the uneasiness will turn into anxiety, nausea, and abdominal pain, often labeled as body purging.

It’s within these hours that alcoholics will require close monitoring. Although it’s only been hours, they will already have a strong urge to return to their vices.

Stage Two

This stage, commonly called the confusion phase, occurs after a day or two of alcohol withdrawals. While stage one is characterized mainly by mental or psychological effects, stage two welcomes the physiological effects. This includes but isn’t limited to high blood pressure, unusual heart rate, and an increased body temperature.

Like the previous stage, alcoholics would still need close observation. But this time, it’s for the possible health complications. During this stage, their situation will be erratic, and the body will have problems coping and overcoming the symptoms.

Stage Three

It’s a crucial part of the process. How people bear through this stage will make or break the individual’s progress. The first two stages might be tough to experience and see, but this stage will be unbearable. Alcoholics will go through a round of hallucinations, seizures, and extreme agitation within two to three days after their last drink.

During this stage, those helping these individuals must also be aware of Delirium Tremens, a fatal symptom of alcohol withdrawal. This is characterized by an extreme and typically sudden shift in one’s nervous system and mental state, which can cause possible brain lesions.

Alcohol withdrawals are rough, not just for the individuals riding the symptoms out but also for the people observing them. Learning and understanding these stages is one thing, but experiencing them will be another. If you know anyone braving this event, never let them away from your attention and stay with them until the end.

Symptoms may be harsh, but going through them alone is more damaging.


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