Heavy drinking can lead to serious health risks, and one of the most dangerous is alcohol withdrawal. When someone abruptly stops drinking, their brain rushes to adapt to the new chemical imbalance, causing debilitating side effects. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last up to several weeks. In some cases, it can even be life-threatening.
Alcohol dependence occurs when a person experiences cravings for alcohol or withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. It is believed that alcohol withdrawal arises based on various changes in brain activity caused by prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol. The discomfort and pain that can be associated with alcohol and drug withdrawal can make it crucial for those undergoing detoxification to undergo medical intervention that combines their emotional and medical needs. Delirium tremens is a life-threatening symptom that is most commonly associated with long-term alcohol use disorders. A diagnosis of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder may be given to a person whose drinking patterns begin to adversely affect every aspect of their life.
People who are dependent on alcohol may experience a strong, often uncontrollable desire to drink and feel that they cannot function without alcohol. Excessive alcohol use or alcohol misuse can increase a person's risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, more commonly known as “alcoholism” or “alcohol addiction.” Research in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has determined that anyone who meets 2 of the following 11 criteria within a 12-month period can be diagnosed with alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. Those recovering from alcohol abstinence do not have to take this responsibility on their own if they choose to detox in a medical facility. Malnutrition is possible when a person undergoes alcohol detoxification because he may lose his appetite. Alcohol rehabilitation or treatment programs are designed to take care of the mind and body during detoxification. In a medical detox program, which is often the first step in a long-term treatment plan, you register with a specialized center where you will be closely monitored under the supervision of health professionals to keep you as safe and comfortable as possible while managing your alcohol withdrawal. Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, offer an outlet to discuss treatment goals and challenges with others recovering from alcohol. It is important for those suffering from alcoholism to seek help from professionals who understand the complexities of addiction and can provide the necessary support for recovery.