The first steps of alcohol detox involve withdrawal symptoms. If you’ve ever tried to stop drinking on your own, you may have experienced unpleasant symptoms, including shaking, headache, and insomnia. Withdrawals can be dangerous, and even deadly, when not properly managed. An alcohol detox program can help you get through the process safely.
Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
There are two main stages of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The first is acute alcohol withdrawal, also known as AWS, the body’s physical response to no longer having alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant, so your body works to counteract the sedative effects. When you stop drinking, your body is still compensating for the sedation, but it’s no longer present. This condition causes overstimulation, which causes most AWS symptoms.
The next stage of alcohol detox is post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS. These symptoms occur after the acute symptoms have subsided. They can last for months or even years in some cases. Symptoms of PAWS include depression, fatigue, and chronic pain. It’s thought that changes in the brain and the effects of chronic stress cause PAWS, but the condition isn’t completely understood.
Stages of Detox
The detox process occurs when you stop drinking and usually lasts for about a week. How long it takes depends on how much and how long you drink, as well as your personal biology.
There are three stages of detox. Not everyone experiences all three stages. However, you can move from stage 2 to 3 very quickly. An alcohol detox program will see you through all three stages safely.
Stage 1 can begin 6-12 hours after your last drink. Symptoms are mild at first and usually increase in severity over the next 24 hours.
You may experience:
- Stomach upset or nausea
- Light tremors
- Heart palpitations
Stage 2 begins about 24 hours after your last drink. Symptoms from stage 1 may increase in severity. You may also experience a higher heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, and confusion. This stage can last up to 3 days.
Symptoms from stages 1 and 2 continue. You may also experience auditory or visual hallucinations, seizures, and disorientation. This stage usually lasts no longer than four days, or one week from when you stop drinking. Without treatment, this stage can last for weeks.
Delirium tremens is a more severe form of withdrawal. It occurs in 5-10% of people who go through alcohol detox and can be fatal if not medically treated. It usually develops four days after the last drink, but it can begin later than this. Symptoms of delirium tremors include:
- Delirium (severe confusion and disorientation)
- Fear or excitement
- Body tremors
- Extreme mood changes
Alcohol Detox Program Treatment
The symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal are scary, but a detox program can manage them. You’ll have 24/7 medical supervision, which is essential during the withdrawal period.
You may receive medications to manage symptoms and prevent severe complications like seizures. The process is never a pleasant one, but management can significantly reduce discomfort and prevent painful symptoms. Keep in mind that alcohol detox is temporary. It’s the first step in creating a new and better life for yourself without alcohol dependence.
You’ll also have emotional and moral support, in addition to medical aid. You’ll know that you aren’t going through this process alone. In addition to addiction treatment staff, you’ll spend time with peers who are also going through the process.
Find Alcohol Detox Program at Midwest Detox
It isn’t a good idea to attempt alcohol detox without medical supervision. Treatment can reduce the length and severity of symptoms during AWS and decrease the risk of PAWS. If you are ready to take the first step to freedom from alcohol, Midwest Detox in Maumee, Ohio, can help. Contact us today at 833.647.0392, or contact us online.