Struggle with alcohol addiction and dependence, stopping drinking is difficult. Recognizing alcohol dependency is crucial as it significantly contributes to the challenge of ceasing alcohol consumption due to the physical and mental reliance developed over time. This is in part due to the physical dependence on alcohol, which results when individuals drink alcohol heavily and regularly, leading to alcohol withdrawal when a person decreases or stops drinking alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms appear when a person is dependent on alcohol and stops drinking or decreases their drinking. Going through withdrawal is part of the process of healing from alcohol addiction. However, managing these withdrawal symptoms is essential. At PCP – The Perry Clayman Project, we help clients successfully detox and heal to take the first step towards a new life free from alcohol addiction.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Ethanol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Varying levels of alcohol intake over time, especially with high exposure and continued use, contribute to changes in the CNS, leading to dependence on ethanol. It does so by making changes in the CNS that help the brain cope with the consistent presence of a depressant. However, these changes mean that without ethanol, the brain is left with a system that is no longer independent of ethanol. As a result, individuals struggling with alcohol dependence experience symptoms varying from mild to severe, depending on their unique biology and history of alcohol abuse.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a condition that arises from the cessation or reduction in heavy or prolonged alcohol use, characterized by symptoms ranging from mild to severe, and involves the management and treatment with medications like benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe. Generally, mild symptoms begin within six hours of stopping or decreasing alcohol use. Mild symptoms include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Insomnia

  • Anxiety

  • Upset stomach

  • Headache

  • Heart palpitations

The first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can occur within a few hours of the last drink and are typically at their worst during the first 48 hours. The entire withdrawal process usually spans 3 to 7 days, although the duration can vary depending on the severity of the addiction.

In the first 12 to 24 hours after decreasing or stopping consumption of alcohol, moderate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can occur. Moderate symptoms include hallucinations or withdrawal seizures. About 50% of those who experience withdrawal seizures will progress to the most severe symptom of alcohol withdrawal, delirium tremens. Delirium tremens symptoms include:

  • Visual hallucinations

  • Increases heart rate

  • High blood pressure

  • Poor body temperature regulation

  • Agitation

  • Sweating

Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal

Being diagnosed with alcohol withdrawal is the first step to a client getting help. At PCP – The Perry Clayman Project, our staff helps provide clients with a diagnosis. This gives both staff and clients an understanding of what treatments are necessary to keep clients comfortable and recover fully from alcohol dependence. The Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol (CIWA-Ar) is utilized to accurately assess and manage the severity of withdrawal symptoms, guiding the treatment process.

Alcohol withdrawal can continue for up to seven days, and monitoring the progression of alcohol withdrawal symptoms is an important part of treatment at PCP – The Perry Clayman Project. Treating alcohol withdrawal effectively often involves the use of benzodiazepines, which are the most commonly used medication for managing withdrawal symptoms. This approach not only helps in reducing the severity of symptoms but also in preventing complications such as seizures and hallucinations. The specific needs of each client are under supervision, ensuring that while some clients will need medications to manage symptoms, others will only need supervision and care in their alcohol withdrawal process.

Managing Severe Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Getting through alcohol withdrawal is an important first step in recovery from alcohol addiction. However, it is important that symptoms are managed in order to recover from alcohol addiction safely and effectively. Managing symptoms is a vital piece of the process. Recognizing severe symptoms and severe withdrawal symptoms is crucial, as these may require medical supervision to ensure safety during the detoxification process. Certain severe withdrawal symptoms may constitute a medical emergency, underscoring the importance of immediate professional medical care to prevent life-threatening complications.

There are many ways to manage symptoms of withdrawal. First and foremost, it is important that clients are in a safe environment where they are cared for physically, emotionally, and mentally. However, in addition to general care, many medications are also helpful in managing symptoms. Ensuring hydration through intravenous fluids, correcting electrolyte abnormalities, and providing medications that decrease symptoms helps clients stay comfortable and safe through the process. It is important that these medications are monitored and administered by a medical professional to ensure they are helpful and not harmful.

Both inpatient and outpatient care are options for a client going through alcohol withdrawal, depending on the specifics of their unique situation. At PCP – The Perry Clayman Project, we work directly with each client to find the best way for them to heal. However, in general, more severe cases are often referred to inpatient alcohol rehab in order to have more support and care in the process of healing from addiction.

Rehab and Aftercare for Successful Recovery

Alcohol withdrawal is a sign that a client is struggling with alcohol dependence, and deciding to stop drinking is a critical first step in the recovery from alcohol addiction and dependence. While alcohol addiction is a physical dependence, there are other pieces of addiction. Therefore, for a person to recover from alcohol addiction, care after detox is vital. At PCP – The Perry Clayman Project, we offer withdrawal support, alcohol rehab, and aftercare.

In alcohol rehab, clients learn how to stay sober successfully. Addressing underlying issues is part of this process. This includes addressing mental health challenges, trauma, or other aspects of a client’s life that play a role in their dependence on alcohol. However, it also includes learning new communication skills, self-care, and healthy coping mechanisms. Most importantly, rehab offers a safe environment. In this environment, clients have the opportunity to learn and grow. They can make internal and external changes in their lives that make an impact. For individuals with severe alcohol dependence, this comprehensive approach is crucial, as they may require specific medical support and prescription medication to manage withdrawal symptoms, including the risk of seizures safely.

After rehab, clients have aftercare options. Aftercare helps clients stay connected with their rehab. Addiction is not a curable disease, so aftercare helps by providing continuous support and care. At PCP—The Perry Clayman Project, our aftercare programme is free of charge. Clients have the option to stay connected in various ways, including through peer support or individual sessions. Overall, rehab and aftercare help clients build skills and get the support they need to make real-life changes.

Alcohol withdrawal is an unfortunate but real consequence of alcohol addiction and alcohol dependence and is often a part of the healing process if you are struggling with alcohol addiction. To learn more about how you can get support to heal from alcohol withdrawal and start a new life free from alcohol addiction, call PCP – The Perry Clayman Project today at 08000 380 480.