3 Ways to Successfully Manage Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

“First you take a drink,
Then the drink takes a drink,
Then the drink takes you.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby”

Alcohol Detox

At the turn of the year, many people, tired of the climate in the winter months where they live, start to daydream, plan and, will most likely book, their summer vacations. One wonderful place to wake up in is the exotic Caribbean island of St. Kitts, with its wonderfully soft, golden beaches, exotic cocktails, and seemingly 24-hour sunshine. Heaven on Earth. Just watch out for the drunk monkeys stealing your cocktails…

Yes, you read that correctly. Drunk Monkeys. Green vervets, to be precise. St. Kitts has an alcohol problem. Its green vervet monkey population has taken a liking to the odd strong drink or two, to the point where the fermenting sugar cane of the rum-producing island isn’t as desirable to them as that brightly colored cocktail sitting alluringly right next to you.

Now so commonplace, a controversial research project, which involved giving alcohol to 1,000 of the green vervets, found that the animals fall into four main categories, that of a binge drinker, steady drinker, social drinker, and teetotaller. Rather like us, humans, wouldn’t you agree?

No research has been done on the drunk monkeys to ascertain how they deal with withdrawal symptoms (pretty much try to avoid them, it would appear as the problem shows no sign of simply going away). However, our alcohol withdrawal symptoms have been extremely well-researched, as has the whole sphere of our alcohol use and, sometimes, abuse, and your most important “3 Ways to Successfully Manage Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms” follow in a moment…

Firstly, it is exceptionally important to remember that we are all made differently – different genetics, different social history, different metabolisms, men vs. women, age, natural level of tolerance, and so on. Depending upon your level of alcohol consumption, it would be pertinent to see the advice of your medical practitioner before undertaking your detox.

You may not know it, but an alcoholic, even a very heavy drinker, is at risk of fatal consequences without a medically-supervised professional alcohol detox. For the clarity of this article, the following groups are used – mild, moderate, and severe. However, your level of alcohol intake will normally decide how strong your symptoms will be when they’ll begin, and how long they will last.

So, your most important “3 Ways to Successfully Manage Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms”:

Managing Mild Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Successfully

Mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms, predominantly due to central nervous system hyperactivity, can include:

  • Insomnia
  • A headache
  • Tremulousness (trembling or mild tremors)
  • Anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal problems (nausea and diarrhea)
  • Diaphoresis (abnormal sweating)
  • Heart palpitations

Symptoms usually begin within around six hours of stopping drinking and will often develop while patients still have alcohol in their system. Such symptoms usually resolve themselves within 48 hours and certainly lasting no more 4-7 days. Mild over-the-counter medication can be taken to ease these symptoms, as well as ensuring adequate hydration and a nutritious diet is followed.

Managing Moderate Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Successfully

All the factors listed above (genetics, metabolism, etc.) regarding how unique we all are when it comes to alcohol and other addictive substances applies here. Many people will be able to manage these stronger withdrawal symptoms: however, others may not manage them well at all, so that suggested appointment with your medical practitioner is the first step you need to take.

Moderate alcohol symptoms include all of the above, with the additions of possible:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens

For this level of alcohol withdrawal, a home detox is certainly not advisable. At home, you have no access to the prescription medications and treatments to help you, and you risk the following:

  • Mental confusion caused by withdrawal could lead to poor decisions and risky behaviors
  • A co-occurring disorder may also be present, i.e. depression or anxiety (withdrawal will seriously exacerbate those symptoms)
  • The possibility of delirium tremens is a real danger, although rare (which increases the likelihood of seizures, heart failure, and, yes, death)

It is far better to ensure your own safety by opting for a professional alcohol detox within a medical environment.

Seizures: Withdrawal-associated seizures are convulsions that usually occur within 12 to 48 hours after the last alcoholic drink. The seizures occur mainly in patients with a history of alcoholism, at around 40-50 years of age.

Delirium tremens (DTs): Around 5% of patients who undergo withdrawal from alcohol suffer from DTs. DTs can cause hallucinations, disorientation, tachycardia, hypertension, and even hyperthermia. DTs usually begin between 48 and 96 hours after the last drink and can last 1-5 days.

Managing Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Successfully

Three words. Professional medical detox. Three more words. Without a doubt. Anyone whose alcohol consumption is very high to the point where they are abusing alcohol needs such a detox, as the withdrawal symptoms listed above will be severe in nature and their likelihood much increased. To attempt to manage these symptoms alone or at home is foolhardy and very dangerous.

Mentally, Physically, and Spiritually

Mentally, physically, and spiritually, alcohol withdrawal can be very challenging. Therefore, if you are in any doubt, you should seek the help and advice of a medical practitioner or an addiction specialist at a certified treatment center. For those abusing alcohol, alcohol withdrawal can be a difficult and challenging first step to sobriety and, remember, your health and safety are of utmost importance, are they not? Certainly, not to be monkeyed around with.

Are you concerned about your level of alcohol consumption? Do you experience any of these symptoms during the day? If so, please share your comments with us below. Alcohol abuse and addiction mean a long, hard road to recovery, but millions upon millions have done it, and you can too.