Alcohol Withdrawal Duration

Withdrawal from alcohol can seem a very long and arduous process for the individual going through it. It is often painful for the person, both psychologically and physically. However, a person has a great chance of a full recovery if he or she endures the withdrawal until all the symptoms have subsided, and then continues on with a recovery program.

Why Withdrawal Occurs

Withdrawal symptoms occur because the prolonged exposure to alcohol alters the chemical composition of the brain. Constant and prolonged exposure to alcohol continually exposes the brain cells to its depressant effects, which leads the brain to alter its chemistry so it can compensate for these effects, essentially becoming accustomed to it.

The brain does this by increasing the production of the body’s natural mood stimulators. Withdrawal occurs when alcohol is no longer consumed regularly. The depressant effect disappears, but the body still produces excessive amounts of stimulating chemicals. These result in the characteristic withdrawal symptoms you see in a person who quits drinking cold turkey.

Alcohol Withdrawal Duration

Alcohol Withdrawal Duration

Most patients experience the most severe symptoms of withdrawal within 5 days.

The first signs of alcohol abuse withdrawal usually occur 2 to 3 days after last consumption of alcohol.

The succeeding days are often the worst.

This is the reason why a lot of alcoholics who are quitting and experience the first few days of withdrawal symptoms are expected to stick through it, since after the first week the symptoms usually become more bearable.

People who quit drinking before a more serious habit develops may experience milder symptoms that disappear more quickly. Severe alcoholics often experience the worst symptoms and longer durations of withdrawal due to the body’s prolonged dependence on the substance. The availability of medical help is also an important factor since there are medications which can help lessen the intensity of the symptoms and reduce the discomfort that these symptoms bring.

Dealing with Withdrawal Symptoms

Medical supervision is necessary for a person who is undergoing detoxification and withdrawal. There are also various medications used to lessen the discomfort of symptoms. These include Trazodone and benzodiazepines, which lessen withdrawal symptoms. Nutritional supplements are also given to people experiencing withdrawal to prevent any nutritional deficiencies that could lead to health risks.

Protracted Withdrawal

Protracted withdrawal occurs in some alcoholics and is a condition characterized by withdrawal symptoms that continue to occur after the person has gone through the acute withdrawal stage, but at a reduced intensity. Protracted withdrawal can last for at least a year after discontinuing the consumption of alcohol.

Common symptoms include difficulty sleeping, inability to derive pleasure from normally pleasurable things, and alcohol cravings. There are various medications and therapies designed to help lessen the effects of these symptoms. For example, Trazodone has been found to be helpful in reducing the intensity of insomnia in people who are going through protracted withdrawal.

Alcohol withdrawal is a difficult and uncomfortable time in a person’s life. However, it is a necessary phase for anyone who wants to recover from alcohol addiction. Knowledge of withdrawal symptoms as well as the various therapies useful in combating these symptoms can be very helpful in increasing a person’s chances of healing and recovery.

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