Especially for people with an alcohol use disorder, quitting alcohol alone is never a smart choice. This is because stopping cold turkey can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms, including delirium tremens, or the DTs.
Alcohol has what’s called a depressive effect. This means it slows your brain function and alters the way your nerves send messages to one another. Over time, your body adjusts to this new state by working hard to keep your brain more awake. When you abruptly stop alcohol, however, your brain stays in this “keyed up” state and that’s what causes the symptoms of withdrawal.
The danger of withdrawal from alcohol, like other drugs, “has to do with the body’s response to the extreme changes in the chemical processes going on in the brain and the rest of the body,” psychologist Adi Jaffe wrote in an article in Psychology Today.
DTs impact roughly 5 percent of people with alcohol withdrawal and most commonly impact those who have abused alcohol for more than 10 years. According to the National Institute of Health, they are most common among those who drink 4 to 5 pints (1.8 to 2.3 liters) of wine, 7 to 8 pints (3.5 to 4 liters) of beer, or 1 pint (1/2 liter) of ‘hard’ alcohol every day for several months.
DTs usually start 48 to 72 hours after you put down the glass and can cause a variety of physical and psychological symptoms, including:
- Racing heart
- High blood pressure
- Heavy sweating
- Mood changes
- Hallucinations, such as sensations of something crawling on or under your skin. This phenomenon is known as formication.
- Potentially life-threatening seizures
Yet even people who drink as little as two glasses of wine a night over many years can experience less extreme withdrawal symptoms when they stop using alcohol, including anxiety, shaky hands, headache, nausea, vomiting, insomnia and sweating. And even if these physical withdrawal symptoms subside within several days, the psychological symptoms are often ongoing and can last several weeks.
Alcohol Detox in Austin
The best way to ease or avoid DTs or lesser symptoms of alcohol withdrawal is to seek medical attention. A medically-supervised detox is not only important for your immediate safety but for your long-term recovery success. A medically-supervised facility can help you stabilize your physical and mental health as you begin the journey toward recovery. To learn about our alcohol detox program, call today: 866-905-4550.