What Triggers Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol addiction doesn’t happen overnight. Most people start drinking on a purely recreational basis. Over time, some begin drinking every day and then gradually proceed to drinking almost all of the time. When these individuals don’t drink, they get sick. If you or someone you care about has decided to stop drinking, it’s important to seek help. Completing an alcohol detox without the benefit of medical monitoring and support is unsafe. Unsupervised alcohol detox can result in the presentation of severe withdrawal symptoms.

In some cases, it may even lead to death. Understanding why withdrawal occurs is important. When you know what triggers alcohol withdrawal, you’re less likely to attempt the dangerous and often ineffective exercise of “going cold turkey”. Alcohol affects the brain’s chemistry and all aspects of the brain’s general functioning. It does so by triggering the release of powerful chemicals known as neurotransmitters.

These chemicals exist as part of the brain’s reward system. They also control important functions throughout the body such as:

  • Temperature regulation
  • Nausea regulation
  • Smooth muscle control
  • Memory
  • Balance
  • Coordination

When people drink, massive surges of select neurotransmitters make them feel relaxed, happy, euphoric, and even confident. Their inhibitions are lowered, and they’re less fearful of interacting with others socially. However, when people drink too much, too many of these chemicals cause their speech to become slurred. Intoxicated people often lose their balance, their ability to focus, and their short-term ability to remember things.

They may sweat excessively or throw up. These are all signs that the brain and body’s chemistry has been upset by overstimulated neurotransmitters like dopamine and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). When people drink all of the time, the production and release of these important chemicals becomes reliant upon their continued alcohol consumption. Moreover, many neurotransmitters get worn out.

When neurotransmitter burnout occurs, GABA, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters misfire and some of these chemicals may no longer be produced at all. During prolonged periods of abstinence, this leads to shaking, sweating, confusion, and the countless other alcohol withdrawal symptoms that detoxing entails.

Why Medically Managed Detox Is So Important

Medically managed detox helps the body ease its way back to sobriety. It gives the brain’s chemistry a chance to rebound without the risk of having physical withdrawal symptoms spiral out of control. In medically managed detox, people are given a range of needs-specific interventions that keep their vital signs stable and limit their discomfort. Detox services are always streamlined to meet the needs of the individual. Rehab professionals account for factors such as:

  • Age
  • Length of addiction
  • Gender
  • General health
  • Co-occurring medical conditions
  • Past recovery efforts
  • Distress tolerance

Detoxing from alcohol in a rehab facility isn’t just safer, it’s also more comfortable. Even as onsite medical staff ensure that your heart rate, body temperature, blood sugar, and blood pressure remain normal, they’ll also make sure that you’re getting plenty of fluids, sleeping well, eating well, and in good spirits.

Early Management of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptms Can Prevent Delirium Tremens

Research shows that targeted efforts to minimize the initial symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can actually prevent more severe symptoms known as delirium tremens from occurring. Often experienced by people who attempt to “go cold turkey” or detox on their own, delirium tremens can cause:

  • Whole body tremors
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Coma
  • Death

During managed alcohol detox, medical professionals keep a watchful eye on clients. As their withdrawal symptoms intensify, new therapies and interventions are supplied to prevent delirium tremens from ever developing at all.

People Are More Likely to Succeed With Professional Detox Support

It’s also important to note that physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms aren’t the only symptoms that people experience. Unsupported alcohol detox can also result in:

  • Insomnia
  • Disturbing dreams
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Intense cravings for alcohol

Dealing with emotional distress while battling uncomfortable physical withdrawal symptoms often causes people to give up on their efforts to recover. People who quit drinking without support frequently relapse before their physical withdrawal is complete. The safest and surest way to make it through alcohol withdrawal is with the supervision, guidance, and support that’s provided by trained rehab professionals. If you’re ready to quit drinking and want the benefits that medically managed detox provides, give us a call at 772-266-5320 today. Our counselors are always standing by.

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