Abstaining from alcohol after years of excessive drinking and abuse is never an easy experience, but in some cases it could be potentially fatal. That's why it is so crucial for people suffering from alcohol addiction to complete the process of detoxification in a licensed facility. There are many cases in which people attempting an unsupervised withdrawal in order to quit their alcohol problem have run into serious health problems and even died. There is a strong chance that an alcoholic who goes "cold turkey" can manifest symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome and experience the most severe and dangerous effects of withdrawal. About half the people who quit heavy drinking habits will exhibit some form of the syndrome. To avoid the potential dangers of withdrawal, alcoholics should look for a detox center that will provide them with a safe, monitored environment.
Health Risks of Detox
Withdrawal from alcohol use on a regular basis can involve a myriad of different withdrawal symptoms. Some of the more minor symptoms can be manageable such as shaking hands, mild anxiety, sweating and headache. More severe symptoms include nausea, vomiting, tremors and insomnia which can be unpleasant but may not necessarily require medication. In a number of cases however, the most dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can rapidly appear such as hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens or DTs. Delirium tremens tends to cause fever, rapid heartbeat and confusion but can also be a fatal symptom of withdrawal in about 15 percent of alcoholic cases. Serious cases of DTs can lead to head injuries, lethal dehydration, heart attack, stroke or choking on vomit. People who are especially at risk for alcohol withdrawal syndrome and potentially life threatening detox symptoms like delirium tremens are those who have a history of seizures, failed other attempts at detox or have pre-existing health problems. Even without health issues, however, it is necessary for anyone who drinks heavily on a regular basis to seek medical attention for the process of detox.
Why Alcohol Withdrawal is So Dangerous
What makes detoxing from alcohol so risky and possibly even more dangerous than other types of withdrawal is the effect that heaving drinking has on chemicals in the body. When alcohol is consumed chronically in high quantities, it has a depressive effect on the body. In order to compensate for the changes that alcohol causes, the body must increase production of certain hormones and brain chemicals like serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. When a person suddenly quits drinking alcohol, these chemicals flood the body at abnormally high levels. This enormous chemical release can affect all areas of the body in only a few hours after the last drink. Serious symptoms like delirium tremens can begin to occur within 24 to 48 hours of the last drink. A person attempting detox on their own should seek medical attention immediately if they experience DTs any of the other more severe symptoms of withdrawal.
Safe Detox with Professionals
For an alcoholic with a long history of alcohol abuse or even someone who has been drinking excessively every day for several months, there is a major risk factor in going through detox alone. To avoid any kind of health risks, there are detox centers available to properly care for people who are in withdrawal. These kinds of facilities provide medical staff to monitor each individual's symptoms while providing around the clock care with special medication when necessary. Quitting drinking in a detox facility can help alcoholics avoid a trip to the emergency room and the possibility of experiencing some of the more severe and even fatal symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.