When a person with an alcohol problem decides to stop drinking, the withdrawal symptoms can be severe and require medical supervision and detoxification. Acute withdrawal from excessive alcohol use can begin as early as two hours after the last drink and can last up to seven days. Symptoms can range from mild to serious, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed and the length of alcohol abuse. Regardless, the decision to stop drinking alcohol safely must include a plan for medically supervised detox and treatment for substance use disorder, ensuring a safe transition into sobriety.
Initial alcohol withdrawal symptoms include headaches, nausea, anxiety, agitation, tremors, loss of appetite and insomnia. Signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal occur primarily in the central nervous system. As withdrawal advances, symptoms progress to include vivid hallucinations, seizures, vomiting, delirium tremens (DTs), confusion, high blood pressure/rapid heart rate, fever and autonomic instability. Seizures carry the risk of death for alcoholics.
Although symptoms differ in severity, acute withdrawal from alcohol can be life threatening. Valley Hope provides patients with medically monitored detoxification that eases withdrawal in a safe, supportive environment. Detoxification usually lasts just a few days under the supervision of doctors and nurses at our residential treatment centers. Each patient undergoes a complete physical including a lab profile and monitored 24/7 throughout the withdrawal period. When necessary, medications are used to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. When detoxification is complete, patients can move on to the next phase in our continuum of care as a resident or outpatient.
Treating alcohol withdrawal with medical detox is an essential step to fix a lifelong problem. Engaging in a residential or intensive outpatient treatment program is essential to treating the disease of alcoholism. While medical attention and medications may be needed to safely and successfully treat physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, a mix of dedicated therapies such as the program offered at Valley Hope are required to combat the mental and emotional symptoms and ensure long term recovery.
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