A Problem with Alcohol; What to Expect from Withdrawal
What is it?
Alcoholism, or alcohol abuse and dependence, involves a person’s inability to manage their drinking habits. There are concerning instances when you notice this pattern in a friend, loved one, or even yourself. If you enjoy drinking or know close individuals who do, it’s important to be aware of the signs of early alcoholism so that you or the person you know can get help early if they start exhibiting symptoms. When someone has a problem with alcohol, there are early and advanced stage symptoms that are usually detectable such as binge drinking, abandoning responsibilities to drink, and frequent drinking. Alcoholism is more commonly found in individuals who have family members that have had it, but anyone can be susceptible.
It’s important to know what the process looks like in the withdrawal stages of treating alcoholism. Knowing what to expect can ease your recovery or help you understand the perspective of someone you know who is recovering.
What to Expect
The first step to recovery is the decision to quit drinking. When this happens, the first three days are the most important. During this time your body will flush all of the alcohol from your system and you will begin to feel uncomfortable as you enter acute withdrawal. These 72 hours are often the most painful, but luckily some of the benefits come quickly after.
The following two weeks are a mix of self-empowerment and your strongest urges to drink, and in extreme cases of alcoholism some individuals may find themselves having seizures, tremors, or insomnia. It’s important to be aware of these possible conditions so that you can ensure you’re in a safe place or, if necessary, under medical supervision while you begin your recovery.
After this primary detox, the next month is when you start noticing increases in your health. Your blood cholesterol and blood-glucose levels are likely to drop and you’ll find you have an increased ability to concentrate. A person’s problem with alcohol is not going to go away overnight, so it’s important to remember that although it’s a long process, it is a rewarding one.
Learning to live without alcohol can be one of the most difficult parts of withdrawal and the recovery process. Months or years of alcohol abuse or dependence changes a person’s chemical structure of their brain. When you decide to quit drinking, your brain must revert back to its initial structure that it no longer has to rely on alcohol. This can manifest a variety of symptoms including moodiness and cognitive difficulties. These symptoms shouldn’t be a cause for alarm in most cases because it’s usually a sign that your brain is healing.
With appropriate treatment and support, the decision to stop drinking is one of the best permanent decisions you can make. The immediate and long-term benefits strongly outweigh the destructive effects that alcohol leads to. It’s important to remember that relapse is possible and not uncommon, especially within the first two months of quitting. Some people are triggered by stress or exposure to events that serve alcohol. Relapse can cause guilt or shame, so it’s imperative that you or the person you know has a solid and supportive group around him or her. It’s difficult to succeed in recovery alone, so asking for help from trusted family members and friends should be encouraged to prevent any future relapse.
Finally, a helpful tip to avoiding relapse is identifying triggers. A trigger is a stimulus that causes you to crave alcohol. It can include anything from being around people who have a problem with alcohol or a place or thing that brings back memories of drinking. Becoming aware of your triggers can help you to avoid being in a situation that could cause you to relapse. If the situation is unavoidable, there are various ways you can cope to overcome the temptation. An example is rationalization. Asking yourself – what is this drink going to do for me? Do I really want to have a drink after I’ve made it this long without one? And affirmations, such as – I am stronger for saying no, I am my best version of myself without it, etc.
It is important to remember that alcohol withdrawal can be lethal, and can cause problems such as seizures. If you or a loved one are experiencing a major medical issue, you need to seek out emergency medical attention immediately. Knowing the signs of seizures and acting fast can mean life or death.
If you or a loved one would like more information on forms of therapy and substance abuse help, visit our website or give us a call today at (203)-667-7526. We’re here to help you through this process and provide resources that enable you or your loved one to overcome your substance abuse, and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have.