Just like with any substance of abuse, or anything that the brain and body have grown accustomed to consuming or doing, once a person stops doing that thing, he or she begins to experience withdrawals. This includes the consumption of alcohol. When a person regularly consumes alcohol and then stops for whatever reason, he or she begins to experience withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can range from something as benign as a headache to as severe as a seizure. In fact, alcohol tremors or an alcohol withdrawal seizure can occur as soon as just a few hours after a person has stopped drinking, depending on the severity of their alcoholism or alcohol abuse.
What Happens When You Stop Drinking?
For those who don’t suffer from an alcohol-related disorder, when they stop drinking, nothing bad typically happens. If they drank a lot the night before and didn’t properly hydrate they might wake up with a hangover, but that’s about the worst of it. However, for those who struggle with alcohol abuse or addiction, stopping drinking can cause serious medical problems.
The reason for this is that heavy continued drinking can actually change the chemical makeup of the brain to the point where it thinks that it has to have alcohol in order to function properly. When the brain has reached that level of alcohol dependency and you stop giving it what it thinks it needs, it reacts in a negative way. That’s where the withdrawal symptoms come in.
What Are the Different Stages of Alcohol Withdrawl?
The severity of alcohol withdrawal largely depends on how bad the alcohol abuse or addiction is. That being said, there are typically three stages of alcohol withdrawal.
The first stage of alcohol withdrawal typically takes place within the first 24 hours after the last drink has been consumed. Common symptoms that occur at this stage include:
- Increased heart rate
Stage 2 occurs within the first 4 days of stopping drinking. Symptoms that occur during days 2-4 include:
- Cold sweats
- Clouded thinking
- Increased nausea
- High blood pressure
It is also at this point that an alcohol withdrawal seizure can begin happening.
After day 4, alcohol withdrawal symptoms may begin to subside. That being said, the drinker isn’t in the clear quite yet. For those who are suffering from a severe case of alcohol abuse, some of the psychological side effects from the first few days might continue to linger. This can include:
What Exactly Causes an Alcohol Withdrawl Seizure?
When someone drinks heavily for a prolonged period of time, the alcohol slows down the central nervous system so that the brain can produce more GABA or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. If that person stops drinking, his or her nervous system becomes destabilized. When that destabilization happens, it increases the chances that alcohol tremors or an alcohol withdrawal seizure can occur.
That’s one of the many reasons why it’s advised that alcohol detox occurs under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals. In fact, in the early stages of the detox and withdrawal process, someone might be prescribed benzos in order to help with their withdrawal symptoms and reduce the chances of experiencing alcohol tremors or an alcohol withdrawal seizure.
Can an Alcohol Withdrawal Seizure Lead To Other Problems?
A common thing that can happen amongst people who have experienced a seizure caused by alcohol withdrawal is something called delirium tremens or DTs. DTs are incredibly dangerous and are common among those who suffer from alcohol withdrawal seizures.
Alcohol tremors can occur during the 3-5 day range of time during which one experiences alcohol withdrawal and a possible alcohol withdrawal seizure. Like a seizure, delirium tremens can be life-threatening.
Some common symptoms of delirium tremens include:
- Heavy sweating
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Rapid heart rate
- Severe disorientation, confusion, and hallucinations
- Uncontrollable tremors
- Sudden and severe changes to the nervous system
What Does An Alcohol Withdrawl Seizure Feel Like?
In order to know if you are having an alcohol withdrawal seizure, it’s important to know what alcohol-related seizures feel like. If you are having seizures as a result of alcohol withdrawal, you might experience the feeling of a loss of consciousness that you are slow to wake up from. If you don’t actually lose consciousness, you may experience repetitive and uncontrolled movements throughout your body.
Right before the seizure, you also might experience a strange feeling consisting of unusual visual changes, smell, taste, and sound. This is created by the abnormal brain activity that signifies that a seizure is starting to happen.
What Should I Do If I Think I Am Having An Alcohol-Induced Seizure?
If you think you might be having a seizure as a result of withdrawing from alcohol, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Some of the signs that you might be having an alcohol-induced seizure include:
- A fever of 100.4 or higher
- Repeated vomiting
- Upper abdomen pain
- Severe and uncontrollable shakiness
- Extreme confusion
- Not knowing where you are
- Vomiting blood
- Trouble speaking
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 or your doctor immediately.
How Can I Safely Stop Drinking?
As you can see, quitting drinking can be dangerous and even life-threatening if not done properly and safely. The safest and best way to go about quitting drinking is to undergo detox treatment. Detoxing should always be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals. This can be done at either a dedicated detox center, a local medical facility, or even a treatment center that also offers detox services.
Regardless of where you choose to go, detoxing should not be done on your own. Attempting to self-detox can increase the risk of experiencing alcohol tremors, alcohol withdrawal seizures, or a number of other severe medical complications. Detoxing from alcohol without medical supervision can also increase the chances of relapse as the withdrawal symptoms can be so bad that you turn back to alcohol to alleviate them.
What Happens After Detox Has Been Completed?
Once detox has been completed, then treatment for alcoholism or other alcohol-related issues can begin. Depending on the recommendation by your treatment professional, you will either enter into an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Inpatient treatment is exactly what it sounds like. During inpatient treatment, you will live at the treatment facility full-time until the program has been completed. Inpatient treatment for alcohol can vary in duration. While most people complete treatment in 3-6 weeks, some people require months-long treatment.
With inpatient treatment, you have the benefit of access to around-the-clock 24/7 therapy and care. In addition, it ensures you are in a safe and stable environment while you complete your treatment and attend your therapy sessions, thus, lowering the chances of a relapse during the early stages of recovery.
Not everyone can take weeks or even months away from their schedule for treatment. Others simply can’t afford the cost that comes with inpatient treatment. For those people who can’t or don’t want to enter into an inpatient treatment program, most treatment centers also offer outpatient treatment.
Outpatient treatment provides the same treatment and therapy services that inpatient treatment does, with the main difference being you don’t live at the facility. You come to the treatment center for your therapy appointments and then you leave and go back to your regular life each day when you are done. If you choose the outpatient treatment route, it is imperative that you have a safe and supportive home life to return to each day in order to help with your overall recovery process.
Want To Know More About Alcohol Tremors and Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures?
If not done properly, withdrawing from alcohol can be incredibly dangerous. One of the dangers is an increased risk of having an alcohol withdrawal seizure. That’s why, when the time comes to begin the withdrawal process, it should be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals who can properly monitor you and make sure it is happening as safely as possible.
At Live Free Recovery Services, we understand the dangers that come with addiction and withdrawal. That’s why we offer medication-assisted treatment for not just those suffering from alcohol addiction, but any form of substance abuse where medication can help with the withdrawal and recovery process.
For more information about our treatment programs, or to learn more about our medication-assisted treatments as it pertains to alcohol addiction, alcohol tremors, and alcohol withdrawal seizures, contact us today. It is our goal for everyone that enters our facility to leave and go on and live happy, healthy, and sober lives.