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Long term use of alcohol and alcohol dependency results in withdrawal (or detoxification) symptoms once you stop using alcohol. The symptoms vary in severity depending on your usage and level of dependency. The severe symptoms usually last one to three days but because of alcohol's long-term effects; many patients don't regain a clear headedness and sense of normalcy for weeks or even months.
Allowing your body to expel a drug and managing the subsequent withdrawal symptoms is known as detoxification. This is usually the first step when you enter a treatment facility or program and must be followed with long term therapy for optimal success. The associated symptoms that happen once a user discontinues using alcohol or drugs are known as withdrawal. The length and severity of the symptoms generally vary in accordance with the length and severity of your illness. Generally speaking, alcohol detox takes a few days (1 to 5) while some withdrawal symptoms (like depression, dysphoria and a вЂњfoggyвЂќ feeling) could extend for weeks or months since alcohol has long-acting effects on the brain and body.
If you are thinking of stopping drinking and have a dependency on alcohol, it's important to seek medical advice and support to manage the possible detox symptoms. Most patients with moderate dependence on alcohol report symptoms like dizziness, headaches, nausea/vomiting, sweating, shaking, seizures, restlessness, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, increased blood pressure and/or heart rate and an overwhelming urge to drink in order to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. Some patients may experience a very serious complication known as DTs (delirium tremens). Symptoms of DTs include hallucinating, confused mental state, agitation, memory problems, fever, extremely high blood pressure/heart rate and seizures.
Detox (or вЂњdrying outвЂќ) is the process during which you completely discontinue using alcohol. It's best done either in a hospital, outpatient setting or at a drug treatment facility. The good news is that there are medical treatments which can help ease withdrawal symptoms including medication for blood pressure, anticonvulsants, tranquilizers, IV fluids and vitamins. The detoxification process normally takes approximately 3 to 4 days, after which long term treatment should begin.
Long-term treatment options vary in accordance with your specific situation and the severity of your addiction. It is, however, a crucial step to long-term success and often includes psychological therapy, medical intervention and social treatment. Medical treatments include some prescriptions that can assist you in being discouraged to drink. Disulfiram effectively makes you feel ill if you drink while taking the medication while natrexone and acamprosate both help to reduce your cravings for alcohol. Social treatments often involve your family and friends and aim to help resolve problems both at home and work. Psychological therapy works toward helping you to understand why you drink and to educate you about your illness.
What You Can Do
There are steps that you can take to help take control of your situation. The first step is always to admit that you have a problem and seek professional help. During the treatment process it is helpful to follow the instructions of your healthcare provider, adopt a healthy and balanced diet, take vitamins, avoid smoking and drinking coffee, make sure you get a good night's sleep and have some activity each day and reach out to support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. While the effects of stopping drinking are temporary, having a support system and taking care of your body is invaluable for long-term success and good health.