Author: James Anderson

Alcohol withdrawal can be deadly heres why

can people die from alcohol withdrawal

Over time, however, the body builds a tolerance to alcohol, and a person may have to drink more and more to get the same feeling. Meanwhile, the brain is producing more and more neurotransmitters, making a person further imbalanced. It decreases nerve cell activity, which leads to feelings of sedation and can make you feel sleepy. Heavy drinkers do not become as sedated when they drink alcohol because the body compensates for this reduction in nerve cell activity over time. It’s difficult to predict who will and who won’t experience alcohol withdrawal — and how severe it will be.

There are many resources available to help, including peer support groups, counseling, therapy, and inpatient rehabilitation. For those with alcohol use disorder, withdrawal is just the first (but very important) step on a long journey to recovery. These first few weeks are critical because they are when the risk of relapse is highest. During the 12- to 24-hour time frame after the last drink, most people will begin to have noticeable symptoms. These may still be mild, or the existing symptoms might increase in severity. There is no exact timeline for alcohol withdrawal, and individual factors, such as the level of dependence on alcohol, will influence it.

can people die from alcohol withdrawal

Know that your provider will be there to support you, not to judge you. People with alcohol use disorder should be monitored by a medical professional when withdrawing from alcohol. Moderate to heavy drinkers can also benefit from medical supervision in the acute withdrawal stage. For most people, alcohol withdrawal symptoms will begin sometime in the first eight hours after their final drink. Your healthcare provider will recommend and encourage treatment for alcohol use disorder. For unplanned alcohol withdrawal symptoms, seek immediate medical attention to prevent the onset of more serious health problems.

Talk to your doctor or a drug treatment specialist about what to expect as you experience alcohol withdrawal. Ask your doctor whether any medications may help in the process. Identify a family member or friend who you can call on to provide emotional support.

Management and Treatment

For most people, alcohol withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside after 72 hours. If you are still experiencing withdrawal symptoms after three days, talk to your healthcare provider. Alcohol withdrawal (alcohol withdrawal syndrome) is a range of symptoms that can happen if you stop or significantly reduce alcohol intake after long-term use. If you are thinking about quitting drinking, talk to your healthcare provider. Medical supervision, behavioral health treatment, and mutual-aid groups can help you through alcohol withdrawal and stay stopped.

can people die from alcohol withdrawal

About 5% to 10% of people with this complication die from it. The main management for severe symptoms is long-acting benzodiazepines — typically IV diazepam or IV lorazepam. When you stop consuming alcohol after prolonged, heavy use, your CNS can’t respond or regulate itself fast enough.

Outpatient plans with check-ins can treat milder cases of withdrawal. These include seizures, hallucinations, and a high body temperature. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can range from mild to serious. What yours are depends on how much you drank and for how long. If you drink only once in a while, it’s unlikely that you’ll have withdrawal symptoms when you stop. But if you’ve gone through alcohol withdrawal once, you’re more likely to go through it again the next time you call it quits.

Outlook for those with alcohol withdrawal

A rare but very serious syndrome called delirium tremens can occur during alcohol withdrawal. Also known as DTs, an estimated 2% of people with alcohol use disorder and less than 1% of the general population experience them. If you have alcohol use disorder and want help, a healthcare provider can guide you to resources and rehabilitation programs to help you quit.

  1. With early treatment and prevention, the chance of death from delirium tremens is rare.
  2. With continued exposure, the body adapts to alcohol’s depressant effect.
  3. Your doctor can also discuss the symptoms you may experience and the medications they may prescribe to ease them.
  4. If your symptoms are more severe, you may need to stay in the hospital.

However, for 5% of people, alcohol withdrawal can cause delirium tremens, a severe side effect that can result in seizures, hallucinations, and confusion. It affects about 50% of people with alcohol use disorder who stop or significantly decrease their alcohol intake. AUD is the most common substance use disorder in the U.S., affecting 28.8 million adults. If your body is dependent on alcohol, it’s likely that you’ll experience some form of withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. Although benzodiazepines are the primary drug treatment for alcohol withdrawal, your doctor may also use other drugs alongside them.

Timeline of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Identifying alcohol addiction early on can help you get the medical treatment necessary to detox safely and avoid dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Following detoxification, medications and psychosocial support can effectively reduce the craving for alcohol and the chance of addiction relapse. Physical dependence on alcohol occurs over time as a result of excessive drinking. If you are dependent on alcohol, suddenly stopping alcohol use can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can range from mild to severe.

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Treatment can lessen these symptoms and help prevent harmful outcomes. It can be helpful to make a plan ahead of time for how to handle a relapse. For example, some people choose to write a list of reasons why they want to stop drinking alcohol, and revisit the list to remind themselves after a relapse.

Alcohol withdrawal can also cause death, especially without treatment. This section answers some frequently asked questions about alcohol withdrawal. Other individuals may wish to join support groups or programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Finally, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has an excellent resource on how to find treatment for AUD. According to a 2022 paper, the mortality rate for delirium tremens is between 5 and 15% with treatment.

You’ll likely need other treatments for related health issues. Alcohol (ethanol) depresses (slows down) your central nervous system (CNS). If you consistently consume significant amounts of alcohol, your CNS gets used to this effect.