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Helping Your Loved One Through Alcohol Withdrawals

If drinking alcohol became a daily habit and eventually led to alcohol use disorder, a person’s body becomes dependent on alcohol. This is because excessive intake of alcohol excites or irritates the nervous system, making a person feel at ease after drinking.

Stopping or significantly reducing alcohol consumption will affect how your central nervous system adjusts. This will lead to experiencing or developing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Understanding these symptoms can be helpful when extending support to someone who is going through withdrawals.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

A person is likely to experience mild to severe emotional and physical symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms are likely to appear 6 to 8 hours after the last intake and may worsen over two to three days. These include the following mild to moderate symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Cold sweats
  • Panic attacks
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heart palpitation

Some symptoms can also be severe and extreme such as:

  • Hypertension
  • Seizures
  • Tactile, visual, auditory hallucinations
  • Fast respirations
  • Extreme agitation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Autonomic hyperactivity
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Extreme confusion

Having any of these severe withdrawal symptoms calls for an emergency. So, if you know someone who experiences severe signs and symptoms, it’s a must to seek immediate help.

The Stages of Detoxing

Abruptly stopping your intake of alcohol can be very risky for your health. It comes with some symptoms and effects that are potentially dangerous. In this case, medically-assisted detox is highly recommended.

Supervised detoxification comprises of three stages:

  • Evaluation

The first step of detoxification involves the assessment of the current health condition of a person going through withdrawals. The person’s history of will also be taken, which helps determine what specific treatment or medication is necessary.

Whether an individual with withdrawal symptoms was forced by circumstances or voluntarily seeks the help of a professional, the detoxification process starts with proper evaluation. During this stage, their treatment plan will be introduced.

  • Stabilization

This is the most challenging stage for people who decide to commit to the treatment. They may still find it difficult to control alcohol cravings. However, psychological and medical services will help them develop effective coping skills.

  • Further Treatment

During this stage, an individual will be advised to seek continuing or further treatment to help them fully recover. This is the stage where they can learn various coping skills to establish a consistent schedule for daily activities, develop a healthy lifestyle, and build relationships.

Tips To Help A Loved One Through Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

During the recovery process, showing support and encouragement to a loved one experiencing withdrawal syndrome can be very helpful. While the medical professionals are primarily in-charge of resolving the symptoms, your participation can make a huge difference. Here are some of the things that you can do to show your support:

Educate Yourself 

Alcohol use disorder and withdrawal symptoms are complex topics. Understanding what they are can help you become more aware of what your loved one is going through. This will also help develop sensitivity when dealing with a precarious situation. If you have questions, you must rely on answers provided by a medical professional.

Encourage Them To Seek Help

Thoroughly understanding the symptoms makes it easier for you to acknowledge the need for treatment or medical assistance. You can also express your desire to help and build your loved one’s willingness to speak with medical professionals. However, if your loved one is showing mild to severe withdrawal symptoms, you must immediately seek help.

Understand The Recovery Process

Your loved one battling with alcohol withdrawal symptoms won’t just recover overnight. Working with medical professional and choosing a treatment is just the beginning of their healing journey. 

Even after treatment, your loved one can benefit from ongoing support. Nevertheless, it is also crucial to know whether your loved one prefers to come to you only when they need someone to listen to them or if they prefer to have you with them at all times.

Eat Healthy And Exercise Together

Pursuing a healthy lifestyle provides plenty of benefits. If you can encourage them to shift to a healthy diet, you can help them avoid falling back into bad habits. Introduce the importance of exercise and eating nutritious, high-energy foods which can improve self-esteem and mood over time.

Stick To Schedules

Stay productive and look for activities to keep them busy. This way, they can be distracted from cravings and focus on fun, productive, and recreational activities. While at home, you can also encourage them to foster new habits like reading, watching television, and even cooking. By doing so, you can at least divert their attention.

Avoid Triggers

As much as possible, make sure that your loved one is away from places, things, and people associated with alcohol. This can make it difficult to stay the course. Instead, let them find companionship from a support group. They know they have a strong support system when they receive positive reinforcement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the following questions most people ask about withdrawals to get more information about withdrawal symptoms:

Can you die from withdrawal?

In the worst cases, severe symptoms can be life-threatening. One indicator of a severe withdrawal is the presence of one or more physical and mental health conditions.

Is diarrhea a symptom of alcohol withdrawal?

Diarrhea is not a symptom. An individual may experience diarrhea while detoxing, but over-the-counter medications control and slow down the bowel process.

How can you help someone detox at home?

Medical detox is preferred over home detox. Detox at home can only be safe and successful if a person does not experience severe symptoms.

Watching someone you love struggle with alcohol use disorder and withdrawal syndrome is  complex. Offering support is one of the many ways you can be a bridge between them and a professional.

If you want to understand alcohol use disorder, check out the Radical Rehab guide to understanding the health risks of alcoholism.

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