Getting Sober Safely: Tips to Minimize Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are some of the most challenging and concerning issues that arise during early stages of alcohol abuse recovery. Getting sober safely often involves medical intervention, around-the-clock supervision and the need for varied levels of medical support and care. While the best way to prevent alcohol withdrawal is to avoid drinking all together, once alcoholism has become an issue in a person’s life, they find themselves on a steady hunt for a way to safely cope with withdrawal and overcome the challenges in front of them so that they can make a full, safe recovery.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The body becomes dependent on alcohol if the substance is abused regularly or if a user drinks an excessive amount of alcohol. The result is a number of alcohol withdrawal symptoms when the individual tries to quit drinking, many of which make it very difficult to remain abstinent despite good intentions. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Stomach cramps
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
In some cases, alcohol withdrawal symptoms include very severe side effects that pose potentially dangerous complications for the drinker. Any of the following alcohol withdrawal symptoms should be immediately treated by a qualified medical team to ensure the continued safety of the recovering alcoholic:
- Irritability that is very extreme
- Extreme confusion
- Excessive vomiting
Delirium tremens, severe alcohol withdrawal, can be a fatal side effect if it is not properly treated. A doctor or healthcare professional will administer a number of medications and consistent care to help reduce the side effects associated with delirium tremens if you or a loved one happen to go through such severe alcohol withdrawal but the doctor can only help you if you seek medical care when necessary.
Various medications such as benzodiazepines are often prescribed in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Diazepam, Librium, Ativan and Serax are often given to patients who are feeing anxious or otherwise uncomfortable during alcohol withdrawal. All of these medications can help to reduce shakiness and prevent the individual from having panic attacks that may contribute to relapse or other serious side effects.
Antipsychotic medications may be provided to prevent hallucinations in those who are suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal. Talk with your doctor or treatment professional about the symptoms that you are having and, if you have suffered from hallucinations in the past as a result of alcohol withdrawal, be sure to explain this to the treatment professional upfront so that he or she may prescribe an antipsychotic medication for you that will prevent agitation and hallucinations from occurring.
Beta blockers may be used to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. Unfortunately, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure cannot be seen on the outside so it’s important to seek medical treatment in alcohol withdrawal so that these internal symptoms can be monitored using medical equipment. If your heart rate is rapid, if you have high blood pressure or if you have other strains associated with the alcohol withdrawal you may be prescribed a beta blocker to reduce the tension that is being placed on the heart and other organs of the body during this challenging early stage of recovery.
Clonidine, though not safe to be used for a prolonged period of time, is often prescribed for the treatment of delirium tremens side effects such as high blood pressure. This medication should be used only for a few days to allow the body to return to a normal state in which high blood pressure is no longer a major concern.
If seizures are a concern, the doctor may prescribe an anticonvulsant to stop or reduce the risk of seizures from occurring during early alcohol withdrawal. Be prepared to take a number of medications to counteract the withdrawal symptoms that you are having and to keep you safe in recovery—your doctor will discuss these medications with you so that you are fully aware of what is taking place and what to expect.
Every case is different but ultimately, staying sober safely will be up to you. Remember that although relapse is a common occurrence, each case of relapse increases the risk of serious danger for the user. If you get the right help for your alcohol abuse, seek medical treatment, and work with the counselors or therapists at a residential alcohol treatment facility, your chances of making a full and lasting recovery