There are several
changes that take place in the body when a person suddenly stops
drinking after a constant or prolonged period of alcohol consumption.
Alcohol has a sedating effect on the central
nervous system. The brain adapts to the sedating effect of alcohol
by producing chemicals that have a stimulating effect, so when a
person suddenly stops drinking alcohol, the brain is still producing
the stimulants. This is what results in classic alcohol withdrawal
People who have
a long standing habit of alcohol consumption can suffer severe withdrawal
effects if they suddenly kick the habit. But even those who are
only moderately dependent on alcohol can suffer mild withdrawal
symptoms similar to the that brought on by a hangover.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
produces a wide range of symptoms including insomnia, anxiety and
irritation. It also causes physical symptoms such as headache, gastrointestinal
upset, mild fever, cold sweats, and rapid heart rate.
range from mild to severe. Those who suffer from severe symptoms
may experience "the DTs" or delirium
tremens often marked by hallucinations, tremors, nightmares,
nausea and vomiting.
can last for days or even weeks, with intermittent lose of consciousness
or seizures and possible risk of physical injury.
Alcohol withdrawal treatment
may be prescribed for mild symptoms of withdrawal. However, immediate
medical attention may be called for in more severe cases, depending
on related conditions, since rapid heart beat and high
blood pressure often increase the risk of stroke
or heart attack. Sometimes, hospitalization may be required, and
medications such as valium or librium administered to ease withdrawal.
Because of the
high risks to overall health, those who desire to stop consuming
alcohol should avoid quitting "cold turkey." Intake
of alcohol should be limited over a period of time, rather than
completely eliminated, in order to prevent associated symptoms that
may become life-threatening. It is for this reason that it's often
highly advised that those who attempt to kick their drinking habit
do so with the help of a health professional or counselor.
More about alcohol withdrawal around the Web:
- Expert guide from About.com with information on the causes and
symptoms of alcohol withdrawal including specific treatment options.
to Taper Off Alcohol - Discussion on the dangers of quitting
"cold turkey", with an overview of alcohol withdrawal
symptoms, drug treatment, and related references.