Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and works by slowing down vital functions in one’s body.
The feelings elicited when an individual ingests alcohol occurs because of the way the substance interacts with one’s neurotransmitters. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) asserts, “Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works.”
When an individual habitually abuses alcohol his or her body will become accustomed to functioning with alcohol present in his or her system and is at increased risk of developing alcohol use disorder. When alcohol is absent from one’s system, the body will react accordingly, and withdrawal symptoms will ensue. There are a variety of contributing factors that can affect the severity of withdrawal symptoms, the duration of withdrawal symptoms experienced, as well as which withdrawal symptoms manifest. Due to some of the more severe withdrawal symptoms that commonly present when detoxing from alcohol abuse, it is advised to undergo a medically supervised detox to ensure safety.
3 Phases Of Alcohol Detox
After habitual alcohol abuse, an individual that wants to stop drinking alcohol must undergo detox. Detox is the process that cleanses one’s body of all foreign, abused substances. Although every individual is different and will go through the detox process at a somewhat varied pace, below is a broad timeline that divides the detox withdrawal process into three phases, as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
- 6–12 hours after one’s last drink: this is known as the first and least severe phase of the withdrawal process. Common symptoms can include any combination of the following: depression, anxiety, anger, fatigue, mood swings, heart palpitations, tremors, nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, etc.
- 12–36 hours after one’s last drink: this is the second stage of the withdrawal process, and when the withdrawal symptoms can become more serious. Commonly reported symptoms can include any combination of the following examples: high blood pressure, fever, confusion, sweating, increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, depression, restlessness, etc.
- 36 hours – up to three weeks after one’s last drink: this is the final and most dangerous stage of the withdrawal process. Common withdrawal symptoms that can manifest during this stage can include any combination of the following: high fever, hallucinations, seizures, low blood sugar levels, delirium tremens, extreme irritability, etc.
After an individual completes detox, attending a formalized substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program is recommended. Though cleansing one’s body is an essential step in one’s recovery process from alcohol abuse, it is merely one of many steps. To ensure one’s continued sobriety, further treatment and support are essential.
Further Information and Support
Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At Upwell Advisors, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process.
Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at [email protected] We look forward to supporting you on your journey.