While the way alcoholism is currently defined makes it difficult to determine how many alcoholics are in the United States, the statistics are revealing. According to how the DSM-V defines alcohol abuse disorder, 6.2% of adults have an alcohol abuse disorder. The more unsettling fact is that fewer than seven percent of people with alcohol abuse disorders sought professional treatment.
What Is an Alcoholic?
An alcoholic does not know when or how to stop drinking. That person spends a lot of time thinking about alcohol, and they cannot control how much they consume, even if it is causing serious problems at home, work, and financially.
An alcoholic is like anyone else who is addicted to drugs. The user requires the substance in order to feel normal, as the absence of it will cause withdrawals. The only difference is that alcohol withdrawal symptoms can often be more dangerous than any drug.
What are the Effects of Coming Off Alcohol?
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is caused when someone who has been drinking heavily for a long time does not have a drink for at least six hours. It begins with mild effects such as tremors, nausea, anxiety, increased heart rate, headache, sweating, and vomiting. In terms of mental health, alcohol withdrawal syndrome can involve nightmares, insomnia, confusion, and irritability.
Even if these symptoms don’t sound mild to you, they pale in comparison to severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome, known also as delirium tremens. Delirium tremens (DT) is known to involve visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations. Typical symptoms of DT also include extreme agitation and confusion and can also result in a fever. In particularly bad cases, seizures can occur. Delirium tremens can be fatal.
What Is the Alcohol Withdrawal Duration?
The duration of alcohol withdrawal syndrome depends on how long a person has been drinking, how heavily they have been drinking, and that person’s unique physiology. If you begin to suffer symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, they will likely get worse over two to three days. The most severe withdrawals require hospitalization. Some people may experience milder withdrawal symptoms for weeks.
Are You at Risk for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
Adults are more likely to experience alcohol withdrawal syndrome than teens and kids, but people who stop drinking quickly can find themselves suffering from withdrawals. The people who are most at risk, however, are those who have previously suffered from alcohol withdrawal syndrome. If you are a man and have more than 15 drinks per week or are a woman and have more than eight drinks per week, you may find yourself withdrawing if you attempt to stop cold turkey.
Is Help Available?
The best way to avoid alcohol withdrawal syndrome is to avoid regular heavy drinking or binge drinking. If you are drinking a lot and need help to stop, reaching out for help shows your strength and commitment to having a better life. Our counselors are ready to help you get started on your path to recovery.