When someone with an alcohol use disorder suddenly stops drinking, specific symptoms point to the development of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). The symptoms begin because individuals who drink too much alcohol build a dependence on the substance. When alcohol usage suddenly stops, the body is in panic mode.
Brain chemistry is altered due to exposure to the chemicals in alcohol when heavy drinking takes place over a long-term period. Complex changes in brain chemistry occur when alcohol use is chronic. For example, the neurotransmitters dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, control feelings of excitement and a sense of reward. What is alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when alcohol use suddenly stops, and the brain has to readjust to the change.
Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
The studies put it out there in plain facts and numbers. For example, misuse of alcohol is defined as having more than one drink daily for women and two drinks per day for men. What is alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and does it occur in the misuse of alcohol? While each metabolism is different, the criteria revolve around the dependence the body builds from drinking too much alcohol.
Binge drinking is another form of misuse of alcohol and includes drinking four to five drinks over a short time. Misuse and abuse of alcohol are the stepping stones to addiction. Addiction is described as having the inability to control alcohol, despite the consequences of addiction. The extreme symptoms are caused when the use suddenly ends.
Misuse, abuse, and addiction are all terms that point to precursors to alcohol withdrawal syndrome when the addicted stops drinking. This relationship with alcohol can also lead to adverse physical and mental conditions. No one knows who will experience the most severe symptoms from withdrawal. Some predictors of who will experience this syndrome include:
- Those who drink heavily and daily
- The older population
- People who have a physical illness combined with an alcohol use disorder
- Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance
- Brain lesions
- Abnormal liver functions
What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
A significant reduction in the amount of alcohol being used or an abrupt stoppage can cause alcohol withdrawal syndrome symptoms to begin. For those wondering what alcohol withdrawal syndrome is the following symptoms grouped is the answer. Physical dependency has been established, and once alcohol flow is reduced or stopped, the body rebels. The mind is also affected when the brain’s chemistry is disturbed.
What’s the cause of alcohol withdrawal syndrome? Neurochemical changes in the brain when alcohol is suddenly withdrawn or significantly reduced can initiate changes that cause AWS. Neurotransmitter imbalance occurs because the chemicals associated with alcohol are no longer present. As a result, a hyper-aroused state occurs, leading to intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Only a doctor can diagnose alcohol withdrawal syndrome. However, there is a protocol to follow when determining the diagnosis. First, a medical physician must take a medical history and evidence of decreased alcohol usage. Next, a medical examination and blood tests must be performed to determine toxicology.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
Every individual has variables to determine the severity of the symptoms they experience. For example, how much alcohol was consumed, how long the addiction was in effect, body type, sex, age, and other medical conditions can have a bearing on the experience. Therefore, when determining whether one has alcohol withdrawal syndrome, the following symptoms are evaluated. The syndrome is characterized by the patient identifying with two of the following symptoms after a reduction or discontinuation of alcohol use:
- Hand tremors
- Nausea or vomiting
- Hallucinations or illusions, either transient, visual or auditory
- Restlessness and agitation
A percentage of patients may experience Delirium Tremens (DTs) when alcohol withdrawal syndrome is present. Unfortunately, these dangerous symptoms can be deadly. Therefore, it is vital to get treatment for these symptoms, such as a medically supervised detox program and even additional therapies. The following symptoms occur with DTs:
- Excessive sweating
- Global confusion
- Visual and auditory hallucinations
- Cardiovascular and metabolic complications
It is, however, crucial to understand that the more severe cases of alcoholism might require hospitalization. Therefore, one must alleviate these symptoms to a level that allows for further treatment. Once a physician diagnoses alcohol withdrawal syndrome, one can can establish a plan to work on the physical damage of addiction.
After Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
The decision to stop drinking alcohol for a person with an alcohol use disorder represents a turning point. After experiencing the nightmare of alcoholism, detox and treatment can follow. This experience is challenging, but success is possible.
Find Help for Understanding Addiction in Tennessee
When exploring your options with an alcohol use disorder, it helps to be aware of the symptoms. Detox West, in Tennessee, can bring a new understanding to what you will face in your treatment plan for sobriety. You will find compassionate and patient professionals familiar with the difficulties in the initial weeks of treatment. Contact us today for more information.