Alcohol Withdrawal is a clinical term to describe the physical and emotional response that occurs in an individual that stops his consumption of alcohol after excessive and prolonged drinking. Excessive drinking and abuse of alcohol creates a physical dependence that is accompanied by an increasing tolerance for this drug. (In the later stages of alcoholism, the body reacts in defiance to alcohol and you find a reverse-tolerance, meaning that what intoxication that previously came from a pint or quart of alcoholic beverages, may now only take one or less ounces.)
After intense drinking, the body is stressed to metabolize alcohol and eliminate the byproducts from this metabolism. Alcohol pushes the central nervous system into a state of hyper-excitability and once that alcohol is no longer available to continue this artificial stimulation, the central nervous system reacts in ways that are very uncomfortable for the patient and can even be life threatening.
When a person ingests alcohol or alcoholic beverages, the body's first response is one of alert. When metabolized, alcohol will become a food source to the body, but before this time, it is a toxic substance that causes the body to be alerted that its digestive system needs to address this substance that could be lethal when it is introduced at too large a levels over too short of a time span. This neuro-adaptation starts with the first drink and is responsible for the "rush" of energy that is one of the lures for drinking alcohol. After continual consumption and when the body is pushed to a point that it feels overwhelmed by the amount of alcohol in the blood stream, the body's metabolism will slow down to reduce the distribution of alcohol to the central nervous system. At this point, if the ingestion of alcohol isn't reduced, there is a risk of alcohol poisoning and death.
As a person continually stresses his body by regular and frequent drinking at an excessive level, these metabolic systems change over time in response to this continual stress. These change prepare the body for the repeated presences of alcohol, but when it is abruptly stopped, the body cannot resume normal metabolism without going through a period where the central nervous system and other metabolic systems in the body are readjusting back to their normal state. This period of readjustment is the basis of the pain and stress that one feels from alcohol withdrawals.
The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be as mild as experiencing sleep disturbances and/or mild anxiety to life threatening reactions that include delirium, visual hallucinations and convulsions that can lead to death if one doesn't seek good medical attention to address this level of withdrawals.
Anyone experiencing alcohol withdrawals will feel the inability to focus their attention or mental confusion. These symptoms are most extreme upon awakening because of the fall in blood alcohol concentrations that happens rapidly when asleep. Alcohol withdrawals are more severe in the elderly and those that have repeated withdrawals that lead to repeated intoxications.
The damage that is caused by intense alcohol blood levels over time can damage the central nervous system to the point where a person experience withdrawal symptoms long after he has stopped the ingestion of alcohol. Sometimes this post acute withdrawal syndrome can linger for at least a year after one stops drinking alcohol. Since the body is readjusting to a state that is continually handling the metabolism of alcohol, the now abstinent person will experience profound cravings for alcohol to bring his body back to a place where it is more accustomed.
The Narconon Rehabilitation Program has found that treating alcohol withdrawals with calcium gluconate and magnesium citrate or carbonate has profound affects on reducing the anxiety and insomnia associate with alcohol withdrawals. Using these natural methods to address these problems is very important since the typical medical sleep aids are cross-tolerant with alcohol and interrupt the withdrawal process.
Repeated alcohol withdrawals can lead to a phenomenon known as Kindling which results in an increased severity of these repeated alcohol withdrawals. This is most evident in binge drinkers who initially may not experience the symptoms of withdrawals, but after repeated episodes of heavy drinking followed by abstinence and withdrawals, one finds that these repeated actions can lead to full blown delirium tremens with convulsive seizures. Individual in adolescence who are binge drinkers and experience multiple alcohol withdrawals can show more significant mental impairments such as long-term nonverbal memory problems.
Anyone that is facing alcohol withdrawals after prolong drinking should recognize that the symptoms that are mentioned above are possible at any level of withdrawals, so loved ones should be available to ensure that the drinker get proper medical attention in a knowledgeable medical withdrawal facility.
Many factors are involved in determining whether one's alcohol consumption is at a level that would require medical attention when experiencing withdrawals. It is sometimes hard to distinguish between a severe hangover and clinical alcohol withdrawals. Rather than take undue risk, it is safe to say that if a person is having withdrawals after more than one day of drinking and if there is a history of binge drinking or repeated alcohol withdrawals over time, then this person may need medical assistance.
Narconon drug rehab intake staff are educated in helping you make the determination about the severity of one's alcohol withdrawal as well as having a premier treatment center should it be determined that further rehabilitation is necessary. Even though alcohol is promoted as being a refreshing beverage with few side effects, other than positive traits, it is actually a very strong drug that is responsible for many drug-related deaths as well as disabling injuries.