If you’re worried about the effect of drinking too much on your life and health, you aren’t alone. Millions of Americans struggle with alcohol addiction, and thousands each year quit drinking and begin recovery. The first step of recovery is detoxing, getting the alcohol out of your system so that you can start therapy and other work in recovery.
The withdrawal symptoms of alcohol include nausea, a headache, tiredness and lethargy, sensitivity to light and sound, racing heartbeat or palpitations, and sweating. If this sounds like a bad hangover, you aren’t wrong – a hangover is alcohol withdrawal. If a bad hangover leaves you feeling like you want to die, you may be curious about how to survive alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Detoxing from alcohol can be dangerous and even deadly, with a risk of stroke, heart problems, a seizure, or delirium tremens. Always consult with a medical professional before detoxing.
What Helps With Alcohol Withdrawals?
Medical treatments, including a medically supervised detox, are a safe and effective way to survive alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Appropriate medications, some ingested and some administered in an IV form can significantly reduce the severity of these symptoms. Common drugs administered include benzodiazepines and anti-anxiety medications, and vitamins to help replenish your body as your liver works to remove the alcohol.
Other things that help with your withdrawal, whether it’s medically supervised or not, include:
- Eat healthy, non-processed foods. Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein nourish your body and provide nutrients you may lack.
- Try cool, not cold or steaming hot, showers. These can help with sweating and hot flashes and make you feel better as you withdraw.
- Have a supportive company to stay with you, either in person or via text, to keep you focused on your goal of sobriety and be there when your moods get low – feeling anxious and depressed is a common withdrawal symptom.
- Consider hiring a sitter if you have family obligations. If you have young children or are a caregiver to an elderly relative, hiring in-home help can relieve you of your duties when you may be incredibly irritable or exhausted and give you time to sleep, rest, and heal.
- Go for a walk, or try a low-impact exercise like yoga. Avoid heavy cardio, especially if you have high blood pressure or other heart problems, but light exercise can distract you and give you some peace.
Prepare yourself with ways to stay occupied and avoid activities that usually include alcohol. For example, choose a computer game or crossword if you like to have drinks and binge-watch a reality show.
Have a Plan if Things Go Badly
Know where to go and what to do if severe withdrawal symptoms appear. The most dangerous period in an alcohol detox is 24-72 hours after you take the last drink. Symptoms of delirium tremens, or DTS, require immediate medical attention. If you experience one or more, go to your closest emergency room immediately.”
- Changes in blood pressure
- Hallucinations, both auditory and visual
- Excessive sweating or a fever
DTs are serious and can be fatal. When you go to the ER, tell them, or have the person that takes you, tell them that you are detoxing from alcohol and how many hours it’s been since your last drink.
Do You Need Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
We can help. Baystate Recovery Center offers several levels of evidence-based therapy for addiction, with intensive outpatient or weekly treatment available and relapse prevention strategies. Call us today for a confidential consultation about your therapy needs.