Of all the dangerous substances people consume when people think about someone with an addiction, alcohol is the most widely used and most socially accepted. For many people, alcohol causes them no issues and often little consequences. Many people “drinking normally” during their lives- a couple drinks to relax after work or while out to dinner with friends, while out at a club or in a bar, socially at home with a spouse or their neighbors, or while out at a sporting event.
According to a 2019 study, 85.6% of American adults ages 18 and older reported that they had consumed alcohol at some point in their lifetime, while 69.5% reported that they had drank alcohol within the past year, and 54.9% reported that they had drank alcohol in the past month of when the study was reported. It is also reported that over two-thirds of American adults ages 18 and older report that they “drink regularly.”
Being legal for individuals over the age of 21, alcohol is accepted socially. Many family gatherings or rituals center around alcohol consumption; many sports fans consider alcohol as part of their ritual of being a fan; social activities like going out to drink with friends, going to a bar, or going to a club center around alcohol. Whether it is a cold beer at a football game or a cookout, a bottle of wine to pair with food at dinner or relaxing with a mixed drink by the pool in the summertime, there are few American social activities that aren’t centered around alcohol or at least regularly include alcohol in some form or fashion.
For millions of Americans, this alcohol consumption is normal and will have little impact on their health, their safety, or the quality of their lives. However, for the 15-25% of Americans that may experience a problem with alcohol or meet criteria for having an alcohol use disorder, this socially accepted practice of drinking alcohol can become very problematic. It can create emotional and mental distress. It can create problems in a relationship. It can make them angry, violent, or depressed. It can become a dangerous tool to deal with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions. For these individuals, what once was a normal activity can quickly become a daily ritual that shackles them to a bottle. In that scenario, trying to stop drinking can become dangerous, and if they try to stop on their own, it can even be fatal.
Trying to stop drinking on your own cold turkey can certainly be dangerous and cause serious health issues. Alcohol withdrawal is a dangerous and potentially deadly occurrence when trying to abruptly stop drinking alcohol. Quitting alcohol can cause psychological and physiological harm to your mind and body.
The most serious effects of alcohol withdrawal are delirium tremens, also knowns as DTs. DTs often can occur with someone that has a severe alcohol addiction or alcoholism but can also occur with an individual who isn’t drinking as heavily as an alcoholic. Delirium tremens can be fatal and are common among people that have a serious history of drinking, who typically suffer through alcohol withdrawal when they try to stop drinking, who regularly drink heavily, or those who have a history of alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder for more than 10 years.
Symptoms of delirium tremens can include seizures, hallucinations, confusion, sensitivity to light, nausea. Alcohol withdrawal can also lead to physical injuries, many severe. These types of physical injuries, such as brain injuries, broken bones, concussions, or other medical complications due to dangerous falls, can occur due to an individual having a seizure or being disoriented and falling.
Other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include heart attacks or other cardiac complications due to low electrolyte levels. Arrhythmias and sudden death due to heart attacks are possible. Low levels of phosphate can lead to muscle weakness or other muscle-related issues, coma, and interruption or stopping of normal breathing functions. Alcoholic ketoacidosis is possible, a potentially fatal condition. Other alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, insomnia, agitation or irritability, anxiety, fatigue, clammy hands or sweaty skin, depression, memory loss, mood swings, rapid heart rates, loss of appetite, restlessness, agitation, muscle cramps, and difficulties in cognitive functioning.
While it is understandable that, just like any other substance, individuals in need of alcohol detox would prefer to do so in the comfort of their own home. However, due to the potential dangers of detoxing on your own, it is best practice to receive medical care and support when trying to stop drinking alcohol. A drug and alcohol medical detox facility is well-equipped with 24/7 medical staff to help you safely and comfortably manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms and complete a detox. Under the care of medical doctors, psychiatrists, and nurses, a medical detox can not only help by prescribing safe medications to manage withdrawal symptoms but can also appropriately monitor and manage your physical health and any ongoing medical concerns. Surrounded and supported by additional clinical staff and recovery support staff, a medical detox is the safest place you can be while going through alcohol detox. With 24/7 staff support, you can minimize the dangers of alcohol withdrawal, and detox in a safe and comfortable manner.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.