All Addictions are Dangerous in their Own ways.
From the addiction itself to the behaviors that often accompany it, there is no shortage of ways that people put themselves in harm’s way when abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Quitting is supposed to be a good thing, but when it comes to alcohol, the detox process can be even more dangerous than any part of the addiction thus far.
Whether or not detox for alcohol is dangerous depends on several factors. The most important, of course, is how long someone has been abusing alcohol and to what extent (i.e. whether they’re drinking a fifth each day or a gallon in a day or two, etc.). The more alcohol someone consumes and the longer it’s been building up in their system, the more dangerous withdrawal and detox become.
Medically-assisted alcohol withdrawal or detox is often suggested for people who have been drinking for any extended period of time, just because of the myriad of potentially dangerous symptoms that can occur as a result of the body adjusting to the lack of alcohol in the system.
Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Because alcohol is a depressant, it slows the functioning of the brain and central nervous system. Someone who drinks occasionally will feel this and identify it as being “buzzed” or “drunk.” However, someone who is addicted to alcohol and drinks all the time will become conditioned to this feeling and adapt accordingly. The central nervous system then tries to rebound hard when alcohol consumption stops, which causes all kinds of imbalances in the opposite direction.
Imagine alcohol withdrawal as a hangover on the grandest scale. Most people can reduce their consumption and quit using alcohol without medical assistance. However, there are exceptions and it’s always important to be careful. Withdrawal symptoms include things like:
- Blurred vision
- Shaking or tremors
- High blood pressure
- Sweating and nervousness
- Racing heart
- Fatigue or sleeplessness
When minor, these may be tolerable and go away within a few days or a week. When the alcohol addiction is more severe, however, the symptoms of withdrawal will also be more severe and may eventually require medical intervention.
Another condition that is seriously dangerous to someone who is withdrawing from alcohol is called Delirium Tremens. Sometimes informally known as the DTs, this condition occurs in about five percent of those withdrawing from alcohol after prolonged use. It typically affects people who have been drinking for 10 years or more, or who drink heavily and have for an extended period.
Common symptoms of the DTs include headaches, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion and lack of focus, and similar symptoms. When it is more severe, people may experience hallucinations and delusions, seizures, heart attacks, stroke, and even death. The body’s metabolic imbalance as a result of the alcohol intake ceasing hits the body hard and can be very dangerous if it is not handled properly.
Treatment for DTs typically involves hospitalization and medical management to address the physical symptoms of withdrawal and to prevent complications. This may include medications to control tremors and seizures, as well as supportive care such as IV fluids and electrolytes.
It’s important to note that DTs can be prevented by seeking medical supervision and support when withdrawing from alcohol. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction and planning to stop drinking, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional about the best approach to take to ensure a safe and successful recovery.
Pre-existing Medical Conditions
Some people also have underlying medical conditions or mental health issues that may or may not be related to their alcohol addiction. This can be problematic when it comes to stopping alcohol consumption because withdrawal effects can make those conditions worse in some cases. People who are prone to heart issues, for example, are at a higher risk of issues with low potassium and electrolyte levels.
Anyone who is considering quitting drinking with existing medical conditions should consult their doctor first and foremost. Although most people quit without incident and can move on to live a healthy, happy life, it’s not guaranteed. Quitting drinking is great, but only when you do it the right way so that you don’t put yourself in the way of unnecessary risks.
Seeking professional medical assistance for alcohol addiction will allow you to discuss your health concerns with the doctors and make sure that your detox and treatment plan is tailored to your unique needs. That will reduce the risk of complications and conditions becoming worse as a result of your stoppage of alcohol consumption. After all, you’re trying to get better, and hopefully without getting worse in the first place.
What Other Alcohol Addiction Treatments in Indianapolis, IN, are There?
In addition to medical assistance for detox and withdrawal from alcohol, it’s a good idea to attend a drug and alcohol rehab program offered by a detox facility in your area. A comprehensive approach to addiction is most effective for alcohol and drug treatment in Indianapolis, IN, no matter what the unique circumstances. Aside from medical treatment, rehab can include individual and group therapy, support groups, religion-based services, programs like AA and NA, and other solutions to help people beat their addiction to alcohol once and for all. This holistic approach addresses all the physical, mental, and emotional dangers that are present for the person going through the withdrawal and getting sober process.
It’s best to take the time to explore treatment options. Talk to your primary care doctor about quitting drinking and the state of your health so that you know what you’re getting into from the start. Find a reputable rehab facility that offers all the support and treatment that you need, including medically-assisted alcohol detox, so that you can get your life back on track. And if it’s someone you love struggling with addiction, get them the same help.
Better Safe Than Sorry
While most people recover from alcohol addiction without incident, that’s not to say that there aren’t risks. That includes the most common (and worst) potential risks that we’ve covered here, as well as plenty of others. Ultimately, it’s going to be a better idea to get some kind of help for alcohol addiction, even if it’s not medical treatment. Find a drug and alcohol rehab facility in Indianapolis, IN, that can help you (or your loved one) get life back on track and kick the addiction for good.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, which is why it’s best to choose an alcohol addiction recovery program when you’re ready to call it quits.
Addiction Rehab Centers in Indianapolis, IN, provides the full continuum of care for addiction treatment modalities. CBT, DBT, and Dual Diagnosis addiction therapy is there to help the individual recover from drugs and alcohol in a safe, comfortable, environment.