Alcohol is one of the most destructive and dangerous substances people can consume. It seems relatively harmless because after all, it’s legal. But the ramifications of alcohol dependence are far-reaching and cannot only destroy lives but entire family units. When the damage from alcohol addiction becomes undeniable and things seemingly fall apart, it becomes more challenging to make the commitment to seek help. Yet this is when people need help the most, not only to have the emotional support needed to quit but also to safely detox. This is critical, as detoxing without medical assistance can cost you your life.
What Happens When You Become an Alcoholic?
When people are alcohol dependent, their consumption becomes progressive. And as people drink more, their tolerance builds. This leads to a cycle of building tolerance through heavier drinking until you reach a point where you have altered the chemistry in your brain. When this happens, the neurotransmitters in the brain receive the message to transition into a hyperactive mode to compensate for the sedative effects of alcohol.
What Happens When Alcohol Use is Stopped Abruptly?
Abruptly stopping the use of alcohol does not give neurotransmitters time to adjust to a new routine. This can result in a slingshot effect that puts the body at risk for complications that can be deadly. The symptoms that follow when stopping alcohol consumption when dependent are extensive. They can include:
– Heart palpitations
– Mood swings
– Nausea and vomiting
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can lead to more serious consequences that can be a matter of life and death. What is commonly known as “the DTs,” or delirium tremens can cause hallucinations, confusion, and dysphoria. This can interfere with the nervous system’s ability to regulate breathing or blood circulation and pressure. These complications can foreshadow the onset of seizures, convulsions, stroke or heart attacks that many do not recover from.
This is why getting professional help in the process of alcohol detox is crucial. Professional centers will monitor your system and ensure that the appropriate medications are administered to help the brain adjust and manage symptoms of seizure or convulsions. A safe detox will increase the odds of recovery and help prevent unnecessary relapse while protecting your health.
Aside from the physical ramifications, there are emotional ones as well when detox is attempted without guidance and results in a failed try. It takes courage, energy, and commitment to attempt a major life change, and successful transitions require more than just the desire to stop. Tools can be learned and alternative behaviors practiced to help individuals and their families work to maintain sobriety by functioning as a cohesive unit.
What’s Going To Happen In Detox?
When you first arrive, a team of professionals will evaluate your physical and psychological state to determine which medications and the amounts prescribed are appropriate for you. Generally, the physician monitoring your detox will prescribe benzodiazepines to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms. These will help your brain make the adjustments needed to return it to a pre-addiction state. Through careful and mindful evaluation you will be assessed for progress or your plan adjusted if break-through symptoms appear.
It is important not to underestimate the emotional pull of alcohol dependence and abuse when in recovery. Feelings of guilt, shame or inadequacy can be heightened as neurotransmitters such as dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) function erratically and dampen previous feelings of excitement and reward. Yet it is important to the last recovery to expect these lows and prepare for them and to know that while you might feel hopeless at the time, treatment has been effective to significant numbers of people in the world.
The goals of rehabilitation function to assist the person in need in the best way possible. To achieve this, the process of seeking help, managing withdrawal and maintaining sobriety should be safe, both physically and emotionally. This means that not only will you be physically monitored, but your dignity should be protected as well, as shame puts a person at risk of relapse. Additionally, individuals and their families should be prepared for continuing treatment and know about available support systems through this process.
To find out more concerning the behaviors of yourself or a loved one and how to confront addiction, call (866) 840-6411 to talk with an available counselor 24 hours a day. Beating alcohol dependence is a difficult battle, but it is one that has been waged successfully many times with the appropriate tools and support. Call now for help.