Alcohol withdrawals from excessive and prolonged drinking can cause severe conditions that can be fatal or extremely damaging. Such withdrawals, and the fallout thereof, are actually classified as a syndrome, simply called Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS). Symptoms of AWS can start off as simple things that may be symptoms of a vast amount of other disorders, such as bodily tremors, vomiting, headache, sweating, and insomnia, among others.
Those symptoms can be considered mild and early for what is to come later for someone who has completely quit drinking after drinking alcoholically for a long time. Someone who has decided they need to stop after being a heavy, prolonged drinker so seek medical supervision for their withdrawals, preferably in a detox facility, due to the fact that severe withdrawals can be lethal. The previously stated symptoms would appear early on and worsen into something that is called Delerium Tremens, or DTs.
Delirium Tremens is when the body is going through severe alcohol withdrawals. After such prolonged drinking, the body of the alcoholic becomes dependent on the presence of alcohol. Once the alcohol is removed, severe fallout can occur and take the form of DTs. DTs can be terrifying and extremely dangerous, thus calling for the need for medical supervision. DTs can take the form of:
- Extreme Confusion or Agitation
- High Fever
- Heart Disturbances
- Seizures of Varying Severity, all the way up to Grand Mal
- Hallucinations, including:
- Tactile (e.g., itching, burning, numbness)
- Auditory (hearing things that are not there)
- Visual (seeing things that are not there)
Due to the severity of these withdrawals and the close inter-linking of alcohol to the biology of the alcoholic, AWS is the only kind of withdrawal process that is treated, very seldomly, with the very substance that it is withdrawing from. In earlier days, when AWS and DTs were starting to become treated, and alcoholism was starting to actually become acknowledged as a disease, patients were given small doses of alcohol during their withdrawals in order to keep the body stable and help them wean off of the drink.
The obsession to drink after the allergic reaction has been triggered, even by the smallest amount of alcohol, causes the alcoholic to drink more and more. Over time, greater tolerance to alcohol develops, thus causing the alcoholic to drink much more than they did in earlier days, thus leading to the threat of bodily harm. Blackouts will begin to occur, if they had not already, wherein the drinker does not remember what happened during periods of drinking at all. A blackout is where the mind’s ability to imprint new memory is inhibited by the sheer amount of alcohol in the brain, and there is a technical malfunction.
In conclusion, alcoholism is a widespread and devastating recognized disease that affects millions of people around the world. The fallout from the disease is numerous and severe, as are the withdrawals. But treatment and reversal are possible by complete abstinence. It is also recommended that sick alcoholics attend 12-step meetings and/or seek counseling for their affliction, for it cannot be conquered alone.