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Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal is one of the most dangerous withdrawals there is. Whether or not it is you or a loved one going through the withdrawal, it pays to have professionals assess the situation. Alcohol withdrawal refers to symptoms that may occur when a person who has been drinking too much alcohol every day suddenly stops drinking alcohol. The following are mild to moderate psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:   jumpiness or nervousness, shakiness, anxiety, irritability or easy excitability, rapid emotional changes, depression, fatigue, difficulty thinking clearly and even bad dreams.  Additionally, mild to moderate physical withdrawal symptoms may include any or all of the following:  headache -- general, pulsating, sweating -- especially the palms of the hands or the face, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, insomnia (sleeping difficulty), pallor, rapid heart rate, eye pupils enlarged(dilated pupils), clammy skin, tremor of the hands and lastly, involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids. These are some severe symptoms to be keenly aware of:  delirium tremens -- a state of confusion and visual hallucinations, agitation, fever,  convulsions, and of course, black outs -- when the person forgets what happened during the drinking episode. These symptoms may appear at any time, alone or accompanied by any other symptoms. All are considered warning signs and should not be ignored.

The goals are to treat the immediate alcohol withdrawal symptoms, prevent complications, and begin long-term therapy to promote abstinence (no drinking at all).  The person will probably have to stay at the hospital for constant observation. This will include monitoring:  blood pressure, body temperature, breathing, heart rate, fluid and electrolyte levels (chemicals in the body such as sodium and potassium)  Many patients are given fluids or medications through a vein (IV).  Withdrawal symptoms may worsen rapidly and may quickly become life threatening. Drugs that depress the central nervous system (such as sedatives) may be needed to reduce symptoms, often in moderately large doses.  Treatment may involve placing the person in a a moderately sedated state for 1 week or more until withdrawal is complete. A class of medications known as the benzodiazepines are often useful in reducing a range of symptoms.

A drying-out period is recommended after withdrawal is complete. No alcohol is allowed during this time. Permanent and lifelong abstinence from alcohol is the best treatment for those who have gone through alcohol withdrawal.  Rehabilitation for alcoholism is often recommended. This may include social support such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or better yet, an alternative to the 12 step program which not only handle the issues of the body, but the mind.  These programs are designed to give the individual the life skills necessary to live the remainder of their lives sober. This is a very critical time period and should only be dealt with by professionals.