A recent article on Foxnews.com explored just how dangerous attempting to deal with alcohol withdrawal at home without treatment can be. Alcohol addiction is a difficult illness to overcome, especially in people who can’t afford expensive long-term residential programmes. However, going cold turkey without the proper medication can be deadly. Luckily there are alternatives but currently, there is a lack of understanding about the options for alcohol withdrawal treatment at home.
If you don’t remember your biology classes from high school take a minute to remind yourself about homeostasis. Homeostasis explains how the body keeps itself in sync. Homeostasis explains why you are able to maintain a body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (by sweating if you become too hot or shivering if you are too cold). The same principle applies to alcohol. When you consistently consume alcohol, your brain adapts to its new normal. The neurons (the signaling cells in the brain) adapt and get used to the alcohol. Of course, the alcohol is having detrimental effects on the body – particularly the liver – whilst a person drinks. When you take the alcohol away you put the body out of sync. The brain is no longer in homeostasis. Without the depressant effect of the alcohol, the brain goes into overdrive causing a number of distressing symptoms:
- Tremors – your hands may shake as the brain wrestles to control the body
- Hallucinations – This occurs in the brain cannot process what is a genuine stimuli (aka what the brain is seeing) and what is part of the imagination. This can be particularly distressing.
Alcohol Withdrawal medication
A much safer way to detox from alcohol is with a certified recovery practice. This can either be as an inpatient, but can also be managed at home. You may have heard of many of the alcohol withdrawal medications which include:
- Benzodiazepines: these drugs have been used for years to treat symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. They work by decreasing brain activity (which you need during the withdrawal period). They have a sedative effect, relaxing the patient and putting them to sleep.
- Anticonvulsants: You might have heard of these drugs being used for epilepsy. That’s because they were originally designed to treat epilepsy. However, addicts undergoing withdrawal can often have seizures (much like an epileptic would) and these drugs can help prevent that.
- Vitamins: In very severe instances, vitamin deficiencies in alcoholics can lead to dementia. As such vitamins are needed to supplement addicts who are usually extremely low in vitamins.
As we have seen – alcohol withdrawal is dangerous but there are options for addicts looking for alcohol withdrawal treatment at home. A number of alcohol withdrawal medications are available to avoid some of the distressing and occasionally deadly side effects of withdrawal. If you do try to detox at home, make sure you seek help from an experienced recovery clinic that can prescribe withdrawal medications and guide you through the process with experienced practitioners.