Can You Die From Alcohol Withdrawal-Detox?

Can Alcohol Detox Kill You?
While many people are at least somewhat familiar with the dangers and difficulty of withdrawing from heroin and cocaine, the truth is alcohol detox and withdrawal can also be dangerous. Alcohol withdrawal can lead to a range of symptoms that may begin as early as two hours after the last drink. These symptoms can persist for many weeks and range from shakiness and anxiety to serious complications such as delirium tremens (DTs), seizures, convulsions, and heart attack. Don’t take alcohol detox lightly; detoxification from alcohol should not be attempted at home.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) refers to a number of symptoms experienced by a heavy drinker or suddenly stops drinking or drastically reduces alcohol intake. Symptoms can appear within just a few hours of the last drink. AWS can cause a range of emotional and physical symptoms ranging from anxiety, nausea, and fatigue to hallucinations, hand tremors, vomiting, irritability, nightmares, and insomnia. The symptoms of AWS can be life-threatening and tend to worsen over a period of three days and last for weeks.

During the first day of stopping drinking, some people experience hallucinations that end after another 24 hours. This condition is called alcoholic hallucinosis, but it’s not the same as the hallucinations that occur with the DTs (a very serious form of alcohol withdrawal syndrome) because people with alcoholic hallucinosis know that the hallucinations are not real.

More serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur in about 10% of people being treated for alcohol withdrawal. Over 90% of alcohol withdrawal seizures happen within 48 hours of quitting alcohol, although it is possible for seizures to occur up to 20 days after the last drink. Research has indicated that the risk of having seizures and the severity of seizures increases with the number of past alcohol withdrawals the person has had.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can worsen rapidly, so it’s important to seek medical care even if symptoms seem minor.

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

Heavy and prolonged drinking disrupts the neurotransmitters in the brain which are responsible for sending messages and regulating the central nervous system. Initially, alcohol boosts the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA which produces a sense of relaxation. Chronic drinking over time suppresses GABA activity and causes a tolerance to build up, requiring more alcohol to produce the same effect. Chronic drinking also suppresses glutamate, a neurotransmitter that causes excitability. Glutamate is necessary to maintain equilibrium.

A sudden or dramatic reduction in alcohol consumption means the neurotransmitters are no longer suppressed. They quickly rebound and cause brain hyperexcitability. This is why alcohol withdrawal symptoms are the opposite of symptoms associated with drinking, including anxiety, tremors, and anxiety.

Delirium Tremens

The most serious type of alcohol withdrawal syndrome is called delirium tremens (DT). DTs usually start between 2 and 3 days after the last drink. People who have a history of withdrawal seizures, abnormal liver function, acute illness, and those who are older are more likely to experience these life-threatening symptoms.

Symptoms of DT include:

  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Extreme confusion
  • Extreme agitation
  • Hallucinations that include visual (seeing images that aren’t real), auditory (hearing sounds that aren’t real), and tactile (feeling false sensations such as numbness, burning, and itching)

These symptoms are considered a medical emergency. If AWS advances to delirium tremens, it can be fatal. Death can occur in 1% to 5% of people with DTs, but the risk of death is reduced with medical support and medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Because alcohol withdrawal can be very painful and life-threatening, supervised detox in an inpatient setting is recommended for heavy or long-term drinkers.

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Ireland Sees Massive Spike in Gambling Addiction

The Rutland Centre, an addiction treatment center based out of Ireland has released figures outlining an alarmingly steady increase in the incidence of gambling addiction.  In 2013 only a mere 3% of addiction admissions were for a gambling problem, fast forward to 2016 and the percentage has climbed significantly at around 9.5% as it stands currently.   That is a whopping 6.5% boost from the period between 2013-2016, suggesting some troubling trends brewing in Ireland and elsewhere for that matter.   Community advocates blame the problem on stalled legislation aimed at regulating the gambling industry.  The Gambling Control Bill was introduced in 2013 but never ratified formally by the legislative bodies in Ireland.  Since that time there has been an influx in the number of individuals addicted to gambling.  With the advent of new technology and online platforms directed at making it more accessible it is apparently succeeding at the detriment of the community.

False Advertising
One glaring example of this emerging trend has been the astonishing amount of advertising dedicated to promoting the lifestyle of gambling to consumers.  Depictions of the glitz and glamor abound but rarely do we see the true extent of the damage an addiction to gambling has on society.  The advertising industry is only concerned with promulgating the positives associated with gambling, which unfortunately don’t exist.  The reality behind gambling is far more depraved and equally as devastating.  There are many cases of people literally losing everything and then in their lowly state even going as far as taking their own life to suicide leaving behind distraught friends and family in their aftermath. One individual in particular reported that he was gambling away his mental health alongside his material resources wagering upwards of 80-100 bets a day and losing substantially large sums of money in the process.   Like any addiction his gambling came on innocent enough before it spiraled out of control and he soon found himself betting the outcomes of  random beach volleyball matches.  That is when you know you have a problem.

Gambling is a Disease 
There is nothing to glorify or idealize when it comes to the gambling lifestyle.  What makes gambling even more dangerous is its ability to ensnare users into a combination of addictive substances and activities to complement the gambling vice.  Individuals who become hooked to gambling often have one, or, more multiple addictions to drugs and alcohol in addition to the gambling.  Drugs like cocaine and alcohol are the ones most associated with a gambling addiction.  Eventually these lose their effectiveness and the addict is forced to experiment with even more hardcore substances like heroin, opiates and opioid painkillers to treat their disease. It is a black never ending abyss of despair, shame and guilt when going down this proverbial rabbit’s hole.  If the gambling itself doesn’t destroy you it will be the subsequent addiction to drugs and alcohol that end up claiming your life and forever altering the lives of your friends and family in the process.  Gambling is a serious issue that needs to be confronted head on when taking the first initial steps toward the road to recovery.  Until the propensity to gamble, along with other vices such like drugs and alcohol are wiped out completely the user falls risk to relapsing again when triggered.

Help is Around the Corner 
If you need help with a gambling or drug addiction please give one of our professionals a call immediately.  It’s never too late to walk the path to treatment and ultimately recovery.  Don’t fight addiction alone!  A solid support system is critical to your success when choosing to break the addictive patterns and reclaim your life.  We stop at nothing to make sure you get the help and treatment you deserve.