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Most people are aware of the dangers posed by alcohol misuse, abuse, and addiction; yet, many people are unaware of the dangers posed by alcohol withdrawals. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a very serious issue that can be very damaging and detrimental both physically and emotionally. Moreover, alcohol withdrawal syndrome can also pose life-threatening harm if not managed properly, which makes living with untreated alcohol withdrawal a very serious situation.

What Exactly Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal (commonly referred to as alcohol withdrawal syndrome) is what happens when individuals with severe alcohol dependence suddenly stop ingesting alcohol. While this is a positive step in the right direction, it can be very dangerous if an individual quits alcohol cold turkey.

Yes, the ultimate goal is to stop drinking altogether, but if the body and mind are addicted to alcohol, the shock to the system can be significantly more dangerous than responsible cessation. Now, this is not to say that one should choose to continue drinking due to the potential for alcohol withdrawal. Rather, individuals ready to quit should reach out and connect with addiction specialists and medical professionals. Doing this can help to keep some of the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal in check.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Untreated Alcohol Withdrawal?

While each individual will have their own experiences with alcohol withdrawal, there are some universal signs and symptoms. The following are just a few of those signs and symptoms:

  • Intense headaches that last for extended periods
  • Severe dehydration
  • Increased feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • A greater potential for seizures, stroke, and heart attack
  • Periods of disorientation and confusion
  • Audible and visual hallucinations
  • A greater potential for committing self-harm or having suicidal ideations

Another aspect and symptom of both alcohol use disorder (AUD) and alcohol withdrawal is nutrient deficiency. According to the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, “Chronic alcoholic patients are frequently deficient in one or more vitamins. The deficiencies commonly involve folate, vitamin B6, thiamine, and vitamin A. Although inadequate dietary intake is a major cause of vitamin deficiency, other possible mechanisms may also be involved. Alcoholism can affect the absorption, storage, metabolism, and activation of many of these vitamins.” Not addressing these vitamin deficiencies is just one of the many dangers of untreated alcohol withdrawal.

What Are the Dangers of Untreated Alcohol Withdrawal?

The primary danger of untreated alcohol withdrawal is that it can be fatal. However, there are many other dangers. Some other dangers include succumbing to some of the symptoms, as previously mentioned, such as self-harm or harm as a result of hallucinations. 

Another very significant danger – which can ultimately be as fatal as severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome – is that an individual becomes so uncomfortable in their self-attempted detox that they go back to drinking. Without some intervention, this will ultimately lead to, as they say in 12-Step recovery, “jails, institutions, or death.” This is why seeking professional care for alcohol detox can be so crucial.

How to Best Treat Alcohol Withdrawal

The dangers of detoxing from alcohol are greatly decreased if detox is completed in a professional setting with medical oversight. This is because medical professionals have the essential tools necessary to ensure that individuals stay fully hydrated, have their nutrients replenished, and receive sedatives or other medications if their withdrawals become too dangerous or unmanageable.

A professional detox can help reduce the chance that an individual will stop in the middle of the process and go back to drinking. This is due to the professional setting that ensures an individual stays accountable for the detox process.

Alcohol withdrawal must also be treated for the long run. In the beginning, it is important to make sure that no harm comes from the physical symptoms. However, “emotional withdrawals” can also be very difficult to manage, and tend to linger long beyond the initial cessation of substance use. They can also be the reason why someone chooses to drink again, even long after the physical detox process has concluded. If these underlying emotional issues aren’t treated with some type of continued recovery plan, then the chances of a relapse go up exponentially, and this relapse could lead to another uncomfortable detox. It is a vicious cycle that must be addressed if one is to fully heal.

Overcoming Addiction and Mental Illness With the Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we know that detox can be scary, as many of us on staff have been there before. Yet, we also know that going through a detox is one of the bravest and most important things a person will ever do.

Our ultimate goal is to help our clients heal and achieve dreams they once thought unattainable. That is our primary purpose, our mission, and for some, it begins by taking that first step away from their old lives and their first step toward an “easier, softer, way.”

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms should not be ignored, either by the individual experiencing them or by someone recognizing them in someone else. The reality is that alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances to detox from and it is one of the few substances that can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Still, alcohol withdrawals can be short-lived with proper care. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of alcohol withdrawal or other issues of mental illness, we can help you get on the road to recovery. For more information about alcohol withdrawal symptoms and their dangers, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT