Alcoholism affects people from all demographics. Regardless of your race, religious preference, economic status, employment status, marital status, or background, alcoholism can have a detrimental impact on your mental and physical health. According to data provided by the United States Centers for Disease Control, more than 88,000 people die from alcohol related deaths each year. Today, alcohol continues to be one of the most preventable causes of death across the nation. Alcohol has significant effects on all body systems, including significant impacts on the brain, liver, immune system, mouth, and pancreas. Despite the potential adverse consequences, more people than ever before struggle with alcohol use disorders and addiction. Recent data suggests as many as twenty-one million Americans struggle with alcohol addiction; however, only ten percent of those will ever seek or receive treatment.
Why Alcohol Is Addictive
Alcohol is addictive because it alters how the brain perceives reward. The brain’s reward system is essential because it influences critical behaviors, including eating, sleeping, working, and socializing, among others. Choosing to use alcohol over all else to stimulate the reward system will make the brain crave satisfaction from alcohol over satisfaction from healthy sources. Drinking alcohol signals the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is commonly called a “feel-good” neurotransmitter because its release contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Alcohol (like some other drugs) produces significantly more dopamine than natural reward systems do, making it more desirable and addictive. Long-term alcohol use eventually results in permanent changes to the brain, causing mental and physical dependence on the feelings produced by drinking.
The Early Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol changes the way your brain sends messages back and forth. Over time, your brain and central nervous system become accustomed to having alcohol around, and it becomes difficult to function without it. When you decide to get sober, and the levels of alcohol in your body suddenly drop, your brain continues to seek alcohol, which causes withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. How withdrawal affects you will depend on how long you have struggled with alcohol and how much or how often you drink. Some of the mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that often occur early on include anxiety, trembling hands, headache, nausea (sometimes accompanied by vomiting), difficulty sleeping, and sweating. Some of these may occur within a matter of hours after your last drink. In more severe cases, you may notice other more intense symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions. Again, these can occur early in the withdrawal process, depending on the severity of your addiction.
What to Do if You’re Withdrawing From Alcohol
Depending on your addiction’s severity, detox and withdrawal can be accompanied by severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms. While it is indeed possible to detox “cold turkey,” the potential severity of withdrawal symptoms can make it unsafe to do so for some people. In many cases, detox and withdrawals are significantly more successful when done under medical supervision at an addiction treatment center familiar with the challenges associated with alcohol withdrawal. In a medically supervised setting such as Cal Recovery in Northern California, a highly trained team of medical professionals will be with you every step of the way. During the early stages of detox, medical personnel will monitor your vital signs regularly and, if necessary, provide medications to ease the severity of specific withdrawal symptoms. In addition to ongoing medical support throughout the entirety of detox, our support staff is available to provide addiction treatment, addiction education, nutritional services, and robust aftercare planning to ensure ongoing sobriety and recovery continues when you return home.
The decision to seek addiction treatment is not easy. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and is ready to begin your journey to sobriety, contact the caring admission staff at Cal Recovery today. Let our experienced team here at our Northern California addiction treatment center provide you with an individualized treatment program designed around your specific needs and goals.
Alcohol detox and withdrawal are hard, and achieving sobriety is not easy. It is not a one-step process that is complete once your treatment ends. It will require ongoing work and commitment; however, the dedication to your help and an addiction free life are more than worth the effort. If you are ready to start a new journey up helping sobriety today, contact us at Cal Recovery.