Even knowing all the serious consequences that accompany alcohol addiction, many alcoholics will persist in their compulsive drinking just to avoid the detox and withdrawal experience. Understandably, alcohol detox is highly unpleasant and can become a serious medical emergency if not managed by a trained team of detox specialists who can quickly intervene. Serious health risks, such as alcohol withdrawal hallucinations, seizures, psychosis, and delirium tremens are possible for individuals with a long history of regular high alcohol consumption, but these complications are difficult to predict.

Detox and withdrawal should not deter someone from pursuing recovery from addiction, as alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disease that, if left untreated and unmanaged, will take one’s life eventually. Instead of avoiding recovery out of fear of detox, locate a sound detox plan that provides a supportive, and supervised environment that will help you safely launch your recovery from alcohol dependence.

Importance of Medically Monitored Alcohol Detox

It is a fact that alcohol detox can present some serious health risks as withdrawal symptoms intensify on days 2-4. In the event of severe alcohol withdrawals, these risks include alcohol withdrawal hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, grand mal seizures, and the delirium tremens (DTs). Unfortunately, some individuals attempt to conquer detox on their own without any medical supervision, which can land them in the emergency department at the local hospital.

The safest route to achieving a successful alcohol detox is through a medical detox program. This can be obtained at a freestanding detox center, but detox alone will not lead to a sustained recovery from the actual addiction, and relapse will swiftly follow. The best scenario is to go through a medical detox within a comprehensive addiction treatment program, so therapy and rehabilitation will immediately follow the detox and withdrawal phase of recovery.

The benefits of undergoing detox under medical supervision are many. The client’s vital signs will be monitored throughout, as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rates can fluctuate dramatically. Highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are likely to present themselves and a medical detox team will provide medications to help minimize them. These typical withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Retching
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia

Should withdrawal symptoms become severe, the medical detox team is equipped to respond appropriately.

Severe Alcohol Detox

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms vary from mild to severe according to various factors. These factors include the acuity of the alcohol dependency, length of history of heavy alcohol consumption, age, general health status and whether there are any medical conditions, and if there is a co-occurring mental health disorder. Certain risk factors can alert the medical detox team of potential complications, such as hallucinations or seizures, that arise as the detox proceeds.

Alcoholic Hallucinosis

Alcoholic hallucinosis is a situation than begin at about 24 hours following the last alcoholic drink, persisting for a few days, and causing distress to the individual. During alcoholic hallucinosis, also referred to as alcohol-related psychosis, the client experiences things that are not really there, including auditory, tactile, and visual hallucinations. This is an uncommon event, usually only present with individuals who have a history of many years of consistent heavy drinking.

Delirium Tremens

The most serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms is the delirium tremens, or DTs as it is commonly referred to. The DTs usually appear 2 to 3 days after the last alcoholic beverage is consumed and is difficult to predict. Tremors that may have begun in the hands now progress to the head and the body. The individual will become highly uncoordinated and experience extreme mental confusion along with hallucinations, terrors, and delusions. Sweating becomes profuse, blood pressure spikes and the heart rate dramatically increases.

The DTs occur in about 5% of the individuals undergoing alcohol detox, and if not treated by a medical profession can prove fatal to 15% of those individuals. Complications include over-sedation, cardiac arrhythmias, respiratory arrest, and aspiration pneumonitis. Some risk factors for the DTs include age (middle age or older), history of seizures during alcohol withdrawal in the past, abnormal liver function, a co-existing mental health disorder, or extreme alcohol cravings.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

In most cases, alcohol detox is completed within 5-7 days. This means that the majority of the pain and discomfort associated with withdrawal have subsided by week’s end. However, some individuals continue to struggle with protracted withdrawal symptoms that can persist for weeks or months. This collection of both physical and psychological symptoms is referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS.

Prolonged symptoms are common among alcoholics in recovery, often complicating the recovery process. It is important to have realistic expectations in early recovery, and understand that these symptoms too shall pass in time. PAWS symptoms might include:

  • Intense cravings for alcohol
  • Ongoing tremors
  • Nervous system hyperactivity resulting in sweating, rapid heart rate, and nausea
  • Mood swings
  • Brain chemistry still returning to normal dopamine production
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Lack of sexual desire
  • Cognitive impairment

Most clients will not experience all of the PAWS symptoms, but instead may experience a few of them intermittently over the first few months of recovery. Understanding that PAWS is a common after effect of detox and withdrawal will help the individual accept this temporary condition and look forward to feeling increasingly better as recovery progresses.

Capo By the Sea Manages Alcohol Withdrawal Hallucinations

Capo By the Sea is an elite alcohol and drug recovery program serving Southern California. Capo By the Sea employs an extensively trained medical detox team who will monitor and manage severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms should they emerge. These detox professionals provide the highest level of comfort possible and are prepared for any medical emergency that could arise. Following successful completion of the medical detoxification, the client will be introduced to the therapeutic rehabilitation that follows. Capo By the Sea offers upscale accommodations, private rooms, and deluxe amenities in addition to its top tier addiction treatment program. For more information about the program, please contact Capo By the Sea today at (888) 529-2114.