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The Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal
When you have reached a point where your life pretty much revolves around drinking, you probably know you have a problem. You aren’t even sure if you are drinking because you want to drink anymore, or if you are drinking because you have to drink. You know you should stop, but you aren’t sure if you can.
Sooner or later you want to try to quit drinking. You may have gotten into some pretty big trouble. There may have been arrests for driving under the influence, or you may have done things while drinking that you never would have done sober, such as crazy risk-taking behavior or violence. You know you don’t want to be that person you are ashamed of anymore, and you can’t change unless you stop drinking.
Physical and Emotional Dependence on Alcohol
If you are physically or emotionally dependent on alcohol, you have lost the power to choose to drink or not to drink. If you’re like many people who are alcohol-dependent, this may be obvious to everyone but you. You may defend your right to drink and believe you aren’t hurting anyone but yourself. You may stubbornly deny that you have a problem
But the signs that you have a problem are there. You are drinking more and more to get the same effect. If you try to cut back on your drinking, you are consumed by a sense of craving and anxiety. You may avoid people who criticize your drinking or refuse to socialize with people who don’t drink. Up to now, you have continued to drink even though it is harming your relationships, threatening your job and may be causing legal problems. Deep down you know it just isn’t fun anymore and it’s time to quit.
Danger of Going Cold Turkey
At times you may try to promise yourself and others that you will never drink again. Your loved ones may be disgusted with your drinking and may give you ultimatums or try different strategies to force you to quit drinking.
Only you can reach the point where you realize that you can’t go on the way you have been. No one can force you to be ready. But before you try to suddenly stop drinking on your own, you need to consider how perilous that might be.
The problem is that giving up alcohol cold turkey can be extremely dangerous. When you are physically dependent on alcohol, trying to quit or drastically reduce the amount you’re drinking is likely to cause, at the very least, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sweating, nausea and a sense of extreme panic. There is also the possibility that you may have even more severe symptoms of withdrawal, including delirium tremens. Symptoms of delirium tremens include seizures, confusion, hallucinations, tremors and a racing heartbeat. Some of these symptoms may even be life-threatening.
How to Give Up Alcohol
How severe your withdrawal symptoms are depends on how long you have been abusing alcohol and how much you typically drink. If you are physically addicted to alcohol, don’t try to quit cold turkey. Talk to your doctor or an addiction professional. You may need to be supervised by a medical professional while detoxifying from alcohol.
If your problem with alcohol is not severe, you may be able to gradually taper off the amount you drink. Most people with drinking problems who try this find it doesn’t work on a long-term basis. Some people are able to give up alcohol with the help of addiction professionals on an outpatient basis, but others will need to receive treatment from an inpatient facility. At a treatment facility, symptoms of withdrawal may be reduced with medications that can help reduce cravings and ease anxiety while your body gets used to functioning without alcohol.
For those who are physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol, reducing or discontinuing the use of alcohol is difficult or impossible to do without help. It’s important to reach out to a medical professional so that you can overcome your physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. With help, you can begin to live a life that is content, productive and free from the compulsion to drink.