Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal, so medical supervision is required in order to quit safely.
Some people who do not drink very much or very often may be able to safely detox in their own homes, but that decision should only be made by a doctor. Withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as two hours after a drink and persist for as many as several weeks. To ensure best chances of long term recovery, an addiction treatment center should be attended after detox. Alcohol is notoriously hard to quit, and treatment can give tools and coping mechanisms to strengthen your recovery program.
The severity of the symptoms will be directly related to the severity of your physical addiction, i.e. how high your alcohol tolerance is and how long you’ve been drinking on a regular basis. Severe alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures, hallucinations, heart attack, stroke, disorientation, and other life-threatening conditions.
Whether you’re in a detox center or at a home, there are some things you can do to help yourself cope with alcohol withdrawal. In a detox center, you may also be given medications to help reduce symptoms, discomfort, and cravings. At home, over-the-counter pain relievers can help. No matter what, always drink lots of fluids, get lots of rest, and try hot or cold showers.
If you think that withdrawal is going to be a terrible, nearly impossibly painful experience, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It will be difficult, but it’s a good idea to make a conscious effort to think positively throughout the withdrawal period. If you find yourself thinking with a defeatist attitude, remind yourself that there are many people who have made it through the symptoms who are no different than you. You’ve so far survived the ravages of addiction, and you can survive this, too.
Distraction is one of the most important tools you can use during alcohol withdrawal. There’s no exact way how to deal with alcohol withdrawal, but distraction is essential in all instances. Make sure you’re prepared with ways to take your mind off of things, such as with movies, books, journaling, TV shows, exercise, taking walks, drawing, cleaning, etc. Be ready to begin a new activity immediately whenever you start thinking about drinking again.
Seek Out Positive People
A support system is essential, and it becomes an integral part of your recovery the moment you put down your last drink. In a detox center, you’ll have doctors, counselors, or even other patients whom you can talk to whenever you’re having trouble. Don’t be afraid to seek them out, even when you don’t know what to say. Identify people in your life that want to help you, too, such as your parents, sober friends, clergy members, etc. Don’t speak to anyone you used to drink with; before you quit, let your drinking buddies know, and ask them to respect you and give you space.
When you decide to quit drinking, it’s also important to remember why you’re doing it. Write yourself a letter or make a list of your priorities, and refer to it whenever things are getting hard. Withdrawal is difficult, but the pain is temporary, and it’s nothing compared to the pain of a lifetime of drinking.