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What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

What is alcohol withdrawal syndrome? How is alcohol withdrawal diagnosed? Read on to learn more about alcohol withdrawal syndrome and its diagnosis.

What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)?

According to a 2019 study, over 85 percent of adults over 18 in the United States reported having consumed alcohol at least once in their life. While it’s true that not everyone who drinks alcohol will experience alcohol withdrawal syndrome, anyone who consumes large amounts of alcohol regularly is at risk.1

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is a group of symptoms that occurs after ceasing or decreasing significant alcohol consumption. These symptoms can vary in severity and arise anywhere from 6 to 24 hours after drinking. AWS is one of many types of a withdrawal syndrome that occurs because of detoxification. This is when the body begins to process and eliminate substances, such as alcohol, from the body.2
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Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome vs. Hangover

When first hearing about alcohol withdrawal syndrome, it may seem like a hangover. However, it is important to note that these are not the same in terms of severity and risk. A hangover is a group of symptoms that occur after a bout of heavy drinking. It can happen to casual and heavy drinkers alike. 

AWS, however, only occurs when a heavy drinker either reduces their alcohol intake or stops drinking altogether. This type of withdrawal syndrome happens when the body begins to detox from alcohol, which can alter the brain and body to cause certain symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

However, what exactly are the symptoms of AWS? AWS symptoms are like other withdrawal syndromes, and they can vary in severity. Not everyone with AWS will experience the same symptoms in the same way. 

Common Symptoms

However, here are some of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome’s symptoms to expect:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fast heart rate
  • Agitation
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Nightmare
  • Anxiety

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

As mentioned above, alcohol withdrawal occurs because the body undergoes a process known as detoxification. Long-term use of alcohol can cause changes in the brain and, thus, the body. Certain brain chemicals can increase or decrease, and the body will become accustomed to alcohol.3
As a result, when alcohol use is decreased or stopped altogether, the body begins to revert to its natural state. The brain’s altered chemicals are restored, which can potentially cause serious negative effects.

Who is At Risk for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

Anyone who drinks large amounts of alcohol or drinks regularly is at risk for developing AWS. However, there are other risk factors as well. This includes a history of dependency, addiction, and withdrawal, as well as a history of seizures.4

How is Alcohol Withdrawal Diagnosed?

AWS is diagnosed in two main ways. First, the patient’s history with alcohol will be studied, along with their medical history. Second, their symptoms will be studied to rule out other disorders or conditions that may be the cause. With both steps complete, a diagnosis can be provided. 

Can Alcohol Withdrawal Be Fatal?

Fatalities associated with AWS are extremely rare. However, in severe cases of alcohol withdrawal, they can occur. Therefore, it is important to undergo withdrawal and recovery with the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Several Factors Affecting The Severity of Alcohol Withdrawal

As mentioned above, no one will experience alcohol withdrawal the same way as someone else. This is because nobody has the same alcohol history. However, it’s also because several factors can affect the severity of AWS. Some of these factors include:
  • Alcohol dependence
  • How long the person has been abusing alcohol
  • The quantity of alcohol they consume
  • How frequently they drink
  • Their age
  • Their history of addiction to other substances
  • Family addiction history
  • Pre-existing mental and physical health conditions

Treatment For Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Undergoing any type of withdrawal, including AWS, can be difficult. However, many different types of treatment are available to guide your recovery journey. This variety of treatments allows flexibility, adaptability, and the option to create a customized care plan. Some of the treatments available for AWS include:
  • Inpatient Treatment
  • Outpatient Treatment
  • Medication-Assisted Therapy
  • Individual Counseling
  • Support Groups

Preventing Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

If you have engaged in regular drinking and are seeking to undergo detoxification, there is no proper way to prevent withdrawal syndrome. This is because withdrawal is a necessary part of detox. However, there are ways to reduce the severity of withdrawal. This can include:
  • Exercising regularly
  • Staying hydrated
  • Eating balanced, nutritious meals
  • Working alongside a healthcare professional.
Before developing an alcohol history, the best way to prevent AWS is to drink in moderation.

Get Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome at Ripple Ranch Recovery Center

Navigating AWS can be challenging, intimidating, and even dangerous if done alone. However, it does not have to be. At Ripple Ranch Recovery Center, you will find that our staff of trained healthcare professionals are prepared to provide a variety of evidence-based treatments designed to guide you through your withdrawal journey and recovery. 

What Does Ripple Ranch Recovery Center offer for rehabilitation/recovery?

Ripple Ranch Recovery offers a wide variety of services aimed at rehabilitation and recovery. This includes treatment for drug and alcohol withdrawal and detox as well as services for dual diagnosis and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). 

You will find a residential, inpatient, and intensive outpatient program here. This allows you to create a personalized wellness and recovery plan best suited to your unique needs and lifestyle. 

Contact Us Today and Begin Healing

No matter where you are in your recovery journey, our team is prepared to meet you where you are and provide the state-of-the-art care you need. Located near Austin, Texas, we are in network with most major health insurance providers.
To learn more about the services and care we offer here at Ripple Ranch Recovery, verify your insurance, or learn more about alcohol withdrawal syndrome, contact us today at 830-494-4717 or through our website. We look forward to guiding you on the path to recovery.