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Managing Alcohol Withdrawal During Coronavirus Lockdown

6 minute read

It’s bad enough having to deal with alcohol withdrawal when you’re at home surrounded by friends and family. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for loved ones to be near each other, and many people have had to quarantine themselves in their homes with little to no physical contact. If you have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, being on lockdown can make things especially tough. 

Staying at home can be a good time for you to reflect on how much you drink or use other addictive substances. However, for people recovering from alcoholism, not having immediate access to recovery groups might be bad for maintaining sobriety. The loneliness of being quarantined can also fuel addiction. 

What is Withdrawal?

Withdrawal syndrome is what your body goes through when you stop using alcohol or drugs. The physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal you experience depends on what drug you’ve been abusing and how long you’ve been abusing it. 

Normal drinkers won’t have any issues when they stop drinking for a few days. However, long-term drinkers who abuse alcohol will certainly feel the negative effects of abruptly halting their intake. Chemicals from drugs and alcohol affect the way your brain and body function over time. The longer you drink or use harmful substances, the more dependent you’ll become on them. This is dangerous for your health and well-being.

How Does Alcohol Withdrawal Affect the Body?

Alcohol withdrawal hits the body about six to 24 hours after you’ve had your last drink. Symptoms start out mild but can end up becoming severe and even deadly. When you drink, alcohol affects receptors of nervous system cells, which messes with the balance between these nerves and chemical transmitters in the brain. This causes you to feel drunk, resulting in drowsiness, lack of coordination, and slurred speech. 

Over time, your body and brain depend on alcohol to keep your nerves communicating with each other. Your brain also has to work harder to keep you awake when you’re not drinking.

When alcoholics abruptly stop drinking, their bodies go into shock. They’re so used to having alcohol in their systems that they almost can’t function without it. 

The first few days of alcohol withdrawal are the most intense, with physical symptoms peaking during this time. Although these may go away, the cravings and emotional symptoms will most likely last longer in your body. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on how much and how often you’ve been drinking. It can also depend on whether you’ve experienced withdrawal in the past. Milder symptoms will usually go away within a few days, but they can still be painful and uncomfortable.

Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

6-12 hours

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches

12-24 hours

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Delirium tremens (DT)

Serious alcohol withdrawal can even result in a heart attack.

What Is Delirium Tremens?

Delirium tremens (DT) is a severe withdrawal symptom characterized by confusion, agitation, and even frightening and vivid hallucinations, both visual and auditory. In about 5 percent of DT cases, people experience fits or seizures. DT usually happens on the second or third day of withdrawal and can last about a week. Although only 4 percent of alcoholics have it, DT does have a mortality rate of 1 to 4 percent.

Other symptoms of delirium tremens include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating
  • Irregular heart rate

Fits and seizures from DT are the results of alcohol-affected nerves sending confusing messages to the brain. These also occur due to a chemical transmitter imbalance in the body. Even though most seizures go away within five minutes, DT is serious and should be overseen by medical professionals.

Even once DT goes away, it can have serious long-term effects on the body. DT can leave you with severe memory loss, as well as an impaired ability to learn and poor logical thinking.

Going through Withdrawal During the Coronavirus Pandemic

You should never detox at home since it’s extremely dangerous. Severe withdrawal symptoms can be too much for you to handle by yourself, which is why you need 24/7 medical supervision. If you have serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms, like DT, you must seek medical help immediately. DT is not a condition you can deal with alone.

Our doors at Footprints are open for people suffering from alcohol withdrawal during the coronavirus. Even though quarantine is encouraged and travel is not, we strongly suggest that you come to one of our facilities in Colorado, Illinois or New Jersey to get treatment. It’s unclear when this pandemic will end, so it’s not safe to keep your alcohol addiction going right now. If you can’t immediately afford to fly on a plane, call us and we will direct you to help that’s near your current location. 

However, if you must treat mild withdrawal symptoms at home, there are a few things you can do. 

  • Have limited contact with people
  • Eat healthy food and drink plenty of fluids
  • Make sure you have soft lighting in your home
  • Be in a supportive, positive, quiet environment

If you have more serious symptoms like high blood pressure or DT, make sure to immediately call 911.

Virtual Recovery Meetings for COVID-19

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is holding meetings online during the coronavirus pandemic. This ensures that those in recovery can still get the support they need from their peers without having to meet them in person. By attending meetings in quarantine, you can avoid more severe withdrawal symptoms and also prevent relapse. Check your regional AA website for more information on where to find virtual meetings.

Alcohol sales have increased by almost 200% since quarantine has gone into effect for the coronavirus. This can be a dangerous time to continue your alcohol addiction, so we strongly suggest that you seek our services to help you manage cravings.

Alcohol Detox Under Supervision and Care

When you undergo medical detox at Footprints, you can trust that you’ll be in the care of licensed addiction professionals. Detox is the process of flushing harmful chemicals from alcohol or drugs out of the body. Since you’ll no longer have alcohol to help you function, you’ll typically go through withdrawal. We are prepared to handle any alcohol withdrawal symptoms you’re experiencing, however strong they might be. 

Once you enroll in our facility, we’ll complete a thorough evaluation to see what kind of detox is best for your unique situation. If your symptoms are severe while in treatment, we might prescribe you medication that will help your body stabilize. The length of your detox program will vary based on the severity of your alcohol addiction.

We offer 24/7 medical supervision and transportation, as well as individual and group therapy.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment After Detox

Even though detox is a necessary first step to conquering your addiction, therapy and aftercare are still needed for you to achieve full recovery. The physical dependence in alcohol might not exist, but an emotional and mental need for it will still be there. 

Below is a list of some flexible programs we offer that will help you conquer your addiction for good:

  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): PHP will allow you to live at home and go to treatment five days a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Intensive outpatient (IOP): The more intensive form of outpatient treatment, IOP allows patients to live at home and attend programming three days a week for three to five hours per day.
  • Outpatient treatment: This is our most basic form of treatment. Outpatient participants go to our center one to two days a week for three hours per day.

Get Help for Alcoholism at Footprints Today

You don’t have to suffer from alcohol withdrawal syndrome at home by yourself. Footprints can provide you with quality addiction treatment and help you go through withdrawal safely and under medical supervision. For more information about our alcohol detox and alcoholism treatment programs, contact us today. Don’t wait!


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