How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last
The first symptoms can begin to occur within a few hours of your last drink and withdrawal symptoms tend to be at their worst for the first 48 hours.
Early symptoms may be mild, such as headaches and hand tremors, with alcohol cravings and feelings of depression also building. For some, severe symptoms like DTs may begin after 12-24 hours.
After 48 hours, symptoms for most will begin to subside as your body will start to adjust to being without alcohol. The entire withdrawal process usually takes three to seven days from the time of your last drink.
Note: The duration of your alcohol withdrawal symptoms will also vary depending upon the nature of your alcohol addiction and the extent of your previous alcohol misuse.
How Alcohol Affects Your Digestive System
Your digestive system includes the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, liver, small intestine and large intestine. The digestive systems job is to properly process food and nutrients and ensure potentially harmful bacteria or substances are safely neutralized and removed from the body. When you drink alcoholic beverages, your digestive tract tries to process alcohol more quickly because it has damaging effects on the digestive system. Excessive or chronic alcohol consumption can cause damage to various aspects of the digestive tract and increase your risk of developing medical complications.
Causes Of Alcoholic Gastritis
Gastritis has many possible causes. Just a few of them are eating spicy foods, smoking, stress, diseases that attack your bodyâs autoimmune system, bacterial or viral infections, trauma, pernicious anemia , and reactions to surgery.
Alcoholic gastritis is caused by drinking too much, too often. The alcohol can gradually irritate and erode your stomach lining. This triggers gastritis symptoms.
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Drinking Can Lead To Stomach Ulcers
A peptic ulcer develops when bacteria in the stomach inflame and irritate the stomach lining. If you drink excessively or struggle from alcohol addiction, youve probably irritated your stomach to the point where the H. pylori bacteria is triggering gastritis. If allowed to progress without treatment, this can lead to painful and dangerous peptic ulcers.
Alcohol Can Lead To Various Cancers
Your body breaks down alcohol into a chemical known as acetaldehyde. This chemical is known to damage your DNA and making it impossible for your body to heal the damage. This paves the way for tumor growth. Since alcohol affects your entire digestive system, it can lead to cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, colon and liver.
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How Is Alcohol Withdrawal Diagnosed
Medical or mental health professionals will diagnose alcohol withdrawal through a combination of interviews, lab testing and observation of the clients symptoms. Since alcohol withdrawal can appear similar to other issues, a thorough assessment and evaluation are essential to ensure the proper condition is identified and treated. See More: Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol Scale Revised
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Leverage Effective Therapies And Treatment Methods For Withdrawal Symptoms
As discussed previously, there is a plethora of withdrawal symptoms that addicts experience when they stop using drugs or alcohol. These symptoms range from mild to severe. Whether you are suffering from alcoholism or trying to get rid of drug addiction, the condition can put you through a lot. Not only does it cause depressive effects on your body, but it also slows down your brain. Typically, it can alter the way nervous system sends messages to the body back and forth.
Over time, your nervous system learns to adjust its functioning with drugs in the body all the time. Your body, in the mean time, tries to keep the brain in an active and awake state and also keep nerves connected to one another.
When an addict commits to a drug recovery program, the level of alcohol drops significantly, but the brain stays in the same keyed up and active state. This state is what specifically causes severe withdrawal symptoms that we have mentioned earlier including insomnia, high temperature and nausea.
Some other common physical and psychological symptoms include:
Thanks to 1st Step Behavioral Health treatment and therapies drug addicts can overcome addiction in a medically supervised environment. These treatment and therapies are extremely effective.
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The Effects Of Alcohol On The Body
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Other Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal
In addition to nausea and vomiting, people with alcohol withdrawal syndrome may also experience other symptoms, including:
As with nausea and vomiting, if these symptoms don’t go away after you have stopped using alcohol or drugs for a week or so, they could indicate another medical condition, and you should see a doctor. Ongoing feelings of depression or anxiety, or severe, uncontrollable mood swings may indicate that you have another medical condition that may require treatment.
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How Does Alcohol Affect Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Alcohol can be an irritant for those who have irritable bowel syndrome . Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause IBS flare ups and worsen symptoms such as abdominal pain. Alcohol can also cause acid reflux which may damage the stomach even further.
It is recommended that those with IBS avoid alcohol or limit their intake.
Learn more about Alcohol & IBS
One Month After You Quit
One month without alcohol should start to make a change on your liver. Liver fat can reduce, on average by 15%, allowing for improved function and a better ability to filter out toxins. The liver has finally gotten back to the point where it can do its job!
The fat doesnt just start coming off of your liver, as by this time you may also begin to notice a decrease in belly fat. Alcohol contains many empty calories and increases appetite one month without may start showing results on the waistline. The biggest improvement for your skin health generally occurs around the four-week mark as well.
Away from vanity, some positive changes for your mental health should also be made around this time. If you havent already, you should begin to seek out support for your recovery efforts. Whether it be a group, a therapist who specializes in addiction, or another addiction related professional, support during this time will help prevent a relapse. On average, the first six months of sobriety are the most difficult and have the highest rate of relapse. Getting support early on will help decrease that likelihood for you.
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Factors Impacting The Likelihood Of Detox Causing Diarrhea
Not everyone that goes on an alcohol detox will suffer from diarrhea or other withdrawal symptoms. Some people dont struggle with withdrawal symptoms at all, while others often suffer a great deal for different lengths of time. There are several variables that impact the likelihood of experiencing diarrhea and other withdrawal symptoms after an alcohol detox.
Common Causes Of Gastritis
Gastritis is most commonly caused by extended use of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin.
However, any condition or combination of conditions that weaken or injure the gastric mucosa may trigger gastritis by allowing stomach acid to touch and burn the deeper tissues of the stomach wall.
These may include:
- infection with helicobacter pylori
- certain other bacterial or viral infections
- Crohns disease
- pernicious anemia
- autoimmune disorders
- bile reflux
- heavy alcohol consumption
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How Alcohol Affects Your Body
As you consume alcohol, your stomach begins producing more acid to aid digestion. But, as the acid builds up and causes irritation, nausea can occur and can cause you to vomit. Alcohol causes the muscles in the esophagus to relax as well, which can lead to heartburn. The small intestine and colon may also become irritated. Alcohol slows the movement of food through the intestines, which can lead to diarrhea.
Increased urination is also common after consuming alcohol. The kidneys arent getting the signal to create urine at a reasonable level, and they go into overdrive. Urinating more often can lead to dehydration.
The liver is largely responsible for breaking down the alcohol, ridding the body of toxins. While a healthy liver can handle a moderation level of alcohol consumption, heavy drinking can lead to damage. The liver becomes thicker and fattier, due to a build-up of fibrous tissue. Blood flow is restricted, damaging the liver cells. Scars can develop and the liver stops functioning properly, a condition known as cirrhosis.
Along the way, the pancreas also suffers. It can become inflamed, leading to damage. Since the pancreas creates insulin, long-term alcohol abuse can diminish the amount produced by the body, potentially leading to diabetes. You also become more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
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How To Prevent Alcohol Withdrawal
Though people may be looking for a quick and easy alcohol detox without the distress and discomfort of alcohol withdrawal, there is no proven method that prevents symptoms. As always, the only way to avoid withdrawal is to avoid substance abuse entirely.
In theory, a person could very gradually and methodically reduce their alcohol use over time in a way that allows the brain to slowly adjust to the decreased activity, but this rarely works in practice. This is called tapering off alcohol. Lack of control over alcohol intake is a common symptom of alcoholism. Addiction, tolerance and physical dependence encourage people to drink more alcohol over time, not less.
Professional alcohol detox can create a safe and supportive environment for detox to occur. For many, this is their best option.
The Cause Of Stomach Issues After Drinking Alcohol Excessively
Alcoholic gastritis can develop after repeated alcohol use begins to irritate or even erode parts of the stomach lining. This, in turn, can leave the stomach lining more vulnerable to the acidic digestive juices normally produced by the body to digest food. In some cases, it can make the stomach more sensitive to acids or other potentially-inflammatory ingredients in foods themselves.
Research supports an association between alcohol use and damage to the stomach lining. The results on one study found that, while also present to some degree in 72% of the adults in the study, gastric mucosal inflammation was present in 100% of test participants with a history of chronic drinking. In those who were categorized as being addicted to alcohol and who had been drinking for more than 10 years, 13 out of 14 had a type of gastritis that was causing the stomach lining to atrophy. Interestingly, this atrophic gastritis was also only observed in people categorized as having an alcohol addiction.
This study highlights the prevalence of alcoholic gastritis among people who drink heavily. Additionally, those who develop this condition may be prone to other significant medical complications and long-term health issues. For example, according to the American Society for Addiction Medicine, the increased incidence of vomiting in people with alcoholic gastritis could lead to esophageal tears and upper gastrointestinal bleedingwhich could be fatal.
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Alcohol Detox At The Recovery Village
Professional medical detox is the safest option when it comes to stopping drinking. At The Recovery Village, we monitor patients 24/7 to ensure their discomfort during withdrawal is managed, their vitals are at healthy levels and they are not experiencing any life-threatening symptoms.
Following detox, you will be ready to begin treatment for alcohol addiction. The Recovery Village offers many different treatment options, including inpatient and outpatient rehab. Rehab is a proven treatment method for alcohol addiction because it addresses both the physical and psychological sides of the disease.
Drinking Can Trigger Excessive Vomiting
Vomiting is a common and obvious symptom to drinking. But vomiting especially excessive vomiting if youre constantly drinking can tear up your esophagus and throat. Vomiting can also be incredibly dangerous if you end up passing out. While youre unconscious, you may breathe vomit into your lungs, which can be life-threatening.
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When To See The Doctor
If your diarrhea, stomach pain, or vomiting are severe or last for a long time, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible. Although they can be considered nuisance withdrawal symptoms by some drug users, they can be troubling enough to derail attempts at quitting, leading to an increased risk of overdose.
Stomach symptoms can be an indication of an underlying, treatable infection, and they can lead to life-threatening dehydration. In an emergency, you can go to an emergency room where an IV drip can be used to quickly replace fluids and electrolytes.
One of the most severe consequences of alcohol withdrawal, called delirium tremens , impacts about 3% to 5% of people who withdraw from heavy drinking. If left untreated, this condition can be fatal.
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Are All Forms Of Alcohol Bad
When struggling with alcohol gastritis, a chronic alcoholic may pose the question of whether abstinence is the only answer or if some alcoholic drinks are less damaging than others.
While sugary drinks and fermented alcohols like beer, wine and cider are often hardest on the stomach, this doesnt mean you are in the clear with a distilled drink or hard alcohol.
The main issue with the development of alcohol gastritis is not the type of alcohol you consume, but rather that the behaviour has become a daily process causing a chronic condition.
When making changes to your diet to heal, it is best to avoid alcohol entirely.
Mechanisms Of Alcohol Withdrawal
Historically, several mechanisms have been suggested to play a role in the development of AW. For example, researchers initially thought that withdrawal might be caused by nutritional deficiencies and that some complications of withdrawal might result directly from alcohol use or intoxication . Although alcoholic patients exhibit many metabolic and nutritional disturbances, overwhelming laboratory and clinical evidence now indicates that the constellation of signs and symptoms known as AW are caused by interrupting the constant exposure of the CNS to alcohol.
The hypothesis that withdrawal occurs as a result of insufficient alcohol intake or abstinence in dependent patients rather than because of nutritional deficiencies was supported by an early study of men who received large daily doses of alcohol . The study participants, who also were well fed, each consumed up to almost 30 standard drinks per day for up to 3 months. Upon abstaining from this alcohol intake, these men invariably developed withdrawal symptoms. Moreover, the symptoms of AW were dose dependent: The men who had consumed the largest amounts of alcohol developed the most severe manifestations of withdrawal, such as hallucinations, seizures, and DTs.
These findings support the association between alcohol intake and the clinical manifestations of withdrawal syndrome.
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Foods And Drugs To Avoid
Unfortunately, an alcohol gastritis diet cuts out what many consider fun foods in favour of natural alternatives that are softer on the stomach.
While alcohol is something you should cut from your diet completely, the foods below should be temporarily avoided to allow the stomach lining to heal.
- acidic foods
- breakfast cereal
What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal is caused by the body and brain chemistry re-adjusting to a lack of alcohol when a drinker quits. Chronic alcohol consumption changes brain chemistry in the following ways:
- Alcohol inhibits the functionality of GABA, a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of relaxation.
- Alcohol also inhibits the effect of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of excitability.
When a person stops drinking, these neurotransmitters react by working feverishly. They exhibit a rebound effect and go on overdrive.
There is also a dangerous phenomenon called alcohol kindling effect. The withdrawal becomes more and more severe each time, even if the amount of alcohol consumed is the same or even reduced.
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How Addiction Treatment Can Help Heal The Stomach And Digestive System
While this all may sound grim, these long-term effects dont have to be your fate. The best way to get your stomach and digestive system back on track is to quit drinking. But thats easier said than done if youre struggling with an alcohol addiction.
At an addiction treatment center like The Raleigh House, we can help you safely detox from alcohol and heal your body and mind during residential treatment. We do this through a mix of evidence-based, holistic treatments and proper nutrition.
Once we get the alcohol out of your system, your body is able to begin the healing process. With the right foods and supplements, your stomach inflammation can improve, your stomach will start to digest nutrients again and your gut and mind will be able to produce the neurotransmitters needed to help you think more clearly and make real progressive in your therapy sessions.