What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Drinking?
Although there isn’t much in the way of research as to what happens to your body when you stop drinking alcohol, recent studies showed surprising results. In a study performed by Professor Moore and the Royal Free team, the team looked at the effects of a ‘dry January’ on 102 moderate drinkers. The early results were presented to the American Association’s Study of Liver Disease conference in 2015. The study tested 102 individuals before a month-long abstinence from alcohol began, then again at the end of the month. As well as various health tests, participants were asked about diet, how much alcohol they drank, and how often they exercised. Professor Moore observed results that he described as “staggering.” During this month of abstinence, participants on average lost 2 to 4 lbs of body weight without any other significant changes to diet or exercise. Two important cardiovascular risk factors, cholesterol and blood pressure, were reduced significantly. A measure of insulin resistance, a test that shows the chances of people getting type 2 diabetes, fell by about 25%. Liver scans showed they became less stiff, meaning the livers had become healthier. Professor Moore says the results were “hugely significant” and, if sustained, could lower people’s risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and liver disease. “If we had a drug that could do everything we showed, it would be a multi-billion pound industry,” he says. It’s worth noting that none of the people in the study were considered to be heavy drinkers, had existing liver disease, or were considered clinically dependent on alcohol. These results were very promising for those suffering from the early stages of alcohol abuse and suggest that the effects from long term alcohol abuse including severe withdrawal symptoms, can be avoided if action is taken sooner rather than later. [contact-form-7 id=”27″ title=”Contact form 1″]
Alcohol Abuse and Withdrawal
Alcohol has a “depressive effect”on your system. It acts by slowing down brain functions and alters the way your nerves send messages back and forth. Over time, your central nervous system adjusts to having alcohol in your body all the time. Your body works hard to keep your brain in a more awake state and to do this, it must find ways to keep your nerves talking to one another.When the alcohol level suddenly drops, your brain stays in this sensitive state. This is what causes withdrawal symptoms.
They can range from mild to serious. What yours are depends on how much you drank and for how long.
What to Expect
Mild withdrawal symptoms usually show up as soon as six hours after you finish your last drink. They can include:
More withdrawal symptoms range from hallucinations at about 12 to 24 hours after your last drink to full blown seizures within the first two days after you stop. For bystanders and loved ones, this phase is exceptionally worrisome. Patients suffering from alcohol abuse withdrawal can act out in violent ways and can be oblivious to reality. Medical supervision at this stage is highly recommended. Delirium tremens, or DTs as you’re likely to hear them called, usually start 48 to 72 hours after the last drink. These are severe symptoms that include vivid hallucinations and delusions. Only about 5% of people with alcohol abuse withdrawal have them. Those that do may also have:
Managing Withdrawal Symptoms Using a Detox or Rehab Facility
For treating withdrawal symptoms of someone who suffers from long-term alcohol abuse, a Detox or Rehab center is a good idea. Alcohol detox centers employ the use of three medications, each having beeen approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have proven to help with alcohol-related cravings during the treatment of alcohol withdrawal. These medications are disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate. They work to manage withdrawal symptoms and discourage individuals from drinking again. Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors in the brain, effectively reducing cravings and the potential rewards that users get from drinking, while acamprosate is used to treat long-term withdrawal symptoms. Disulfiram can make people sick if they drink, thereby making drinking undesirable. A fourth medication, topiramate, has recently shown promise for the treatment of alcohol use disorders by potentially interfering with the way alcohol “rewards” drinkers, as reported in the journal Addiction Science and Clinical Practice. Alcohol withdrawal should not be attempted without the professional help of a detox center, as symptoms can appear suddenly and with increasing intensity. After the physical effects of alcohol withdrawal are under control, extended withdrawal, or the continuation of emotional symptoms and cravings, can continue without the right level of support and treatment. It is at this juncture that recovering drinkers should seek help through an Intensive Outpatient (IOP) or sober living home.
Anxiety, depression, and potential suicidal thoughts can be managed by medications when combined with therapy and counseling sessions. Preventing relapse is an important part of any alcohol detox center, and 12-step groups and individual therapy can offer continued support through detox and beyond. [contact-form-7 id=”27″ title=”Contact form 1″]