Medications for Alcohol Withdrawal

Published by Raffa Bari | Last updated: 9th June 2022

Alcohol withdrawal under the wrong circumstances can be very dangerous.

That is why you should only ever experience withdrawal in a controlled and safe environment. Ideally, you will only ever experience withdrawal symptoms in an alcohol rehab centre as part of a scheduled detox.

However, we understand that it is not always the case. It is important, though, that if you do begin to experience any of the following symptoms after going an extended period of time without consuming any alcohol that you get yourself to a medical facility as soon as possible.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Light sensitivity
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Hives
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Delirium
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations

The main reason, however, as to why alcohol withdrawal symptoms are so dangerous is its possible for you to experience an alcohol withdrawal-induced seizure. This can be especially dangerous if experienced alone with no one to put you in the recovery position or to time the seizure.

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What causes alcohol withdrawal?

When you start abusing alcohol, you cause your brain to experience a rush of the feel-good chemical dopamine. And as a depressant, it can allow you to lose your inhibitions, something that people living with anxiety may find very tempting.

However, over time you begin to build a tolerance as your brain gets used to the amount of alcohol in your system. So soon, it will take more and more alcohol to get the same effect as when you first started.

Eventually, your brain will begin to believe that it needs alcohol in order to produce any dopamine at all. As a result, it will begin to crave alcohol, making you feel as though you need it in order to function.

It will be at this time that if you were to ignore the cravings for too long, you would experience withdrawal symptoms.

To put it simply, alcohol withdrawals are caused by your brain being denied something it believes it needs and panicking. They can be very dangerous if experienced alone and are the biggest reason why you can’t just stop drinking in order to deal with your alcohol addiction.

The only safe way to experience withdrawal symptoms is through a medically supervised detox process so that you can be weaned off alcohol and never have to experience withdrawal symptoms again.


Medications for alcohol withdrawals

As part of the detox process in an alcohol rehab centre, you will be monitored and given medication to relieve the withdrawal symptoms to avoid them becoming too much for your body to handle.

To begin with, you will be given various vitamins and supplements.

This is done because alcohol addiction can have a serious impact on your physical health and the state of your body. Addiction can also cause you to not prioritise food, sleep and exercise, often causing muscle wastage and malnutrition.

The vitamins and supplements are there to help you start to repair the damage done so that you can start living a happier and healthier life.

Benzodiazepines are opioids with a soothing effect, including medications such as chlordiazepoxide, diazepam, lorazepam and oxazepam are most often used to combat the effects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This means that they can calm you down or even make you go to sleep if given in the correct dosage. In addition, they are very good for calming your central nervous system and relaxing your muscles which can be used for combating withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepines can be used to prevent insomnia, muscle spasms, vomiting, mood swings and even seizures.

Acamprosate is used to deal with your brain’s cravings for alcohol. It does this by altering your brain’s gamma-aminobutyric acid levels, which are responsible for causing those living with an alcohol addiction to crave alcohol.

This medication is often prescribed for those who have already worked through the alcohol rehab centres’ treatments. This is because as Acamprosate can prevent cravings, it is very helpful for people trying to avoid relapses.

It is also often prescribed as part of a relapse prevention plan alongside follow up therapy appointments and a referral to a local support group in your area.

Disulfiram is unique as, rather than combating symptoms, it actively tries to change how you consume alcohol.

It is designed to make the pleasure you feel when you use alcohol become warped and bad. The idea is that if you no longer enjoy the experience of drinking alcohol, then you will be able to reduce your cravings.

The reaction is so sensitive that people prescribed this drug have to be careful not to use any products with alcohol in them; otherwise, they may experience the unpleasant symptoms. Items such as alcohol-based disinfectant wipes, for example, have to be avoided.

If you consume alcohol with on Disulfiram, you may experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and chest pains.

This medication helps to readjust your thoughts about alcohol and helps you to lose your unhealthy attachment to it.

As with any medications, it is always important that they are prescribed by your doctor and are only taken in the recommended dosage. This is particularly important for drugs such as Benzodiazepines.

As Benzodiazepines are opioids, they can be very addictive if not taken carefully and with full doctors’ permission and recommendation.

The exact medication you end up taking will be decided during your treatment so that you have the best possible chance to achieve long term recovery.


How to get medication for alcohol withdrawals

The best way to get access to medication to relieve the symptoms of alcohol withdrawals is by booking yourself into an alcohol rehab centre.

At Cassiobury Court, we are able to use our years of experience to provide you with the top-quality care you deserve and need.

Our fully trained team of medical professionals will be able to monitor you and use their expert experience to prescribe the right medications at the right time.

We do want you to keep in mind that there is no simple solution or cure for alcohol addiction.

Addiction is a chronic condition that requires regular upkeep and a lot of work to avoid a relapse. So there is no type of medication that will just make it go away. Instead, there are lifestyle changes and treatment plans that will allow you to combat your addiction.

We want to help you make that change.

With us, you will be in good hands, and you will be able to work through your alcohol addiction treatments as easily as possible.

Good luck. We know you can do this. All you need is a little help from us.

Raffa Bari

Raffa Bari - Author Last updated: 9th June 2022

CQC Registered Manager

Raffa manages the day to day caring services here at Cassiobury Court. Dedicated to the treatment and well being of our visitors she is an outstanding mental health coach registered with BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists). Raffa has outstanding experience in managing rehabs across the country and is vastly experienced at helping people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.