June 12, 2010
Alcohol Withdrawal Treatments
They say that too much of anything is bad for your health. And this is true for almost everything. And when it comes to alcohol, it’s even more. If you drink just for the sake of company or because you like it and it’s not a habit, it’s fine. That will lead you to keeping a check on how much you drink. But those who are totally engulfed in this habit, leading to alcohol addiction, then people, a big problem is awaiting you. An even bigger problem is when a compulsive and addicted drinker decides to quit drinking. It causes some behavioral and physiological effects on the individual. That is what alcohol withdrawal refers to. It requires urgent alcohol treatment.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
When experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, an individual experiences restlessness, cannot concentrate on things at hand, trembling, lack of sleep, fatigue, depression, irritability, shakiness and so on. These were mild symptoms and there can be severe withdrawal symptoms like black out, convulsions, state of delirium, agitation, high temperatures and so on. Moderate withdrawal symptoms include sweating, headaches, rapid heart rate, pallor, clammy skin, abnormal eye lid movements, tremor of hands, etc. Overall the person cannot think clearly. All these symptoms require alcohol withdrawal treatment and immediate attention.
Treatment For Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal treatment is a treatment to help alcohol addicts deal with their withdrawal symptoms better and get rid of them as far as possible. The course of treatment depends on how serious the addiction and Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are. The more serious the condition the more desperate the measures will be and their duration.
Sedatives: The first thing which is prescribed for Alcohol withdrawal is Benzodiazepines. Usually, the patients are given this anti-anxiety drug, that controls the nerve cell excitability in the brain. This curtails the development of other symptoms like delirium tremens, and cuts down the risk of seizures. Tranquilizers like Valium are used for achieving this effect. Physicians bank upon more on diazepams lorazepam or midazolam. Diazepam is mostly given intravenously, periodically, which leads to heavy sedation. This is the basic component of treatment of alcohol withdrawal.
Specific Medication for Mild to Moderate Withdrawal
For reducing the tremors and slowing down the heart rate, beta blockers like propranolol and antenolol are prescribed. Benzodiazepines are sometimes complemented by beta blockers. In addition to that, anti-seizure medications are given. Anti-seizure agents- carbamazepine, or divalproex sodium are effective for the reduction in the need for benzodiazepines.
For Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The state of delirium is tackled initially, when it comes to severe symptoms. Treating delirium tremens include intravenous anti-anxiety medications. This condition should be given a top priority as it could prove to be fatal. People whose heart rate gets disturbed due to Alcohol withdrawal are mostly prescribed Lidocaine. Another important guideline is that it is absolutely essential to administer fluids. The next level of progression, seizures, can be dealt with, effectively, again by bezodiazepines. In case the patients have a history of seizures, or epilepsy, or seizures that cannot be controlled, benzodiazepines along with phenytoin is the suggested treatment. A patient’s heart should be constantly monitored as this medication lowers the blood pressure. Similarly, for psychosis, basically involving hallucinations or extremely aggressive behavior, antipsychotic drugs, specifically haloperidol can be administered.
Negative Side Of Benzodiazepines
All said and done, benzodiazepines, even though they are the most primary element of alcohol withdrawal treatment, they come with their baggage of side effects. Patients often experience day time drowsiness and hangover feeling as a side effect of benzodiazepines. Apparently, the drugs tend to stimulate eating, which can result in weight gain. Benzodiazepines are active with a few drugs like antihistamines, oral contraceptives and cimetidine. If used in combination with alcohol, benzodiazepines can prove to be fatal.
Nursing mothers and pregnant women should not be prescribed benzodiazepines, as it is linked to a number of birth defects as well. Indulging in alcoholism is harmful for the health of pregnant women. Therefore, that should be avoided rather than getting medication later.
Now, over a period of time, these agents lose their effectiveness, which again puts it in a disadvantageous situation. And if the medication is increased, to prevent anxiety, that leads to addiction in patients. The patients then start depending on benzodiazepines. Now ironically when people used to be administered benzodiazepines, and then discontinue the consumption, they would experience mild rebound symptoms. Again the longer duration of the consumption, the severer the symptoms. So, even that has to be taken care of in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.