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alcohol withdrawal and night terrors


Alcohol Withdrawal and Night Terrors

When detoxing from alcohol, most people are focused on the physical distress they might experience. However, alcohol withdrawal and night terrors are closely associated and impact several during the detox period.

As children, we experience our first nightmares. In some cases, they may stay with us for the remainder of our lives, but experiencing what is classified as a night terror is an altogether much more unpleasant experience. When someone has a nightmare it is essentially just a rather vivid dream which has a disturbing theme, it may cause someone to cry out in their sleep, but they can be easily awakened from a nightmare by shaking them. 

What Are Night Terrors?

A night terror is incredibly vivid, often causing sleep paralysis, extreme fear, screaming and kicking. Night terrors are much more intense compared to nightmares. Those experiencing night terrors do not just wake up when shaken. Instead, they may lie there thrashing about with their eyes wide open and look like they are wide awake and thrash out hitting or kicking a person but shaking them usually fails to rouse them from their sleep and when they wake they have no memory of the event.

Once a person quits alcohol consumption, the night terrors typically begin within 24-48 hours after the last drink and can last several weeks. The lack of sleep runs a person down and can cause delirium tremens during the day from the brain’s lack of rest. 

Treating Alcohol Withdrawal Night Terrors

Recovering alcoholics who suffered night terrors often remarked they were made all the worse when experienced in an unfamiliar setting like a residential facility, and they would have been more comfortable in their own home. The benefits associated with a comfortable, familiar environment can often make the difference between making a bad process, quite unbearable and what sleep they did get was frequently interrupted by bouts of insomnia and the inability to get more than a couple of hours of sleep at a time. 

There are ways to mitigate the effects and cut down on the frequency and intensity of alcohol withdrawal and night terrors through the use of certain prescription medications which block the receptors in the brain and can cut down on cravings, resulting in a less-horrible experience. So any alcoholic who decides to quit and do so at home should have someone on standby who will take a phone call and be able to provide medical intervention if needed. There are not many people who have a doctor in the family, so the next best thing is having a home-based program with round-the-clock access to medical treatment, from someone familiar with treating addiction. 

Anyone who drinks harder than average for longer than most is especially at risk for withdrawal symptoms stopping cold turkey. Some facilities offer a sort of combination approach where the alcoholic attends a full day at a treatment facility for counseling and group meetings but then may retire to home at night for the comfort of a familiar setting. 

Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal

When a person detoxes from alcohol it can be a very dangerous process and is made all the worse by the absolutely awful withdrawal symptoms. People who detox off of opiates may spend a week and in severe cases even longer feeling they will die but if an alcoholic quits cold turkey they actually can die from the withdrawal process. 

The body of a very heavy drinker becomes physically dependent on constant alcohol intake and on cessation the effects of withdrawal appear just a few hours after the last alcohol intake. In about 5% of heavy drinkers who quit suddenly, they develop acute alcohol withdrawal which opens the body up to secondary infections and illnesses. 

If that does not scare you sober, the subsequent stages of withdrawal may include further complications which result in delirium tremens or the DTs which cause those pink flying elephant hallucinations, seizures, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome which leads to brain damage caused by a lack of vitamin B1 and referred to as a “wet-brain”, neuropsychiatric disorders like palsies or cognitive difficulties and more, even cardiovascular problems and in some cases, death.  

Once someone reaches this stage, should they decide to quit drinking the only safe way to do so is with the help of a medical professional who will oversee the patient through the process and be available 24/7 to provide medical care and intervention should it be required. Usually in cases where a person kicks an addiction, sleep is the sole time the patient gets any relief but in cases of alcohol withdrawal it can be quite the opposite. 

At Home Alcohol Detox

For anyone who is a heavy drinker or knows one who either needs or wants to stop, whatever route is chosen, MD Home Detox can guide you each step of the way. If you decide to detox in your home and need a doctor at 3am, the team from MD Home Detox will be standing by to fill any need including providing medical care during detox all the way through providing a sober companion months down the line. Call them at (888) 592-7931 or, click here to email them and start the rest of your life now.

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