Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures: How To Safely Detox
When you struggle with alcohol use disorder and decide you want to stop drinking, you will experience varying degrees of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The longer you have been misusing alcohol, the more likely you will experience seizures from alcohol withdrawal.
What Causes Seizures from Alcohol Withdrawal?
It is important to understand how alcohol affects the body to understand the causes of seizures from alcohol withdrawal. The more you drink and the longer you drink, your body develops a tolerance to alcohol. Essentially, your body learns how to function with alcohol.
When you discontinue alcohol use, the body must readjust as it detoxes the alcohol from the body. Within the first 72 hours is when you can experience seizures. You may also experience hallucinations during the first few days of detox.
After the first three days of detox, the body can experience DTs (Delirium Tremens), which are severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- • Delusions
- • Vivid hallucinations
- • Confusion
- • Elevated blood pressure
- • The “shakes”
- • Uncontrolled sweating
- • Flu-like symptoms
- • Seizures
When you have a seizure during the initial 72 hours of alcohol withdrawal, there is a higher likelihood of experiencing DTs and further seizures.
Fortunately, if you can make it through DTs without relapsing, they will start to subside, and withdrawal symptoms will gradually lessen over the next week until they dissipate entirely.
Are Withdrawal Seizures Dangerous?
Alcohol withdrawal seizures can be an early warning sign that you are at risk of developing DTs. Experiencing seizures can be scary, but they can also cause uncontrollable shaking and tremors. Additionally, there are risks that you could fall and hit furniture or other objects and inflect injuries to yourself.
If you start to experience DTs, the seizures from alcohol withdrawal can become even worse. You may blackout and lose consciousness. Once you have a seizure, you are more likely to experience another since seizures tend to repeat several times during detox.
How to Minimize the Risks of Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures
For starters, you should not stop drinking until you have arranged supervised detox with a trained detox team of medical professionals. These professionals learn about your history of alcohol misuse by asking you:
- • How much alcohol do you consume daily?
- • How long have you been drinking heavily?
- • Do you binge drink? And if so, how often?
- • What is your overall general health?
- • Are you experiencing any mental health problems?
- • Have you tried alcohol detox before? If so, why did you relapse?
The answers you provide help your detox team develop a personalized detox treatment plan to help minimize the risks of alcohol withdrawal seizures.
In general, there is roughly a 10% risk of developing seizures from alcohol withdrawal during detox and a 5% risk you could experience DTs. So even though the risks are relatively low, your detox team must be prepared to ensure your risks of seizures are kept as low as possible.
In addition, you may benefit from medication-assisted treatment (MAT) when starting alcohol detox. Different medications can help reduce the risks of seizures when included in your detox plan. For example, some people are prescribed benzos (Zanax, Valium, Klonopin, etc.) because they increase GABA levels in the brain.
How is GABA Related to Withdrawal Seizures?
When you have alcohol use disorder and drink heavily, a side effect of alcohol is to stimulate the brain to produce more GABA. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is part of the central nervous system. Its purpose is to reduce neural signals by inhibiting or slowing down neurotransmissions in the brain.
As GABA levels increase, the neurotransmitter signals between the central nervous system and brain slow down. This is why you can slur your words or have coordination problems when attempting to stand and walk after drinking.
When you detox and withdrawal occurs, the brain is no longer being stimulated to produce more GABA. Instead, there is a GABA deficiency in the body. As a result, the central nervous system becomes destabilized. It is this destabilization that can increase the risks of seizures.
By using benzos during detox, the levels of GABA can remain increased, allowing you to gradually stabilize your body’s GABA levels and reduce the risks of seizures.
It is essential to remember and keep in mind that this is just one potential MAT option used during alcohol detox.
How to Safely Withdraw from Alcohol at Home in Beverly Hills, CA
The best way to safely withdraw from alcohol at home is with supervised detox from MD Home Detox in Beverly Hills and the greater Los Angeles area. We offer several MAT options that help reduce the risks of seizures from alcohol withdrawal. Our medical professionals work with you to create a concierge-level, customized at-home alcohol detox treatment plan. We can also help you determine your next steps in your recovery after detox thanks to our extensive network of referred professionals.
Contact us today to learn more about safely detoxing from alcohol in the comfort of your home or to begin your alcohol detox treatment.
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