Medically Reviewed By Nicole Arzt| Last Edited : February 02,
2021 | 4 Sources
Alcohol Withdrawal Remedies
Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal
Diazepam is used in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal, but only when the symptoms are judged to be more severe
Approximately 14.1 million American adults (5.6% of the total population) struggle with an alcohol use disorder. When left untreated, this issue can affect numerous areas of one’s life, including their emotional and physical health.
That said, stopping isn’t as easy as having sheer willpower. Abstaining from severe alcohol often includes a period of withdrawal. Withdrawing from alcohol is, to put it mildly, not fun. It can be extremely uncomfortable, and in a minority of cases life-threatening. Therefore it is essential the correct treatment for alcohol withdrawal is administered to the alcoholic.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome represents a set of mild to extremely severe physical symptoms. The severity of these symptoms can depend on numerous factors, including your:
- Overall physical health
- Past history of withdrawal
- Mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety
- Motivation for recovery
- Co-occurring medical issues
These can be experienced by a person who stops drinking after a prolonged period of excessive alcohol abuse.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms show up in the first 6-12 hours after the last drink and they peak after 24-36 hours.
If the process is not overseen by a physician, there is a risk of relapse. That’s because the withdrawal can be emotionally and physically uncomfortable. The individual often experiences increased cravings for alcohol.
The Role of Your Doctor
Taking into account both the severity of the symptoms and the age of the person, a doctor can establish the best treatment. In many cases, doctors choose to use Diazepam, an FDA-approved medication that’s intended to make the withdrawals less distressing.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms generally respond favorably to this medication. Diazepam helps decrease anxiety and agitation. It may also be prescribed with other medications to manage muscle spasms and potential seizures.
The management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome is based on several factors the doctor takes into consideration before establishing the right course of action.
The patient’s history is very important
, especially if he is not experiencing the syndrome for the first time.
Also his current clinical status and symptoms are taken into account.
The treatment can vary from a non-drug form to intravenously administered benzodiazepines, which is Diazepam in most cases.
Mild Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Diazepam may not be appropriate for everyone.
Lately doctors have come to the conclusion that a person presenting only mild symptoms can be treated using alcohol withdrawal remedies
such as vitamins and nutrients that an alcoholic usually has deficits in. Diazepam and other sedatives do not need to be used.
The following symptoms are considered to be mild
- loss of appetite
These symptoms can be distressing, but they are common. They are also not inherently life-threatening. In most cases, they will peak within just a few days and then subside.
Additionally, many symptoms can be treated through the vitamin, thiamine, which is often administered intravenously. Some people may benefit from a multivitamin that contains folic acid, as it’s common for alcoholics to be deficient in this nutrient.
When Diazepam is used to Treat Alcohol Withdrawals
Moderate and severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome is best treated taking benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, either orally or intravenously in different dosages depending on the symptoms presented by the patient. Most of the time, these medications are only used for a few days during the detoxication period. They are rarely prescribed for long-term use unless the patient has another mental health issue.
Symptoms considered as moderate to severe
- anxiety mixed with panic attacks
- gastrointestinal upset
Often these symptoms are treated with anti-anxiety drugs that inhibit the excitability of the nerve-cells in the brain caused by alcohol. The drug of choice for treating alcohol withdrawal anxiety is Diazepam.
The Severest Symptoms
If the symptoms presented by a patient are very severe
, meaning muscle tremors, extreme confusion, convulsions, seizures, delirium tremens or hallucination then Diazepam is administered intravenously in a higher dosage combined with anti-psychotics, anticonvulsants, trazodone or magnesium, depending on each case.
Sometimes other sedatives such as Lorazepam and Midazolam are used, but Diazepam has been shown to have a longer duration of action and this is why it is prescribed more often.
It’s also important to remember that people can abuse benzodiazepines. In fact, it’s not uncommon for alcoholics to struggle with polysubstance use, which refers to abusing other substances. If you take more of this drug than prescribed, you may be at risk for developing an addiction. It’s important to share this information with your doctor in advance.
Most treatment for alcohol withdrawal last less than two weeks during which the patient has plenty of time to get through the worst of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Inpatient settings tend to be the best choice for severe alcohol withdrawal. In moderate or mild cases, patients may benefit from intensive outpatient or outpatient treatment programs
The Dangers of Mixing Diazepam and Alcohol
People taking diazepam for alcohol withdrawals must be warned about mixing Diazepam and alcohol together.
This is very dangerous as it can become easily addictive
and have some very serious side effects.
Both Diazepam and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, meaning that they can slow down the brain's activity and cause: memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness and problems in coordination.
In some rare cases, the combination can slow down both the heart and breathing rate to the point of death
It is also possible to become addicted to Diazepam. If you are an alcoholic trying to stay away form alcohol be warned that it is very easy to replace one addiction with another. This is especially true of those with addictive personality disorder
Use diazepam only under medical supervision.
Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl
Licensed Medical Health Professional
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More
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