At The Ridge, we’ve spoken about the dangers of alcohol withdrawal. Of all substances, alcohol withdrawal is the most likely to be deadly in extreme cases without proper treatment. Even heroin withdrawal, as difficult as it is, isn’t as dangerous as withdrawal from alcohol. That’s why it’s so essential that alcohol withdrawal protocol is managed by expert physicians who are knowledgeable in the process.
When doctors manage alcohol withdrawal, the danger of lethal complications dramatically decreases. One way that withdrawal is managed is by the use of prescription benzodiazepines. These drugs are powerful tranquilizers that affect the brain in a way similar to alcohol. Since the worst alcohol withdrawal symptoms—delirium tremens, hallucinations, seizures—come from a hyperactive brain, using a tranquilizer to calm the brain down understandably mitigates the worst effects. We have patients visit us from around the country for alcohol treatment.
However, using benzos during alcohol withdrawal carries its own risks that you need a skilled doctor to avoid. Benzos are extremely addictive themselves and have their own difficult withdrawal period. The best way to prevent addiction or withdrawal is for your doctor to prescribe a series of ever-decreasing doses over a set period of time. By weaning off of benzos, you avoid withdrawing from them, and using them only temporarily makes addiction very unlikely.
It’s important to be aware that withdrawal from continued, high amounts of alcohol should be managed by a physician. However, there are situations where one might be forced to withdraw from alcohol without that kind of preparation.
If an alcoholic suffers a serious accident and is taken to the hospital, they will be unable to drink while being treated, forcing them to undergo withdrawal. We’ve heard stories of people detoxing from alcohol while in the hospital, with the doctors treating them not familiar enough with addiction to realize what’s happening to their patients. Some doctors who are ignorant of what addiction is or how harmful withdrawal can be will not treat the withdrawal process in a misguided attempt to punish the addict and teach them a lesson about the consequences of their actions. While this isn’t sure to happen—there are thousands of great doctors who can provide effective, proper treatment—it’s worth knowing there’s a possibility.
The best way to be sure that an alcoholic’s withdrawal process is safely managed according to proper alcohol withdrawal protocol is to get them into a treatment center. The Ridge’s staff physicians can safely oversee alcohol withdrawal, both at The Ridge and at local Cincinnati hospitals. Our residential treatment program will give alcoholics the tools they need to get into recovery and maintain long-term health, happiness, and sobriety.