Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Managing Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be scary to parents and to teens who do not realize that drinking habits have reached such an excessive level that stopping alcohol intake will cause your child to feel ill. Unfortunately, it’s a sign of physical alcohol dependence and a serious issue with alcohol abuse and addiction that requires immediate mental and psychotherapeutic intervention at an evidence-based teen alcohol rehab program.

NOTE: If your teen experiences alcohol withdrawal symptoms when he stops drinking, he needs medical intervention. It is not recommended that patients undergo spontaneous alcohol detox without the care of medical professionals.

If your son is drinking heavily and you fear that he will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when he stops drinking, share your concerns with our therapeutic team as you begin the enrollment process here at Muir Wood. Call now to get started.

Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Though it is uncommon for teenagers to drink large enough amounts of alcohol for a long enough period of time to experience significant alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it can happen, and when it does, it is a clear indication of a need for immediate intervention. The more your teen drinks every day, the more likely it is that he will experience these symptoms when he stops drinking due to the buildup of a tolerance for alcohol in his body.

When your teen first drank alcohol, it likely took a single drink to make him feel the effects. Over time, however, he required more and more alcohol in order to get drunk. If he drank alcohol daily, the amount of alcohol necessary to achieve that feeling continued to rise until his body came to expect an influx of alcohol daily. In response, it adjusted the functioning of certain systems and the release of different chemicals so much so that when alcohol was no longer introduced to the body, the response was physical illness in the form of withdrawal symptoms.

Additionally, the presence of certain medical issues can worsen the experience of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

According to Medline Plus, the withdrawal symptoms your son experiences after he stops drinking alcohol should begin within the first 12 hours after his last drink but may take a few days to start. Additionally, the worst symptoms often peak within the first two to three days and can last for weeks. They may include:

  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Feeling shaky and/or experiencing tremors
  • Difficulty sleeping and eating
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Nausea and vomiting

When alcohol withdrawal symptoms are at their worst, they are called delirium tremens or “the DTs.” It is highly unlikely that a teenager will be diagnosed with this severe form of alcohol withdrawal, however, if your son experiences fever, seizures, hallucinations, and intense agitation related to the cessation of alcohol use then that very well may be the issue.

Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The treating of alcohol withdrawal symptoms occurs in the first step of a comprehensive addiction treatment program during detoxification. According to PubMed Health, the goals of an effective alcohol detox program include:

  • Ensuring that your son stops drinking immediately
  • Stabilizing him so that all medical issues and/or complications are managed
  • Mitigating your son’s experience of withdrawal symptoms, eliminating some entirely, and helping your son to be as comfortable as possible
  • Ensuring that no medical complications occur

Treatment will include a wide range of therapies during this period, including therapeutic support on a one-on-one basis, group therapy, the availability of round-the-clock medical care and monitoring, and more based on your teen’s needs.

Alcohol Detox Is Not Enough

Alcohol detox is the first step in a complete alcohol addiction program, but it is no way an effective treatment for alcohol dependence in and of itself. If your child is under the age of 18 and developed an addiction to alcohol that is severe enough to have triggered serious withdrawal symptoms, it is of primary importance that he undergo intensive psychotherapeutic addiction treatment to address the issues that pushed him to this point. These issues may include:

  • Bullying
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Trauma
  • Grief
  • Problems at home

The more intensive the therapeutic treatment, the more likely it is that your son will make progress in his personal recovery and be able to avoid relapse when he returns home. Contact us today at Muir Wood and discuss the detox and addiction treatment options available to your son here at our evidence-based rehabilitation program in Northern California.