Alcohol Withdrawal Fever, Treatment Options & More
Alcohol withdrawal fever is a potentially fatal condition that can occur when someone who has been drinking heavily suddenly stops or significantly reduces their alcohol intake. Treatment typically involves medications to manage the symptoms of withdrawal, as well as psychological support to help with long-term recovery from alcoholism.
Understanding the signs of this condition is important for anyone who may be at risk of developing it after stopping alcohol consumption.
At Zinnia Healing, we understand how hard it can be to take the first step away from alcohol dependence. Our team of experienced, certified medical professionals can make the treatment of alcohol withdrawal easier for you. We also recognize that a detox program isn’t the only thing you need for a successful recovery. That’s why we offer custom-tailored aftercare treatment plans to minimize your chances of relapse. Call our drug addiction hotline at (855) 430-9439 to get started.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal Fever?
Alcohol withdrawal fever is a condition that occurs due to the body’s reaction to sudden alcohol cessation. It can happen in individuals who have been consuming a large amount of alcohol for an extended period.
Initially, alcohol consumption increases GABA, which is why people feel a sense of relaxation and calmness while drinking. However, continued consumption suppresses this same neurotransmitter, requiring them to drink more to become intoxicated. Glutamate is another excitatory neurotransmitter within the brain that alcohol suppresses in a similar way.
When a person stops drinking, these neurotransmitters become hyper-excited, triggering the unpleasant physical symptoms associated with withdrawal.
The most critical risk factor for severe withdrawal symptoms, including alcohol withdrawal fever, is the quantity of alcohol consumed before quitting.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Elevated body temperature
- A rapid heart rate
- Sweating, chills, and clammy skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Delirium tremens, also known as the DTs or alcohol withdrawal delirium
- Confusion, disorientation, restlessness, and irritability
- Hallucinations, nightmares, and alcohol withdrawal seizures
Alcohol withdrawal fever is also known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Severe withdrawal symptoms can constitute a medical emergency, and the condition can be fatal if left untreated.
How Long Does Alcohol Fever Last?
Alcohol withdrawal fever typically subsides within a week after the last drink, but it can sometimes linger for a longer period of time. It’s crucial to monitor the individual’s temperature and vital signs closely during this time.
What is the Most Common Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
The management of alcohol withdrawal includes inpatient and outpatient treatment options. Talk with a medical professional about a withdrawal assessment to determine which option is best for you.
1. Inpatient Treatment
Inpatient treatment for acute alcohol withdrawal can help reduce symptoms’ intensity and duration by providing medical supervision. It involves close monitoring of vital signs and blood chemistries, which allows doctors to respond quickly if life-threatening complications arise.
In some cases, it may include pharmacotherapy medications, including anticonvulsants such as gabapentin, or benzodiazepines, such as chlordiazepoxide, diazepam, oxazepam, or lorazepam. Supplementation with vitamins and minerals may also help correct any deficiencies.
2. Outpatient Treatment
An outpatient setting for alcohol withdrawal is an effective option for those with mild to moderate symptoms. This type of care consists of visits to the provider daily and support from family or friends who can remain vigilant during this period.
It also involves a comprehensive approach that includes sedative drugs to help with the symptoms as well as testing and treatment for any medical issues related to alcohol dependence.
What Are the Four Types of Treatment for an Alcohol Use Disorder?
Treating alcohol withdrawal fever often involves a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and therapy. The four types of treatment for an alcohol use disorder are:
- Medical Detoxification: This is a process of helping someone with an alcohol use disorder to stop drinking safely and manage the withdrawal symptoms. Medical detoxification helps reduce the risk of severe health complications associated with alcohol withdrawal. It often takes place in a hospital or rehab facility.
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): MAT combines behavioral therapy and medications to help people recover from alcohol use disorder. Three pharmaceuticals commonly prescribed to treat alcohol use disorder are Acamprosate, Disulfiram, and Naltrexone. Acamprosate is a synthetically-made compound similar in structure to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and neuromodulator taurine, two vital components for healthy neurological functioning.
Supervised short-term and long-term treatment with Disulfiram is a safe, efficient second-line option for those struggling with alcohol dependency yet determined to remain abstinent. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially approved Naltrexone as an effective MAT to treat both Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
- Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Therapy helps people modify their behaviors and thoughts related to alcohol use. It also helps people develop coping strategies to avoid alcohol and manage cravings.
- Support Groups: Support groups are an excellent way for individuals to find support and understanding while recovering from an alcohol use disorder. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a self-help group that provides support and motivation to help people stay sober.
At Zinnia Healing, our team of compassionate professionals provides care tailored to each individual, offering treatment options for all substance use disorders. We understand that addiction can be a lifelong journey and offer support that extends beyond just the initial process of getting clean. Call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 for immediate access to support.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that can contribute to many serious medical conditions. Alcohol-related side effects include:
- Liver damage
- Heart disease
- Thiamine and magnesium deficiencies
- Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
- Cognitive problems such as memory loss and brain damage
Long-term alcohol abuse can also lead to social isolation and financial difficulties due to its addictive nature. For example, someone addicted to alcohol may prioritize drinking over other activities and obligations. This can cause them to neglect work, study, and relationships.
How Can You Help Someone With an Alcohol Addiction?
If you know someone who is suffering from alcohol addiction, here are five things you can do.
- Talk to them: Talking to someone with an alcohol addiction and expressing your concerns in a non-judgmental way can be very helpful.
- Encourage them to seek professional help: Help your loved one find a qualified service to treat their alcohol addiction. Options include therapy, psychiatry, and rehab facilities.
- Avoid enabling: While it’s important to be supportive, be careful not to enable their drinking. For example, don’t provide them with money to buy alcohol or invite them to events where alcohol is served.
- Set up a safe environment: If your loved one is trying to stay sober, it’s crucial to set up an environment free of alcohol and other triggers. This could mean having designated “alcohol-free zones” in your home, such as the kitchen or living room, or simply not keeping alcohol on hand.
- Take care of yourself: Caring for someone with an alcohol addiction can be draining and stressful. Make sure to stay healthy by taking care of yourself and getting support from friends and family.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol dependence, Zinnia Healing can help. We provide safe and comfortable detoxification services and aftercare plans designed to reduce the chance of relapse. We work with many healthcare providers, and our professional team can answer any questions 24/7 via our helpline at (855) 430-9439.