17 Dec Alcohol Unraveled – Drinks Hidden Death Threats
Alcohol Unraveled – Drinks Hidden Death Threats
When we think of hard dangerous drugs those that come to mind are generally heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and other substances favoured by users who smoke and inject intravenously. These substances have been so intrinsically linked to the darkest chasms of addiction, out of the eye of the public, their demonization perforated relentlessly by mainstream media, the medical profession and horror stories carried from generation to generation and it is this all enveloping focus that allows the alcohol we consume thoughtlessly, and the true dangers of it, to hide in plain sight.
Make no mistake, substances like heroin and crack cocaine are extremely damaging. Overdoses are common, psychosis and long lasting if not permanent psychological problems come with the territory and ultimately it is the lifestyle that kills the majority of users. Alcohol however, is the single biggest killer on our planet, with a yearly death toll that surpasses cancer, that surpasses malaria… that surpasses war. With that knowledge one may wonder why it is not more carefully regulated, why it has been allowed to become so normalised. But those are questions on another topic completely.
So, what are the true hidden dangers of alcohol? Why does it take the lives of so many and what information, despite the general health warnings associated with consumption, are the majority of people not privy to? The answers are simple but by the time one knows, addict or otherwise, it is generally too late.
How to stop drinking safely, medically assisted detox at home or in hospital with prescribed medication for alcohol withdrawals and minimise risk of seizure
Alcohol is an all-encompassing substance. It boasts a mental obsession as do most drugs, not helped by its wide acceptance, relentless advertising and absolute state of belonging in popular culture. However, it is the physical dependence of the body on alcohol that is unlike most other substances and without medically assisted home detox or residential stay in hospital or alcohol rehab the consequences of just stopping can be fatal. There is an invisible line with drink, that once one has crossed, the dangers change from hypertension, general anxiety, liver and kidney damage etc. based on how much one is drinking, to the real, serious risk of death if one simply stops.
Ironic right? Completely so, and it is this ironic reality that kills millions every year because millions, just don’t know… Become a daily heroin user and decide one day to stop cold turkey and detox from home, will you suffer? Absolutely. Will you die? Probably not. Attempt the same cold turkey detox from home with alcohol without medical supervision and the suffering could be the least of your worries. For heavy, daily drinkers, especially alcoholics, there comes a point where the body becomes completely reliant on alcohol to function. Delirium tremens is the affliction associated with alcohol withdrawal. And they can be horrific. Symptoms generally begin with the shakes, uncontrollable body tremors coupled with anxiety, chest tightness and followed by olfactory hallucinations.
Olfactory hallucinations are categorized as any hallucination that is not visual. The visual is on its way. Hearing voices, music, ringing in the ears, phantom smells and pains over the body, vivid disturbing nightmares sometimes coupled with feeling as if you have been touched or grabbed by something that isn’t there are all common.
In our own experience offering professional support for both UK and international clients with alcohol problems the visual hallucinations have come after these events, and they report to be a living nightmare. Many have been trapped in rooms with intruders, demons, disfigured bodies, snakes, rats, spiders and in one or two instances, an extremely disturbing, threatening version of themselves.
All of these aforementioned, were not actually there, but in the moment, in that psychosis where DT’s are in full effect the living nightmare is reality. The “fun” however, doesn’t stop there. Full blown seizures follow, in some cases a complete shutdown of brain and body lasting from minutes to sometimes half an hour and more.
Professional and confidential support is also available in UK and worldwide through online alcohol and addiction counselling for anyone looking to help a loved one who is alcoholic or worried about who they are fearful that a family member is heavy drinker and could have problem with alcohol.
One alcoholic client from United Kingdom shares their experience as follows:
“Most often these occurred while on my way to acquire more alcohol, by this point in my hopeless dance with addiction knowing full well that if I didn’t get a drink in me, I was at huge risk of much more than just the inconvenience of sharing my home with all manner of imagined terrors. The knowledge that any seizure could have done permanent brain damage or even killed me outright, terrifies me now to think that I have hundreds, at home alone, on the street, in the middle of roads where I could have just as easily been run over, and I now know that during one of these seizures I have had a minor stroke, the evidence of which stares back at me from one side of my face every time i look in the mirror. I will have been around 26 at the time. Perhaps the real gravity of these lapses in brain function were not completely clear to me because ultimately I wasn’t consciously present for any of them. That changed absolutely when one day, in the throes of another horrendous withdrawal, sat in a fast food bathroom stall, I went completely, suddenly, blind. I had never felt complete overwhelming fear of the finite consequences of my relationship with alcohol until that moment. Yes, I had been afraid at times. By this point I had also suffered two heart attacks during a mismanaged alcohol detox in a UK hospital with a less than noteworthy reputation for their treatment of people suffering with addiction. All of these occurrences, situations, symptoms were the body crying out to me. Telling me that I had passed the point of no return and in order to continue living, breathing, it needed alcohol, or it would torture me relentlessly until eventually it shut down my organs altogether. Endgame.”
The above client may be a particularly extreme case however these withdrawal symptoms and the serious risk to life they pose are all too real. The severity of them vary based on how much alcohol is being consumed, how regularly and the individual concerned state of health. For someone who may only see themselves as a heavy drinker rather than full blown alcoholic, attempting to detox oneself from alcohol is not advised. Medical detoxes under medication such as hydrochlorothiazide and selected benzodiazepines are a much safer option and in a lot of cases, absolutely necessary. However, even after the detox there are conditions in the recovery period to deal with. Escape an alcohol detox with your life and then depending on your level of consumption you may have to recover from conditions such as neuropathy, and Wernicke’s, or sensory, aphasia.*
Alcohol is a toxin and it is particularly toxic to our peripheral nerves. Neuropathy, although generally not a life-threatening condition, can seriously affect the quality of a person’s life. Alcohol not only attacks peripheral nerves but also depletes the body’s stores of vitamins and minerals essential for these nerves to function in the first place. The condition manifests in various ways, from minor to severe. Tingling sensations, pins and needles all the way to complete loss of muscular function, sexual dysfunction and loss of the use of limbs. Wernicke’s aphasia is the damage to sensory parts of the brain controlling speech, language and understanding. One might find themselves having serious difficulty processing simple concepts or remembering everyday words and phrases. This condition has also been known to affect eyesight. Although these maladies are generally fully recovered from by simply abstaining from alcohol we come once again to another invisible line. When one crosses this particular line, damage is permanent. That may be permanent nerve damage or damage to the sensory hemisphere of the brain but most notably and most frequently it is the onset of Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome or Wet Brain, an irreversible condition caused by the deficiency of B vitamins and affecting memory, motor skills and just about everything that makes a person function mentally. If one does not die during alcohols onslaught to the body, wet brain is its never-ending onslaught on the mind, a grim souvenir that cannot be returned.
So there we have it. Alcohol unravelled, its true nature and how devastating it can really be. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, heavy drinking or simply wants to cut alcohol out of your lives be cautious. Get them or yourself to a medical professional for advice because simply stopping or forcing another to stop without medical assistance could pose far more immediate dangers.
We must emphasise that although a professional medical detox is of utmost importance as the first step in stopping drinking for good whether that be in hospital, detox clinic or more common in UK alcohol home detox. Any detox is only of value when combined with further professional support such as alcohol rehab or alcohol counselling either in person or online.
For more information and an individual assessment please contact us and one of our experts will be more than happy to assist.
*This article or suggestions around specific medications within should not be relied on without professional medical advice from Doctor or medical detox specialist.
Brett is the founder of How to Treat Addiction and is regarded by many as an expert in the field. With many years of both personal and professional experience helping others recover from addiction Brett’s main speciality is facilitating individually tailored online aftercare giving those suffering from addiction support post-rehab when they need it most. Brett and his team offer online aftercare services 7 days per week to clients all over the world.