If you or someone you know is an alcoholic, then you should consider the idea that in order to quit drinking, the person is going to have to go through alcohol detox. This is no minor event and in some cases can be a pretty dangerous and scary ordeal, so it pays to think ahead about it. For a serious alcoholic, or even for someone who is heavily dependent on daily drinking, quitting cold turkey is not really an option. You need to be more careful than that. Alcohol withdrawal can lead to seizures or even death in some extreme cases, so you need to proceed with caution.
Alcohol detox symptoms
There are a number of alcohol withdrawal symptoms that you might experience when you quit drinking, regardless of what method of detox you go through. Some of them are:
1) Sweats or night sweats.
2) Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach.
3) Agitation, irritability.
4) Anxiety, being nervous.
5) Itching or pins and needle sensations on the skin, a feeling like bugs are crawling on the body or underneath the skin.
6) Sensitivity to sounds, being frightened by regular noises, hearing things that are not there.
7) Sensitivity to light, complaining that the lights are too bright, seeing things that are not there.
8) Tremor, arms shaking, tongue shakes when they stick it out.
9) Headache, ranging from mild to severe.
10) Disorientation, full blown hallucinations, not knowing where they are or what is happening.
Proper detox from alcohol means controlling these withdrawal symptoms
Anyone who is addicted to alcohol will experience at least some of the withdrawal symptoms listed above. Most people will not experience all of them, and very rarely will someone actually experience hallucinations from their withdrawal. This usually only happens with the heaviest of drinkers. It also happens frequently among alcoholics who have also been taking sedative pills along with their drinking, such as Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Librium, or Klonipin. Mixing those kinds of pills–called Benzodiazepines–with alcohol produces a particularly rough withdrawal.
So the goal should be to minimize these withdrawal symptoms for a couple of reasons. First of all for the comfort of the patient, as most of these symptoms do not feel very comfortable. Second of all for the safety of the patient, because some of these produce extreme conditions that are actually life threatening. For example, if the tremors get bad enough and are not controlled with medications properly, this can result in a violent seizure, which of course is very dangerous in itself.
If you are in a hospital or a treatment center, the medical staff there will attempt to control these symptoms by using medication. The idea is to keep the alcoholic at least somewhat comfortable and safe from having seizures. Sometimes the medications given are not enough and the alcoholic will have a seizure anyway in spite of their best efforts to prevent it. Again, this usually happens when the person was taking sedatives with alcohol, or if they have a history of seizures to begin with.
But it is also important to understand that anyone can have a seizure when detoxing from alcohol, even if they have never had a seizure before in their life. Many first time seizures are from people who are going through alcohol withdrawal.
The best solution for detox
Given all of this, your best bet for any alcoholic who is looking to quit drinking and change their life is to go to a drug rehab or a treatment center where they can be supervised during their detox process. Anything less than this is really taking a risk at not getting the best care possible. If you try to detox yourself at home on the couch you are also taking a huge risk and could end up suffering seizures or even death. Do what you can to get yourself into a medical facility in order to detox properly.