What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Withdrawal In Early Sobriety?
The most common complaint I receive is lack of sleep and I remind my patients that no one has ever died from lack of sleep but they could die from alcoholism. There are three choices with this disease: insanity, death or get help.
Alcoholism is an emotional disease and the alcoholic, in early recovery, has a tough time dealing with the physical, emotional and mental problems associated with withdrawals.
Whether you are weaning yourself off alcohol or have decided to go “cold turkey” you need to be aware that your body will react to withdrawals. Some alcoholics have minimal physical withdrawals but most alcohol dependent people have severe emotional withdrawals.
Physical symptoms include, abdominal pain, abdominal soreness, aches and pains, headaches, heart palpitations, heartburn, acne, anxiety attacks, bowel problems, chest pain, constipation, coordination problems, diarrhoea, dry mouth, ear problems, eye problems, fatigue, flaking skin on the face, flashback sensations, gastritis, gout, foggy brain, aching joints, leg cramps, memory problems, menstrual irregularities, mood swings, muscle pain (myalgia) and weakness, nerve pain (neuralgia), night sweats and nightmares, slowed reflexes and general fatigue.
Alcohol is a symptom of an underlying problem and often an alcoholic begins to experience unwanted symptoms of a mental illness because they have stopped self-medicating. They are now facing the world with raw emotions with no anaesthetic to numb the pain.
Sleep problems. Whether you are sleepy or sleepless following withdrawal (and for how long) will depend on the rug you abused and on your personal sleep needs and patterns. From infancy, human beings need widely differing amounts of sleep and take that sleep in different ways. But in alcoholics, the sleep pattern has been chemically disrupted for so long that they usually have no idea at all what is “normal” for them.
In early recovery, the alcoholic’s body is still rebounding wildly from the effects of alcohol. Those who have been using alcohol or other depressant drugs usually find it difficult to fall asleep and staying asleep just as hard. Those withdrawing from benzodiazepines often can’t sleep at all. It takes time for a brain to rehabilitate itself after being under siege during years of chemical warfare.
Disordered sleep patterns in recovery may clear up in a little as five or six days, take weeks or months, or hand on for a year or more. In the meantime, you will lose less sleep worrying about your sleep problems if you keep three points in mind.
- There is no such thing as a “normal” sleep pattern. Don’t obsess, complain or even think about being unable to sleep (or sleeping too much). Even among people who have never abused alcohol or other drugs, that legendary eight hours of sleep touted in print, is a myth. Sleep patterns vary from person to person and in the same person at different ages. Some people get along fine on five hours of sleep a night; for others nine or ten never seems enough.
- The sleeping pattern you settle into in the months ahead may be entirely different from the one you had before you began drinking. You’ve been sedated for so many years that your internal body clock may have been thrown totally out of balance. If you started to use in your teens, you never had a chance to develop an adult sleeping pattern.
- Drugs of any kind are not an effective long-term treatment for sleeping problems. If you are not sleeping or are sleeping too much, seek professional help from your naturopath or find non-drug ways of dealing with these problems.
As well as 100% vigilance on a daily basis, you need to take care of your nutrition and dietary supplements. Keep in mind that your sobriety is the most important thing in your life TODAY. You can’t buy sobriety but you can work towards sobriety – one day at a time.
To help you in early sobriety, I recommend Tyrosine Mood Food, necessary for the manufacture of dopamine and noradrenaline, which are required for concentration, alertness, memory and a happy, stable mood.
Tyrosine is required for the manufacture of adrenalin in the adrenal glands and most alcoholics suffer with adrenal exhaustion. The state of your liver has a big impact on your state of mind so that those with a fatty liver may find themselves irritable and moody with a poor memory and difficulty keeping up with life’s demands. Depression and poor sleep may be associated with a fatty liver and these things resolve when we improve the liver function.
I also recommend Livatone Plus, a more powerful formula that can support liver function when there are more serious liver problems due to alcoholism. L-Glutamine is an amino acid and has been shown to improve brain function in alcoholics, resulting in improved sleep, decreased anxiety and a reduced craving for alcohol.
Magnesium plays an essential role in maintaining efficient muscle and nerve function. It is a potent muscle relaxant and is useful for preventing and treating muscle spasms, twitches and cramping. Magnesium assists in the reduction of stress, nervous tension, anxiety and sleeplessness. I recommend Magnesium to my patients in early recovery to help with their sleep problems.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.