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why do people die from alcohol withdrawal

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 6% of the U. S. adult population is addicted to alcohol, but over 86% have consumed alcohol in their lives. These statistics and the fact that alcohol use is so common might make you think that the risks of addiction are limited, but this is false. Alcohol addiction is a common problem, and withdrawal from alcohol can be fatal. Although alcohol withdrawal-related mortality is largely due to delirium tremens, alcohol withdrawal seizures and other complications can also cause serious health problems even without delirium tremens. Alcohol Withdrawal Basics: Why It Could Kill You Withdrawal is the process during which your body transitions from being addicted to being physically free from the effects of the substance. For heroin users, this means enduring a painful, persistent flu-like set of symptoms. For people with alcoholism,
everything from psychological symptoms like anxiety and irritability to depression, tremors, seizures, severe confusion and death. Most deaths from alcohol withdrawal are due to delirium tremens, an extreme form of alcohol withdrawal.

Delirium Tremens: How Common Is It and How Many Sufferers Die? Around 5% of people with alcohol withdrawal get delirium tremens, often called the DTs. This extreme reaction is characterized by a severely confused state, disorientation, hallucinations and alcohol withdrawal seizures. The risk of DTs is greater if youve been drinking a lot each day for a long time. For example, people who drink more than two bottles of wine, seven pints of beer or a half-liter of hard alcohol every day for many months have a much greater risk of DTs, but you can also get the DTs if you drink less over a longer time. About 1 in 20 people who get the DTs die, but this death rate substantially reduces if you receive medical care. Some studies suggest the death rate from the DTs is even higher than this, though. This is one of the most compelling reasons that people with alcoholism should receive inpatient medical care during detoxification. Overall Mortality from Alcohol Withdrawal and Other Considerations The DTs are the biggest factor in determining the mortality rate from alcohol withdrawal, but researchers have considered the impact of other factors.

While alcohol withdrawal seizures alone have not been conclusively demonstrated to cause deaths, a study in Spain looking at overall mortality from alcohol withdrawal found that 6. 6% of people admitted to a hospital with alcohol withdrawal syndrome died. Patients were more likely to die if they had cirrhosis, the DTs, pneumonia, difficulty breathing or chronic illnesses. Medical Support Matters for Alcoholism Sufferers Estimates of death rates among people with alcohol withdrawal range from about 1 in 400 to over 1 in 20, but with over 15 million alcohol-dependent adults in the U. S. , even 1 in 400 represents many lives lost. This is why tackling alcohol addiction and ensuring that people in withdrawal receive adequate medical care is so important. If you know somebody struggling with alcoholism, dont delay getting them help. Resources Recognition and Management of Withdrawal Delirium (Delirium Tremens) by Marc A. Schuckit Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal by Louis A. Trevisan et al.

Death from seizures induced by chronic alcohol abuseDoes it exist? by S. Christoffersen Analysis of the Factors Determining Survival of Alcoholic Withdrawal Syndrome Patients in a General Hospital by R. Monte et al. True Blood actor Nelsan Ellis died Saturday from heart failure, due to complications from a withdrawal from alcohol, his family said. Ellis family released a statement describing how the 39-year-old actor attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. Ellis then suffered from a blood infection, kidney failure, a swollen liver, low blood pressure and heart failure, his family said. But can you die from alcohol withdrawal? According to, attempting a cold-turkey or at-home detox from alcohol can be risky and even life-threatening. The withdrawal occurs when heavy drinkers cut back their alcohol intake. Alcohol is poisonous to the human body, Dr. Robert Schwartz of the University Of Miami Miller School Of Medicine told. Consuming alcohol can cause changes to a persons metabolism and central nervous system. Your body develops a homeostasis with alcohol, Schwartz said.

As soon as you take it away, youre upsetting that balance. Once a body reliant on alcohol no longer has the substance, that body will go through a series of changes. The body will experience withdrawal effects similar to what Ellis experienced: high blood pressure and a swollen liver. Bodies can also experience anxiety, agitation, vomiting, dehydration, tremors and can even experience hallucinations and seizures. A hangover, for example, is a form of alcohol withdrawal, Cyndie Dunkerson, a clinical supervisor at a detox and rehab center, told. If alcohol works as a sedative for people and helps them to relax, alcohol withdrawal does the opposite of that, according to Dunkerson. Withdrawing from alcohol doesnt have to be fatal, Dunkerson said, but very often it is. , a rehabilitation center in Florida, suggests to detox through a rehabilitation facility, rather than attempting to withdraw on your own. Addicts can attend both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers where there are medically-monitored rehab programs available.

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