Alcohol Withdrawal – Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment Programs in Nevada

Questions about treatment?
  • Access to licensed treatment centers
  • Information on treatment plans
  • Financial assistance options
We're available 24/7
Solutions Recovery - help information

As a result of higher-than-average alcohol use per person in the state of Nevada, detoxification and alcohol addiction treatment options are available in over 100 substance abuse facilities in the state. As many as 94.5% of Nevada’s substance abuse facilities offer comprehensive assessment and diagnosis, and substance abuse detoxification is provided in 28 outpatient, 11 residential, and 9 hospital inpatient facilities. Since alcohol abuse frequently coincides with mental health issues, screening for mental health disorders is available in 92.7% of the facilities, while 68.8% offer mental health assessment or diagnosis.3

Aside from mental health disorders, poly-substance use is also quite common among alcohol-dependent individuals, which is why as many as 90% of Nevada’s rehab facilities treat clients with both alcohol and drug abuse, and about 74% treat patients suffering from alcohol abuse only. In addition, detox for alcohol is performed in more than 60% of all Nevada substance abuse facilities, and 77.5% routinely use medications during detox.3

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is a physical process that ensues when an alcohol-dependent individual abruptly stops consuming alcohol. The entire body reacts to the sudden absence of the substance it became dependent on, causing a range of unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms. Since alcohol is a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant, it strongly affects neural activity and brain functioning.4

Withdrawal occurs because the brain keeps sending signals to the body that it needs alcohol to function. The brain and the body need time to adjust to the new alcohol-free functioning, which may take a while, depending on the severity of the alcohol dependence. This is why a safe medical detox from alcohol is necessary. It helps the patient go through the withdrawal phase safely, in a controlled and monitored setting, to ensure that no dangerous or life-threatening consequences occur.5

What Are the Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal?

The cause of alcohol withdrawal is, of course, the sudden absence of this substance in the alcohol-dependent body. As alcohol gets eliminated from the dependent person’s system, withdrawal symptoms begin to emerge. The reason for this is the depressant effect alcohol has on the CNS. After a prolonged period of consuming large quantities of alcohol, the brain stops producing the same type of chemicals it receives from alcohol and becomes dependent on this external source.5

The sedative effect of alcohol causes dysregulation of neurotransmitter functioning. These changes are the main reason behind dependence, increased tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms after alcohol consumption stops. After cutting off the supply of alcohol, the brain and the whole body need time to adjust to not having it anymore. This is when withdrawal symptoms begin emerging, and they commonly start with:4, 6

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors.

How to Diagnose Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol detox symptoms are usually quite intense in patients with severe alcohol dependency and are generally hard to overlook. However, other, more objective methods are used to determine the extent of the dependence. Patients are usually examined by their primary care physician to assess their overall health condition and make a note of present alcohol withdrawal symptoms which typically include dehydration, tremors, fever, and irregular heartbeat.5

Several standardized questionnaires provide the assessing physician with a more detailed picture of the patient’s drinking habits. One of the most used ones is the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol (CIWA-Ar) questionnaire. It determines the presence of specific symptoms. In addition, the diagnostic procedure usually involves taking blood and urine samples to determine levels of alcohol in the patient’s system. And finally, hair testing can also be used to determine prolonged abuse, as alcohol can be detected in hair follicles for up to 3 months.5

Who Is at an Increased Risk for Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal can cause great stress to a dependent individual’s body and carry certain risk factors. They’re not the same for all patients and will depend on a variety of factors, the most important being the severity of addiction and the approach used to detoxify the patient and continue with subsequent treatment. The alcohol detox plan is individually tailored to each patient’s needs and medical condition.7

A team of substance abuse specialists, physicians, and mental health experts determine the most appropriate course of action to avoid or mitigate the potential risks. Each case is thoroughly evaluated according to the:8

  • Overall physical health.
  • Duration and level of alcohol abuse.
  • The potential presence of mental health issues or disorders.
  • Prior detoxification history or addiction recovery attempts.
  • History of severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Abuse of other substances, like illicit or prescription drugs.

Although they occur rarely, the most severe risks of alcohol withdrawal can include serious conditions like:6

  • Meningitis, swelling, or inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain, usually followed by high fever.
  • Psychosis, a combination of hallucinations and delusions.
  • Pneumonia, followed by cough and fever.
  • Thyrotoxicosis, caused by dangerously elevated thyroid hormone levels.
  • Antidepressant intoxication, followed by agitation, seizures, or diarrhea.

Treatment For Alcohol Withdrawal in Nevada

If you’re looking for safe, evidence-based medical alcohol detox for yourself or a loved one, the first step is obtaining accurate information about treatment options in the state. You can contact one of the free 24-hour alcohol addiction hotlines and ask for guidance about different treatment options. Another reliable source of information are the licensed substance abuse treatment providers whose admission navigators can answer all your questions about treatment and payment options, verify your insurance benefits, and refer you to a local alcohol detox center.9

Don’t forget that detoxification is only the first step toward recovery from alcohol addiction. After this phase, patients are encouraged to continue with inpatient or outpatient treatment, allowing them to attend counseling or psychotherapy, so they can identify and explore the underlying cause of the addiction and learn healthier coping strategies and stress management skills to help avoid the chance of relapse.1

Frequently Asked Questions