The use and abuse of alcohol throughout the United States is very widespread among adults but it's also a serious issue among our youth too. Most people think a person would have to be a heavy drinker over an extended period of time before alcohol would affect their health but this isn't true.
Whether a person consumes too much alcohol in one night or over a long period of time it can have a negative effect on their health. According to NIAAA, consuming too much alcohol "can damage the heart". Heavy alcohol consumption can affect the liver, pancreas, heart, immune system and even increases the "risk of developing cancer of the breast, liver, throat, esophagus and mouth.
Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Not everyone that has abuses alcohol is an alcoholic but many people do have a drinking problem even though they're not physically addicted to the substance. The amount of alcohol a person drinks does affect their chance of becoming alcohol dependent (alcoholism). The abuse of alcohol continues to increase and according to PubMed, in the United States "around 1 out of 6 people" has a "drinking problem".
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Besides the fact that drinking too much alcohol can take a toll on a person's mental and physical health it can lead to dependence and alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can take place as soon as 5 to 10 hours after a person's last drink and worsen within 48 to 72 hours. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include depression, anxiety, nervousness, tiredness, shakiness, irritability, sweating, headaches, sleeplessness, heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting and mood swings.
Severe Form of Alcohol Withdrawal
Most people don't realize there's another form of alcohol withdrawal that's even more severe that's caused from a period of heavy alcohol consumption, especially if a person doesn't eat enough according to MedlinePlus. Delirium tremens can be very serious and this form of alcohol withdrawal can take place within 3 days (72 hours) after a person has their last drink but can also take place up to 7 to 10 days later after the last drink.
Symptoms Associated With Delirium Tremens
- Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal
- Severe confusion
- Rapid changes in mood
- Decreased awareness and alertness
- Reduced attention span
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Deep sleep (lasting a day or more)
- Light, sound and touch sensitivity
Delirium tremens is more common in individuals that have a "history of alcohol withdrawal". Individuals who may be more at risk of delirium tremors are people that have been alcohol dependent for 10 years or more. Delirium tremens is dangerous and is considered a medical emergency involving a hospital stay so should be taken very seriously.