My friend stopped drinking 3 days ago after many years of binge and then steady drinking (wine and beer). Steady as blotto 4-5 times a week. I begged her to go a medical detox but she refused, saying that she had the meds she would be given in such a facility (Valium, clonidine, Topamax, etc.) She felt fine the first 2 days and now on the 3rd she says she just feels a little hyper. No shakes, temperature elevation or other symptoms of withdrawal. She looks healthy and in good spirits. Is she out of the woods?
I'll answer the inevitable question: she is thin but has a bloated belly. She dresses so that you can't tell.
No, she's not out of the woods. It can take up to 10 days for the acute effects to run their course, and even on days 4 or 5 a sudden attack of DT can present itself.
But the biggest issue is the pretense that this is about drinking alcohol only. If she's not in therapy, she needs to get into it. Immediately. Or she will drink again, or the fact that she is not drinking will not change her life in the way she seems to want.
After going through a few other drug withdrawals myself, no, she's not out of the woods. With some withdrawals, they can come and go at random: one moment you'll feel normal and another you'll have a feverish, nightmare jones. An addiction withdrawal can be very random and inconsistent that way.
When she goes a couple of months with no booze, then she might be out of the woods (assuming she was a very heavy, constant alky).
OP clearly wants us to react to the fact that his 'friend' is self-medicating with Valium, clonidine, Topamax. Maybe it should be a 5/10
5.5/10. Agree largely with R3, and also the OP is probably the fart troll--the mention of "bloated belly" gives it away.
She has not had good experiences with AA, R1, but is willing to give it another try. She is in therapy and understands this is a lot bigger than drinking. She is very ashamed about this problem, though, and is very secretive about it. (Ie, doesn't drink in public, only alone). She has told only me and her therapist, who I think doesn't know what a big problem it is.
These religion-like 12-steps, victim-mentality cults have a 3-8% success rate (depending on whose statistics you read). But either way, it is statistically the most defeatist failure of any rehab program that exists. If your friend gets involved with this self-pitying mental poison she will continue to dive into the bottle for the rest of her life. Mathematical, statistical logic dictates that these 12-steps pity-parties are to be avoided.
I know what I'm talking about: for almost 16 years I've been clean of a several-year, hard-core, half-gram-per-day methamphetamine habit (I was the type of backwoods tweeker who would sleep once every three days and did entire quarter-gram lines in one snort). And I quit it completely on my own without any professional help of any kind. And I'm proud to say that's one of my most grueling, long-term accomplishments.
Most acute symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are gone after 72 hours. She's fine. If she's not shaking, she doesn't have DTs and isn't at risk for a seizure. Of course she should take valium. If she were going through a medical detox, they would give her that or some other benzo.
Jesus Christ, to some of you nutcases any statement other than "My basement is overrun with silverfish" will be accused of being an EST.
I ultimately did it without AA. 20 years sober last year. Trust me, when it's time and you have truly hit bottom, it is easier --because you know going back equals death. (Same with ciggies).
A day or two of physical hell, then a week of hell but not as bad, a month or so it's all out of your system -- and up to your mental tenacity. Try the "I don't want it" thing vs. "I can't have it." Sorry, counting the days, chips, all that did not work for me.
As with any drug withdrawal, how long the jones lasts really depends on how long and how heavily the addict was doing it. Some withdrawals only last days, some last months.
I appreciate the helpful responses. R3 and R4, if I were a troll, I would have come up with a more interesting story. Congratulations R6--yes, she found people at AA to be whiny and was turned off by all the spiritual stuff but she likes the stories. R7, you've made me feel a lot better. Thanks.
OP, I would suggest she go to AA for at least the first 30 days, if not 90 days. She can judge everyone, hate them, think they're cult members or whatever. But it will get her out of her house and out of her head for an hour each day, she will hear stories about other addicts that she might find humorous or timely, and it will make her feel like she isn't alone in this.
I've been doing this a long, long time and the first 90 days seem to be more about doing anything and everything to stay sober. After that, it's more about figuring out what is best for you and your long term sobriety, which may or may not include AA.
Glad your friend quit OP. When I quit I found taking some B vitamins helped and I also gave myself permission to eat sugar as much as I wanted (that passed after the first week or so). If she's working with a therapist he/she should be able to help her decide if she needs more medical help.
I'm not an AA fan either. I went for a while but it wasn't for me. Therapy and SMART Recovery (cognitive behaviorally based support) helped a lot.
I've been sober since 2004.
The valium step-down is wonderful: 10s for 2 days, 7.5s for 2 days, 5s for two days, and last day is a 2.5
I spent a Thanksgiving in rehab in the late 90s and the cafeteria food was wonderful with valium.
Her gut may shrink if she's unable to eat normally for a few days. It's a very interesting cleanse. She should stay close to the toilet at all times.
RN has a good point. Though AA did not ultimately work for me, it was a good starting place -- and they make it really hard to slip and go back (the old "they ruin your drinking career" thing). It was after a few slips that I decided to go for "forever" instead of "one day at a time." Can't even tell you the exact day I quit.
But AA did play an early role and I like that it never became truly corrupted, no fees or franchise or T-shirts. It really does mean well, even after all these years.
She's likely to experience brain fog for about a year. If she relapses, have her shrink prescribe Naltrexone to be used with The Sinclair Method. It rewires the brain to prevent euphoria from booze and has a 75% success rate. Science works a lot better than higher power garbage.