Far Too Easily Distracted (tayberhecate) wrote in little_details,
Far Too Easily Distracted

Forced Sobriety and Falling off the Wagon

I have a few questions about alcohol withdrawal and relapsing - I have some of the basic facts but have little idea what some of the effects will be. Hopefully someone here can help me out?

My character is a long term alcoholic living in present day Kansas (but he was born in England and has lived in New York and Las Vegas). He's about 40, has been drinking heavily since he was around 16 or so, and experimented with other drugs in his twenties but never quite became addicted. By age 30 he'd stopped everything except cigarettes and alcohol. Drug history aside, he's not in the best of health anyways, mentally or physically. He has potentially multiple undiagnosed and untreated mental conditions (most likely including: anxiety, PTSD, survivor's guilt, depression, possibly bipolar disorder), is grieving the recent loss of a loved one, has insomnia and general lack of appetite, and was just starting to pull out of a major depressive episode. He acknowledges that he has a problem with alcoholism but does not yet wish to attempt sobriety because to him, it is one more struggle that he simply cannot deal with at the moment.

Due to circumstances beyond his control, he lost any and all access to alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine for a week and went into withdrawal. Since alcohol is his number one vice, that hit him the hardest. About three days into this forced sobriety, he sought medical attention and was given prescription medication (benzodiazepines, I think? I'm not certain what specifically he would be given) to help prevent seizures (which, with his medical history, I figure are far more likely). He was also kept overnight for observation and given an IV, mostly for the malnutrition, dehydration, and sleep deprivation. Following that he basically hid away at home for the next few days, with a close friend keeping him company through the DTs. Symptoms he did have over the course of all this include sweating, shaking, nausea/vomiting, fever, anxiety, bad headache, irregular heartbeat, slight disorientation, and some hallucinations.

Approximately one week into this sobriety, he regains access to alcohol again and would likely fall right back into the heavy drinking. My question is, how will this affect the withdrawal symptoms? Will they simply cease once he's got alcohol in his system again, or will they more gradually go away? And what about the seizure preventative medication, how might the alcohol interact with that in his system and what would it do to him? Do the symptoms I listed seem accurate given his general condition?

Also, side question, how might this entire experience affect his recovery from the depressive episode I mentioned earlier? I suspect I know how he'll handle it, but a fresh perspective might be helpful there as well.

I researched via Wikipedia and WebMD for the following: alcohol withdrawal, nicotine withdrawal, caffeine withdrawal, benzodiazepines, alcohol addiction, alcohol abuse, delirium tremens. I also spoke briefly with an acquaintance who has worked in inpatient rehab before and ransacked this comm's tags for booze, medicine: drugs, and medicine: illnesses.
Tags: ~booze, ~medicine: drugs, ~medicine: illnesses (misc), ~psychology & psychiatry: depression

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