After the recent death of True Blood actor Nelsan Ellis due to heart complications during alcohol withdrawal, the question whether it is more dangerous than heroin withdrawal has been raised by the New York Post.
Despite its widespread use, alcohol is the biggest killer in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In a recent report WHO stated that it was “to blame for just about 4% of, or 2.5 million deaths worldwide annually.”
Further, it is one of the few substances that can actually kill a human when withdrawing.
As well as alcohol, benzodiazepines and specific opiates (such as methadone) can kill if withdrawal is not carefully supervised.
A key reason alcohol withdrawal is so dangerous is because of the circuitry in the brain which becomes reliant on the substance for the balance of the neurotransmitter GABA.
Once removed, the brain goes into extremely intense overdrive which can lead to the infamously brutal DT’s (delirium tremens) as well as seizures and heart attacks.
Despite the risks, death from withdrawal is still quite rare.
The severity of withdrawal depends on pre-existing conditions, how many times the victim has suffered withdrawal before and how long and how much the individual has been drinking.
If any readers are concerned about their own or another’s withdrawal, medical help should always be sought over attempting to detox alone.