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Withdrawal.org / Alcohol Withdrawal / Alcohol Withdrawal Signs & Symptoms

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs & Symptoms

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Alcohol addiction affects the lives of millions of people around the globe. For many who are addicted, it’s not until they make an honest attempt to quit drinking that they realize the effects of alcohol withdrawal. The symptoms are often so strong, and the cravings so severe, that quitting alone is an impossible feat.

If you or someone you love is addicted to alcohol, consider calling our helpline at 800-662-8079 for treatment. We’ll help you find the best alcohol withdrawal treatment program so that you can overcome alcohol dependence and heal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Many symptoms and signs can arise when you first quit drinking. The severity of these symptoms is largely dependent upon the length of time that you have been drinking, the amount of alcohol consumed and various other factors. While the majority of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are NOT fatal, the following symptoms require immediate medical intervention:

  • Seizures
  • Low blood pressure
  • Spikes in blood pressure
  • Coma

The most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that a user will feel, which may or may not require immediate medical intervention, include:

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs

Nausea and anxiety are common alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Changes in heart rate or rhythm
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating profusely
  • Anxiety or fear
  • Irritability and general emotional upset
  • Lack of coordination
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches

These symptoms, as stated above, can vary based on:

  • Your age.
  • The amount of time you have been drinking.
  • How often you drink and how much you drink.
  • Whether you drink beer or liquor or both.
  • Whether you have underlying mental, physical or emotional health concerns.
  • Whether you have been through withdrawal or detox before.
  • Whether you are struggling with co-occurring disorders.

Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous if left untreated. If you or a loved one has been addicted to alcohol for a prolonged period of time, consider calling our helpline at 800-662-8079 for immediate access to help. Failure to seek detox for alcohol withdrawal could result in dangerous, and potentially fatal consequences, specifically if you were to suffer from unexpected Delirium Tremens.

Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal

Aside from the side effects and symptoms of withdrawal that can be uncomfortable, the most serious danger associated with long-term alcohol use and subsequent alcohol withdrawal is Delirium Tremens or (DTs). This is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can lead to unexpected, serious changes in the nervous system that may cause seizures, coma or death.

DTs can occur after a very long term alcohol abuse problem and is likely to arise unexpectedly. As such, if you do not have around the clock medical supervision, there is a risk that the Delirium tremens will lead to potentially deadly outcomes.

Not all alcoholics are at risk for DTs. This condition most frequently affects those who have been heavy drinkers (consuming more than 4-5 glasses of wine or 6-8 pints of beer daily for more than 10 years). Heavy alcoholics are at severe risk of suffering the consequences of delirium tremens during withdrawal.

Symptoms of delirium tremens include:

  • Loss of focus and an inability to pay attention.
  • Altered mental state including hallucinations and severe emotional upset.
  • Lack of coordination and inability to walk.
  • Fatigue or signs of over excitement.
  • Sleeping excessively for more than 24 hours.
  • Seizures which may occur very early in withdrawal as soon as 12 hours after the last drink.
  • Fear, anxiety and mood swings.

Unfortunately, some of these symptoms of withdrawal spike rapidly and without medical attention can be highly dangerous. If you or a loved one has been addicted to alcohol for a period of 10 years or more, consider immediate treatment for your safety. We’ll connect you with an alcohol detox center that can help you, just call 800-662-8079.

Finding Top-Rated Alcohol Treatment Centers for Alcohol Withdrawal

How Long Will Alcohol Withdrawal Last?

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days, to a few weeks or even months. The most severe symptoms of withdrawal are generally at a point in which they spike after about 72 hours. Here’s what the typical alcohol withdrawal timeline appears like for most users:

  • Within the first 12 hours following the last dose the user may experience mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. If you have ever had a hangover, you’ve experienced early stage alcohol withdrawal which can include headaches, nausea and upset stomach.
  • After about 24 hours since the last drink, users may experience more severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal including anxiety, hallucinations and strong cravings for another drink. These symptoms can last about a week or more if you’ve been addicted for a long time.
  • Within the first 48 hours after the last drink the user may begin to experience seizures or other severe symptoms IF such symptoms are going to occur. This is the vital time when users MUST be under medical monitoring to ensure safety.
  • Delirium tremens can begin after 72 hours in long-term alcoholics. Medical attention is required during this time.

If you have not been drinking for many years, or you don’t drink heavily, there is a smaller risk for the severe symptoms of delirium tremens but this does not mean you may not suffer from seizures or other serious complications during withdrawal. This is why it’s so important to seek professional help.

What is Post-Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS?

This is a situation that about 75% of alcohol alcoholics go through. Post-acute alcohol withdrawal occurs after many months or even years of being sober. Symptoms suddenly arise out of nowhere and may persist for months making the user again feel the repercussions of alcoholism even after they have not had a drink for a very long time.

Symptoms of PAWS can include:

  • Persistent cravings for alcohol.
  • Sensitivity to stress, light, sound and other triggers.
  • Panic attacks and anxiety.
  • Irritability and general emotional upset.
  • Depression and emotional imbalance.
  • Cognitive deficiencies such as an inability to focus on problem-solving or learning tasks.

As a long term treatment for post-acute alcohol withdrawal most professionals will prescribe acamprosate. This medication can help to balance out the chemical imbalances within the brain that are responsible for alcohol withdrawal symptoms. If you suspect that you or a loved one is struggling with PAWS, call 800-662-8079 for immediate support.

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