Alcohol Withdrawal: Symptoms and Treatment

by | Jul 12, 2022 | Alcohol Addiction, Rehabilitation

Nobody wants to believe they’re an alcoholic.

Life circumstances, upbringing, and genetics all play a role in developing alcohol use disorders. This life-threatening condition is an all-consuming cycle that leads to long-term health problems. 

But the good news is that you’re here reading this, which means you’re aware of addiction’s hold on you or your loved one’s life. 

Understanding how and why withdrawal occurs and available treatment options are the right things to consider on your way to recovery.

In this guide to alcohol withdrawal and treatment, we’ll cover:

  • What is alcohol withdrawal?
  • What causes alcohol withdrawal?
  • What are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?
  • What is the treatment for alcohol withdrawal?
  • How can you ease withdrawal symptoms?

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Binge drinking regularly causes your body to develop alcohol dependence. Your body adjusts to the toxic levels of the substance, and a sudden halt in consumption causes withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal can cause physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that take time to dissipate depending on the amount of alcohol consumed and your particular biology. Due to the discomfort these withdrawal symptoms cause, many people with alcohol addiction give up becoming sober and return to their dangerous habits.

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol is a depressant that slows down brain function and causes the body to relax. This soothing sensation is the biggest reason people turn to alcohol to cope with life’s ups and downs.

Unfortunately, alcohol abuse causes your body to readjust the central nervous system, creating new equilibrium and affecting homeostasis. The body is suddenly putting more effort into brain activity to keep communication between nerves and your brain in an awake state. 

When you suddenly stop drinking, your body hasn’t had the chance to adjust to the change and is still in that high functioning state, causing withdrawal symptoms.

How Quickly Do Withdrawal Symptoms Start?

When withdrawal begins depends on the individual and how much dependency their body has built on alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as 4 hours after your last drink. 

In some cases, withdrawal symptoms don’t start until several days after.

How Long Do Withdrawals Last?

While the withdrawal process varies from person to person, most people will see a peak in their withdrawal symptoms within the 24 to 72-hour period and resolve within 4-5 days following their last drink.

Less intense symptoms such as mild anxiety may linger for some time. If specific symptoms persist, it’s important to notify your doctor as this can indicate a separate issue such as an anxiety disorder.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Because your body has built up a tolerance to the substance, a lack of it can cause mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. More moderate symptoms tend to begin 6 hours after your last drink. Around 12-48 hours into withdrawal, you may start hallucinating or experiencing seizures in extreme cases. 

Delirium tremens (DTs) might begin at the 48-72 hour mark. DTs are considered a severe symptom of alcohol withdrawal that includes vivid hallucinations and delusions. It’s important to note that only around 5% of people withdrawing will experience DTs and other severe symptoms.

Mild Symptoms

Mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Shakiness
  • Tremors
  • Increased heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

Severe Symptoms

Severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include hallucinations, seizures, and disorientation. Extreme levels of these and other symptoms are an indication of delirium tremens.

Delirium Tremens Symptoms

  • Extreme confusion or agitation
  • High fever
  • Vivid hallucinations of any or all the senses
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fast respirations
  • High blood pressure

Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal

Reading the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be alarming, but that’s why it’s important to have support from medical professionals during the withdrawal process, also known as the clinical management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

At Soul Surgery, we provide you with medication-assisted treatment to aid your detox from drugs and alcohol. This process minimizes withdrawal effects and makes the entire process much more manageable.

Our team monitors your symptoms and works with you to find what works best. Along with our medical support, you’ll be surrounded by encouraging and understanding people who can empathize with you and give you the treatment you need for recovery.

How Can You Ease Withdrawal Symptoms?

There are several techniques and practices that we use at Soul Surgery to lessen the intensity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and aid your recovery, including Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and Vitamin and Nutrition IV Therapy at our MedSpa Holistic Treatment Center.

Find Freedom from Alcohol Abuse with Soul Surgery

Recovery is a process; you don’t have to do it alone. 

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, we’re here to help. Our team of medical professionals understands the concerns of withdrawal and wants you to feel fully informed and confident that you can overcome your addiction. 

Please reach out to us today if you or your loved one are ready to leave addiction in the past and take back control over your life.

Dr. Ravi Chandiramani
Dr. Ravi Chandiramani is a Naturopathic physician with over 15 years experience working with those struggling with addiction and alcoholism. Over those 15 years he has worked with over 7,000 patients. He is the founder of the Integrative Addiction Medicine (I-AM) model which combines evidence-based conventional addiction medicine with the nurturing and rebuilding modalities inherent to the practice of Naturopathic medicine.

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