Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that is often consumed in many different types of beverages. Psychoactive drugs or psychotropic drugs are chemicals that affect the brain and central nervous system. Alcohol is a depressant which slows down many brain functions and other organ functions. In lower doses, alcohol use can reduce stress and anxiety, leaving users with a feeling of relaxation and reduced muscle tension.
Many social gatherings include alcohol and the lowered inhibitions, reduced anxiety and relaxing atmosphere are attractive and a welcome distraction from the difficulties of life we experience at times. Society has a long relationship with alcohol, and it is easy to get caught up in the moment and drink an excessive amount. Even suffering from alcohol withdrawal can become normal.
Some recognize the benefits to health of regular alcohol consumption. Alcohol can become a regular part of our lives and not just for social situations. Someone may begin to drink regularly, and the ongoing side effects can start to feel manageable. Higher doses of alcohol causes clammy skin, slowed breathing and decreased heart rate, coma and eventually death.
Abuse and Addiction
Ongoing issues with alcohol withdrawal can be an indication of alcohol addiction. Alcohol addiction cannot be treated with continued alcohol abuse, and ‘the hair of the dog’ is not recommended. Some people will recognize they are dependent on alcohol and others will not but regardless of your awareness, withdrawal symptoms can become a very real and potentially life-threatening situation to deal with.
Alcohol dependency can happen with regular consumption and depends on many factors including the volume of alcohol intake or when the time between drinks shortens. Alcohol abuse is a known condition and will require alcohol detox. Excessive drinking will increase the severity of the withdrawal symptoms and you may want to be medically reviewed.
Prolonged alcohol consumption for a longer period can result in alcohol use disorders that require medical professionals to conduct a clinical institute withdrawal assessment to help someone experiencing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Whether you are experiencing withdrawal for the first time, or have grown accustomed to the sensations you should carefully review all the symptoms.
Common Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
- Changes in blood pressure or high blood pressure
- Vomiting and upset stomach
- Mental confusion
- Chills, clammy skin, excessive sweating
- Changes to heart rate
- Slower breathing
- Tremors or seizures
Substance Abuse Disorder
Substance use disorder is a serious disorder recognized by the Center for Disease Control. When you make the decision to stop drinking, and withdrawal alcohol use from your life, you can expect to experience common withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal, and Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome should be medically reviewed to ensure you are safe and healthy. The more alcohol withdrawal symptoms you experience may indicate you need alcohol detox. These symptoms can sometimes mask a more serious issue with alcohol from the person experiencing the symptoms.
The Center for Disease Control has a page dedicated to alcohol and alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder will often require alcohol withdrawal treatment. Your alcohol detox may need to be medically reviewed and diagnostic and statistical manual will have set procedures for the many symptoms you may experience. Some people with substance abuse disorders have a dual diagnosis with mental health factoring into to their treatment. This can lead to a cycle of alcohol abuse and decreasing quality of life.
The Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline
The alcohol withdrawal timeline begins after you take your last drink. If you drink heavily on a regular basis or occasionally participate in excessive drinking the withdrawal symptoms will be similar. This could be the first time you have experienced these symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms will change as time progresses and at any time you may need to consider being medically reviewed.
A history of alcohol abuse can prevent you from noticing serious new or worsening symptoms. Not everyone who experiences alcohol withdrawal symptoms has alcohol addiction, but alcohol abuse is a common problem and can be related to a person’s mental health. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a clear danger that may not be apparent immediately. Even someone who has drank alcohol for the first time can require medical intervention. No amount of experience can prepare you for a medical emergency.
What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking?
Severe withdrawal symptoms are not present when you suddenly stop drinking. Alcohol is present in your system until the liver has processed all the toxins out. How long that will take is an unknown due to the volume of alcohol and the general health of the liver and other organs. Below is an alcohol withdrawal timeline. Many of these withdrawal symptoms are related to alcohol withdrawal syndrome which is a serious condition. It is important to try and maintain awareness of your symptoms and watch for warning signs.
The Timeline for Withdrawal
Someone with mental health issues or past experiences with addiction may experience other symptoms, like suicidal thoughts or deep depression during alcohol withdrawal. This can lead to a decrease in the quality of life and escalating substance abuse.
- In the 12 to 24 hours from when you quit drinking – you are often going to have mood swings, vomiting, sweating, depression, anxiety and upset stomach. Some will experience tremors, rapid breathing, changes in blood pressure and increased pulse rate.
- 12 hours after your last drink – you might begin to experience hallucinations; seeing or hearing things that are not real. You might experience an increasing severity of early symptoms.
- 24 to 48 hours after your last drink – you might experience seizures.
- 3 days to one week after your last drink – you can begin to feel the effects of delirium tremens. Delirium tremens is a serious medical condition that will require the intervention of a medical professional. Mental confusion, sweating, rapid heart rate, loss of conscious, severe symptoms of mental disorders, coma, and death. About 5% of people going through these severe withdrawal symptoms will experience delirium tremens. About 1 in 20 of those who experience delirium tremens will die.
This is not a definitive list and may vary depending on the national institute being consulted. While specific timelines are difficult to define, these are general guidelines experienced by many people and you should always consider consulting with a doctor or other healthcare professional when you begin alcohol withdrawal. What is critically important to understand is that past experiences with withdrawal are not a good indication of outcomes for the current situation.
Alcohol Withdrawal Options
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin within 12 hours of when you stop drinking. The amount of alcohol intake is one factor when looking at symptoms. A national institute might define Binge Drinking as when your blood alcohol levels reach .08 per cent once a month or more. Binge drinking, or excessive drinking excites the body and can be life threatening. Some social passages are tied to binge drinking.
People who regularly drink alcohol may be less likely to notice the effects of alcohol poisoning and may not experience severe symptoms but suffer from mild symptoms. Overall symptoms can become normalized. As the body becomes dependent on alcohol, users might experience alcohol cravings and alcohol withdrawal becomes more difficult. Regardless of how we have become impaired by alcohol it is important to understand that the withdrawal process starts when you make the decision to quit drinking.
The withdrawal process should be conducted in a safe and supportive environment. There is no substitute for professional medical advice so even if we have experienced withdrawal before, things will change rapidly. Life threatening symptoms will require immediate medical attention. Sometimes we develop routines to deal with the expected dehydration and headache that we have grown accustomed to in the past. Do the best you can to remain alert to new or worsening symptoms.
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a recognized condition that affects those who have experienced excessive alcohol use or chronic alcohol use. Professional medical advice is recommended for those with prolonged alcohol use who may never have gone through a withdrawal of more than a day. When you recognize or are diagnosed as dependent on alcohol, medical care is encouraged and professionals will have a wide range of prescribed medications to treat physical symptoms.
Professionals will also recognize dangerous symptoms even if you do not. Alcohol related physical complications can include symptoms called delirium tremens. Medical detox can be required as symptoms can be life threatening and should be conducted in treatment facilities.
Withdrawal symptoms can become a normal part of someone’s life and could be an indication of alcohol addiction. Withdrawal symptoms might require you treat alcohol withdrawal and ongoing issues with alcohol abuse may require addiction treatment. The mental health services administration is becoming more and more accepting of alcoholism as a disease and treatment options are expanding.
These labels are not the prime consideration. Sometimes people have become alcohol dependent due to life circumstances. Assistance with detox is recommended regardless of your recent history or past experiences with alcohol withdrawal. Do not hesitate to seek medical assistance when you are in withdrawal.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal to Watch For
We may have some preconceived notions about what withdrawal looks like. Our past experiences, watching friends or family and various media can portray withdrawal and create unrealistic ideas of how we will feel. We say things like “I just need a pill for this headache, and some water”, or “once I eat, I’ll feel better”. Regardless of our past, we need to deal with the present moment.
Taking ibuprofen and alcohol together can be detrimental to your health, if too much alcohol is ingested in combination with it. Small amounts of alcohol mixed with ibuprofen, may be fine but it is best to avoid if possible.
Delirium Tremens is one of the serious conditions you can face when you are undergoing alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal seizures is one symptom experienced by some drug abuse survivors, but delirium tremens is marked by the following:
- Profound confusion
- High blood pressure
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Heavy sweating
If you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, you are likely in acute alcohol withdrawal. Acute alcohol withdrawal will require substance abuse treatment. Simply waiting or resting may not be a good option and symptoms can rapidly escalate to the point where seeking help will become impossible. Past experiences or preconceived notions about what will happen may not be a good indication of what will happen.
How Long do Detox Symptoms Last?
Most people stop experiencing alcohol withdrawal after 5 days from when they quit drinking in the worst cases when untreated. Realistically, most people should notice improvement within a day and perhaps some lingering symptoms for another day. Some of the symptoms like confusion, anxiety, irritability, coma, tremors, and hallucinations should not be experienced alone.
Simply ‘waiting out’ the symptoms may not be a good idea as the conditions can worsen to the point where you will not be able to seek help. Almost 100,000 people die from symptoms related to alcohol abuse on average. Seeking medical help does not mean you are an addict and labels like alcoholic or drug addict can be a deterrent to those who wish to seek help. It is critically important to seek help with alcohol withdrawal due to the serious nature of the symptoms.
Lasting Effects and the Dangers of Permanent Damage
Alcohol is a poison and long-term effects like liver and heart damage will not go away easily and in some cases the damages are permanent. Sever bouts of excessive drinking or prolonged exposure to alcohol increase our likelihood of suffering long term damage. Other organs and even the brain can suffer permanent and lasting damage as well.
Managing your detox under proper supervision could help to bring about the best possible outcomes. Other decisions about your ongoing relationship with alcohol, the possibility of being an addict or alcoholic or long-term strategies for a life free from alcohol addiction become easier to make once you have properly detoxed. Some of these questions are best considered with the help of others.
Treatment at Inland Detox
Inland Detox is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment and detox center that is in Temecula, CA. Some of the treatment services we offer include medical detox, nutrition education, cognitive behavioral strategies, and other holistic treatment options.
Our staff is dedicated to helping individuals who are struggling with a substance use disorder. Our highly trained staff including clinicians address the underlying reason behind addiction and any other co-occurring mental health disorders.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction problem, please contact our staff right away. We can help assist you in achieving a full recovery from alcohol and drug abuse.