You’ve thought about quitting alcohol for good. Maybe you’ve even tried it in the past, but your alcohol withdrawal symptoms like tremors, sweating, vomiting, puking were too harsh to take.
The body’s and mind’s response to life without the substance it has become dependent on causes physical and emotional distress.
If you’re here now, chances are you’re serious about making a difference in your life. If you or a loved one have a drinking problem and want to stop, then researching things like alcohol withdrawal is an excellent step to prepare yourself for the future.
Becoming an alcoholic is easy; learning how to stop drinking takes work and diligence. This guide will walk you through the stages of alcohol withdrawal.
Let’s take a look at alcohol withdrawal symptoms, so you know exactly what’s happening and what to expect during an alcohol detox.
Next, we’ll break down the stages along with helpful tips and remedies you can use to ease your discomfort. Knowing what to expect can prevent failure and relapse.
Alcohol withdrawal is scary, but not nearly as scary as spending the rest of your life addicted.
What is alcohol withdrawal?
Withdrawal is the body’s physical response when an addict stops drinking. Over a period of time, your body becomes dependent on alcohol. It gets so used to having alcohol in its system that it no longer knows how to function without it.
When you quit drinking, your body rebels. Your brain has to relearn how to work sober. When this happens, you may experience alcohol withdrawal signs and symptoms. This entire process is known as Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS).
If you want to quit drinking, know that it’s okay to be scared. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms aren’t pleasant or easy to go through; however, with every moment, you will be closer to the healthier, happier life you crave.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
It’s important to learn about the alcohol withdrawal signs. Even though you may not experience all of them, knowing exactly what to expect gives you control of your recovery.
First, a word of caution: If you are a heavy drinker, quitting “cold turkey” can cause severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms that could be life-threatening.
It’s highly recommended that you speak to a medical professional or find a certified alcohol rehab clinic to help you detox.
What to Expect
Your body can begin to experience alcohol withdrawal signs just a few hours after you stop drinking. Many people will begin to experience the first signs of AWS 5–10 hours after their last drink.
It’s important to note that not everyone will experience all of the symptoms. Someone who drinks heavily every day for a long time is likely to experience more symptoms, but then again, it’s just as possible that they might only have a few that aren’t even very strong.
Because of how different every drinker’s withdrawal is, the best way to prepare yourself is to study all of the signs before your last drink.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
- Rapid pulse.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Alcohol hallucinations.
- Alcohol withdrawal seizures.
- Delirium tremens (happens only in 5% of withdrawal cases but very dangerous)
Most people can handle shakes, nausea and sweating. The more severe alcohol withdrawal signs like seizures and delirium tremens (which we’ll explain in a bit) can be life-threatening.
If you experience any of the severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, you should seek emergency medical care.
You should also familiarize yourself with the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking before or after a withdrawal attempt puts you at a higher risk.
Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal – The First Week
Alcohol withdrawal typically lasts up to five days, though some people have symptoms that last for weeks.
The first 24 hours
Somewhere within the first 10 hours after your last drink, you may begin to experience the earliest signs of withdrawal.
These include tremors, nausea, sweating and a rapid heartbeat.
There are also a lot of emotional symptoms at this point; it’s very common to have anxiety, feel angry or irritable, have trouble sleeping or have vivid dreams or nightmares.
During the first 24 hours, it’s also possible to experience hallucinations. These cause people to see or hear things that are not really there.
When it comes to withdrawal, it does not mean you’re crazy.
Common alcohol withdrawal hallucinations involve groups of small, similar objects moving together like falling coins or groups of insects.
Some people may experience hallucinations all the way up to their second day of withdrawal.
Up to 48 hours after you begin to withdrawal, it’s possible for you to have a seizure. Several may occur over the course of one hour. Because of this, you should not go through alcohol withdrawal completely alone as you could fall and injure yourself or stop breathing.
If you experience a seizure, you should seek medical care immediately. The peak risk time is at the end of day one.
The final few days of alcohol withdrawal can include a mixture of symptoms. However, they should be decreasing in intensity. For example, you should not still be vomiting or having strong tremors 72 hours after you stopped drinking.
The third day marks the period where someone may experience a condition known as delirium tremens (DTS), though it can happen as early as the second day. DTS isn’t common on all withdrawal cases.
DTS is a very dangerous condition that causes your heart rate to skyrocket, your blood pressure to increase drastically and other symptoms.
Confusion, stupor, loss of consciousness, irrational beliefs and panic attacks, irritability, heavy sweating, poor sleep and hallucinations are some of those other symptoms.
Some of these symptoms are common among alcohol withdrawal patients, but when they are a result of delirium tremens, they are much more extreme.
The good news is that delirium tremens only occurs in 5 percent of withdrawal patients, but it is extremely dangerous and kills 1 in 20 people who experience it.
It is because of this risk that you should consult a doctor or an alcohol rehab program to oversee your withdrawal.
With medical supervision, you will be more stable both physically and mentally, especially since doctors can prescribe medications to ease alcohol withdrawal signs.
Remedies for Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
You should speak to a doctor before you stop drinking. Even if you don’t want to take any prescription medications (as they can become highly addictive), the doctor can perform blood tests and help give you a better perspective of what lies ahead.
Doctors can also put you in touch with alcohol rehab programs near you to help make your rehab process easier and more likely to succeed. The help of professionals can also reduce the risk of relapse, which in turn will decrease the chances of alcohol poisoning.
The following are some remedies that can ease alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These are not cures for alcohol poisoning. Do not look for any cures to alcohol poisoning online. If you are worried that you or someone you know has drank too much, call for emergency help.
Drink Plenty of Water and Eat Healthy
Your body will become dehydrated, so make sure you consume at least one liter of water per day. You should also eat a healthy diet, both during withdrawal and in general.
The purpose of a detox is to flush toxins out of your body, so eat plenty of foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants like berries and leafy greens.
Use Cayenne Pepper in Food
Cayenne pepper can help improve appetite and reduce cravings. It also helps ease nausea.
Soak basil springs and 20 peppercorns in a glass of water overnight. Drinking this can soothe symptoms. Basil is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Taking into consideration the research and science now readily available, the facts are clear concerning the dangers of alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal should never be taken lightly and; when considering detoxification from alcohol for yourself or a loved one, take the time necessary to research detox facilities within your area. Use the above information to ask questions of the facility. Armed with the knowledge of the severity and duration of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, make sure your choice of detox facility is prepared and equipped to deal with all of the above symptoms, from benign shakes to the potentially fatal DTs and seizures. When dealing with alcohol withdrawal, your life or the life of a loved one, may well depend upon it.