Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

alcohol addiction

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol use is prevalent in American culture. While some may be able to indulge occasionally, others can find themselves addicted to and dependent upon alcohol. Alcohol suppresses certain transmitters in the brain, producing a feeling of calm.

Alcohol abusers who turn to alcohol for this feeling of calm frequently will experience a biological shift in equilibrium. As tolerance increases, users must drink more to reestablish calm and without the presence of alcohol, they may experience hyper-excitability.

Those addicted to alcohol typically experience symptoms of withdrawal anywhere from 2 to 12 hours after their last drink. Symptoms peak in a 2-3 day window and may persist for weeks. Because symptoms can worsen over time, those experiencing even mild withdrawal symptoms should seek out professional help.

As with other addictive substances, withdrawal symptoms can vary in length and intensity, based on a variety of factors. Acute medical illness, psychiatric illness, abnormal liver function, old age, and multiple previous detoxifications can all increase the likelihood of intense symptoms of withdrawal.

Individuals detoxifying from alcohol may begin to experience shakiness, sweating, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and insomnia. In the peak period, symptoms may intensify or expand to include clammy skin, confusion, nightmares, mood swings, fatigue, irritability, severe anxiety, seizures, and hallucinations. Those with increased risk for severe withdrawal symptoms may experience alcoholic hallucinosis: visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations that most alcoholics can still distinguish from reality. This rarely lasts for more than 2 days.

One of the most severe symptoms and risks of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens, or DT. Sufferers of DT may experience sweating, confusion and disorientation, rapid or irregular heartbeat, fever, severe anxiety, and hallucinations indistinguishable from reality. DT can be fatal and should be immediately treated by medical professionals. It is highly recommended that alcohol abusers undergo detoxification with the support of a professional treatment facility. Residential treatment centers can provide medical observation and support, medicine and techniques for lessening the painful symptoms of withdrawal, mental health counseling, and a strong social support group.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse or showing signs of alcohol withdrawal, please contact us today.