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Common Withdrawal Symptoms of Quitting Alcohol

July 30, 2021

The withdrawal period of substance abuse recovery is rough. Fear of intense withdrawal symptoms often deters people from seeking help or causes them to start using again. Whether you are looking to stop using opioids, cocaine, methamphetamines, or an everyday substance like alcohol, the withdrawal period is one of the most difficult parts of the recovery process. However, understanding the symptoms of withdrawal can help you prepare and take precautions against the worst of it. In this post, we are discussing the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal, what you need to look for, and when to seek medical help.

            Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism is a real disease that affects people from all walks of life. Because of alcohol is widely available and socially acceptable, it is often difficult to discern when your drinking habits become a problem. If you notice you are drinking more alcohol more often, have a high tolerance or a lack of “hangover’ symptoms, begin hiding your drinking, or develop a dependency on alcohol to function in everyday life, you should reflect on why that is. These are common symptoms of alcoholism. Remember, there are no specific characteristics that increase your chances of becoming an alcoholic, so it is important to look for early warning signs.

If you are worried you might be an alcoholic and decide to stop drinking, be on the lookout for symptoms of withdrawal. The symptoms are usually self-diagnosable. This is good for your recovery process because it allows you to seek help quickly and reduce your pain and suffering. For most people, symptoms begin to develop 2-4 days after they stop drinking. However, depending on the depth of your addiction, symptoms may start as early as a few hours after your last drink. Some of the symptoms you could experience include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations and disorientation

            The progression of alcohol withdrawal typically occurs in three stages. The first stage is the onset of mild symptoms like sweating, shakiness, nausea, and headaches. These usually occur within the first 6 hours of your withdrawal. The second stage happens 12-47 hours into the process and can include hallucinations and seizures. The final stage at 48-72 hours involves high levels of confusion, high blood pressure, heavy sweating, fevers, and a racing heartbeat. During this final stage some people may develop delirium tremens (DTs) which are vivid hallucinations and delusions. Some people can suffer these symptoms for months. The longer your alcoholism goes untreated, the worse the symptoms of withdrawal. Also, it is important to remember that you can go through withdrawal more than once if you start drinking again. If you begin to experience these symptoms, seek out a medical professional for help. They will be able to check for underlying medical conditions, and can prescribe benzodiazepines to help alleviate your symptoms. By seeking professional treatment and a rehab program that suits their needs, most people fully recovery from their alcoholism.


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