alcohol withdrawal symptoms


Kategori: Alcohol
Tarih: 05.12.2013 04:12

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

The symptoms that ocur when an alcohol drinker or alcohol addict stops drinking alcohol called alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The sympoms also occur when a person significantly reduces drinking alcholol as well.

A person having alcholol withdrawal syndrome may face both pysical, psychological and emotional symptoms. These symptoms may be mild or heavy, or even life threatening. But no need to worry, there is always cure and help.

What Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

They are the of symptoms that usually occur from suddenly stopping taking alcohol if you are an heavy alcohol drinker.

Why Usually? Because, not everyone who stops drinking experience withdrawal symptoms. However most people do they stop drinking suddenly. If you are luck few, then good for you :)

People who drink daily more than six or more drinks per day and drinking begins at a time in the morning or afternoon are more likely to face the symptoms.

  • Withdrawal can begin as early as six to 12 hours after the last drink.
  • Symptoms peak at two to three days, although they can last up to seven days.
  • A subacute withdrawal syndrome may last for weeks, characterized by insomnia, irritability and craving.


Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms:

Mild and Moderate Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Psychological and Emotional

  • Feeling of jumpiness or nervousness
  • Feeling of shakiness, Shaky hands
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Emotional volatility or rapid emotional changes
  • Depression
  • Mood Swings
  • Fatigue
  • Clear thinking difficulty
  • Bad dreams and nightmares


  • Headaches
  • Sweating heavily
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Insomnia
  • Enlarged Pupils
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Skin, clammy
  • Abnormal movements
  • Tremor of the hands
  • Involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids

Severe symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal:

  • A state of confusion and visual hallucinations (delirium tremens)
  • Agitation
  • Fever
  • Convulsions
  • Black outs: when you forget what happened during the drinking episode

Symptoms of Delirium Tremens (DT)

  • They usually peak at fifth day
  • Disorientation, confusion, and severe anxiety
  • Hallucinations (primarily visual) which cannot be distinguished from reality
  • Profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Racing and irregular heartbeat
  • Severe tremors
  • Low-grade fever

alcohol withdrawal syndromeBetween 12 and 24 hours after stopping taking alcohol, some people may experience visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations which usually end within 48 hours. This condition is called alcoholic hallucination.

Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Heavy and long time drinking disrupts the brain’s hormones and the brain chemicals that transmit messages between cells.
At first, alcohol initially enhances the effect of the neurotransmitter which produces feelings of relaxation and calm. On the other hand, chronic alcohol consumption eventually suppresses the hormones so that more alcohol is needed to give the desired effects, as known as tolerance.
If you suddenly stop or significantly reduce their alcohol consumption, the neurotransmitters previously suppressed by alcohol are no longer suppressed. They rebound, resulting in a phenomenon known as brain hyperexcitability. So, the effects associated with alcohol withdrawal — anxiety, irritability, agitation, tremors, seizures, and DTs — are the opposite of those associated with alcohol consumption.
The more you drink every day, the more likely you are to develop alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking.

When to Contact a Medical Professional
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if seizures, fever, severe confusion, hallucinations, or irregular heartbeats occur.
It’s especially important to see a doctor if you’ve experienced previous alcohol withdrawal episodes or if you have other health conditions such as infections, heart disease, lung disease, or a history of seizures.

Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

You may need inpatient treatment if you don’t have a reliable social network, are pregnant, or have a history of any of the following:

  • Severe withdrawal symptoms
  • Withdrawal seizures or DTs
  • Multiple previous detoxifications
  • Certain medical or psychiatric illnesses

The goals of treatment are threefold:

  1. reducing immediate withdrawal symptoms,
  2. preventing complications,
  3. beginning long-term therapy to promote alcohol abstinence.

Prescription drugs of choice include benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), lorazepam (Ativan), and oxazepam (Serax).

Such medications can help control the shakiness, anxiety, and confusion associated with alcohol withdrawal and reduce the risk of withdrawal seizures and DTs. In patients with mild to moderate symptoms, the anticonvulsant drug carbamazepine (Tegretol) may be an effective alternative to benzodiazepines, because it is not sedating and has low potential for abuse.

To help manage withdrawal complications, your doctor may consider adding other drugs to a benzodiazepine.

These may include:

  • An antipsychotic drug, which can help relieve agitation and hallucinations
  • A beta-blocker, which may help curb a fast heart rate and elevated blood pressure related to withdrawal and reduce the strain of alcohol withdrawal in people with coronary artery disease
  • Clonidine (Catapres), another blood pressure drug
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin), an anticonvulsant which doesn’t treat withdrawal seizures but may be useful in people with an underlying seizure disorder

Preventing Future Alcohol Withdrawal Episodes

Successful treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome doesn’t address the underlying disease of addiction. It should be followed by treatment of  alcohol dependence.
Relatively brief outpatient interventions can be effective for alcohol abuse, but more intensive therapy may be required for alcohol dependence. If you have alcohol dependence, your doctor may prescribe other medications to help you stop drinking. He or she also may recommend joining a 12-step group — such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous — or staying at a comprehensive treatment facility that offers a combination of a 12-step model, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and family therapy.

Inpatient Treatment

inpatient alcohol treatment

People with moderate-to-severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may need inpatient treatment at a hospital or other facility that treats alcohol withdrawal. You will be watched closely for hallucinations and other signs of delirium tremens.

Treatment may include:

  • Monitoring of blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and blood levels of different chemicals in the body
  • Fluids or medications through a vein (by IV)
  • Sedation using medication called benzodiazepines until withdrawal is complete

Outpatient Treatment

If you have mild-to-moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you can often be treated in an outpatient setting. You will need someone to commit to staying with you during this process, and who can keep an eye on you. Daily visits to your health care provider are needed until you are stable.

Treatment usually includes:

  • Sedative drugs to help ease withdrawal symptoms
  • Routine blood tests
  • Patient and family counseling to discuss the long-term issue of alcoholism.
  • Testing and treatment for other medical problems linked to alcohol use

It is important that the patient goes to a living situation that helps support them in staying sober. Some areas have housing options that provide a supportive environment for those trying to stay sober.
Permanent and life-long abstinence from alcohol is the best treatment for those who have gone through withdrawal.

Alternative Names of Alcohol Treatment

Detoxification or Detox  (alcohol)

What is detoxification?

Detoxification or detox involves taking a short course of a medicine which helps to prevent withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking alcohol. The most commonly used medicine for detox is chlordiazepoxide. This is a benzodiazepine medicine.

Detoxification with the help of a Doctor

A common plan is as follows:

  • A general practitioner (GP) will prescribe a high dose of medication for the first day that you stop drinking alcohol.
  • You then gradually reduce the dose over the next 5-7 days. This usually prevents, or greatly reduces, the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
  • You must agree not to drink any alcohol when you are going through detox. A breathalyser may be used to confirm that you are not drinking.
  • Your GP or practice nurse will usually see you quite often during the time of detox.
  • Also during detox, support from family or friends can be of great help. Often the responsibility for getting the prescription and giving the detox medicine is shared with a family member or friend. For example, a partner or parent of the person going through detox.


How will I feel going through detox?

Some people manage quite easily, whilst others find it more difficult. You can expect to:

  • Feel quite nervous or anxious for a few days.
  • Have some difficulty with getting off to sleep for a few nights.
  • Have some mild withdrawal symptoms but they should not be too bad and a lot less than if you were not taking the detox medicine.

detoxificationThe medication used for detox does not make you stop drinking. You need determination to stop. The medication simply helps you to feel better whilst your body readjusts to not having alcohol. Even after the period of detox you may still have some craving for alcohol. So you will still need willpower and coping strategies for when you feel tempted to drink.

Vitamin supplements

You are likely to be prescribed vitamins, particularly vitamin B1 (thiamine), if you are alcohol-dependent – especially during detox. This is because many people who are dependent on alcohol do not eat properly and can lack certain vitamins. A lack of vitamin B1 is the most common. A lack of this vitamin can cause serious brain conditions.


You may be advised to take a medicine for several months to help you keep off alcohol.

  • Acamprosate is a medicine which helps to ease alcohol cravings.
  • Naltrexone is an alternative to acamprosate but it is usually only prescribed by specialists.
  • Disulfiram is another medicine which is sometimes recommended by hospital specialists following a successful detox. When you take disulfiram you get very unpleasant symptoms if you drink any alcohol.

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