Dealing with Alcohol Withdrawal: What You Should Expect

dealing with alcohol withdrawal

Do you drink too much?

If so, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 15.1 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from an alcohol use disorder. In fact, alcohol kills about 88,000 people annually.

As the numbers show, this disease affects a large number of Americans and requires action. If you feel like alcohol negatively affects your life, you should quit drinking.

Unfortunately, alcohol withdrawal does not make quitting easy. Dealing with alcohol withdrawal takes effort and strength. Remember why you decided to quit when the tough times hit.

Reasons to Quit Drinking Alcohol

Before getting into the ugly side of alcohol detox, let’s focus on the reasons you want to switch to a sober life. Alcohol abuse:

  • Increases your risk of causing a motor vehicle accident
  • May trigger violent behavior
  • Can lead to legal issues
  • Causes depression
  • Damages your heart and liver
  • Increases your risk for developing mouth, throat, esophageal, and stomach cancer, among other types

Do not lose sight of these very real effects of alcoholism on your journey to sobriety. Yes, withdrawal feels awful, but it passes, unlike these life-altering consequences of alcohol abuse.

Dealing With Alcohol Withdrawal

People experience an unpleasant alcohol withdrawal when trying to quit after drinking heavily for an extended period of time. Due to the severity of symptoms, many people choose to check into an alcohol detox program. Keep reading to learn what you can expect from alcohol withdrawal.

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting typically accompany withdrawal from any substance. The body revolts to the sudden change and creates this unpleasant side effect in efforts to get the addict to use again.

To deal with this, eat a bland diet during withdrawal to avoid stomach irritation. Choose foods like saltine crackers, steamed rice, and bananas. Stay hydrated, too – even if fluids make you feel like vomiting. Dehydration makes nausea and vomiting worse.

You can try nausea medications and Pepto Bismol to ease the symptoms and keep down fluids. Some people swear by acupuncture to help them through as well.

If you cannot keep fluids in, seek medical attention. You may want to check out withdrawal clinics for a safer way to detox.

Anxiety

People detoxing often feel anxious. This happens due to the brain getting used to the depressant effect and then suddenly feeling stimulated when alcohol leaves the system.

The anxiety can intensify the other symptoms, while the other symptoms can exacerbate the anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle. Prescription medications and detox centers can help.

Insomnia

Difficulty sleeping also results from the sudden stimulation to the central nervous system that is used to the depressant effects. Insomnia and anxiety often go hand in hand and feed off of one another.

You can try to combat insomnia with over the counter sleep aids or herbal teas containing lemongrass, lavender, chamomile, or valerian root. Prescription medications also help ease this symptom of alcohol withdrawal.

Profuse Sweating

During alcohol detox, people tend to sweat, a lot. Let’s discuss why.

Carbohydrates, or sugars, make up alcohol. When you drink heavily for a long time, your body gets used to higher glucose levels. To make up for it, your pancreas produces higher levels of insulin.

When you suddenly stop drinking, you do not need as much insulin. Your sugar levels can drop significantly. Low sugar causes sweats.

You may need to change your clothing frequently to stay comfortable. During the night, layer the bed with towels to avoid needing to get up and change the sheets.

Alcohol Shakes

During withdrawal, many people experience tremors in the hands and sometimes in other parts of the body. This happens due to alcohol’s depressant action on the brain.

When you quit depressing the part of the brain that deals with muscle control, the sudden overstimulation can make the body go haywire. Treatment programs provide medications that counteract this symptom.

Alcohol Seizures

Rarely, the impact on the brain that causes the shakes can affect the body so severely that the person experiences a seizure. Alcoholic seizure research suggests that heavy drinking puts a person at greater risk for developing epilepsy as well.

These seizures can cause harm and even kill a person. The risk for this side effect makes it a wise decision to go through withdrawal in a detox facility.

Delerium Tremens

This is the most serious form of alcohol withdrawal. It can start 2-10 days after your last drink.

The symptoms of delirium tremens include:

  • Extreme sensitivity to light, noise, and touch
  • Extreme bodily tremors
  • Agitation
  • Mild disorientation to severe confusion
  • A deep sleep that persists for a full day or more
  • Seizures

This condition can lead to chronic memory impairment and loss as it can turn into the condition Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. If you notice signs of this in yourself or a loved one during detox, then seek immediate medical care.

When Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start?

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as the alcohol leaves the body. Sometimes though, your body takes a bit to freak out from the detox.

Typically, you will experience shakes during the first day. Your symptoms will peak between 24 and 48 hours. Though, some symptoms, as with Delerium Tremens, can take up to 10 days to develop.

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol?

The length of withdrawal symptoms depends on many personal factors, including how much you drank and for how long. Usually, people can expect the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal to begin subsiding in about 5-7 days if they do not develop the more serious form of it.

Though most people find that the worst symptoms dissipate in about a week, less severe symptoms of withdrawal can last for weeks. More alcohol-dependent people can typically expect more severe symptoms and a longer detox time.

Can I Quit Cold Turkey?

Though it sounds great to simply stop drinking to avoid all of the adverse effects of drinking alcohol, you do not want to quit cold turkey. Stopping drinking abruptly can lead to more serious withdrawal side effects.

Making it a gradual process can make quitting drinking more manageable. You should consider contacting a detox clinic for help. They ensure that you detox safely while easing your symptoms.

Quit Drinking for a Better Life

Alcoholism ruins lives. It impacts people physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially.

Though detoxing comes with painful side effects, they are not as bad as the consequences of continuing to abuse alcohol. Dealing with alcohol withdrawal can feel overwhelming. Check out our detox facility to see how we can help you achieve sobriety.