Dealing with Alcohol Withdrawal: What You Should Expect

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.


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.


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 of 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.

Connor Barton
Connor Barton
The staff here is amazing. Caring and attentive. I finally kicked the sticks and couldn’t be happier.
Jacob Rashid
Jacob Rashid
So nice to have Grandma back to her old self. She has struggled with xannies for as long as I can remember. The staff were so attentive and met her where she was, not where they wanted her to be. Thank you Coastal Detox!
Tara Payne
Tara Payne
I struggled with alcohol addiction for most of my life. After many tries nothing worked.It was my 43rd birthday and I wasn't gonna see 44 if I didn't get help. I called around and found Coastal. So glad I did. I am so grateful for EVERYONE there. This beautiful facility is not just a detox. They actually have programs to help you learn to live a sober life and enjoy being yourself again! Entire staff is awesome! (Ms Diana ❤️ and Mrs Karen ❤️)They really understand how your feeling as most are in recovery also. If your looking for some help please give them a call. I give them 10+stars. Five months sober now!!! Thank you Coastal!!!
Bob Hawkins
Bob Hawkins
The entire staff of Coastal is great, the therapists, the nurses, the techs, everyone. It’s a great environment to begin your recovery in. As an added perk, the food is some of the best you’ll ever have thanks to the chefs.
Tony Givens
Tony Givens
My experience at coastal detox was very good, the staff there is terrific. They helped me get through the process of detox in a safe and professional manor.
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
It been almost a year!! Thank y’all
Matthew Mcnulty
Matthew Mcnulty
This is the top tier Rehab/Detox center in Southeast FL. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. Their attention to detail is impressive. They specialize in treating alcohol abuse among several other conditions. If you or a loved one are looking for a blueprint on how to sober up…Coastal Detox will lead you there.
Mary Katz
Mary Katz
My experience with Coastal has been one of empathy, kindness and family. From Admissions to Nurses to techs I have never felt so cared for. Food and drink 24/7. Coastal is a place I went twice. First time 14 days next 6days later for another 11. At 59 and umpteen detoxes Coastal by far is Heaven Sent! As a Nutritionist and Trainer, I'm so happy to be back....the Mary ,who was lost:)
vicky ehr
vicky ehr
Great place . Helped me so much I am a 64 year old woman and this place got me sober with dignity and kindness. I highly recommend it plus the food is incredible. Rooms are really well laid out. 2 guys to a room . Each bed has its own t.v with head sets so you dont bother your roomate. Take an extra pillow and comfort blanket from home. At least 3 pairs of pj’ s sock and shoes and comfortable clothing fit. You do your own laundry there. I will send you the link to look at. After thinking all morning this is hands down the place for you. Lots of young people and fantastic therapists. For my wonderful son who suffers. From addiction the way I do.

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