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.

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 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.

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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