During the first several days after you quit drinking, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Over time, your body becomes dependent on your drinking frequency and patterns. However, when you abruptly stop drinking, your body requires time to figure out what chemicals it’s missing. This phase is what produces the painful side effects .
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can occur when you quit drinking and may trigger life-threatening health complications. Whether you’ve been drinking for weeks, months or years, it’s possible to experience alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Professional care from a specialized alcohol rehab facility is highly recommended for those who are ready to stop drinking altogether.
Cause of Alcohol Withdrawal
There are numerous factors that go into what causes an alcohol withdrawal.
When you drink, alcohol is broken down by an enzyme in your liver. This process helps rid alcohol from your system through urine. Any alcohol that’s not metabolized is absorbed by other parts of your body, like your brain.
When alcohol impacts your brain, you may experience feelings of happiness and relaxation. An excessive amount of alcohol around the brain can lead to symptoms of drunkenness – slurred speech, difficulty walking and memory lapses. However, because chronic drinking affects your tolerance, your body will crave more alcohol in order to produce the same feelings.
Alcohol suppresses certain neurotransmitters in your brain which cause you to feel at ease after drinking. When you quit drinking, the neurotransmitters are no longer inhibited by alcohol. This results in hyperexcitability – the reason why withdrawal symptoms affect you differently from alcohol consumption.
Alcohol withdrawal side effects vary in each person. Many people are hesitant to quit drinking because of the thought of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. However, alcohol addiction treatment specialists can provide you with prescription medications to help relieve pain. By reducing withdrawal symptoms, you will be able to focus on getting better.
Don’t let the fear of possible withdrawal symptoms prevent you from getting the help you deserve. Learn more about treating alcoholism and support options by calling us today .
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline of Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can occur as early as two hours after your last drink. Typically, symptoms will peak within the first 24 to 48 hours. This is when you may experience the most uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, rapid heartbeat, changes in blood pressure, sweating, tremors and fever.
While some people experience very few withdrawal symptoms, others may suffer from more serious side effects. For example, delirium tremens is one of the most severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It can surface within the first 48 hours after your last drink and involves confusion, shaking, hallucinations and high blood pressure. Although delirium tremens is uncommon, it can be life-threatening. Heavy drinkers who suddenly stop drinking may experience any of a range of dangerous symptoms, so it’s important to be treated by a medical professional during detox .
The timeline for common withdrawal symptoms is:
Six to 12 hours post-ingestion:
12 to 24 hours post-ingestion:
48 hours post-ingestion:
- High blood pressure
- Tactile, auditory and visual hallucinations
- High fever and excessive sweating
- Delirium tremens
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are impacted by several factors including frequency of drinking, amount consumed during drinking, length of time drinking, medical history and co-occurring health conditions. A person is more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms if they ve abused alcohol and drugs .
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Carol is the lead writer for Alcohol Rehab Guide. She is passionate about helping people who are struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction. Her past experience in the medical field has led to a deep knowledge of the struggles facing those with a substance use disorder (SUD), and a desire to do something to help.
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National Institutes of Health. Alcohol Use and Older Adults: How Alcohol Affects the Body. November 2016. https://nihseniorhealth.gov/alcoholuse/howalcoholaffectsthebody/01.html
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2015). Alcohol Withdrawal. November 2016. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000764.htm
Bayard, Mcintyre, Hill, Woodside. (2004). Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. November 2016. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0315/p1443.html
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2010). Alcohol-use Disorders: Diagnosis and Management of Physical Complications. November 2016. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg100/ifp/chapter/acute-withdrawal-from-alcohol