Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

severe withdrawal
Category: addiction

Long-term, heavy drinking causes your body to become accustomed to the presence of alcohol. Abruptly quitting or significantly reducing your consumption can trigger a range of withdrawal symptoms that can vary widely in their intensity and duration, from well-known severe complications like delirium tremens to lesser-known but equally distressing effects such as tingling in your hands and feet.

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as a few hours after the last drink and can range from mild anxiety and shakiness to serious problems requiring immediate medical attention. The severity of withdrawal symptoms often correlates with how often and how long you drank.

The most common side effects are:

  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Sweating
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares and insomnia
  • Confusion or “brain fog”

Delirium Tremens

Delirium tremens is among the most severe and life-threatening complications of alcohol withdrawal, occurring in a small percentage of those undergoing detoxification. Symptoms typically begin 48 to 96 hours after the last drink and can include:

  • Severe confusion and agitation
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Heavy sweating

Due to the high risk of severe outcomes, including death, delirium tremens requires immediate medical treatment, often in a hospital setting.

Nerve Damage

Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to peripheral neuropathy – damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. This condition can manifest during withdrawal, presenting symptoms such as:

  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Burning sensations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain or discomfort

These symptoms occur because excessive alcohol consumption interferes with the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, leading to nerve damage.

Treating Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol can be one of the most dangerous substances to quit using without professional help. Detoxing from alcohol in a safe setting is critical to minimize discomfort and prevent severe complications.

  • Medical detoxification: Supervised detox can help manage withdrawal symptoms safely, using medication to ease symptoms and reduce cravings. The American Society of Addiction Medicine has recognized HVRC as an ASAM Level 4 medical detox provider.
  • Nutritional support: Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial during detox, as they can repair some of the organ, tissue and nerve damage caused by alcohol abuse.
  • Long-term rehabilitation: Following detox, long-term treatment programs can address the underlying issues of alcohol abuse, helping you develop coping mechanisms and a supportive network to maintain sobriety.

Change Your Life at HVRC

Uncomfortable and dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be challenging enough to steer some people back to substance abuse. Completing detox in a structured, supervised environment will keep you accountable to your goals and ensure you are stable enough to transition into the next phase of your customized treatment plan.

HVRC’s health care professionals provide a compassionate and judgment-free detoxification process, followed by personalized rehabilitation to foster long-term recovery and wellness. If you struggle with alcohol dependence, we are here to help guide you through every step of the road to sobriety. Contact us today to learn more.