Understanding alcohol withdrawal

man looking sad at alcohol in glass

Congratulations –making the decision to stop drinking is a very big step! This will be the best decision you have ever made; however difficult at times. Over the years, your body has built a stronger and stronger dependence on the alcohol you were drinking and with your new found decision on sobriety will cause your body to go into alcohol withdrawal.

The stages of alcohol withdrawal vary from person to person, as each person will be affected by their detox differently. Before engaging in any sort of addiction treatment program an individual needs to detox from their drug of choice; alcohol withdrawal can be very taxing and must be taken very seriously. 

Alcohol is a depressant and because of this, according to WebMD, it slows down brain fun and changes the way your nerves send messages back and forth. As time passes your body adjusts to these changes and can longer adapt how it would without alcohol. Decreasing the amount or completely stopping drinking alcohol can cause alcohol withdrawal.  

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically start around six to twelve hours after the individual stops drinking. It is possible for these to begin even when there are substantial amounts of alcohol still in the blood. The symptoms range in severity from mild to severe depending on the length of time the person has been drinking and the amount of alcohol regularly consumed. Symptoms can include:

  • Shaky / anxiousness
  • Headache
  • Nausea / vomiting / diarrhoea / loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating

Feeling alert but irritable and agitated is commonplace in the early stages of alcohol withdrawal. Recovering alcoholics often feel tired and desperate to sleep but find they are unable to do so as they are so restless. They may have a racing pulse and rapid heartbeat as well as high blood pressure. Some will feel anxious and fearful and will suffer from extreme mood swings.

Mild symptoms tend to last a few days to a few weeks. Nevertheless, other symptoms such as insomnia can last longer.


Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

For more seasoned alcoholics, severe symptoms may present themselves during the withdrawal process; these may include: 

  • High blood pressure 
  • Hallucinations / delusions
  • Confusion 
  • Fever
  • Profuse sweating 

Withdrawal Treatment:

You are experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms because you are choosing to treat your alcoholism. These symptoms are usually short-lived, and unless you have an underlying health condition, the only treatment required is time, a positive mindset and healthy foods and fluids

It is important to seek medical advice when making the decision to stop drinking. Because you never know how you will be affected, being monitored by a medical professional is always recommended. 

It is important to remember that alcohol addiction can affect anyone at any time. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, contact The Farm Rehab at 1 877-353-2777. Our in-patient Toronto area addiction treatment centre has the experience and trained staff you need to help you take back control of your life.