Anyone that has tried to quit alcohol before or has developed a dependency on alcohol that affects their bodily functions may have experienced the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol dependency.
If this is something you have struggled with or anticipate struggling with in the near future, it is crucially important to get out ahead of the issue and learn about alcohol withdrawal symptoms and what to expect.
In this post, we are going to cover the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol, the science of alcohol dependence, and what you can expect when you are going through a prolonged period of time without alcohol.
What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when someone has been drinking regularly over a prolonged period of time, and then either reduce their drinking or stops entirely.
When alcohol is suddenly taken away from the body, it can cause several uncomfortable physical severe withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to severe depending on the individual’s level of dependency and the length of time they were drinking.
The science behind these physical symptoms is the body’s response to a sudden significant drop in dopamine levels. When alcohol is consumed, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure. This can lead to severe symptoms when denied after repeated alcohol abuse.
When drinking ceases suddenly, these dopamine levels are reduced significantly, leading to physical withdrawal symptoms like nausea, shakiness, anxiety, and sweating.
Other physical symptoms include insomnia, headaches, trembling hands or feet, and a racing heart. In extreme cases of alcohol withdrawal, individuals can experience seizures due to the sudden decrease in GABA levels.
It is important to note that everyone’s experiences with alcohol withdrawal will be different depending on their individual body chemistry, how long they have been drinking and their level of dependency.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline
There is much known about what a person goes through when they are experiencing alcohol withdrawal. In fact, we are even able to lay it out chronologically.
Here is what you might experience and how long it might take you to experience it when you are going through alcohol withdrawal.
Short Term (6 Hours)
Six hours after an individual has decided to quit drinking alcohol, they will start to feel the effects of alcohol withdrawal. These are generally mild withdrawal symptoms, but can quickly progress to more severe withdrawal symptoms after a given period of time. Symptoms experienced in this early stage can range from mild to moderate and may include irritability, restlessness, anxiety, fatigue, headache, insomnia, nausea and vomiting.
The physical symptoms experienced can be due to dehydration caused by the diuretic effect of alcohol as well as an electrolyte imbalance that is often seen in those who suffer with alcoholism. Mental health symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia should also start to become more common at this stage. It is not uncommon for individuals going through alcohol withdrawal to experience intrusive thoughts and distressing memories that can contribute to further emotional distress.
Medium Term (12-48 Hours)
The next stage of alcohol withdrawal is usually seen within 12–48 hours after cessation. The physical symptoms experienced can range from moderate to severe and may include increased heart rate, shaking or trembling, sweating, increased blood pressure, headaches and abdominal pain.
Mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression and confusion may also become more pronounced during this stage. In more severe cases, hallucinations and delirium tremens can occur.
Delirium tremens is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention and hospitalization; symptoms may include rapid changes in heart rate, fever, seizures, confusion, agitation and even death if not treated quickly.
Long Term (48-72 Hours)
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can last for up to 72 hours after drinking has stopped. During this time, the physical and mental health symptoms may continue to worsen if not managed properly.
Physical symptoms such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can persist and can cause further complications if not addressed promptly. Mental health symptoms including anxiety, depression, insomnia and intrusive thoughts can also become more severe in this stage.
It is important to note that each person’s experience with alcohol withdrawal will be different and the timeline for recovery may vary depending on the individual’s level of dependency and how long they had been drinking. It is crucial that those who are going through alcohol withdrawal get medical attention as soon as possible. Professional medical treatment can help to minimize symptoms and prevent dangerous complications from developing.
With proper medical care and support, individuals going through alcohol withdrawal will be able to recover more quickly and effectively. It is important to remember that recovery from dependency is possible but it takes time, dedication and commitment.
How to Get Through Alcohol Withdrawal
Whether you are going through the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal willingly or by accident, you shouldn’t let it go to waste. Perhaps this is the push that you have been waiting for to get to the bottom of your alcohol dependency once and for all.
If this describes you, then you should explore the possibility of enrolling with The Alcohol Coach.
The Alcohol Coach is a revolutionary program that helps those dependent on alcohol to overcome alcohol and the grip that it has on their life.
This isn’t done through 12-step programs, attending long AA meetings, or beating yourself up over your dependency. Instead, it’s done by realizing that you have the power, determination, and self-respect that is necessary to rid your life of alcohol dependency.
With an approach from positivity, all things are possible–including overcoming alcohol dependence and the withdrawal symptoms that come along with it.
Alcohol withdrawal can be a difficult process, but it is important to remember that recovery is possible. The timeline of alcohol withdrawal can vary from person to person and the severity of symptoms also depend on individual levels of dependency.
It’s important to seek medical attention during this time if you feel that you are in danger as it will help to minimize the physical and mental health symptoms associated with withdrawal.
For those looking to break away from their dependency on alcohol, The Alcohol Coach has effective and positive approaches that can help you overcome the grip that alcohol has on your life.
With determination and commitment, you can get through this difficult time and come out healthier and happier on the other side.
Hi, I'm Michela
I’m a leader in the science of transformational freedom for women, and someone previously addicted to alcohol. I have walked the path. I understand your concerns and fears. Here you will find some of my thoughts and insights. Happy browsing!
Keep me in the loop!
Want more inspiration, knowledge and ideas about alcohol and how to make the changes you want stick? Sign up here to receive more articles and news like this.