Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
For someone who has become alcohol dependent, trying to cut your alcohol intake can be challenging. Known as “Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome”, the severity of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms you may experience and how long they might last is generally dependent on how long and how much you have been drinking. There is no set timeframe but most cases of acute withdrawal will be over within a week to ten days.
Understanding alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Drinking alcohol increases the levels of dopamine in your brain, which results in heightened levels of pleasant feelings. In this way, drinking alcohol boosts your mood, can increase your self-confidence and reduces your inhibitions. When you drink regularly, your brain stops bothering to produce its own dopamine at previous levels, expecting the presence of alcohol to do the job instead.
Withdrawal symptoms can have a serious effect on someone who has developed this type of physical dependency on alcohol and sudden detox without medical assistance can potentially be fatal. Severe alcoholics should only attempt alcohol withdrawal under medical supervision.
The four stages of alcohol withdrawal
The effects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms are likely to start around 4 -6 hours after your last drink. The symptoms usually move through different stages or severity.
Tremors are the first withdrawal symptoms which usually begin within 12 hours of the last drink. Other symptoms associated with this first stage are insomnia, anxiety, headaches, sweating, abdominal pain, vomiting, depression and fatigue.
Hallucinations start between 12 and 24 hours after the last drink, where you may see or hear things which are not actually there. These hallucinations can be auditory, visual and tactile and many people in particular report seeing and feeling bugs crawling on their skin.
Symptoms from stage one and stage two often overlap with the Stage 1 symptoms becoming more severe.
After 48 hours the person will begin to experience seizures caused by the dehydration that alcohol withdrawal causes. This stage affects the whole body, with more violent shaking than that experienced in the tremulousness stage. The individual can lose consciousness as well.
Stage four is known as delirium tremens or DT’s. This phase can begin from three to four days after a person stops drinking and as long as two weeks afterwards. There is no way to stop the delirium tremens stage once it starts. This is the most dangerous stage, but not everyone experiences it. It could also be fatal, so medical attention is necessary to address the symptoms. Someone going through the Delirium tremors/DTs stage will experience confusion, continued hallucinations, the feeling of being threatened, palpitations, seizures, fever, sweating and even stroke and heart attack.
This stage is when the withdrawal becomes a serious threat to life if the patient is not receiving medical supervision.
Will these things all happen to me?
Not everyone experiences alcohol withdrawal in the same way. Some people will not have all the symptoms and they may vary in severity. Symptoms will gradually subside as the body becomes used to managing without alcohol.
Whatever you’re level of dependency, it is important seek out medical supervision to help you through the process. As not all withdrawals are the same and you do not know how your body is going to respond, it is best to make sure you have proper care and supervision to help you through the process and ensure your eventual success.