Alcohol withdrawal refers to various symptoms that occur when a person suddenly stops using alcohol after prolonged or chronic ingestion. The timeframe of when the symptoms begin to set in depends on how often you drink. If you binge drink every weekend, you might not begin withdrawal symptoms until a week or two down the road. Whereas if you drink daily, you may begin within 24 hours. The symptoms usually last anywhere from a couple of days to a week. In some cases, people experience symptoms that last for several weeks or months, which is referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
Alcohol withdrawal varies from person to person and its intensity depends on a variety of factors. It is advised to contact a facility that can help with alcohol detox as the process can be severe and potentially life-threatening if undertaken alone. However, to help ease your mind, here are 5 alcohol withdrawal symptoms you may expect once you’ve decided that even one more drink is one too many.
1. Mood changes
Withdrawing from alcohol can certainly negatively affect your mood. To help you understand this, consider the idea of paying back a loan. While you are drunk, you get an advance of warm and fuzzy feelings. However, in the withdrawal period, you experience a debt of those feelings and feel anything but good. This is known as the rebound effect and is part of the body’s way of maintaining homeostasis. Only after you have paid off the debt, which usually just takes time, you can feel good again naturally.
When most people are withdrawing from alcohol, they experience a strong desire to drink more. This is commonly referred to as cravings, which commonly occur in people withdrawing from addictive substances. Part of what drives such cravings is the desire to reduce symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and to re-experience the pleasure of alcohol intoxication.
Feeling nauseous can be caused by numerous conditions, but if you experience it within the first few weeks of quitting alcohol, it may be a symptom of alcohol withdrawal. At times, the feeling can become so intense that it leads to vomiting. While this symptom may be difficult to work through, just keep in mind that it will eventually pass and you will recover.
In some people, alcohol cessation may cause hallucinations. It can either occur on their own or as a part of a severe withdrawal syndrome known as delirium tremens (DT). Hallucinations involve seeing or feeling things that are not there, which can cause distress. Some people who experience these symptoms get quite frightened that they may be experiencing mental health issues. In some instances, people tend to develop substance-induced psychosis as a result of using alcohol, although it may cease after treatment or once the withdrawal has run its course.
5. Physical agitation
When you are going through alcohol withdrawal, you are likely to feel physically agitated. This may be accompanied by sweating and an increase in heart rate. In addition, you may develop physical tremors and notice your hands are shaking. Normally, this will make you feel uncomfortable. However, it is critical to recognize these complications for what they are and not mistake them for cold or flu symptoms.
Going through alcohol withdrawal can certainly be a daunting experience, but it is a necessary one in order to stop drinking and get on the road to recovery. Rest assured that there are substance abuse professionals who are trained to help you get through your symptoms safely. They may even be able to administer various medications to help ease some of the symptoms.
Whatever you do, don’t let the fear of withdrawal symptoms keep you away from a brand new chapter of life and sobriety. The discomfort will cease soon enough and you’ll finally be able to experience freedom in a way you’ve never been able to before.