Woman experiences withdrawal symptoms

What to Expect in Alcohol Withdrawal


Sober Recovery Expert Author

Woman experiences withdrawal symptoms

Making the conscious decision to get sober is the first and most important step towards recovery. However, doing so isn’t always easy and, when it comes to alcohol, withdrawals may be an unpleasant experience. Knowing what to expect may then help ease the process and make it easier to deal with all the symptoms.

It is important to remember that detoxing from alcohol takes a toll on the body and, in some cases, can be fatal. Always speak with a doctor before you enter any detox plan. Professionals in a rehab center can also ensure that you’re taken care of as well as keep an eye on you by monitoring your heart rate, blood pressure and administering drugs if necessary. Quitting cold turkey is never recommended.

For most people, alcohol withdrawals are the most severe during the first three to five days after they quit drinking, but some symptoms can last up to a week.

Withdrawal Basics

Like any other drug, removing alcohol from the body will go through a period of withdrawal. Since your body is so used to having alcohol, taking it away can put your system into shock, so doctors at a rehab clinic often offer drugs to help reduce some of alcohol withdrawal’s symptoms. Some of these drugs include Librium and Valium. Many individuals also go through Delirium Tremens (known as DTs) within the first 72 hours, with a small percentage continuing these withdrawals after the first three days.

For most people, alcohol withdrawals are the most severe during the first three to five days after they quit drinking, but some symptoms can last up to a week. Long-term effects can last even longer. However, normal symptoms can look something like the following:

  • 6 - 12 hours after quitting: sweating, anxiety, headaches, vomiting and insomnia
  • 12 - 24 hours after quitting: possible hallucinations
  • 48 - 72 hours after quitting: sweating, seizures, high blood pressure, irritability, confusion and fever

Long-term effects of alcohol use can also take a toll on the body, so it's important to continue seeing a doctor after you have gotten sober to ensure that you're taking care of your health. Severe alcohol use can cause problems in your future including cirrhosis, impaired memory, a weakened immune system and high blood pressure. Because alcohol increases dopamine levels, when you remove alcohol from your life, these levels can drop significantly. The long-term effects of alcohol on your mental health can include anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and more.

Staying on the Path of Sobriety

It’s no secret that withdrawals are difficult to get through. It’s easy for some individuals to want to give up because symptoms can be extremely trying on the body but, for the sake of your own health, it is a necessary process to go through. With the help of doctors and individuals at a detox center, getting sober is possible and will positively affect your life for the better.

With time, your body will begin to heal itself and you’ll slowly begin to feel better not only about your decisions, but your physical health as well. Surrounding yourself with positive people and removing negativity from your life can make a world of difference when you’re choosing to stay sober. Attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, group counseling or finding a mental health doctor can help you deal with the problems you encountered during your drinking and will allow you to take steps in caring for yourself even after you have gone through the physical withdrawals from alcohol.

If you are suffering from alcohol addiction and are ready to make a positive change in your life, speak with your doctor, friends, family, or anyone who can help you take a step in the right direction to getting clean and sober. Although it is hard to see past today, those who get sober find that there is success and life beyond alcohol and that you are not your addiction.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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