Alcohol can be enormously addictive, and although most of us are able to enjoy a few social drinks once a week with no ill effects, for those who have a serious alcohol problem, abstaining from liquor is almost impossible without suffering from nasty side effects.
So what are typical alcohol withdrawal symptoms and how long are the symptoms likely to last?
Some people can quit drinking without experiencing any side effects. These people wake up one day, decide not to touch another drop, and are absolutely fine.
Sadly, most alcoholics are not so lucky and end up suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms vary greatly in severity and range from fairly mild to extremely severe. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are both physical and psychological.
They might last for a few days; or they might last for much longer; everyone is different and it is very difficult to predict how each person will react when withdrawing from alcohol.
In all cases, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are not pleasant, which is why many long term alcoholics find it so difficult to stop drinking and frequently fall off the wagon as a result.
Mild psychological alcohol withdrawal symptoms include anxiety and depression, volatile mood swings, nervousness and the “shakes” as the brain slowly learns to do without the alcohol.
Recovering alcoholics might also be very irritable and excitable. Physically, the patient will probably suffer from headaches, nausea and vomiting.
They might have trouble sleeping and sweat a lot. They might also suffer from tremors and heart palpitations and possibly have dilated pupils and appear very pale.
Delirium tremens, otherwise known as DTs is one of the best known symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and it affects around one on twenty recovering alcoholics. The DTs include shakes, delirium, and confusion.
In more severe cases of alcohol withdrawal, the patient may experience hallucinations, extreme agitation, blackouts, convulsions, and a fever.
It is also possible to become severely dehydrated and develop physical complications from alcohol withdrawal, and in some instances, alcohol withdrawal without medical assistance can even prove to be fatal, which is why it is never sensible to go “cold turkey” if you have been drinking heavily for many years.
What is the Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline?
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will normally begin 3-8 hours after the last drink, or once the effect of the alcohol begins to wear off. The average alcohol withdrawal symptoms duration is between five and seven days, although this can vary.
However, even after the side effects of alcohol withdrawal have faded away, the patient will still experience cravings for alcohol and will never truly be over their addiction.
In all cases, if the person has been a heavy and habitual drinker for many years, it is never sensible to stop drinking suddenly as the effects can be difficult to endure without medical help.
There are various medications available that can significantly counteract the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, so it is essential to seek professional advice before attempting to give up the drink.