When your body becomes dependent on alcohol, cravings and other withdrawal symptoms appear after you stop drinking or significantly reduce your intake. In many cases, alcohol withdrawal can be mild.
But in others, it can be more severe, even life-threatening. Because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, its side effects are achieved by slowing down the brain.
As your body and brain get used to this effect, changes in your drinking patterns throw you off balance.
Your central nervous system becomes overexcited as it tries to restore balance.
This imbalance shows through in the form of withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
Alcohol withdrawal deaths are usually attributable to a condition called delirium tremens.
Death may occur in up to 5% of delirium tremens patients.
But the risk of death is reduced for those who receive adequate medical support and medication.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is what we call the wide range of symptoms that appear when alcohol-dependent individuals stop drinking.
Those with alcohol withdrawal syndrome will experience a combination of emotional and physical symptoms.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome symptoms range from minor, like insomnia and tremors, to severe, like withdrawal seizures and the condition we mentioned before, delirium tremens.
No two people experience addiction or withdrawals the same way.
But we can give you an idea of what to expect by evaluating the most common side effects of alcohol withdrawal, outlining the detox stages, and detailing your treatment options.
Common Side Effects of Alcohol Withdrawal
If you have tried to stop drinking and found that overwhelming cravings or other uncomfortable physical or emotional symptoms brought you right back to the bottle, you may already be more familiar with withdrawals than you realize.
Some of the most common side effects of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Excessive sweating
- Tremors or shakes, particularly in the hands
Troubling Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal: Seizures
The most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are not the most concerning ones.
Seizures, high blood pressure, high fevers, and confusion are some of the more troubling symptoms of alcohol withdrawals.
While these may not be the most common symptoms, they can be the most detrimental when they occur.
Dangerous withdrawal symptoms are not a risk you have to take. Choose a better way with a supervised detox.
Other Dangerous Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
Seizures and delirium tremens are two of the most dangerous complications of alcohol withdrawals.
These physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Delirium tremens can cause vivid delusions and hallucinations.
It can also cause confusion, shaking, fever, and high blood pressure.
The sudden and severe mental or nervous system changes associated with delirium tremens can be fatal.
But it doesn’t have to be. Delirium tremens is treatable by a medical professional.
The average onset is approximately three days into withdrawals. If you or someone you love needs to detox from alcohol, we recommend doing so in the comfort and safety of a certified addiction treatment facility.
During a supervised detox, you will benefit from the 24-hour care, support, and guidance of a dedicated medical team.
They will ensure that you stay properly hydrated, monitor your progress, and guide you through the appropriate next steps.
Alcohol Detox Stages
Alcohol detox symptoms vary depending on the stage you are in, how long you have been drinking, how often and how much you drink, and other individual factors.
The average alcohol detox lasts between three and seven days.
The length and severity of your detox can vary based on the details of your addiction and mental health.
But one thing that is true for everyone is that remaining patient and accepting the help available to you is crucial.
Recovery is possible for anyone. And recovery from alcohol dependence occurs in three distinct stages.
When you attend a detox program like the ones we offer at our Pathfinders Recovery Centers, these stages become significantly safer and easier to manage.
Stages One, Two, and Three
Stage one is often characterized by mild withdrawal symptoms that appear within eight hours after you stop drinking.
These stage one symptoms can be mild enough to feel like a hangover.
Nausea, sweats, insomnia, and anxiety are some of the most common symptoms in this stage.
Stage two starts around 12 to 24 hours after your last drink and typically involves moderate symptoms, like high blood pressure, fever, confusion, and irritability.
Finally, stage three usually involves the most severe symptoms you will experience.
This stage starts between 48 and 72 hours after your last drink.
High fevers, seizures, confusion and agitation, and hallucinations can occur during stage three of withdrawals.
Delirium tremens can also occur during this stage.
This condition is the one we are the most concerned with. Roughly 3-5% of alcohol-dependent patients experience this condition during detox.
This is one reason why many experts deem supervised, professional detoxes crucial rather than recommended.
Medical Detox for Severe Alcohol Withdrawal
Severe addictions and withdrawals may warrant medical detox rather than a traditional one.
Medical detoxes offer a higher level of support. During medical detox, an experienced professional will safely prescribe or administer medication to ease your withdrawal symptoms.
There are several different medications they may choose.
These medications may help you get through the crucial stage of early sobriety in several different ways.
For example, one of the most common of these medications reduces alcohol and drug cravings.
In a traditional or social detox, there are many of the same benefits, including a safe and comfortable space where you can focus on your sobriety and access to a dedicated medical team.
The biggest difference is the medication. Not every case will need it.
But we will work with you to determine which path will be better for you.
And both social and medical detoxes are significantly safer than quitting cold turkey and withdrawing alone at home.
After your detox, we have a range of continued care programs available.
Treatment After Detoxification
Alcohol is one of the hardest addictions to recover from. But people do it every day.
Experts recommend attending treatments for a minimum of three months.
While these treatments can take place in different forms and settings, the timeline is what is more important in this regard.
Longer treatment programs and plans are associated with better results.
That’s why we make it easy to get the help you need – where, when, and how you need it.
From full-time residential programs to part-time intensive outpatient programs, we offer every opportunity you need to change your life.
Whether full-time or part-time, our personalized treatment programs feature many of the same proven, research-based, and holistic treatments.
Behavioral therapies, support groups, and exercise classes are some of the most common.
Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction at Pathfinders
Building a better, happier, healthier life starts here. With luxury-level facilities in Colorado and Arizona, help is always right around the corner.
Our addiction specialists are on call to answer your questions, guide you through the next steps, and verify your insurance.
You do not have to face your recovery alone.
Call them today, day or night, at (866) 263-1820 to get started. From detox through aftercare, help is waiting for you here at Pathfinders.