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The Signs Of Withdrawing From Alcohol

The Signs Of Withdrawing From Alcohol

Alcohol is a widely consumed substance, often enjoyed in social settings or as a way to relax after a long day. However, excessive and prolonged use of alcohol can lead to dependence.

When someone dependent on alcohol suddenly stops or reduces their intake, they can experience a range of withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms can vary from mild to severe and are the body’s reaction to the absence of a substance it has grown accustomed to.

In this blog, we’ll cover what alcohol withdrawal is, what alcohol withdrawal syndrome is, what causes alcohol withdrawal symptoms, how long symptoms last, how to ease symptoms and how to seek support.


What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal refers to the set of symptoms that occur when a person who has been drinking heavily suddenly stops or significantly reduces their alcohol intake.

The severity and duration of these symptoms can vary widely depending on factors such as the individual’s overall health, how much and how often they are drinking, and whether they have experienced alcohol withdrawal before.


Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) is the clinical term used to describe the range of symptoms that occur when someone dependent on alcohol suddenly stops drinking.

It can range from mild to severe and can even be life-threatening in extreme cases. AWS typically begins within hours after the last drink, peaks around 24 to 72 hours, and can last for weeks.


What Is the Cause of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are caused by a change in the body’s usual function. Prolonged and heavy alcohol use alters the brain’s chemistry, which leads to changes in neurotransmitter levels. Specifically, alcohol increases the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

GABA is a neurotransmitter that inhibits brain activity, leading to the sedative and calming effects often associated with drinking alcohol. Additionally, alcohol suppresses glutamate, another neurotransmitter that stimulates the brain.

If you or someone you know abruptly stops drinking, the brain, which has adapted to the presence of alcohol, struggles to regain balance. This imbalance contributes to the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.


The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

The signs of withdrawing from alcohol can present themselves both physically and psychologically. It’s important to note that not everyone will experience every symptom, and the severity can vary from person to person.

Read on to learn more about some of the acute and severe withdrawal symptoms to look out for:


Acute Symptoms of Withdrawal

After an episode of heavy drinking, it is common to experience mild withdrawal symptoms. Although they may not require medical attention, it is important to take care of yourself if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • Anxiety, which involves feelings of unease, nervousness, or worry, is common during alcohol withdrawal. This can range from mild jitters to severe anxiety attacks.
  • Tremors, which involve shaking hands or trembling throughout the body, are especially noticeable in the hands or fingers.
  • Nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting are caused by gastrointestinal upset.
  • Excessive sweating, especially during sleep.
  • Insomnia, difficulty falling asleep or sleep disturbances can lead to irritability, fatigue and disturbed sleep patterns.
  • Headaches or migraines as the body adjusts to the absence of alcohol.
  • Irritability, frustration, anger, restlessness and mood swings.
  • Increased heart rate, especially during moments of uncertainty, anxiety or panic.
  • Loss of appetite can lead to weight loss and nutritional deficiencies if not addressed.


Severe Symptoms of Withdrawal

If you or someone you know is dependent on alcohol and are deciding to suddenly stop drinking, there is an increased chance of experiencing more severe withdrawal symptoms.

For this reason, it is advised to seek medical support through this journey. Frequent alcohol abuse can cause the following symptoms:

  • Delirium Tremens (DTs) which can be life-threatening.
  • Cardiovascular health issues like high blood pressure.
  • Extreme confusion and disorientation.
  • Uncontrollable restless behaviour.
  • Seizures.


How Long Can I Expect Withdrawal Symptoms to Last?

The alcohol withdrawal timeline usually involves symptoms beginning 8 hours after the last drink and can worsen over the next 24 to 48 hours. If you’re not reliant on alcohol, these symptoms usually subside within around 24 hours.

If you are addicted to alcohol, on the other hand, you may face more serious consequences. Withdrawal symptoms can last for many days and, in some situations, become more extreme.

Serious symptoms, such as seizures, may appear within 24 to 48 hours after your last alcoholic drink. It is important to monitor your symptoms. Roughly one in 10 people with alcohol withdrawal syndrome is affected by seizures.

Understanding the duration and intensity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms becomes essential if you’re considering an alcohol detox.


How Can I Relieve Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

For more severe symptoms, it is advised to speak to medical professionals to prevent a medical emergency. However, for acute symptoms, there are various ways to reduce the impact of these symptoms and help your body recover. These include:

  • Eating regular, nutritious foods.
  • Keeping hydrated with plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.
  • Prioritising relaxation.
  • Avoiding caffeine.
  • Seek encouragement and support from non-alcohol-dependent friends and relatives.
  • If you have been prescribed medicine, use it as instructed.


Seeking assistance and advice can be an important step towards a healthier lifestyle and even better – you can do this in the comfort of your own home!


Seek Support Withdrawing From Alcohol From Home Detox UK

If you tend to drink alcohol excessively, it could be a sign that you have an alcohol addiction.

If you’re looking to stop drinking alcohol after a severe alcohol dependence, you may encounter some severe and milder symptoms of withdrawal. This is because your alcohol level suddenly drops.

When experiencing withdrawal symptoms from prolonged excessive drinking, it is best to seek medical attention, as the more serious symptoms, like delirium tremens (DTs), can have serious health complications.

Recognising the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol, its health impacts and how to seek support will be hugely advantageous to your recovery path.

If you, or someone you know, are struggling with alcohol dependence, there are resources available to make alcohol withdrawal more capable.

Treatment options such as detoxification programmes, counselling, and support groups can aid in managing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Home detox options are also available for increased comfort and privacy.

Our alcohol detox plans, at Home Detox UK, are tailored to your unique needs to provide the best alcohol detox support. We also offer 24-hour support, regular check-ins and the necessary tools and medications to help you achieve sobriety.

Remember, alcohol withdrawal is a serious medical condition that should not be taken lightly. Understanding the signs and symptoms can lead to timely intervention and a safer recovery journey.

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