30 Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal: What You Need to Know

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

If you have been engaging in alcohol abuse for a prolonged period of time, your physical and mental health has been impacted and influenced by your addictive behaviors. The highly addictive properties of alcohol create strong physical and psychological dependency leading many down a cycle of addiction that can feel difficult to overcome while you are on your own. For many individuals that have attempted to quit their use of alcohol on their own previously, you may have experienced the onset of unpleasant or uncomfortable side effects known as alcohol withdrawal symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal is a process when your body releases the harmful toxins of alcohol from your body and begins to adjust to functioning without the presence of alcohol within your body. Heavy alcohol consumption will lead to a tolerance being developed resulting in you needing to drink more alcohol to reach the same desired effects. As your tolerance for alcohol progresses and you need to drink more alcohol, physical dependency will increase the risks of experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at (877) 640-7820 to learn how we can help.

Is Alcohol Withdrawal Dangerous?

There are often questions about the alcohol detox and withdrawal process and if there are any risks associated with alcohol withdrawal and if it is a dangerous process to go through. Each person going through an alcohol detox and withdrawal phase will experience symptoms that are unique to them depending on the severity of their alcohol addiction. Due to the individual nature of your alcohol addiction, it can be hard to predict the types of withdrawal symptoms that you will experience. While most alcohol withdrawal symptoms are not dangerous to go through, some individuals are heavy drinkers or have been engaging in prolonged alcohol abuse that has the potential to experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. However, these symptoms are only dangerous if you choose to undergo alcohol withdrawal alone without the proper support of an alcohol treatment program and medical detox program. 

A medical detox program provides you with the safety and security of having the ongoing support and supervision of licensed medical professionals that will monitor your progress through alcohol withdrawal. As you experience the onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you will receive appropriate medical treatments and interventions to minimize and stabilize any presenting symptoms to ensure your overall safety and well-being throughout your alcohol detox process.

Patients in alcohol detox will be invited to participate in a medication-assisted treatment program that will provide them with specific medications that will work to reduce the severity of their withdrawal symptoms and minimize the onset of severe alcohol cravings allowing them to maintain their focus on achieving their goal for addiction recovery. Patients participating in a medication-assisted treatment program will find that the unpleasant and, sometimes, dangerous withdrawal symptoms will be subsided making your detox a safe, healthy process that fosters healing and personal growth.

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Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is known to occur within individuals in varying stages depending on the severity of your alcohol addiction. There are 4 stages that alcohol withdrawal can occur: minor withdrawal symptoms, major withdrawal symptoms, seizure symptoms, and delirium tremens. 

Stage 1

This stage is when minor withdrawal symptoms will occur. These symptoms will often occur within 6- 24 hours after you last engaged in alcohol consumption. During this stage, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that produce uncomfortable or unpleasant symptoms but it does not include any withdrawal symptoms that pose a threat to your overall health and well-being. 

Stage 2

This stage is characterized by major withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms that individuals will experience in this stage will be major physical and mental health symptoms that can create severe impairments to normal physical and mental health functioning. If a person were to experience major withdrawal symptoms, you will experience them within 10- 72 hours after you last drank alcohol. 

Stage 3

During this stage, individuals will experience withdrawal symptoms that are characterized by withdrawal seizures. Withdrawal seizures will often occur within 6-48 hours of your last consumption of alcohol. When someone goes through the withdrawal seizure stage, it is characterized by brief and generalized seizures that occur within people with no history of seizures. 

Stage 4

This stage of withdrawal symptoms is characterized by withdrawal symptoms from delirium tremens. During the delirium tremens stage, individuals will experience severe withdrawal symptoms within 48-96 hours after they quit their use of alcohol. The symptoms of delirium tremens can become dangerous and life-threatening if they are not monitored and treated by healthcare professionals. If you are experiencing stage 4 delirium tremens withdrawal symptoms, it is strongly recommended that you engage in a medical detox program to ensure your overall safety and well-being. 

30 Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal 

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can appear in individuals with several symptoms ranging from mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include the following: 

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Depression 
  • Irregular heart rate 
  • Vomiting 
  • Headache 
  • Confusion
  • Irritability 
  • Agitation 
  • Elevated heart rate 
  • Insomnia 
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Nightmares 
  • Increased, high blood pressure 
  • Tremors 
  • Shaky hands 
  • Poor appetite 
  • Restlessness 
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sounds, or touches 
  • Poor memory and difficulty with decision making 

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can progress to severe symptoms that must be closely monitored by medical professionals. The intensity of some of these symptoms can result in abnormal heart rates and functioning, loss of body functioning, and severe mental health concerns that should be treated by healthcare professionals immediately to receive proper and appropriate treatments. Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include the following: 

  • Fever or increased body temperature
  • Extreme confusion
  • Delirium 
  • Intense feelings of agitation 
  • Irregular or increased heart rate and pulse 
  • Fast breathing rate or abnormal breathing rates 
  • Auditory hallucinations where you are hearing things that are not there 
  • Visual hallucinations are where you see things or objects that are not present or real 
  • Tactile hallucinations can include having feelings of burning, itchiness, or numbing sensations when nothing is touching you or there 
  • Seizures 

Symptoms of Alcohol WithdrawalGet Help With Alcohol Withdrawal at WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab

Recovering from alcohol addiction is possible. At the height of your addiction, you have thought about what life could be like if you were sober but struggled to find your footing to begin your road to recovery on your own. At WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, we strive to empower our patients to see their potential and ability to maintain a life of sober living and overcome their alcohol addiction for good. Our comprehensive treatment plans provide patients with a continuum of care that will enable them to overcome their physical dependence on alcohol within a medical alcohol detox program and heal from the underlying causes of their alcohol addiction within an individualized treatment program. Our team will provide you with leading evidence-based addiction therapy methods that will support you in healing from your past emotional wounds and traumas and develop healthy coping skills and tools for relapse prevention that will ensure you have long-lasting success in addiction recovery. WhiteSands WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab is the leading addiction treatment center for the high levels of care that are given to all of our patients allowing you to find your new way of life in sobriety, health, and wellness. Call us to start your recovery journey today. 

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.