Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

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What Is Alcohol Withdrawal

When you drink heavily for several weeks, months, or years, you may have physical and mental health problems when you don’t drink alcohol. These problems are known as withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol withdrawal can range from mild to very serious.

There are several different types of withdrawal symptoms that you may experience as your body starts to get used to living without being dependent on alcohol. Below, we will take a look at the several withdrawal symptoms that you may experience when you stop drinking after alcohol dependency.

Can You Prevent Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Unfortunately, you can’t prevent symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. However, you can make them easier. One of the best ways to ease withdrawal symptoms is to slowly wean your way off drinking instead of suddenly stopping drinking.

If you are worried about withdrawal symptoms, the best thing you can do is speak to a doctor before you start reducing your alcohol intake. A doctor will provide you with advice on how to detox safely. They may also be able to provide some prescription medications that can help with easing the more severe side effects of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

There are many different types of withdrawal symptoms and they can start as early as six hours after stopping drinking.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Shaky hands
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures


2-5 days after drinking, you may experience the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Delirium tremens
  • Dehydration
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Angry or nervous behaviour
  • Sweating
  • Lack of sleep

Around 5 days after your last drink, your withdrawal symptoms are likely to start easing off. However, a small number of people will continue to experience withdrawal symptoms for several weeks and some severe withdrawal symptoms may be life-threatening.

How Long Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Most people will experience withdrawal symptoms for around 3-7 days after their last drink. The timescales in which you experience withdrawal symptoms will depend on the severity of your addiction and how you respond to detoxing.

If your addiction is quite severe or if you don’t respond very well to the effects of detoxing, then your withdrawal symptoms may last for several weeks. The safest way to detox from alcohol dependency is within an alcohol rehab as you will be constantly monitored and you will have access to medication to assist with the more severe withdrawal symptoms.

How To Treat Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Treatment can be given at rehab to ease withdrawal symptoms. We have a range of medications we can administer, and you will be supported in a safe environment.

If you detox at home without medical supervision some basic steps can help:

  • Soft lighting
  • Healthy foods
  • Plenty of fluids
  • Quiet surroundings
  • A positive, supportive atmosphere

If you start to experience severe withdrawal symptoms such as a rise in your body temperature, pulse or blood pressure, or if you start experiencing hallucinations and seizures, you should seek medical care immediately.

Your doctor may suggest inpatient care or medications if you have been a heavy drinker for many years or if you are finding withdrawal symptoms overbearing. If you are in a rehab environment and you are detoxing there, you will be monitored around the clock. This is the safest environment for treating alcohol withdrawal.

Complications Of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse can have many effects on your physical and mental health, including the following:

Effects On The Brain

Alcohol interferes with the communication pathways in the brain and can affect how the brain works. These effects can change a person’s mood, behaviours, and make it harder for them to think clearly and move properly.

Effects On The Heart

Heavy drinking over a long time can damage your heart and cause issues such as an irregular heartbeat, cardiomyopathy, a stroke, or high blood pressure.

Effects On The Liver

Drinking heavily can have a very negative effect on the liver and can cause things like steatosis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and alcoholic hepatitis.

Effects On The Pancreas

Alcohol can cause the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can then lead to dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels within the pancreas and prevent proper digestion.

Increased Risks Of Cancer

Alcohol abuse can increase the chances of some cancers such as head and neck cancer, liver cancer, oesophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer.

Mental Health Problems

Alcoholism can cause various mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.

Alcohol addiction can also cause various other problems in a person’s life such as problems with the law, relationship problems, or problems at work. Paying for a continuing drinking problem can also have a very negative effect on finances.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I withdraw from alcohol at home?

You can withdraw from alcohol at home in most cases. However, if you start to experience severe side effects, you should seek medical treatment immediately. If you are worried about withdrawing from home, your best option is to speak to a doctor or medical professional for some medical advice on the best approach.

What are the treatment options for alcohol addiction?

There are many treatment options for alcohol use disorders, including the following: Support groups such as alcoholics anonymous Cognitive behavioural therapy Group therapies One-t-one therapies Family therapy

What happens after alcohol rehab?

After alcohol rehab, you will be taken care of by the aftercare team. They can help you with finding accommodation, rebuilding relationships, and finding local support groups. The support that you receive in the aftercare program will help to prevent relapse when you return home.


John Gillen - Author - Last Updated: 16 February 2022

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of Nad+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. his passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases.

The journey continues, in recent times john has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with Nad+ scientists and the very best of the medical profession in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Clinics own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists, Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with Nad+ therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.

Dr Alexander Lapa (Psychiatrist)

Dr Alexander Lapa (Psychiatrist) - Clinical Reviewer - Last Reviewed: 16/02/2022 11:00 am

MBBS, PG Dip Clin Ed, OA Dip CBT, OA Dip Psychology, SCOPE Certified

Dr Lapa graduated in Medicine in 2000 and since this time has accrued much experience working in the widest range of psychiatric settings with differing illness presentations and backgrounds in inpatient, community and secure settings. This has been aligned to continuation of professional development at postgraduate level in clinical research which has been very closely related to the everyday clinical practice conducted by this practitioner as a NHS and Private Psychiatrist.
He is fully indemnified by the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) and MIAB Expert Insurance for Psychiatric and Private Medical practice. He is fully registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK with a licence to practice.

Dr Lapa is approved under Section 12(2) of the Mental Health Act (1983)

Member of Independent Doctors Federation (IDF), British Association for Psychopharmacology (BMA) and The Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO)

Dr Lapa’s extensive experience has also concentrated on the following areas of clinical practice:
– Assessment, Diagnosis and Pharmacological Treatment for Adults with ADHD.
– Drug and Alcohol Dependency and maintaining abstinence and continued recovery
– Intravenous and Intramuscular Vitamin and Mineral Infusion Therapy
– Dietary and Weight Management and thorough care from assessment to treatment to end goals and maintenance
– Aesthetic Practice and Procedures