What are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms & When do they Happen?

If you drink a lot of alcohol in a short period, you are likely to have alcohol withdrawal symptoms.  And, if you are chronically dependent on alcohol, you have about a 50/50 percent chance of having one or more signs of Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium (AWD) symptoms, including those dreaded “hangovers.”   There is an addiction specialist: Stuart Finkelstein, MD, who defines a hangover: “A hangover is something that happens when your body withdraws from alcohol.”

What are some Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms: aka “Hangovers”?

Some of the most well-known symptoms of alcohol withdrawal “hangover” symptoms are dizziness, nausea, headaches, and vomiting. Hangover (alcohol withdrawal) symptoms are shown in many a’ movie and TV show. They are usually shown in after party scenes to make people laugh.  However, in real life, to the person experiencing nausea and vomiting, these alcohol withdrawal symptoms are anything but funny—definitely not glamorous! Sometimes, the alcohol withdrawal symptoms are downright deadly.  

When do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start to Happen?

You can start to get hangovers or other alcohol withdrawal symptoms within three to eight hours.  Usually, most of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms will start to wane after a week or so. Plus, the odds will increase that you’ll get one or more of the dreaded alcohol withdrawal-related effects. Symptoms include hangovers or even “the shakes,” if you drink alcohol—day in and day out.

Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms keep people from Quitting?

Yes, many times.  An alcoholic may desperately want to quit drinking!  However, many times alcoholics are scared to come clean, because of the dominant withdrawal symptoms they could get. Not to mention the possibility of being social outcasts.  It is one of the biggest ironies: many alcoholics drink to feel socially accepted at parties—then end up drinking by themselves—for a lone party of one.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are no joke.  It’s not easy for alcoholics to abstain, especially if their bodies seem to be breaking down and they can’t stop trembling—if they don’t run and grab a drink.

What are most-common Physical Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Here are the most-common alcohol withdrawal-related symptoms that people may physically experience:  Nausea and vomiting; trembling/shaking; sweating; intense desire to drink more alcohol (physical craving).  Also, there’s the typical alcohol withdrawal symptom called a “hangover,” which usually includes a headache, red eyes, and overall fatigue.  

Is Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium (AWD) the most severe Symptom?

Yes, Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium (AWD) is one of the most severe symptoms that heavy drinkers face.  AWD is a hazardous and scary condition that can happen to a small percentage of people. Usually, those who are chronic alcoholics, or those who drink alcohol most days of the week.

If you drink so much that your body has gotten dependent upon alcohol that you get Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium, it’s time to take alcohol withdrawal, seriously.  AWD can brutally damage your brain and nervous system. It is especially dangerous if friends and family do not understand “why” anyone can’t just stop drinking—that it’s a life or death predicament!  

Everyone should educate themselves about AWD:  especially, your friends and family should know that 3 to 5 percent of alcoholics get severely disoriented, have grand mal seizures, and sometimes die from severe AWD (alcohol withdrawal) symptoms.

Who’s “At-Risk” for Alcohol Withdrawal (AWD) Symptoms?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that heavy drinkers are at risk for AWD.  The CDC states that eight drinks a week for women and fifteen drinks a week for men is “Heavy Drinking.”

Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms affect Alcoholics Socially?

If you drink alcohol daily, your friends and family may not understand that you may want to quit drinking, but you just cannot stop.  You don’t want to feel the pain of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which are not only painful—they can be deadly. However, those closest to alcoholics might not even have the slightest clue about how much they drink.  Many alcoholics become closet alcoholics since they feel guilty about drinking so much—even though it is legal in most areas of the US.

How can People Avoid Alcohol Withdrawal’s Harshest Effects?

The first way that people can avoid alcohol withdrawal seems straightforward enough:  never take that first drink. However, never taking a drink in our western society is easier said than done.  Our whole society seems to revolve around alcohol, and drinking is glamorized in so many movies—sometimes in TV and magazine ads—whenever allowed.  

Our economy probably depends on alcohol sales.  With that in mind, people have a hard time—especially young people at parties feel the peer-pressure to drink along with their buddies.  Most sororities, college campuses, date nights, seem to have events where many young people are having fun, seemingly enhanced by drinking alcohol.  Also, many business trips and events usually have juice served: to help “break the ice” and form closer partnerships.

Are there lots of US Drinkers that may face Alcohol Withdrawal?

Hasn’t the number of drinkers gone down in the US?  No, not if you consider that drinking is evidently prevalent among the top ten percent of American drinkers.  Jeff Haden reports a fantastic statistic, in his article for “Inc.com,” titled: “How Much Do the Top 10 Percent Drink? More Than You Ever Imagined”.  Haden reported this mind-blowing stat: “The top 10% drink 73.85 drinks on average.”  Wow, these “heavy drinkers” are drinking more than TEN drinks a day!”  

In this article, Haden also reports: “The top 20-30% of ‘power drinkers’ make up 70-80% of all alcohol sales!” If these statistics are correct, a lot of people could be going through AWD and other alcohol withdrawal symptoms—especially those called ‘hangovers”.

What are some Mental Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Mentally:  The mind could be saying, “Help me with this headache!”  Or, “I forgot what happened the night before—maybe a drink will help me remember.”  It is terrible when whole periods of time are lost—when one’s blacked out. When you aren’t aware of what’s happening, opportunistic criminals could take your belongings—possibly rape or otherwise take advantage of you, while you’re unconscious or hallucinating.  It is sad that some people would do take advantage of vulnerable people. But, many “Lifetime Movies” show these sad scenes: which may seriously compound other emotional and mental health—besides the physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

What are some Emotional Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Emotionally:  Your emotions could be crying, “Wow, feeling so down and out… Remember the last time you had a drink—how happy you felt?”  And, then to top it off, your friends might be calling you—telling you about a raging party with free drinks! How can you let them down?  Finally, no one may know that you are struggling with the idea to quit, but you don’t know how to tell them. You don’t want to disappoint them with this news, while they are having so much fun—even IF you’re not sure that your liver can handle another “night on the town.”

Oh, and don’t forget the emotional turmoil or depression alcohol withdrawal symptoms that could happen.  Also ironic, many alcoholics get more sadness and despair from drinking too much—the very emotions that they want to suppress.  

Are there ways to lessen Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

How can these “power drinkers” lessen those alcohol withdrawal symptoms commonly called “hangovers”?  An article by “Prevention.com” called:  “Safe Hangover Cures that Work,” says there are some ways to lessen hangovers and other alcohol withdrawal symptoms.  Some of the ways to lessen the alcohol withdrawal symptom of dehydration: include using Pedialyte®, and green juices, and fruit juices.  These drinks have electrolytes to keep people hydrated. Even though parents give Pedialyte® to babies, this “baby drink” can help adult drinkers, who’ve gotten dangerously dehydrated after a drinking binge.  

Are Supplements helpful to reduce Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Yes, a person who drinks enough to have alcohol withdrawal symptoms will usually be missing some vitamins; for example, if one keeps “losing their lunch” (a polite way of saying they have vomited).  In fact, many alcoholics do not watch their diets, so they are given Vitamin B1, to help alcoholics recover: especially after detox treatments.  Vitamin C is usually a good vitamin supplement for most people, whether you are a heavy drinker, or not.  

Other ways to reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms are given such as taking Milk Thistle as a “liver assistant”: to keep your liver operating smoothly to mitigate massive amounts of alcohol. Also, your magnesium levels should also be checked to see if you are deficient: since your heart rhythm is interrupted if you don’t have enough magnesium.  If you find that you have muscle cramps, a nice bath with Epsom salts or magnesium-infused lotions can help you replace magnesium. These topical methods may be better options, since magnesium can be absorbed through the skin:  without the possibility of irritating your stomach or liver.  

Also, activated charcoal sounds like a strange option, but you can take charcoal capsules, which absorb the alcohol:  to decrease many potential alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Also, if you’ve gone on a drinking binge, try to stay hydrated and cut back on coffee.   Coffee can stress you out, due to its tendency to boost blood pressure—which may further increase alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Does Alcohol Withdrawal cause AWD (AWful Dreaded) Symptoms?

AWful AWD symptoms usually happen within three days (72 hours) and up to a week to occur.  AWD symptoms typically wane around or before the 8th day: after abstaining from alcohol.  Here are the most common, AWful symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium (AWD):

  • Delirium = Awful Disturbing Symptoms, including:
  • Delusions (hallucinations, seeing, hearing, or believing things that aren’t truly there)—not to mention the accompanying fear, nausea, and possible nightmares;
  • AWful AWD symptoms also include the following:  sudden mood changes, including anxiety, nervousness, excitement, “feeling jumpy” (with chest pain that may accompany the agitation);  
  •  AWful AWD “side effects” brought on by sudden or chronic drinking habits, may include these alcohol use disorders:  confusion, sensitive to lights and sounds, strange muscle and eye movement, stomach pain, chest pain, sweating “buckets,” fever, and sometimes “grand mal” seizures. These AWD symptoms are only some reasons (besides the possibility of dying) “why” heavy drinkers cannot just stop drinking suddenly;  
  •  Long-term AWD and alcohol-related complications? Yes, there is the well-known, cirrhosis of the liver, where the liver becomes so damaged, it can’t function anymore.  Heavy drinking has been found to be the second leading cause of cancer—only beaten by smoking!  Heavy drinkers brains can become severely damaged. Not to mention that long-term alcohol abuse is not found to cause 60 (Sixty!) different diseases.

Any Support Groups or Hotlines to help with Alcohol Withdrawal?

Yes, there are many support groups, including a hotline (855-631-1688), which you can contact to help you obtain (and maintain) sobriety.

Also, you might need to have an intervention to help you or your loved ones with alcohol addiction or its severe withdrawal symptoms.  To get help, call or click on the handy links to support groups and emergency intervention services, below:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which has both online resources and local support chapters.
  • Prevail Intervention gives links to many support groups (http://www.prevailintervntion.com).
  • Is it an emergency and you need a Hotline?  Call the Addiction Hotline: 1-855-631-1688.   
  • Need an Intervention? Click this link
  • Is it is an emergency? Call 9-11! – Or, get to the nearest hospital!  

How do I quit drinking & avoid Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

One first suggestion:  please call a professional if you are a power drinker, who’s decided to stop drinking suddenly!  Sometimes, people are under pressure to quit immediately, for legal and other reasons, including interventions staged by family, friends, employer, legal problems, court orders, etc. However, it can ruin your health, if you stop drinking “cold turkey.”

If I quit “Cold Turkey,” will I get Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Yes, most likely.  Plus, if you quit “cold turkey,” you may shock your system—it’s dangerous—sometimes deadly!  If an alcoholic is life-threatening problems from quitting, it can be scary.  If you are an alcoholic or know someone who might drink too much, you may need help.

What about Interventions to start the Alcohol Withdrawal Process?

If an alcoholic shows no signs of stopping and it is ruining everyone’s life, intervention can help.  Please know that a response is tricky, even in the best of circumstances. That’s why it is best to call a professional interventionist with a proven success rate.  If you want to find an interventionist, then check out Prevail Intervention’s webpage and merely click on the US state that’s closest to you!  

Where do I start to begin the Alcohol Withdrawal Process?

First of all, everyone should do their homework and check out any plan with an addiction treatment specialist. You’ll want to choose one who’s knowledgeable about alcohol abuse.  And, keep in mind, most professional detox centers will carefully monitor alcohol withdrawal—so you’ll avoid alcohol withdrawal syndrome.  Detox centers are there, to help you detox slowly (with inpatient treatment): since quitting “cold turkey” can be life-threatening. So, you’ll want to double-check with an addiction specialist, to find out if your chosen plan is a good idea—whether it’s an unorthodox (way-out-there) treatment plan—or tried-and-true, traditional methods.  

In conclusion, one should get checked out by the best medical professionals, including your doctor, before deciding on any treatment programs or detox programs—even the most-traditional facilities.

Whatever methods or treatment centers you choose, we are here for you!  Call us, if you need guidance to navigate the maze of treatment options that are out there.  We are here 24/7 for you!