Author: Gary Jackson

Alcohol Withdrawal: Symptoms, Treatment and Alcohol Detox Duration

Stopping drinking abruptly can lead to seizures and can even be fatal. Unstable vital signs increase the risk of complications and can be managed with medications. People who experience severe withdrawal symptoms or DTs may require hospitalization or intensive care unit (ICU) treatment during alcohol. Severe and complicated alcohol withdrawal requires treatment in a hospital — sometimes in the ICU. While receiving treatment, healthcare providers will want to monitor you continuously to make sure you don’t develop life-threatening complications. Seizures can occur within 6 to 48 hours, while hallucinations can occur within 12 to 48 hours after drinking is reduced or stopped, says Dr. Nolan.

  • With treatment, severe symptoms can take up to a week to fully resolve, explains Dr. Nolan.
  • Some of these remedies can be useful during withdrawal itself, and some are more helpful as you cope with cravings.
  • Gabapentin works by increasing levels of GABA in the brain to alleviate symptoms.

They may be more noticeable when you wake up with less alcohol in your blood. Behavioral treatment programs are helpful for people who want to quit drinking. These programs involve working with a team of mental health professionals in a group and individual setting. For people at low risk of complications, an office visit to your primary care provider, along with at-home monitoring and virtual office visits, may suffice. People at high risk of complications should enter a short-term in-patient detox program. People who drink daily or almost every day should not be left alone for the first few days after stopping alcohol.

What are moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms?

If you begin experiencing severe symptoms of AWS, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. The sooner you begin treatment, the better your chances are of preventing life threatening complications. Alcohol withdrawal causes a range of symptoms when a person with alcohol use disorder stops or significantly decreases their alcohol intake. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, with the most severe being life-threatening. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from being a slight nuisance to extremely uncomfortable. In turn, it can be challenging to learn what helps with alcohol withdrawal.

Minor alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically set in about 6 hours after your last drink and may last 4 to 48 hours. Other risk factors include previous episodes of severe alcohol withdrawal. The CDC defines it as more than 15 drinks per week for people assigned male at birth and more than 8 drinks per week for people assigned female at birth. With long-term heavy alcohol intake, your brain adapts to the effects of booze over time.

Risks and Complications

Moderate to heavy drinkers can also benefit from medical supervision in the acute withdrawal stage. When someone drinks alcohol for a prolonged period of time and then stops, the body reacts to its absence. This is alcohol withdrawal, and it causes uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal can deplete the body of essential nutrients. Vitamins B1 (thiamine), B9 (folate), B12 and C are often recommended to aid recovery.

  • This could be family members, friends, members of your community, or people in sobriety support groups.
  • Still, if you’re experiencing alcohol withdrawal, it’s essential to have your symptoms evaluated by a medical professional.
  • Symptoms outside of the anticipated withdrawal period or resumption of alcohol use also warrants referral to an addiction specialist or inpatient treatment program.
  • Take our free, 5-minute alcohol misuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  • These first few weeks are critical because they are when the risk of relapse is highest.

They can be managed with prescribed medications such as benzodiazepines. Maintaining a calm and comfortable environment, staying hydrated and avoiding stimulants like caffeine is also helpful. If you have the shakes, medical intervention is typically necessary, as shakes can be a sign of more serious withdrawal complications. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals, like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, can support the body’s recovery.