How Do You Know You’re Experiencing Alcohol Withdrawal?

Do you think you might be having alcohol withdrawal symptoms? If you are trying to quit drinking and it’s been more than eight hours since your last drink, you may be starting to feel the effects of alcohol withdrawal. Thankfully, there is help available, and if your symptoms are severe, we recommend calling an ambulance and going to the nearest emergency room.

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal can occur any time it’s been longer than eight hours since your last drink. For individuals who do not have an alcohol dependency problem, this stage typically means having a hangover or feeling irritable and unwell. Withdrawal is also part of the detox process, which is the beginning stage of every recovery program. If you are trying to quit drinking alcoholic beverages in order to attain your sobriety and improve your short and long term health, you will have some withdrawal symptoms as the alcohol leaves your body. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on how long its’ been since your last drink. The good news is that the symptoms generally subside after about seven days.

Factors that Affect the Severity of Your Withdrawal Symptoms

It’s important to understand that the duration and severity of your alcohol withdrawal symptoms will depend on a couple of different factors. The first factor is the length of time you’ve been drinking. If you’ve had an alcohol dependency problem for many years, your withdrawal symptoms are more likely to last longer and be more severe.The second factor is the amount of alcohol you’ve regularly consumed. Individuals who drink more on a daily basis tend to experience worse withdrawal symptoms that someone who has consumed less alcohol over the last several months or years.

1. You Feel Hungover.

Feeling hungover with nausea, vomiting and a headache is a perfectly normal part of the detox process. This means that the alcohol is leaving your body, and you are beginning to regain your sobriety. Hangovers and the symptoms associated with being hungover typically start about eight hours after your last drink. If you were to put alcohol withdrawal symptoms into stages, this would be stage one of the detox process.

2. You Are Experiencing Anxiety and/or Having Trouble Sleeping.

About 24 hours after your last drink, you may notice that you are feeling anxious and/or having trouble sleeping. You may also have strong cravings for a drink. These symptoms often indicate that you are experiencing the early symptoms of stage two withdrawal. While these symptoms aren’t particularly dangerous, it’s important to keep aware of how you feel and have your family or friends check up on you regularly if you are not part of an alcohol detox program.

3. You feel Confused or Agitated.

As you move through stage two of the withdrawal symptom process, you may start to feel mentally confused, agitated and irritable. You may also experience severe insomnia and have a decreased appetite. These symptoms typically start between 24 and 48 hours after your last drink.

4. Your Heart Rate and Body Temperature Are Elevated

As the alcohol continues to leave your body, you may notice odd heart rhythms or an elevated heart rate as well as an increase in your body temperature. This can also be associated with excessive sweating even if you are just sitting still. You may experience these symptoms up to 72 hours after your last drink.

5. You Have a Fever or are Experiencing Seizures or Uncontrollable Shaking.

Stage three often involves the most serious withdrawal symptoms, which can start between three and four days after your last drink. These symptoms include having hallucinations, a fever, experiencing seizures and having severe, uncontrollable shaking. You may also be agitated and experience rapid mood swings. Having seizures, uncontrollable shaking and a fever are considered a medical emergency and will require immediate medical attention due to their life-threatening nature.

Getting Help for Your Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

r most individuals, quitting alcohol cold turkey isn’t advisable. This is because the withdrawal symptoms tend to get worse instead of better, and some symptoms in the later stages can even be life-threatening. When these issues are taken into consideration, it’s often safer for the individual to contact an alcohol rehabilitation center in order to get monitored during the withdrawal stages and receive help and support during their recovery.Part of that help sometimes involves medical detox, which is a type of detoxification program that involves taking certain medications that will ease the withdrawal symptoms. For individuals participating in a medical detox program for alcohol, those medications may include:

  • Antabuse – Antabuse is used in withdrawal treatment programs that utilize aversion therapy. If, while on this medication, the individual drinks alcohol, they become extremely sick, which results in the desire to not drink. It’s important to understand that this medication by itself does not limit the severity or intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Benzodiazepines – Benzodiazepines are effective at helping to control withdrawal symptoms and aid in sleeping. Benzodiazepine medications include Librium and Valium.
  • Campral – Campral helps reduce the desire to drink or the cravings associated with abstaining from drinking alcohol. It is generally prescribed anywhere from a few days after the individual stops drinking to a couple of weeks after the individual’s last drink.
  • Naltrexone – Naltrexone is most commonly known for helping individuals who are addicted to opiates stop using, but it is often recommended for alcohol addictions because it helps reduce cravings.