When Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start | Treatment for Alcohol

When Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start

Alcohol is arguably the easiest substance to obtain, and unfortunately, one of the most addictive. One in five adults in Colorado report drinking excessively, and statistics indicate that as many as five deaths occur per day from alcohol misuse. Many Coloradans will face alcohol addiction due to environmental, genetic, and societal factors. Those suffering from alcohol misuse may also face a slew of other issues as a result alcoholism including legal troubles, relationship concerns, financial problems, and health deterioration. Abstaining from alcohol use, especially when facing the onset of an addiction can feel next to impossible. Withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous. When do alcohol withdrawal symptoms start? Learn more below.

What do alcohol withdrawal symptoms look like and how impactful are they to families and individuals suffering?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical diagnosis for severe problem drinking. Currently, AUD impacts as many as 16 million people in the United States. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between alcohol abuse and social drinking. For more information on AUD and to receive information on alcohol recovery programs in Colorado contact us directly at 855-281-5588.

No matter the route someone takes to addiction, the outcome is the same: addiction quickly takes charge of a person’s life, halting progress, disrupting family dynamics, negatively impacting work or school performance, and wreaking havoc on health.

Withdrawal From Alcohol

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

If you partake in a celebratory drink, you may be well acquainted with the feeling of a hangover. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is the official name in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders, 5th edition for what is commonly known as a hangover. Did you know, though, that a hangover is a sign of withdrawal?

Many withdrawal symptoms are quite uncomfortable and are an immediate biological consequence of drinking alcohol. Many common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Higher than normal blood pressure

In severe cases:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Death

Withdrawal is the body’s physiological response to repairing itself after ingesting the toxins within alcoholic beverages. These symptoms can vary in intensity and severity, which is why it is important for a medical doctor, detox center, or addiction specialist to monitor alcohol withdrawal safely. Psychologists and counselors often utilize the severity of withdrawal to help determine the significance of alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorders. But when do alcohol withdrawal symptoms actually start?

Since withdrawals are used as part of the official criteria to determine substance use disorders, it is important to educate and learn about alcohol withdrawal symptoms, causes, risks, and treatments.

When Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start?

Alcohol contains several compounds and toxic elements that are harmful to the human body. These toxic elements of alcohol are often referred to as “toxins”. When alcohol is ingested these toxins contribute to the euphoric feeling accompanied by alcohol. This euphoria is what is referred to as being “drunk.”

When you drink a lot of alcohol regularly, your brain chemistry adjusts over time to offset its sedative effects. When you stop drinking, your brain can become overstimulated, and you may have physical and mental health symptoms. This is called alcohol withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal typically begins after an individual has stopped or slowed down their habitual drinking. Symptoms can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening, causing hypertension and seizures.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

If your brain has adjusted to heavy, long-term alcohol use, here’s what you might experience when you stop drinking, according to Harvard Medical School. Symptoms and severity vary from person to person, and you may need hospital treatment.

5 to 10 hours after your last drink: You may experience tremors (shaking), increase or decrease in blood pressure, quick breathing, sweating, vomiting, irritability, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and a rapid pulse. These symptoms typically peak within 24 to 48 hours.

If your brain has adjusted to heavy, long-term alcohol use, here’s what you might experience when you stop drinking, according to Harvard Medical School. Symptoms and severity vary from person to person, and you may need hospital treatment.

12 to 24 hoursYou may have hallucinations, meaning you see, hear, or feel things that aren’t there. This can last up to 2 days or sometimes longer.

24 to 48 hoursYou may have withdrawal-related seizures.

3 days to a week: One of the more severe side effects of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens. It often requires treatment in an intensive care unit. This condition can cause dehydration, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and reduced blood flow to the brain. Symptoms include confusion, loss of consciousness, angry or nervous behavior, hallucinations, soaking sweats, and disturbed sleep. Delirium tremens happens in only about 5% of people who go through alcohol withdrawal, but it kills up to 1 in 20 people who develop it, according to Harvard Medical School.

5 days after your last drinkAlcohol withdrawal symptoms tend to improve within five days. However, a small number of people have withdrawal symptoms that last for weeks.

Weeks to several months: Take care of your body and your mind. After you’ve gone through alcohol withdrawal, don’t start drinking again. Getting in an inpatient or outpatient treatment center dramatically improves your chances of staying sober. Also ask your doctor how long-term drinking may have affected your health.

When Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Begin

Range of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal is the body’s way of healing itself from exposure to substance toxins. Since alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system (CNS), it can greatly impact brain functionality. When an individual stops drinking or significantly curbs drinking, alcohol withdrawal symptoms may begin to appear in mild forms or, in extreme cases, cause death.

The withdrawal process from alcohol can vary drastically. Many factors play a role in the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. For example, the type of alcohol consumed (hard liquor versus beer or wine), the amount of alcohol consumed, diet, and hydration all can cause alcohol withdrawal symptoms to increase in severity. Prolonged use of alcohol for weeks, months, or years can cause alcohol withdrawal to become so severe that brain damage and death can occur. Because of the significance of alcohol withdrawal, it is important to monitor these symptoms to aid in properly treating alcohol dependence and use disorders. A medically supervised detox from alcohol is required due to potentially life-threatening complications.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome often takes an extended period of time to remove toxins from the body. Withdrawal is associated with several other abused substances such as opioids, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, as well as alcohol.

Mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Feeling restless
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Sweating

More extreme symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include

In addition to experiencing withdrawals, those suffering from alcohol use disorder may also face a number of other health issues directly resulting from continued abuse.  these issues include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Liver Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heath Disease
  • Cancer

How Can I Detox or Recover from Withdrawal Safely?

As indicated above, alcohol withdrawal is the body’s process of recovering from an episode of alcohol use, binge drinking, or long-term alcohol use disorder. The body is effectively pushing out all the toxins consumed from alcoholic beverages. Many people who have struggled with alcohol dependence for several years are at risk for brain damage and loss of life throughout the withdrawal process.

Prior to engaging in treatment programs, many programs require the individual to obtain sobriety. Seeking medical and professional help to obtain sobriety is critical for these individuals preparing to engage in the recovery process. Some common ways physicians aid in the severe levels of alcohol withdrawal include extended hospitalization, intravenous support to obtain vitamins, close monitoring of vitals, and admittance to a rehabilitative program.

Many clinicians utilize the severity of alcohol withdrawal to determine the intensity of one’s dependence on alcohol. It is critical to approach all alcohol withdrawal symptoms carefully as there can be significant and life-threatening outcomes if the withdrawal process is not handled appropriately.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

I Rarely Suffer from A “Hangover” or Withdrawal. Is This a Problem?

When assessing for problematic drinking, it is important to consider drinking patterns and consequences. The main difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence is the level of recurrent patterns. Oftentimes alcohol abuse can be an episode of binge drinking. Alcohol use can transition to prolonged and more severe use which can lead to increased alcohol tolerance in the body. A pattern of alcohol use is often considered a significant risk factor for developing alcoholism.

Alcohol tolerance refers to the body’s ability to process the alcohol, however as tolerance increases, the severity of alcoholism increases as well. Understanding individual alcohol tolerance is important as it can aid in determining the severity of the withdrawal symptoms once alcohol consumption stops. Research has shown that the more tolerant an individual is to alcohol withdrawal symptoms may be more severe.

AspenRidge is here to help in any way possible. Our staff is highly trained in assessment and able to provide further information on safely detoxing prior to admittance into rehabilitative programs. It is highly encouraged for prospective clients to contact AspenRidge Recovery to speak to staff about various programs or to verify different insurance plans. Another first step to learning more about your relationship with alcohol is to take our Am I Becoming an Alcoholic Quiz.

AspenRidge & Alcohol Detox Resources

AspenRidge is able to support the withdrawal process. The highly trained medical staff can help in getting those seeking sobriety set up with appropriate medical staff within the area. AspenRidge is also able to discuss any financial or medical concerns, as well as any questions regarding the process of recovery once sobriety is obtained. Contact us directly 24/7 for more information on detox programs and alcohol abuse recovery at 855-281-5588.

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