Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

woman talks to her physician about alcohol withdrawal at a detox center

Every year, thousands of people won’t get the addiction treatment they need because they’re worried about withdrawal symptoms. While withdrawal may be unpleasant, it’s a small price to pay for lasting sobriety, cognitive awareness and renewed health. By understanding what to expect from alcohol withdrawal, more prospective patients might decide to seek help and begin their journeys to recovery sooner rather than later.

Expect Initial Symptoms That Are Already Familiar

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, withdrawal symptoms can begin to appear just a few hours after stopping alcohol consumption. The lowering of the BAC, or blood alcohol content, causes physical reactions that lead to unpleasant symptoms known as withdrawal.

However, it’s important to understand that most individuals struggling with an alcohol addiction are already familiar with these symptoms. Even those with severe alcoholism don’t consume alcohol constantly, and BAC levels can drop while sleeping or at work. Therefore, most patients in an alcohol detox program already understand what to expect in those initial hours of withdrawal when the first symptoms begin to appear.

Expect Alcohol Withdrawal to be Physical as Well as Psychological

One of the most common misconceptions about withdrawal from alcohol is that all of the symptoms are physical in nature. While it’s certainly true that most of the typical withdrawal symptoms are physiological, prospective patients should also be aware of the psychological symptoms that may appear.

Just some of these sometimes unexpected symptoms of an alcohol withdrawal may include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Angry outbursts and changes in mood or behavior

Expect Withdrawal Symptoms to Peak Around 72 Hours Into a Detox

Many of the most common physical symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol are:

  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches

While these can feel very unpleasant as detox progresses, it’s important to note that they will peak around 72 hours into the process. Although 72 hours can feel like a long time, it’s a relatively short process in the scheme of things.

Once the first 72 hours of withdrawal are over, symptoms lessen quickly until they taper out altogether. Typically, a withdrawal from alcohol takes anywhere from seven to nine days, although the specifics depend on the severity of the addiction as well as the physical and mental health of the patient.

Expect Detox Facilities to Help Patients Manage Pain

The most important reason to attend a detox facility when trying to withdraw from alcohol is because experts at a detox facility can offer medical supervision and support throughout. In addition, they offer medication, resources, and help that can minimize discomfort for those going through detox.  Sedatives to counter insomnia and prescription medications to reduce pain can all make withdrawal easier and more comfortable for patients.

Expect Withdrawal to be Just the First Step Toward Recovery

When alcohol withdrawal ends, patients shouldn’t expect to simply head back to ordinary life. Doing this will likely lead to relapse because it doesn’t give patients enough time to learn how to maintain their sobriety.

The detox process is just the first step on the road to recovery. After this stage, patients should head to a rehab program that emphasizes therapy, a range of treatment methods, dual diagnosis treatment and a vested interested in the ongoing health and happiness of patients.

Understanding what to expect during an alcohol withdrawal might show individuals that there’s nothing to fear. At Stepping Stone Center for Recovery in Jacksonville, Florida, you can receive detox and rehab in the same convenient location. Call 866-957-4960 to learn about alcohol addiction treatment and what you can do to change your life for good.