What to Expect with Alcohol Withdrawal

worried woman talking to counselor about alcohol withdrawal

Many people fear alcohol withdrawal and avoid entering treatment because of their fears.   As their alcoholism continues, the damages to the person’s mind and body intensify.  Learning the facts about what to expect with alcohol withdrawal is a good way to get on the right track and seek professional help.

Withdrawals are the body’s way of signaling that something has changed.  During detox, these signals are often uncomfortable or life-threatening, depending on the severity of the person’s alcoholism.  However, when detox is conducted in a professional facility, the withdrawals can be controlled or minimized by utilizing a variety of techniques that are proven to be effective.  With this in mind, an alcoholic has no reason to delay getting the help they need right away.

Understanding the Process of Alcohol Withdrawal

It is important to note that detox is only the first step in recovery from alcoholism.  Detox helps the body purge itself of all traces of the toxins deposited by alcohol.  In this way, the cravings are eliminated and the individual is ready to enter a rehabilitation program to learn the reasons why they were addicted to alcohol and how to avoid the substance in the future.  Without detox, rehab is impossible. Without rehab, relapse is inevitable.

What really happens during withdrawals?  That question has many answers, depending on the person involved.  There is no way to accurately predict how a person will react.  Each person responds to detox differently.  However, there are some withdrawal symptoms that are common among almost all alcoholics.  For instance, a person detoxing from alcohol will experience some, or all, of the following:

  • Mild to moderate psychological symptoms:
    • nervousness, feeling of jumpiness
    • anxiety, irritability
    • shakiness
    • rapid mood swings, emotionally volatile
    • fatigue
    • depression
    • inability to think clearly
    • nightmares
  • Mild to moderate physical symptoms:
    • heavy perspiration, sweaty palms
    • pulsating headache
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
    • abnormal body movements
    • rapid heart rate
    • insomnia
    • dilated pupils
    • tremors
  • Severe withdrawal symptoms:
    • DTs (confusion, hallucinations)
    • agitation
    • fever
    • convulsions, seizures

As mentioned earlier, although these symptoms are uncomfortable and some are dangerous, they can be controlled or minimized using a variety of proven techniques.  For instance, some of the techniques can include:

  • aromatherapy
  • acupuncture
  • massage therapy
  • sauna
  • exercise, yoga, meditation
  • music
  • nutrition and vitamin therapy
  • talk therapy
  • medication, if needed

Withdrawal from alcohol normally lasts for seven to ten days.  After detox, a rehab program lasts from 30 to 90 days, or more, depending on how the person responds to therapy.  This seems like a fairly insignificant amount of time considering how long the alcoholism will continue if treatment isn’t sought.

What is the Next Step?

If you have taken the time to read the above information, this is a good indication that you are ready to do something about your alcoholism.  That is your first step.  Your second step is to pick up the phone and call us now.  One of our staff is available to talk with you and help alleviate some of your fears about alcohol withdrawal.   Also, we will help you choose a program and get started on the road to recovery right away.



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