Alcoholic addict. Man near the table with alcohol and a glass. Dangerous habit. Unhealthy life concept. Social problem.

Alcohol consumption is one of the most common ways we partake in substances that alter how our bodies function. While it’s previously been advised that moderate amounts of alcohol can have certain health benefits, it’s now come to light that any amount of alcohol has far more negative consequences than benefits when it comes to the individual’s wellbeing.

The study that brought attention to this took 26 years of data across 195 countries to come to a comprehensive conclusion. Even though small amounts of alcohol can help stave off heart disease, the potential for other diseases from alcohol far outweigh it. Even with this public knowledge, many individuals continue to abuse alcohol leading to dependencies and addiction.

What Happens When You Get Addicted?

Alcohol abuse often leads to physiological dependencies meaning the body has altered how it handles regular functions due to the presence of alcohol. Addiction to alcohol is referred to as alcohol use disorder, or AUD. Individuals are considered to have AUD when they exhibit an inability to stop drinking even when they know the harm it can do. Over time, the dependencies grow and it becomes more difficult to stop drinking.

Alcohol Withdrawal Makes Sobriety a Challenge

For those that choose to live a life of sobriety, there is a long road of recovery ahead of them. Recovery is always the best option when it comes to addressing AUD, but the withdrawal symptoms felt during the initial detox period can be overwhelming when done alone. Withdrawal symptoms can range from slightly uncomfortable to life-threatening depending on the person and how heavily they’ve consumed alcohol.

There’s no way to tell exactly how much alcohol one can consume without worrying about withdrawals but a good rule of thumb is that if a tolerance develops, it may be a good time to take a short break. The more alcohol is consumed, the more our central nervous system adapts to its presence meaning more alcohol is needed to achieve the same effects as before, aka a tolerance.

What Makes Alcohol Withdrawal So Hard?

The process of detoxing from alcohol comes with a list of withdrawal symptoms that often require medical supervision to keep from escalating to harmful levels. Withdrawal alone stops many attempts at sobering up as returning to drinking is often preferable over enduring the withdrawal symptoms.

The Most Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

While every detox process will look different, there are shared symptoms one can expect when starting treatment. These symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Increased blood pressure

In severe cases:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens or DTs

How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Take?

The length and severity of alcohol withdrawal will depend on the individual’s health, length of alcohol abuse, amount consumed and what type of medical assistance is provided. Typically symptoms will begin within 5-6 hours of your last drink and tend to subside within 72 hours.

The First 12-24 Hours

Mild symptoms such as trouble sleeping, increased anxiety, headaches and nausea start the withdrawal process and can worsen over time. By the end of the first 24 hours the more severe symptoms of hallucinations, seizures and DTs will be in full swing. These are the most crucial hours as it’s the make or break point for many individuals.

Up to 72 Hours After the Last Drink

Between the 24 and 72 hour marks individuals will see their symptoms peak and begin to subside in severity. The risk for seizures and DTs is greatly diminished as the detox process approaches its third day. For some, symptoms such as insomnia and mood irregularity can last several months as the central nervous system recovers.

How Do I Get Help With Alcohol Withdrawal?

Ending alcohol use can improve the life of both the concerned individual and those around them. The first step towards sobriety is finding alcohol addiction treatment that includes medical detox. Having a team of medical professionals supervising the detox means medication can be administered to help reduce the impact of withdrawal symptoms.

If you or a loved one are in need of treatment for alcohol abuse or AUD, don’t hesitate to contact America’s Rehab Campus for a free consultation. Let our team address any questions or concerns you may have about treatment to help you get started.