Alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur when an individual is dependent upon alcohol. The more dependent an individual is, the more severe the symptoms. However, even mild withdrawal symptoms can be painful and prevent a person from functioning normally. For many addicted to alcohol, the only way to relieve these alcohol withdrawal symptoms is by drinking more potent alcohol or more often. This is how dependency or addiction creates a vicious circle. Fortunately, individuals can break the cycle and learn to cope with and overcome their alcohol addiction through professional support. At Insight Recovery Center, we believe every person who comes to us can heal and make a lasting recovery.
Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Every individual will experience different levels of intensity when it comes to alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This is due to many biological factors such as age, healthy, gender, etc., environmental stressors, and behavioral factors, like how regularly someone has been drinking. However, there’s usually a common timeline.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can set in eight hours after an individual’s last drink. Usually, there are three stages of alcohol withdrawal symptoms over five to seven days. The first stage of alcohol withdrawal symptoms begins eight hours after cessation. An individual may experience side effects such as abdominal pain, anxiety, and nausea. The symptoms’ intensity may increase in the second withdrawal stage occurring between 24 to 72 hours after a person takes the last alcohol drink. A person can experience increased blood pressure, confusion, and high body temperature.
In some cases, withdrawal can cause delirium tremens, which can be fatal. This form of withdrawal may lead to confusion, shaking, fever, insomnia, and hallucinations. The most common symptoms experienced in the third stage are agitation, sweating, and seizures. This stage may set in approximately two to four days after the last alcoholic drink. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can help you or a loved one know when to get the treatment necessary to deal with the disease of alcohol addiction.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS
While most alcohol withdrawal symptoms can appear up to three days after last consumption, some symptoms can continue to appear for weeks and up to a year. This is called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Sometimes PAWS is referred to as the second stage of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It will vary in degree, but these symptoms are primarily psychological and mood-related. Yet they are just as intense as physical withdrawal, putting individuals at risk of relapse if they aren’t in treatment or supervised. Some common symptoms of PAWS include:
- Irritability and hostility
- Mood swings
- Low energy and fatigue
- Sleep disruption, including insomnia
- Limited ability to focus or think clearly
- Lack of libido (sex drive)
- Inexplicable chronic pain
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome happens because the individual’s brain is re-adjusting its chemistry after addiction. PAWS is a temporary condition, but one where individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder can easily relapse. This is why it’s crucial to seek help from a rehabilitation facility until all symptoms have subsided.
Insight Recovery Center
Although alcohol abuse may affect millions each year, it is highly treatable. Being able to see the signs of alcohol abuse and know when you or a loved one is going through alcohol withdrawal symptoms is the first step in getting the right treatment.
At Insight Recovery Center, our experienced and compassionate counselors and therapists use various therapeutic approaches to help clients address, cope with, and ultimately overcome addiction. We use several different therapeutic approaches like:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Harm reduction
- Trauma-informed care
- Dual diagnosis treatment
With all of these options and others available, we can craft a customized treatment plan for each client. So reach out to us today at 703-592-6946 to learn more.