Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms, Treatment, and Timeline

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms, Treatment, and Timeline


Alcohol has become a necessity and a recreation of a sort at the same time. And not without its backlash on our physical and mental health. While it is not a crime to have a couple of drinks now and then, evaluating statistics, it has not been the case in recent years.

According to the 2019 NSDUH, in the age group of 12 and above, 14.5 million people have alcohol use disorder. AUD is a disease where it is impossible for someone to control their alcohol consumption even after knowing its negative consequences.

It could be most wise to seek help when someone feels like they cannot control themself from drinking rather than letting it get to the situation of alcohol withdrawal. If not, below is a list of symptoms pointing right at alcohol withdrawal –

1. Headache

2. Insomnia

3. Anxiety followed by fatigue

4. Heart palpitations

5. Increased blood pressure and heart rate

6. Abnormal and problems in breathing

7. Mood swings

8. Hallucinations

9. Tremors and seizures

10. Gastrointestinal issues

As alcohol contains a large amount of ethanol (which acts as a depressant), the central nervous system gets numbed due to excessive drinking, often leading to symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. In severe cases, it can also cause autonomic dysfunction and delirium tremens.

The symptoms can be visible in two hours, or they might catch them by surprise a couple of days after the last drink. While conditions can improve in 5 days, prolonged effects keep on appearing. The symptoms will mostly occur in different phases of alcohol withdrawal.

In the 2016 review, the timeline of alcohol withdrawal was as below

Minor withdrawal symptoms–

This phase occurs between 6 to 12 hrs from the last alcohol intake where the symptoms mostly are excessive sweating, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and uneven breathing.

Semi-major withdrawal symptoms–

These symptoms occur between 12 hrs to a day when they start experiencing mild hallucinations.

Major withdrawal symptoms –

This phase takes place between 2 days when the situation can be as severe as seizures. It is necessary to seek immediate medical attention.

Delirium Tremens–

This stage can last for around five days. Cardiac arrest due to autonomic collapse can occur in some extreme cases. The mortality rate at this stage is 37%.

But above all these, the best treatment for the rising number of alcohol abusers can only be spreading the word about the negative effects on a person’s physical and mental health as well as the disaster on their family, society, and overall life.

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