Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can become dangerous, even life threatening, when it is not properly managed. Medically assisted detox is the safest way to stop drinking in the initial steps towards a new sober life. Each person’s experience with alcohol withdrawal will vary based on their genetics, their metabolism, and the severity of their alcohol use. How alcoholism affects each individual mentally, physically, and spiritually, varies significantly.
Withdrawals from alcohol can start within hours of the last drink. The first stage of alcohol withdrawals onsets after about eight hours without a drink. Mentally, it is common to experience feelings of anxiety as the brain starts to become panicked anticipating the next dose of alcohol. Feelings of being nauseous and having an upset stomach are highlighted by feeling cramping or pain in the abdominal region. Should an individual try to “sleep it off”, they will find doing so extremely difficult.
The peak of alcohol withdrawal occurs from the first full day to the third day. During this second stage of withdrawal, symptoms are the most uncomfortable, but not the most dangerous. Elevated blood pressure, hot body temperature, sweating, irregular heart rate patterns, and cognitive fog, or confusion, occur during this stage. After the third day, the symptoms can become severe, illustrating the adage that detox gets worse before it gets better.
After 72 hours of withdrawals, delirium tremens, or DTs might set in. Sensations of bugs crawling on or under the skin are vivid and terrifying. Hallucinations, nightmares, and extreme confusion take hold. High fevers, heightened sensitivity and agitation, and the potential risk for seizures can come during this third stage as well and can last until a full week has passed.
Intense symptoms tend to decrease after 5-7 days, but ongoing symptoms of withdrawal can continue for multiple weeks. Cravings, agitation, difficulty sleeping, and other symptoms of withdrawal can prevail. Months into sobriety, these early symptoms can suddenly reappear after being dormant for some time. Many in recovery from alcoholism experience PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome. For up to 18 months after the last drink, periodic occurrence of withdrawal syndromes can pop up from nausea and craving to cognitive fog and insomnia.
At Tree House Recovery, we’re helping men find freedom from addiction. Our treatment programs create sustainable change for sustainable recovery by helping men find their strength in body, mind, and spirit. For information on our Orange County programs, call us today: (855) 202-2138