Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

What should you expect once you stop drinking? Well, that depends upon how serious your drinking problem is and how long you’ve had it. You should definitely consult with a doctor before trying to quit ‘Cold Turkey’ (CT). Why? Because quitting cold turkey can be fatal – especially if you have other health problems. Severe withdrawal reactions can include internal bleeding, large blood pressure swings, convulsions, heart palpitations and hallucinations. These reactions are very serious and require immediate medical attention. A doctor can prescribe medication beforehand that will help with some of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms and make the transition to sobriety easier and safer than it might otherwise be. Besides, one of the reasons you want to quit drinking is to improve your health right? So why jeopardize your health by not seeking good medical advice before you start a detox program?

Alcohol withdrawal is the term given to the collection of changes that occur in the body when a person suddenly stops drinking after prolonged and heavy alcohol use. Detox or withdrawal symptoms can be different for each person but there are some commonalities. Many who have abruptly stopped drinking have mentioned the following symptoms:

Vivid Dreams/Nightmares
Tremors – Shaking in hands
Anxiety
Sleeplessness
Night sweats
Thirst
Appetite Change
Sugar Cravings
Some only experience a few of these symptoms and others a lot more. Some experience no problems at all. The most common symptoms seem to be insomnia, vivid dreams and anxiety. Most say that these symptoms subside after the first week but they can last a lot longer.

About 1 out of every 20 people who have withdrawal symptoms experience what is called Delirium Tremens or DT’s. After prolonged exposure to alcohol the brain, over time, re-adjusts its chemistry to account for the depressant affect of alcohol. When a person abruptly stops drinking the brain sometimes has difficulty adjusting back to its normal chemical state. The brain essentially becomes confused and can have difficulty regulating circulation and breathing. Heart rate and blood pressure can vary greatly creating a risk of heart attack, stroke or even death. That is why medical supervision is so important.

Here are some comments from those who have experienced withdrawal symptoms:

At the end of day 4 I have mostly gotten over the sweats, shakes, nightmares, etc.

Wow, I had no idea the VIVID, and BIZARRE dreams I had for the first few nights was due to quitting drinking.

Restless sleep. I tossed and turned a lot. When I did sleep, dreams were also very vivid and complex. I can’t help but wonder if this has something to do with the fact that I’m not used to dreaming at all (or at least not remembering them). The third night though, I finally slept most of the night. It’s kind of weird. It’s almost as if sleeping is a whole new experience.

I always remember my dreams in the morning, or during the several times per night that I wake up. I don’t always remember them for long, but sometimes I will keep thinking about them throughout the day.
In general, alcohol withdrawal symptoms subside in 4-5 days after stopping drinking. However, depending upon your reaction they could last longer.