Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Overcome withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abuse.

Do you have a loved one who is struggling with alcohol addiction? Are they ready to turn their life around? If so, it’s time to start thinking about finding a safe alternative to help them overcome the alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Despite what most people think, abruptly stopping is a dangerous decision. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “total cessation of long-term alcohol consumption produces a well-defined cluster of symptoms called acute alcohol withdrawal(AW).” Generally speaking, alcohol withdrawal is a distinctive clinical syndrome with serious consequences including psychiatric problems, cognitive disruptions, and physical disorders. In worst cases scenarios, alcohol withdrawal can cause significant illness or death.

So how do you help your loved one overcome an alcohol addiction without risking their life? Gatehouse treatment has put together an online alcohol addiction treatment guide to help you and your loved one find a safe path to recovery.

Give yourself a few minutes to find out more about the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abuse below, and how to treat it. Once your done contact our local New Hampshire alcohol rehab facility and let us help you or your loved one.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Recent studies by Dr. Richard Saitz MD MPH, in his article “Introduction to Alcohol Withdrawal,” claim that alcohol withdrawal “AW is a clinical syndrome that affects people accustomed to regular alcohol intake who either decrease their alcohol consumption or stop drinking completely. Due to the fact that these people have become dependent on alcohol, Saitz contends that alcohol addiction patients with a long history of drinking have disrupted their central nervous system (CNS). Henceforth, the chemical imbalance has adjusted to the constant presence of alcohol in the body. As a result, when people lower their alcohol levels their brain continues to depend on alcohol. Furthermore, this leads to withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abuse.

From our experience, most patients manifest symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a number of ways. While it is true that decreasing your alcohol intake can have severe side effects on your brain, there are still a number of things that patients seeking alcohol addiction treatment can do to overcome alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, we think it’s important for you to know symptoms of alcohol abuse withdrawal.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

As mentioned before, withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abuse can be mild to severe. Here is a list of every symptom of alcohol abuse withdrawal:

Delirium Tremens

Delirium Tremens (DTS) is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. According to Medscape “morality for patients with DTS ranges from 15%, but should be closer to %5 with modern ICU management”. Prior to intensive alcohol care, Medscape claims that mortality was as high as 35%. Patients with delirium are expected to experience extreme hyperactivity of the autonomic nervous system. In the same light, a substantial number of alcoholics progressing towards abstinence can expect to experience altered blood chemistry, certain infections, and Wernicke’s syndrome. The leading cause of death in Delirium Tremens (DTs) is a respiratory failure and cardiac arrhythmias.


In the article “Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal”, Louis A. Trevisman maintains that “withdrawal seizures consist of generalized convulsions alternating with spasmodic muscular contractions.” Basically, seizures manifest themselves as extreme muscular contractions, however the underlying cause of alcohol withdrawal seizures are triggered by neuronal networks in the brainstem. In other words, excessive alcohol abuse for long periods of time can lead to physical dependency. Therefore, an abrupt cessation of alcohol abuse can lead to seizures. According to Michael A Rogawski, MD, Ph.D., “alcohol withdrawal seizures typically occur 6-48 hours after discontinuation of alcohol.” In making this comment, Dr.Rogawski urges alcohol rehab patients to beware of the possibility of withdrawal seizures. You should also know that alcohol withdrawal seizures can have severe long-term effects if they are not properly treated.

Wernicke Korsakoff

Wernicke- Korsakoff Syndrome is a type of brain disorder caused by a lack of B-1, or thiamine. In other words, this neurological disorder is caused by a loss of appetite. In most cases, alcoholics account for Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome. Memory loss is one of the leading side effects of Wernicke Korsakoff. In his article “Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal “, Louis Travisman says “ approximately 80 percent of alcoholic patients recovering from Wernicke’s syndrome exhibit the selective memory disturbance.” In further detail, this includes severe amnesia, and an impaired ability to commit current experience to memory. In some cases, the patient may even recite imaginary experiences. As a result, Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome is surprisingly more severe than most people struggling with an alcohol addiction can imagine.

Disturbance of Mood Thought And Perception

The psychiatric difficulties associated with acute alcohol withdrawal include anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, delusions, and hallucinations.

Anxiety Attacks

Recovering alcoholics going through withdrawal symptoms are prone to experience anxiety attacks. The symptoms of an anxiety attack include heart palpitations, shallow or rapid breathing, sweating, and dizziness. Anxiety disorder is expected to happen 12-48 hours after cessation of alcohol consumption.


Depression is one of the many deadly symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Every year, millions of people are victims to suicide because of depression. During the recovery stage, some patients experience an increase in negative self-confidence and self-esteem. Depression brought on by alcohol withdrawal can be attributed by the decline from peak intoxication.

Hallucinations and Perceptual Disturbance

Patients with a severe history of alcohol abuse may encounter symptoms of hallucination and perceptual disturbance. For some patients, alcohol withdrawal hallucination can occur 12 hours or 7 days after cessation. In most cases, hallucination is not common for everyone.

Cardiovascular Complications

One of the deadliest withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abuse is heart failure. As mentioned by Dr. Linda Ritcher, director of policy research and analysis at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse in New York City, “ prolonged alcohol use weakens the heart muscle and makes it less able to pump blood efficiently”. She also states that “ The lack of adequate blood flow interferes with the proper functioning of all of the body’s organs, and can lead to heart failure and other potentially fatal health conditions.” This is important because alcohol withdrawal can have a dramatic impact on your cardiovascular system. Even worse, the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abuse can be fatal.

Reproductive Hormones Decline

It’s no secret that alcohol affects sexual hormones levels in males. But, you probably didn’t know that long-term alcohol consumption causes failure of the reproductive system in men. In essence, this means that your testosterone level also decreases. As a result, long-term alcohol abuse can impact your future in a wide range of ways.

If you’re still looking for more withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abuse, here are a few more:

  • Increased hand tremor
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Excessive, purposeless physical activity
  • Mood swings

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse Last?

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can last for several weeks. However, withdrawal from alcohol abuse starts 8 hours after the last drink. Unlike most symptoms, alcohol withdrawal occurs in three different stages. Below we have put together an alcohol withdrawal timeline:

Stage 1: Mild Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms 6 – 12 Hours

  • Craving for alcohol
  • Headaches
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Unclear Thinking
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Minor Hand Tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Mood Swings
  • Anxiety or Stress

Stage 2: Moderate Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms 12 – 48 hours

  • Higher blood pressure
  • Respiration
  • Fever
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Irritability

Stage 3: Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms 48-72 hours

  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Agitation

How To Find Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment

Now that you have read about the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, it’s time to start thinking about the best way to treat alcohol withdrawal and protect your family. Here at our local alcohol rehab facility near Nashua NH, we offer a safe and effective alcohol recovery program. We also offer excellent partial hospitalization programs. However, if you’re looking for an alcohol outpatient program that offers round the clock support, we’ve got you covered. If you want to learn more about our alcohol recovery treatment program keep reading. If you’re ready to speak to one of our alcohol rehab therapists give us a call at  855.448.3588

GateHouse Treatment Editorial Staff
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