Alcohol withdrawal is not a harmless side effect of the addiction. It is an extremely serious condition that has the potential to become life-threatening. There are four phases that happen when an alcoholic decides to break their addiction to the drink. This separation can produce immediate symptoms that are intense and sometimes painful, depending on how much they’ve been drinking and the duration of the alcohol addiction.
People with a mild dependency can experience withdrawal, but it will be in a different manner than those who have been battling a long-term addiction and heavy dependency. It would be wise to consult a doctor when deciding to kick alcohol addiction, ensuring that if the symptoms become extreme, there is someone to call and visit for treatment.
This first stage of alcohol withdrawal is presented by tremors. The tremors can begin 8 to 12 hours after the individual has stopped consuming alcohol. The tremors can be worsened if the person experiences agitation. Other symptoms in the first stage of withdrawal include vomiting, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, heavy sweating, and anxiety. The symptoms can start to fade after the first 24 hours.
The second stage of withdrawal is presented by hallucinations. These have a tendency to begin 12 to 24 hours after the person has stopped drinking. Hallucinations are experienced by 25% of alcohol dependent people that are going through withdrawal. In this stage, the person may see or hear things that are not there, and these instances are mixed with periods of unclouded understanding. Those who are in stage two may continue to experience the symptoms had in stage one, and the stage one symptoms have the potential to become worse during this time.
The third stage of alcohol withdrawal is marked by seizures. This can begin 6 to 48 hours after they have stopped drinking alcohol. 10% of withdrawal patients are affected by seizures and they are sometimes called “rum fits”. Rather than just one seizure, this stage can be presented with several generalized seizures.
This last stage of alcohol withdrawal is known as delirium tremens. Around 30% of those experiencing alcohol withdrawal will experience this fourth stage. It can begin 3 to 4 days after the person has stopped drinking, to as long as two weeks after. The symptoms of stage for include inattention, confusion, tremors, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, fever, pupil dilation, and sweating. This stage can be deadly, and the individual going through alcohol withdrawal should have medical treatment. Almost 15% of those in stage four alcohol withdrawal that do not get medical treatment will die, from either respiratory or cardiovascular collapse. There is no way to stop delirium tremens once it starts, and it is the most dangerous part of the withdrawal timeline.
This can last up to a year after an addict has stopped consuming alcohol. The symptoms will likely include anxiety, depression, blood pressure that is unstable, trembling hands, impaired memory, fatigue, and irregular breathing. All of its symptoms and the length of time it takes to recover will vary from person to person.
There are medications that can be prescribed by a doctor that will slightly lessen the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Many alcohol abusers that do have these withdrawal symptoms have a shortage of several vitamins and minerals and will benefit from nutritional supplements. Specifically, alcohol abuse can create a shortage of magnesium, thiamine, zinc, phosphate, and folate. Alcohol abuse may also cause low blood sugar. Those who only have a mild dependency on alcohol can also experience withdrawal, but it will be different than those who are long-term users. They will likely experience a general feeling of unease along with shaking, stomach upset, and headache.