Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Last Updated: Feb 24th 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

If you want to end an alcohol addiction, you’ll have to work through withdrawal. This can be a difficult process, but it typically lasts less than a week. Once you complete an alcohol withdrawal, you’ll be ready to tackle true recovery. Explore some of the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms as well as the most severe.

Nausea and Abdominal Pain

The most common symptom of alcohol withdrawal is gastrointestinal distress. This is typically the first symptom to appear, and it can also be the last to leave. As few as eight hours after the last drink of alcohol, patients might experience nausea as well as abdominal pain and cramping. This can make it difficult to eat or drink.

Increase in Temperature, Heart Rate, and Blood Pressure

Alcohol withdrawal is a form of stress on the body. Since the central nervous system is dependent on alcohol, detox can come as a shock. It’s normal for patients in withdrawal to see their body temperature rise, the blood pressure increase and their heart rate pick up.

Nausea in combination with an increase in body temperature means lots of sweating if individuals don’t focus on adequate liquid replacement. Many withdrawal patients experience dehydration, which can sometimes be severe. Fortunately, patients in a medical facility have access to electrolytes as well as IVs with a saline solution, both of which can combat dehydration.

The increases to heart rate and blood pressure are generally temporary. In most cases, patients won’t be impacted by these symptoms beyond the few days of detox. However, some patients with preexisting cardiac conditions may encounter problems. In rare cases, heart attacks or even strokes are possible.

Anxiety and Insomnia

Many of the worst withdrawal symptoms are physical, but some symptoms can also be psychological. Many patients will experience insomnia, which makes it hard to get enough sleep or to feel rested. It’s also normal for individuals to develop anxiety.

Patients with co-occurring disorders are more likely to see their psychological symptoms worsen during withdrawal. Fortunately, most of these patients will go on to receive dual diagnosis care, which can treat and resolve any mental health concerns.

Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Many patients report that their withdrawal symptoms are similar to a case of the flu. In some cases, symptoms can be more severe. Patients may experience a high fever that requires emergency care, they can act out in paranoid or even violent ways and may experience hallucinations.

What Happens After Withdrawal Ends

Withdrawal is just the first step in ending substance abuse. True recovery for an alcohol addiction also includes rehab. At 1st Step Behavioral Health, patients will access a long list of therapies and treatment methods to help them put a stop to addiction. These may include:

  • Talk therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Relapse prevention treatment
  • Holistic therapies

Once the alcohol withdrawal symptoms fade, attending rehab has to be a priority. At 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida, you can take control over your life. Say goodbye to addiction by calling (866) 319-6126 today.

Leverage Effective Therapies and Treatment Methods for Withdrawal Symptoms

As discussed previously, there is a plethora of withdrawal symptoms that addicts experience when they stop using drugs or alcohol. These symptoms range from mild to severe. Whether you are suffering from alcoholism or trying to get rid of drug addiction, the condition can put you through a lot.  Not only does it cause depressive effects on your body, but it also slows down your brain. Typically, it can alter the way nervous system sends messages to the body back and forth. 

Over time, your nervous system learns to adjust its functioning with drugs in the body all the time. Your body, in the mean time, tries to keep the brain in an active and awake state and also keep nerves connected to one another.  

When an addict commits to a drug recovery program, the level of alcohol drops significantly, but the brain stays in the same keyed up and active state. This state is what specifically causes severe withdrawal symptoms that we have mentioned earlier including insomnia, high temperature and nausea. 

Some other common physical and psychological symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nightmares
  • Irritability
  • Perspiration
  • Shakiness
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Cognitive issues
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Delirium tremens
  • Disorientation
  • Fatigue

Thanks to 1st Step Behavioral Health treatment and therapies drug addicts can overcome addiction in a medically supervised environment. These treatment and therapies are extremely effective.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy is basically individual alcohol/drug counseling in the medical terminology. The individual therapy works through one-to-one conversation between the client and therapist. There is no doubt that it is one of the most effective types of therapies to overcome behavioral and mental conditions. Therapists at 1st Step Behavioral Health use excellent therapeutic techniques to build rapport and earn the trust of patients.

Both these features provide great support in individual recovery. Through talk therapy, psychotherapists try to explore a patient’s personality and underlying behavior to help him/her recover from their withdrawal symptoms.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

 Although it is a relatively new therapy in the field of drug addiction recovery, it is growing in popularity.  Therapists at 1st Step Behavioral Health have tried it on a number of addicts with severe withdrawal symptoms, such depressive episodes, mood swings, and delusional behavior.

 The results of this rehabilitation program have been optimal so far as it focuses on a patient’s mental illness and addiction during recovery process.

Relapse Prevention Therapy

This is another effective form of therapy that can help cocaine addicts recover from withdrawal symptoms. Therapists at 1st Step Behavioral Health use cognitive-behavioral strategies to help drug addicts recover from withdrawal symptoms. 

The therapy is very helpful for individuals when it comes to identifying and correcting problematic behavior. Not only this, relapse prevention therapy encompasses many cognitive-behavioral strategies to facilitate abstinence to help patients who experience relapse.  

Family Therapy

1st Step Behavioral Health treatment processes do not just include medical assistance, but also incorporate sessions in which family members can participate. The purpose of the therapy is to educate family members on how to help patients who go through this difficult phase. 

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Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.