However, people with long-term disease can hallucinate and have seizures at this early stage. Myriad physical issues that occur during alcohol withdrawal may lead to sudden heart failure. Anytime the body withdraws from alcohol, a medical emergency can arise. Therefore, going through withdrawal alone presents serious risks. During the first 6 to 8 hours, other factors can complicate your situation. If you use other substances, this could affect your physical health. Additionally, the number of substances consumed before an episode is significant to the severity of withdrawal.

Individuals who have an alcohol use disorder are often deficient in various nutrients, which can cause severe complications during alcohol withdrawal, such as the development of Wernicke syndrome. To help to prevent Wernicke syndrome, these individuals should be administered a multivitamin preparation with sufficient quantities of thiamine and folic acid. During alcohol withdrawal, the prophylactic administration of thiamine, folic acid, and pyridoxine intravenously is recommended before starting any carbohydrate-containing fluids or food. These vitamins are often combined into a banana bag for intravenous administration.


Heavy drinkers who suddenly stop drinking may experience any range of dangerous symptoms, so it’s important for those experiencing withdrawal to undergo medically-assisted detox. Kindling is a phenomenon where repeated alcohol detoxifications leads to an increased severity of the withdrawal syndrome. People with alcohol use disorder who experience seizures during detoxification are more likely to have had previous episodes of alcohol detoxification than patients who did not have seizures during withdrawal. In addition, people with previous withdrawal syndromes are more likely to have more medically complicated alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal typically improve within five days, though a small number of people may have prolonged symptoms.

For example, between 2005 and 2012, the number of heavy-drinking women in Collin County increased from 4.4 to 6.5 percent. There is also an increase from 7.8 to 8.9 percent in heavy-drinking among men in Dallas County. Permanent and life-long abstinence from alcohol is the best treatment for those who have gone through alcohol withdrawal. During detox, you will be evaluated regularly by trained medical staff.

Inpatient rehabs utilize therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, medications, and group therapy to encourage synergistic healing through 24/7 care. Hangovers are a small sample of the effects that alcohol withdrawal can produce in a person who has become physically dependent on alcohol. It is important to note how many systems within the body are affected by alcohol.

People in adolescence who experience repeated withdrawals from binge drinking show impairments of long-term nonverbal memory. Individuals with an alcohol use disorder who have had two or more alcohol withdrawals show more frontal lobe cognitive dysfunction than those who have experienced one or no prior withdrawals. Kindling of neurons is the proposed cause of withdrawal-related cognitive damage. Kindling from repeated withdrawals leads to accumulating neuroadaptive changes.

alcohol detox side effects

Over time, this stomach irritation can cause alcohol gastritis an erosion of the stomach lining. This condition can lead to chronic nausea, heartburn, acid reflux, and ulcers. Large intake and continual use of alcohol will disrupt the brain’s natural circuits that release endorphins and other chemicals that reward the body for healthy behaviors. Substance abuse takes control of the brain’s circuitry that produces pleasure and joy, rewiring it to reward the body only when there is an intake of alcohol. Once tolerance is gained, a higher intake of alcohol is then required to sustain those feelings of pleasure.

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms, Medications, & More

Individuals in recovery need to confront the underlying issues of alcoholism and learn how to get their lives on a new and sustainable track. If you are going through intense withdrawal, your condition can gradually or rapidly worsen until your situation becomes a dire medical crisis.

alcohol detox side effects

You can get a good idea of your risk level, however, by taking a quick quiz about your symptoms. Alcohol provides this outcome by increasing the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible for creating feelings of calm and euphoria. It also decreases glutamate, another neurotransmitter that creates excitability. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

The risk of alcohol use disorder is higher for people who have a parent or other close relative who has problems with alcohol. People who begin drinking — especially binge drinking — at an early age are at a higher risk of alcohol use disorder. Drinking too much on a regular basis for an extended period or binge drinking on a regular basis can lead to alcohol-related problems or alcohol use disorder.


Alcohol withdrawal can be both physically and psychologically significant in individuals suffering from alcohol dependency or addiction. A form of acute alcohol withdrawal, calleddelirium tremens, is the most serious. TheNICE Clinical Guidelinesestimates that around 5 percent of individuals battling alcohol withdrawal will experience DTs, which can be fatal without swift medical intervention. At hours after their last drink, many people become dehydrated because of their nausea, vomiting, and excessive sweating. People may also develop delirium tremens, which is a rare but serious symptom of alcohol withdrawal. When people have delirium tremens, they experience hallucinations, overheating, seizures, and are at risk of death without immediate medical intervention. Finally, it is important to note that, in certain cases, a person could experience life threatening symptoms due to alcohol withdrawal.

  • A medical detox program is an excellent option for achieving sobriety as safely and comfortably as possible.
  • Detox occurs over time, and as the levels of alcohol get progressively lower in the body, withdrawal symptoms present themselves.
  • The most commonly used agents are long-acting benzodiazepines, such as chlordiazepoxide and diazepam.
  • This excess of acetaldehyde causes irritation to mucous membranes in the stomach.
  • Kindling can cause complications and may increase the risk of relapse, alcohol-related brain damage and cognitive deficits.

If you have a mild alcohol use problem, you may be able to taper at home. You may be prescribed a medication like a benzodiazepine to help you taper off alcohol. However, if you have become addicted to alcohol or if you have severe alcohol dependence, going through detox at home may be dangerous or ineffective. Trying to quit alcohol at home if you are addicted to alcohol can be difficult, and it’s likely to result in relapse or continued drinking. Going through detox at home with a severe substance use disorder is also more dangerous. If they advise you to undergo medical detox, it’s likely worth it. Side effects of alcohol withdrawal may range from mild to severe, depending on factors such as duration of alcohol abuse, genetics, environment, and frequency of heavy drinking.

Pharmacologic Treatment Of Withdrawal

With chronic drinking, your brain adapts to the depressant effects of alcohol. Over time it readjusts how it functions to adapt to the alcohol, meaning you need more of it and to have it more consistently.

After the first 24 hours have passed, you might start to have extreme mood swings. You may find you have difficulty focusing on any tasks and you might experience feelings of confusion.

alcohol detox side effects

Other medications might be used temporarily in a detox process to prevent life-threatening symptoms, such as seizures. This is up to the provider’s discretion and dependent upon the patient’s choice.

Is It Necessary To Seek Treatment For Withdrawal?

For many people with an alcohol addiction, the detox process can be frightening and overwhelming. When you stop drinking alcohol, your body will go through withdrawal. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are often intense enough to turn people fall back to drinking. AW syndrome varies significantly among alcoholics in both its clinical manifestations and its severity. These manifestations1 can range from mild insomnia to severe consequences, such as delirium tremens (DT’s) and even death. Substantial variability also exists in the incidence with which symptoms occur in various drinkers. Some people who regularly consume alcohol never experience any withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol suppresses your nervous system and your brain will try to balance out this suppression with its own natural excitatory chemicals. However, when you suddenly stop using your nervous system will be over-excited until it has time to balance out again. An overactive nervous system can have several different adverse effects and can vary in severity. It can cause people to forget about their stressors and anxieties for a short time.

  • The consistent abuse of alcohol changes how the brain reacts in critical situations.
  • The severity of withdrawal symptoms can depend on many variables and vary dramatically from person to person.
  • It’s rare for someone to die in medical detox with trained medical professionals managing their care.

For example, treatment providers will be able to help alleviate some of the most painful of withdrawal symptoms, as well as provide 24/7 support through the entire recovery process. After the initial alcohol withdrawal symptoms have subsided, some people may experience prolonged side effects. This phase is less common and is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome . PAWS involves withdrawal symptoms that occur after acute withdrawal and can make post-rehab life challenging for some individuals. Depending on the severity of your alcohol abuse, PAWS can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be temporary and mostly benign in casual drinkers. But the more dependent a person is on alcohol, the more severe and dangerous their withdrawal can be.

There is a risk of replacing an alcohol addiction with benzodiazepine dependence or adding another addiction. Furthermore, disrupted GABA benzodiazepine alcohol detox side effects receptor function is part of alcohol dependence and chronic benzodiazepines may prevent full recovery from alcohol induced mental effects.

Many people experience symptoms of PAWS in cyclical waves – one day you feel fine, and the next you’re plagued by low energy and intense cravings for alcohol. The spontaneity of this withdrawal phase can make resisting temptation hard. However, it’s important to note that each PAWS episode is often limited to only a few days at a time.

What Are The Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to tolerance and biological changes that create a false homeostasis. Disrupting this balance and restoring the user to a healthy state is a process that is as essential as it is delicate. Many people going through alcohol withdrawal report disturbances in their sleep patterns. Alcohol-related insomnia may last weeks or even months after initial symptoms begin.

When fighting off the virus, a person’s body raises its core temperature to stop the spread of the infection. Alcohol withdrawal causes the immune system to react in a similar way. These small proteins help cells within the immune system communicate with one another, but also cause inflammation which can result in fever, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, and headaches. After that, outpatient programs are available to keep you connected to the recovery community after you’ve gone home. If staying at home is too much, then you can always opt for a sober living home so that you can have a safe environment to practice your sobriety. Because of kindling, if you’ve ever gone through detox or withdrawal before, it’s even more critical that you seek medical help to detox. Tonic-clonic seizures are rarely fatal except when they are experienced during sleep.

If you stop drinking alcohol suddenly after years of alcohol use, the risk of hurting the heart increases. Alcohol withdrawal may cause uncomfortable chest symptoms that can damage the heart. Here are twenty things that you can do to helpcope with alcohol withdrawal.