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Alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur when a person is physically dependent on alcohol and then quits or significantly reduces use. Symptoms may include sweating, shaking, agitation, fast heart rate, nausea, headache, and seizures. In some cases, symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be severe and cause a critical medical situation.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically start about six hours after the last drink and only occur in those who use alcohol excessively. The period between 24 and 72 hours typically represents the worst onset of symptoms. Symptoms generally subside after about seven days. Withdrawal symptoms occur in about half of those suffering from alcoholism after reduction or stoppage of use.
General symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include the following:
The severity of alcohol withdrawal depends on a variety of factors. Age, additional substance use, previous withdrawal history and the frequency, length of use, and level of consumption all factor into how severe symptoms may be. Any time you have a lengthy duration of excessive alcohol use, the risk of severe symptoms increases.
There are three stages of alcohol withdrawal–early stage, second stage and third stage. Early stage withdrawal happens to the majority of those with physical dependence on alcohol within about eight hours of the last drink. Tremors are usually the first symptom and may worsen if the person experiences additional agitation. Flu-like symptoms often follow.
Second stage alcohol withdrawal occurs in those with previous alcohol withdrawal experience and prolonged, heavy alcohol use. It includes the uncomfortable flu-like symptoms of the early stage and adds the risk of seizures and hallucinations. One quarter of those with alcohol dependence experience hallucinations during withdrawal.
Third stage alcohol withdrawal happens to about 30 percent of patients and it usually starts around three or four days into the process, but may start as far out as two weeks. This stage can include the dangerous delirium tremens condition.
The risk of third stage alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including delirium tremens, increases with heavy, prolonged alcohol use, previous experience with seizures during alcohol withdrawal or previous history of DTs during withdrawal. Third stage symptoms have a 15 percent risk of being deadly without medical treatment.
Symptoms of DTs include sudden and rapid mood changes, grand mal seizures, full body tremors, delirium, hallucinations, deep sleep that lasts 24 hours or longer and potentially fatal heart rhythm changes.
The risk of DTs goes up with middle-aged or older patients, as well as those who have liver trouble or other serious medical problems. Fatal complications are usually related to respiratory problems or a change in heart rhythm. Additionally, those experiencing hallucinations and delirium may end up injuring themselves or others.
Because of the tendency for alcohol withdrawal symptoms to be severe, it’s important for patients to seek professional medical treatment at the onset of quitting alcohol. Treating symptoms of alcohol withdrawal is only the first step, however. Addiction to alcohol or other substances is a disease that should be treated at a quality rehab like Beaches Recovery in Jacksonville, Florida.
Additionally, it’s important that a treatment facility for alcohol addiction has accreditation. Less than half of all addiction treatment programs have accreditation. Beaches not only offers JCAHO accreditation, but also a full range of treatment programs, including outpatient, inpatient, PHP, sober living and more. We also offer a wide variety of adjunct therapies, plus dual diagnosis treatment and partnership with top insurance companies like Aetna and Humana.
Beaches Recovery treats alcohol addiction as well as other drug addictions such as heroin, cocaine, opiates, and meth.
Treatment for alcohol withdrawal and alcohol addiction include the following:
Don’t let the fear of alcohol withdrawal or addiction control your life any longer. Overcome your addiction at Beaches Recovery, a JCAHO accredited facility. Give us a call today at 866-605-0532 to start your personal recovery journey to a life free of alcohol addiction.