Mild to life-threatening symptoms of alcohol withdrawal

When heavy or frequent drinkers suddenly decide to quit “cold turkey”, they will experience some physical withdrawal symptoms-ranging from mild annoying to severe and even life-threatening.

The severity of these withdrawal symptoms usually depends on the “chemical dependence” of long-term drinkers. Those who drink a lot of alcohol every day, of course, have formed a high degree of dependence, but even those who drink every day but not a lot of alcohol, and those who drink often but not every day, may also develop chemical dependence on alcohol.

When “alcohol dependent” people decide to stop drinking, they feel a certain degree of physical discomfort. For this reason, it is difficult for them to stop drinking “on their own” without help and support.

Why “never again” for alcohol-dependent people usually does not mean never

This scene has been played repeatedly many times. After a particularly harmful or embarrassing binge, people with a hangover swear not to drink alcohol again, and often sincerely give up alcohol.

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But with the onset of withdrawal symptoms, people’s desire for more alcohol also followed. The body tells the drinker that it “needs” alcohol.

As the physical symptoms of withdrawal begin to increase, drinking another glass becomes more painful than not drinking it—at least it seemed so at the time.

For those who have promised to stop drinking or are forced to drink because of their circumstances, fighting with withdrawal symptoms can turn into a dangerous battle, and it can even be life-threatening.

Minor symptoms of withdrawal

For those who are less dependent on chemical drugs, withdrawal symptoms may be as “mild” as shaking or sweating – or they may be nausea, headache, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and increased blood pressure.

Although these symptoms are uncomfortable and irritating, they are not necessarily dangerous. But they are often accompanied by a “craving” for more alcohol, making the decision to continue abstinence more difficult.

Even the “morning after” hangovers of people who occasionally drink too much alcohol are actually a mild form of alcohol withdrawal, because their blood alcohol levels begin to drop and they quit from the excessive drinking the night before. Symptoms can appear within a few hours after not drinking alcohol.

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Severe symptoms of withdrawal

You may experience hallucinations within 6 to 48 hours after not drinking alcohol. These are usually visual hallucinations, but may also involve sounds and smells. They can last from several hours to several weeks at a time.

Also during this period of time after quitting smoking, convulsions or seizures may occur. If you do not receive medication, alcohol withdrawal can become dangerous. After three to five days without alcohol, symptoms may develop into delirium tremens (DTs). Symptoms of DTs include extreme confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, hyperactivity, and extreme cardiovascular disorders.

Once DT begins, they can cause heart disorders, seizures, and other potentially fatal medical complications.

Alcohol treatment

The good news for people who are extremely dependent on alcohol and want to give up drinking is that with proper medical treatment, all these symptoms can be relieved or even eliminated.

Generally, for those who are mildly dependent on vitamins (including thiamine), proper diet and hydration can prevent most mild withdrawal symptoms from occurring. For severely dependent people, medication can be administered, but only by a doctor. One method is to replace alcohol with benzodiazepines (such as Librium) and gradually reduce the dose until the patient stops taking drugs.

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You don’t have to “on your own” to prove anything to anyone. It helps; take advantage of it. Psychological withdrawal is already difficult enough, without having to struggle with physical symptoms.