Alcohol Withdrawal: Symptoms and Duration of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal, sometimes called alcohol withdrawal syndrome, refers to a set of symptoms that appear once an alcohol addicted person ceases drinking. Once a person becomes physically dependant on alcohol, such as in alcoholism (read: definition of alcoholism), alcohol withdrawal will occur when the alcoholic stops drinking.
Most of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are due to the fact that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and when it's removed, the central nervous system become hyperactive. This hyperactivity can result in tremors, seizures and even death.
Alcohol Withdrawal - Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal often begins after sleep but sometimes almost immediately after the alcoholic stops drinking. There are many symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and their severity is dependent on how long the alcoholic had been drinking, how much alcohol they consumed, age and individual genetics. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms tend to be more severe with repeated alcohol detoxifications.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:xiv
- Agitation, restlessness
- Anorexia nervosa
- Anxiety, panic attacks, fear, irritability, depression
- Delirium tremens
- Gastrointestinal upset, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea
- Headache, migraine
- High blood pressure
- Insomnia, increased REM sleep
- Palpitations, tachycardia
- Seizures and death
Alcohol Withdrawal - Alcohol Withdrawal Duration
Alcohol withdrawal duration is unique to the individual and some alcohol withdrawal symptoms last longer than others. In general, alcohol withdrawal begins twelve hours (sometimes less) after the alcoholic stops drinking. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms tend to peak within two to three days but alcohol withdrawal duration could be a week or more.
Some alcohol withdrawal symptoms are known to have longer alcohol withdrawal durations, in some cases more than a year. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms with longer duration include:
- Alcohol cravings
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Nausea and vomiting
Last Updated: 20 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD